Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

The Daughters of Ys

M.T. Anderson and Jo Rioux. First Second, $24.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-62672-878-3

Drawing on Celtic folklore, this haunting graphic novel by Anderson (Feed) pays homage to an ancient Breton myth. Rozenn and Dahut, daughters of the fairy Queen Malgven, are left grieving with their father, King Gradlon, after their mother’s death. The king falls into a deep depression, while the girls grow up following different paths: Rozenn avoids her responsibilities as heiress to the throne of the land of Ys, in favor of caring for wildlife (and a certain friendly commoner), whereas Dahut is tasked with keeping their kingdom prosperous through harnessing magic and—unbeknownst to others—the souls of royal suitors whom she lures into her bedroom. But when a mysterious merchant arrives and catches Dahut’s eye, both she and Rozenn discover that magic always comes at a hefty price. Anderson’s lyric version of the original lore marries different interpretations to focus on the complex relationship between the two sisters, and draws the reader into the eerie mystical world of Ys. Rioux’s enchanting classical artwork employs rustic pencils in a romantic style that recalls Emily Carroll, and autumnal colors which harken back to Breton culture. Readers keen on Celtic mythology will appreciate this whimsical tale with a dark turn, with crossover for Anderson’s teen fans likely. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 04/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Dog Days

Cyprien Mathieu, Remy Benjamin, and Oliver Perret, trans. from the French by Benjamin Croze. Humanoids, $17.99 (120p) ISBN 978-1-64337-764-3

A family vacation turns into a slow-burning horror show in this graphic novel with the vibe of a creepy arthouse short. Hermione, the family dog, goes missing and father François’s attempts to appease his distraught youngest son, Baptiste, quickly backfire. He finds Hermione’s body, the likely result of being hit by a car, but tries to tie the dog’s death to a string of canine poisonings currently rocking the small seaside town of Ramiolles. François’s older son and wife, who is delayed back in their home city by work, belittle him; and his failed attempt to maintain Baptiste’s affection plays as a desperate bid to hold onto his own childhood innocence—and a failure to step into the role of patriarch. This festering mood piece painted in brooding earth tones is full of suspicious glances from townsfolk who aren’t as charming as they first seem. The art, lithe pen and watercolors, shows cunning use of shadows and shading. In a flight of fancy near the story’s dramatic culmination, François pleads guilty to “my mediocre existence... the stupidity of humans who pretend they’re happy” and imagines himself crucified. The comic’s creators seem refreshingly ambivalent about their protagonist’s struggles, and their tale takes the suburban angst genre to enjoyably strange places. (May)

Reviewed on 04/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Cloven: Book One

Garth Stein and Matthew Southworth. Fantagraphics, $22.99 (120p) ISBN 978-1-68396-310-3

Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain) and Southworth (the Stumptown series) team up for an oddball mash-up of science fiction, horror, action, and coming-of-age story. James “Tuck” Tucker has a secret: he is one of the Cloven, genetically modified goat-people, and under his baggy pants he has legs like a satyr. Escaping the lab where Cloven were developed, Tuck goes on the lam and finds fellow Cloven escapees living underground, with their own rituals and culture. The narrative flashes back and forth between Tuck’s life on the run and the development of the Cloven Project. The bold, chunky art boasts a strong Frank Miller influence and gets better as the volume unfolds, engaging in bravura action sequences and daring pops of color. Both the artist and writer commit to selling a fundamentally silly premise as serious speculative fiction; it’s hard to tell if it’s supposed to be funny when Tuck grimly explains “I have the legs and digestive tract of a goat,” or when the Cloven butt heads and go “romping” to celebrate their heritage, or a scientist learns that the goat-people were created to be supersoldiers and gasps, “The Cloven Project isn’t to try to end world hunger?” But such flashes of unashamed goofiness give the story an offbeat charm. This unusual collaboration stands out from the crowd of similar superpowered mutants bucking the system. (July)

Reviewed on 04/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Paying the Land

Joe Sacco. Metropolitan, $29.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-62779-903-4

Eisner-winner Sacco (Safe Area Goražde) travels to northern Canada to talk with members of the Dene, a First Nations group located largely in the Northwest Territories, in this arresting exploration of a community on the brink. Fracking is the hotly contested issue at hand; it brings money and jobs, but devastates the environment. Sacco delves deeper than the current debate, exploring the long, fraught relationship between the Dene, the Canadian government, and the land. The powerful middle chapters collect first-person stories of the atrocity haunting Sacco’s investigation: the mass forced separation of aboriginal children from their families to be “reeducated.” Separating young people from their communities, Sacco argues, robbed generations of identity and direction, as Sacco learns from the testimonies of Dene people from all walks of life, from tribal leaders and elders who grew up in close-knit nomadic tribes to a young man hunting his first caribou. Sacco’s densely composed, meticulous black-and-white art has grown even more realistic and carefully observed in this work, though he still presents himself as a caricature with buckteeth and Coke-bottle glasses. He wisely withdraws his presence to the background, allowing the Dene and other locals he interviews to take the spotlight, interspersing close-ups of faces with images of the breathtaking northern vistas. Sacco again proves himself a master of comics journalism. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi (July)

Reviewed on 04/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Not a Place to Visit

T Edward Bak. Floating World, $12 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-942801-76-4

Bak (Wild Man—The Natural History of Georg Wilhelm Steller) delivers a sensitive, colored pencil–lined portrait of Western America’s delicate ecological systems in this series of short comics. He wonders about his own culpability in the breakdown of the environment: he grew up comfortably near Denver, thanks to his family working in the petroleum industry. He details how fracking pollutes water and causes earthquakes, and how building dams on the Columbia River disrupted centuries’ worth of Native American culture and industry, as well as harmed the river’s salmon population. Bak recalls his time spent as a porter on a paddlewheel river cruise ship, part of the tourism industry that has damaged the Columbia’s ecosystem. On a trip to explore California’s Salton Sea, Bak and fellow cartoonist Julia Wertz search for mud volcanoes and observe the devastation wrought by man-induced flooding. While he reveals that he hopes his comics might have a positive effect on the world, Wertz notes that she just wants others to feel less alone. Bak’s scratchy pencil drawings, with distinctive use of color, feel intimate and complement his subdued but passionate narrative voice. This quiet but inspiring dispatch will resonate with those who feel the urgency of environmental activism. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 04/10/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Steeple, Vol. 1

John Allison. Dark Horse, $19.99 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-1-5067-1349-6

In this charmer of a comic-fantasy series opener, trainee priest Bilinda “Billie” Baker arrives literally with a bang (her car explodes) at the rustic seaside town of Tredregyn, North Cornwall, a community rife with superstition and folk legends. There she meets silver-haired part-time bartender Maggie Warren, and the pair take an instant liking to one another. Billie’s curate position puts her together with Reverend Penrose and his housekeeper, Mrs. Clovis, two hardliners for Anglican Christianity. Then, following an evening at Maggie’s pub, Billie encounters a strange creature in a graveyard. Reverend Penrose informs her that for 25 years his church-appointed task was to battle such forces of darkness when they crawl from the sea—and also alerts Billie of Maggie’s affiliation with the town’s Satanic church. But the fact Maggie’s a novice black priestess does not affect the women’s blossoming friendship; and a contingent of witches reveal that Billie and Maggie’s opposing outward beliefs may be masking what’s truly in their hearts. This stylish series launch boasts gentle comedy underscored by charmingly minimalist, animation-influenced art. Who says liturgical head-butting can’t be fun, when there’s monsters involved? This is an unexpectedly hilarious gem. (May)

Reviewed on 04/10/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Ping Pong

Taiyō Matsumoto, trans. from the Japanese by Michael Arias. Viz, $29.99 (520p) ISBN 978-1-974711-65-9

First serialized in Japan in the mid-1990s, this unlikely love song to ping-pong by Matsumoto (Cats of the Louvre) dashes together a cockeyed mix of athletic action, indie drama, and visual spectacle. At a small high school, two former friends dream of table tennis greatness: Peco, a cocky natural talent, and Smile, a stone-faced brooder. They’re forced to up their game when a rival school acquires Wenge Kong, a ringer from China. On one level it plays as conventional sports manga packed with dynamically drawn action, outlandishly overpowered competitors, and characters saying such things as “better not to have been born than to be up against losers like these” through gritted teeth. On another, it’s a delicately observed human drama about the boys, their teammates and rivals, and the adults jockeying to guide them. Matsumoto’s characters describe ping-pong as “solitude and doubt, anguish and despair, nihilism and depravity” and make the reader believe it. The angular figures lunge from the page at extreme, distorted perspectives, plunging through weedy back alleys, cluttered apartments, and cavernous gymnasiums. This crowd-pleasing manga is poised to score points with readers across the board. (May)

Reviewed on 04/10/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Sweet Time

Weng Pixin. Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95 (244p) ISBN 978-1-77046-385-1

Singaporean artist Weng presents a compendium of bittersweet stories that juxtapose the vagaries and pains of romantic relationships through her gorgeous, painterly drawings, creating a melancholic yet strangely enchanted mood. Several pieces feature protagonists in what seem like placid states, but slowly their buried feelings stir. In “Birds,” a couple visits a house whose owner collects wild birds, and as they peer through the gates at the lovely flora and fauna, they begin to argue. Though hurt by the exchange, the woman backs down, keeping her worst thoughts to herself (“We are not a good idea”). In “Pairs” and “The Boat,” couples ruminate and fight suicidal thoughts but attempt to reach out to one another. In the title story, a brokenhearted woman pours her heart out to a man in a bar before they go home together. Weng ends that arc with an erotic scene, the two looking deeply into each other’s eyes, begging the question as to whether a future together is possible. On a lighter note, Weng includes travel diaries where she jots down quotidian moments on trips to Argentina and other countries. Weng's rendering of sorrow leavened with hope results in a poetic, unified collection. (June)

Reviewed on 04/10/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
The King is Undead (Once & Future #1)

Keiron Gilla and Dan Mora. Boom! Studios, $16.99 trade paperback (160p) ISBN 978-1-68415-491-3

Arthurian legend and horror are gene-spliced in this modern-day dark fantasy by Gilla (the Die series) and Mora (the Klaus series). Rugby player/academic Duncan McGuire is called away from a disastrous first date by his fiercely independent grandmother’s nursing home, which she escaped after seeing a news report on a bizarre murder at an archaeological dig in Cornwall, Great Britain. Duncan locates his grandmother in the woods, where she unearths a cache of heavy ordnance and reveals her past as a monster hunter; none too soon, as the murder is tied to a scheme to resurrect a monstrous King Arthur—an Arthur of unprecedented terror. Not the noble, chivalrous figure of mythology, this hellish undead entity feeds on blood and raises the deceased to serve as his knights. He’s been called back by nationalistic cultists to preserve the “purity” of England for the English, threatening to destroy increasingly diverse modern Britain. Duncan embraces a destiny he’s unwittingly been groomed for since birth, as his family’s secret history unfolds and his mission to thwart the once and future king begins. This series launch gets off to a brisk and crisply-illustrated start, with Mora’s skillfully drawn action-packed panels lit up in a punchy color scheme by Tamra Bonvillain. It’s a fast-paced escapade well worth picking up for genre fans, and it will particularly pique the appetites of those who also nerd out on Arthurian mythos. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 04/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Bronx Heroes in Trumpland

Ray Felix, Tom Sciacca, and Tom Ahearn. Arsenal Pulp, $11.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-55152-805-2

Felix and Sciacca’s slapstick satire follows two superheroes fighting to take down a superpowered Donald Trump, ultimately falling flat from over-the-top delivery. Time-traveling superhero Astron Star Soldier vows on “Twatter” to stop the hatred growing after the 2016 election, jumping forward to the year 2026 and finding America in ruins under facist rule. He then travels back to 1974 to enlist fellow superhero Black Power, but the two must first deal with Trump’s hypnotic wife Malaria; Mike “Captain MAGA” Pence, Trump’s sentient, evil toupee with beady eyes; and a hoard of buglike deplorables. Eventually the heroes launch Trump into deep space and prepare to celebrate, but they also realize a similarly grotesquely caricatured Hillary Clinton and her Blue Wave squad might not have the best of intentions for America. The creators clearly cracked themselves up collaborating on this parody, which heavily takes inspiration from and is an attempted homage to Jack Kirby’s art and style. But the inconsistently rhyming script and juvenile humor (“Let my golden powers shower you with love” declares a bikini-top-clad Malaria) and generally incoherent story line make it hard to not groan. Even readers who have entirely like-minded political views are likely to dismiss the juvenile humor in this mishmashed parody. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 04/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.