No matter the taste, there are comics out there for the pop culture fans in your life. Here’s a selection of graphic novels and related works, including everything from manga to reference and graphic novels for children.
Emma, Kaoru’s Mori’s sumptuously illustrated historical romance manga, is an upstairs/downstairs tale about a Victorian-era maid and a young aristocrat who defy rigid social mores and fall in love. Yen Press has released two volumes of the critically acclaimed 10-volume series in beautifully produced hardcover editions, with more to come.
This year screenwriter and artist Tony Puryear and his wife, TV actress Erika Alexander, released a hardcover edition of the second volume of Concrete Park (Dark Horse)—a wildly inventive saga of Afrofuturism (SF lit about black people in the future)—about the harsh but richly imagined reality of life on a prison planet. The series is populated by a vivid cast of multicultural (indeed, multiplanetary) characters, including the protagonist, a gangbanger from L.A.
In 2012, celebrated chef Anthony Bourdain (along with novelist Joel Rose and artist Langdon Ross) published Get Jiro, a bestselling graphic novel about an exiled Yakuza member turned sushi chef, set in a dystopian future L.A. ruled by warring foodie gangs. Bourdain has returned (this time with Rose and artist Ale Garza) with Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi (Vertigo), an engrossing, blood-drenched prequel to the first book, which fills in Jiro’s background with a powerful story about the family betrayal that sent him into exile.
Omaha Beach on D-Day by Jean-David Morvan and Dominique Bertail (First Second), a richly illustrated nonfiction graphic novel in combination with a photographs tribute and essay on the story behind legendary Magnum photographer Robert Capa and the nine iconic photographs he took during hellish combat on the beach at Normandy on D-Day.
Back in print for the first time in more than 25 years, Sam Glanzman’s A Sailor’s Story (Dover) collects the golden age comic book artist’s vividly detailed nonfiction stories about his life while serving on a Navy destroyer during World War II. This new edition combines two earlier works as well as a series of tributes to the 91-year-old Glanzman from various comic book stars.
If you’re looking for great, innovative superhero comics, the iconoclastic writer Grant Morrison is the artist for you. DC has just released The Multiversity (Vertigo), a deluxe, hardcover edition collecting a series of limited-run, utterly imaginative DC Comics series, written by Morrison and drawn by an all star selection of artists. Series include eccentric takes on classic characters like Captain Marvel and a newly conceived supergroup, The Just, a cleverly reimagined vision of Batman, Superman and the Justice League, in the form of their superpowered children, set in versions of Metropolis and Gotham in the far distant future.
The Best American Comics: 2015 is the 10th edition of Houghton Mifflin’s annual hardcover anthology, edited this year by acclaimed novelist and well-known comic book nerd Jonathan Lethem. The collection includes the usual selection of inventive comics, with contributions from Ed Piskor, Joe Sacco, Gabrielle Bell, and many others, as well as a charmingly goofy comic strip from Lethem himself.
Craig Thompson’s Space Dumplins (Scholastic), his first graphic novel for kids, is a rollicking full-color ride through an eye-popping, gloriously illustrated outer space world. It stars Violet, a little girl whose dad operates a space tug. When Violet’s dad goes missing, she takes off with a bunch of spectacularly wacky (and charming) alien friends to find him.
Chip Kidd—an acclaimed designer, comics expert, and self-described Peanuts nerd—has produced, with photographer Geoff Spear, his magnum opus, Only What’s Necessary (Abrams ComicArts), an oversized 65th-anniversary hardcover tribute to the vision of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. Granted unprecedented access to the Schulz archives, Kidd has selected early strips, sketches, photographs, correspondence, and much more, all focused on showing how Schulz became a uniquely gifted visual artist.
Guaranteed to appeal to comic book fans as well as beer lovers, The Comic Book Story of Beer by Jonathan Hennessey, Mike Smith, and Aaron McConnell (Ten Speed), is a refreshing historical reference and tribute to “the world’s favorite beverage.” The creative team takes the reader from the origins of beer to the creation of the first American Pale Ale (Sierra Nevada) in 1981 and the beginnings of the explosive popularity of craft beer brewing in the U.S.
Every superhero fan knows Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, founding members of the wildly popular superhero crime fighting group the Avengers. But have you ever heard of Goliath, a black ghetto kid who earns a Ph.D. in biochemistry before gaining the power to grow to giant size? We thought not. DK’s Marvel: Avengers Encyclopedia will bring you up to speed, offering great visuals and capsule histories of more than 250 major and minor characters in the Marvel universe.