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.

Oscar Martin’s Solo: The Survivors of Chaos

Oscar Martin, trans. from the Spanish by Pau Rodriguez. Titan Comics, $29.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-78276-334-5

Martin, a Spanish cartoonist of European Disney and Tom & Jerry comics, delivers a warrior treatment of the latter in this saga of a burly muscled rodent fighting through a Mad Max–style world. Solo’s postapocalyptic landscape is populated with warring tribes of animals: scavenger weasels, devil dogs, shadowed black cats, and his own species, a tribe of intelligent, overgrown rats hiding in caves and reduced to a primitive society. These animals coexist uneasily with duplicitous humans, and Solo is rat-napped into an all-species gladiator games before finally finding the happiness and family the wanderer aches for. Martin’s art enlivens the survival story with an animated, cartoony style depicting wide-eyed anthropomorphized creatures. The fantastic anatomy of bipedal animals is smooth and natural, and with fluent, energetic tiered panels of fighting action. Muted but robust coloring depicts the tan and brown of an endless scorching desert, subtle grays and whites of a blizzard winter (occasionally splashed with scarlet blood), and black skies ripped with sharper grays on a rainy night. This is the first of Martin’s series of tales of warrior vermin translated for an English-reading audience, and his mythos holds the promise of standing alongside Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo or Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/29/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Parable of the Sower

Octavia E. Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy and John Jennings. Abrams ComicArts, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3133-4

This nimble graphic adaptation of Butler’s 1993 novel of capitalism-ravaged California feels alarmingly prescient and relevant. Duffy and Jennings (Kindred) skillfully rework the tale told through the eyes of teenage empath Lauren Oya Olamina, who navigates a world transformed by drought, gun violence, and exploitation. Lauren, daughter of a preacher, pushes back against her family and friends, who naively hope life will return to the good old days. “The old days aren’t coming back,” Lauren says, as she shares her own spiritual message, the Earthseed, which declares “God is Change.” The adaptation captures the heart of Butler’s message: survival depends on evolution, but also on breaking through isolation to build communities of trust and love. Jennings’s color palette flames with reds, oranges, and yellows, evoking both vibrant Los Angeles sunsets and the city choked with smoke and fire. His blocky, busy line work portrays the brutal violence of Lauren’s life (mobs of desperate people commit murder, rape, and mutilation every day) without lingering on the gore or turning the empathetic story into a grotesque thriller. Instead, the pain Lauren witnesses and feels as she travels across the state reinforces her resolve to become a leader. This accessible adaptation is poised to introduce Butler’s dystopian tale to a new generation of readers. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/29/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
British Ice

Owen D. Pomery. Top Shelf, $14.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-60309-460-3

An evocative “arctic noir,” this graphic novel unfurls a study in desolation, mounting tensions, and chilling atmosphere. British national Harrison Fleet is assigned four years as commissioner in 1984 to Nethertown, a territory claimed by Britain in the late 1800s and “the gateway to the arctic and all her bounties,” where he must solve the disappearance of the previous official. Upon arrival, Fleet is met with distrust from the natives, as the specter of the former British Empire’s stranglehold on the remote area lingers and the indigenous people bear no love for the crown or its representative, as expressed by open hostility and a succession of animal corpses left at his doorstep. While investigating, Fleet receives information from a handful of allies, and as the local hunters slowly close in with lethal intent, he unravels why his government has interest in so remote a location, as well as its gruesome, horrifying Heart of Darkness–style history. Pomery’s narrative is as sparse as the landscape it depicts, with a static, fine-lined visual style reminiscent of a children’s book and nautical etchings, which conveys the frigid environment in a blue-gray monotone. Though fictional, the piece addresses the legacy of British colonialism with simple, straightforward aplomb. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/29/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Glass Town: The Imaginary World of the Brontës

Isabel Greenberg. Abrams ComicArts, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3268-3

Greenberg (The One Hundred Nights of Hero) whimsically blends the real lives of the famous Brontë siblings—Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and their brother Branwell—with the fictional world they created as children in the 1840s. Growing up with only books and each other for company, the “four forlorn little figures dressed in black” invent an imaginary kingdom and populate it with characters. For Charlotte, her tours of the imaginary Glass Town become more real than her exterior life, and its envoys begin to visit her in turn. Channeling The Chronicles of Narnia and Heavenly Creatures, Greenberg explores the intoxicating power of fiction, developing the Brontës’ juvenile literary game—about which little is known in reality—into a place that feels real while retaining the illogic of a child’s private fantasies. Greenberg’s deliberately juvenile but catchy art serves the material well, creating a mood reminiscent of Henry Darger and also recalling the caricatures of Kate Beaton. In alternating color schemes, the bold crayon colors of Glass Town contrast with the drab sepias and grey-blues of the Brontës’ England. Wisely focusing on imagination and atmosphere over biographical facts, this lyrical, endlessly inventive book will appeal equally to lovers of history, literature, and metatextual fantasy. Agent: Seth Fishman, The Gernert Company. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 11/29/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence

Joel Christian Gill. Oni, $19.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5493-0335-7

An impoverished and violent childhood provides the background to this stirring memoir from Gill (Strange Fruit)—but it’s the kindness and strength that he found in those circumstances that makes his story unforgettable. During his fragmented youth, Gill was shuffled through schools, homes, and social cliques as the child of a single mother. Though he found solace where he could (memorably in chess, music, and libraries), the disorder of his life inculcated a violent streak that wore him down as much as it kept him safe from predators. He endures sexual abuse at home, bullying in school, and is ultimately pushed into young manhood with only the barest understanding of human kindness—and yet he manages to discover the joy of art, the tenderness of first love, and ironclad friendship. In the tradition of Geoffrey Canada’s Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun, Gill’s empathy for his younger self and the children he grew up alongside elevates his singular story into a passionate plea for neglected children everywhere. Gill draws himself and the kids around him as struggling against a rising tide of murky water: some of them learn to swim in this sea of aggression, while some are lost within its depths. His visuals are disarmingly whimsical (they’d be at home on Nickelodeon), with a palette unafraid of bright greens, purples, and oranges that emphasizes his youthful self’s vulnerability and capacity for joy. Beyond a recounting of a hardscrabble upbringing, Gill’s memoir becomes an ode to claiming peace from the experience of violence—and passing that gift on to others. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
An Embarrassment of Witches

Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan. Top Shelf, $19.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-60309-462-7

In this affable coming-of-age fantasy by the creators of the webcomic Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell, best friends Rory and Angela struggle to build adult lives after college. Their efforts are complicated by the fact that they live in an enchanted version of Pittsburgh where magic is real and most jobs involve some degree of wizardry and witchcraft. In a broad sense, they have the same problems as middle-class 20-somethings in the real world: fun-loving, directionless Rory changes her ambitions with each new boyfriend and tries to hide her chaotic life from her judgmental mom, while responsible but spineless Angela has second thoughts about taking a stressful internship at a pharmaceutical company. It just happens that Rory’s professional forays include making fortune-telling origami and enrolling in grad school for advanced Intramagics, while Angela’s internship requires her to fight killer plants. The blobby, busy artwork, drenched in candy colors, is packed with visual jokes: a traffic jam with dragons and pumpkin carriages, mall stores named Fae Jewelers and Taco Spell, a corporate office that turns into an M.C. Escher maze. This bildungsroman for kids who grew up obsessed with Harry Potter employs the trappings of comic fantasy to add a touch of magic to familiar human comedy. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Man Without Talent

Yoshiharu Tsuge, trans. from the Japanese by Ryan Holmberg. New York Review Comics, $22.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-68137-443-7

Tsuge’s quasi-autobiographical series of vignettes are a masterpiece of mundane struggle. This, his first full-length book to appear in English, was the last major work by Tsuge (b. 1937), who was influential in establishing a literary, alternative Manga scene before he retired from comics in 1986. The story is set in early-1980s Japan, as Tsuge’s stand-in, Sukezo Sukegawa, attempts to make a living selling stones, used cameras, and other detritus instead of drawing comics (which is the only thing he’s good at, at least according to his beleaguered wife). Sukegawa longs to disappear and is frustrated by a society obsessed with Western vulgarity and competitiveness. He can’t escape the feeling of being a loser, and his wife berates him for losing more money on his business ventures than he brings in. Despite Sukegawa’s frequently callous behavior toward his wife and his young son, it’s his son who regularly brings Sukegawa back from the abyss, imploring him to come home when he strays. Tsuge’s realistic manga carefully balances the beauty of the countryside with the family’s shabby and desperate poverty. The book’s tone is darkly satirical, and Tsuge makes Sukegawa the frequent butt of jokes. Every page feels lived and desperate, yet shot through with poetry, becoming a meditation on finding meaning in life despite trying circumstance. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Strangelands, Vol. 1: Love and Chaos

Magdalene Visaggio, Darcie Little Badger, and Guillermo Sanna. H1, $14.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-64337-980-7

The opening volume of this offbeat superhero series scripted by Visaggio (Morning in America) with Little Badger introduces Adam and Elakshi, who share a strange power. Adam can attract objects, Elakshi can repel them—but if they get either too close or too far apart from each other, they unleash a massive destructive energy. Forced to stick together and constantly monitor their distance, they’re “a walking Tunguska,” and all they want is to find a cure. In this introductory arc, their search takes them to Wild Saints Resort, a secluded Colorado compound where a guru lectures that superpowers come from “Collective Consciousness Energy” and promises to rid powered people of unwanted abilities. The series carries the vibe of classic X-Men or Incredible Hulk comics, with the focus less on heroics and more on day-to-day survival with powers (which make normal life impossible and attract unwanted enemies and shadowy conspiracies). The art by Sanna is serviceable but strains when rendering complex action scenes; however, his lush views of the Colorado wilderness provide a keen sense of place. Overall, the creative riff on superpower stories sets up intriguing central characters for future adventures. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 11/15/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams

Michael Allred, Steve Horton, and Laura Allred. Insight Comics, $39.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-68383-448-9

More fantasia than rock-star biography, this gloriously over-the-top account of David Bowie’s early career up through the “death” of his alter ego Ziggy Stardust refracts his climb to stardom through the lens of his alien imagination. Allred (Madman) presents the late 1960s and early ’70s as a glitter-bomb rush of celebrity, glam outfits, and breaking barriers. The pages are packed with the people and works (Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol; 1984, 2001, A Clockwork Orange) that pushed Bowie’s music from sensitive singer-songwriter folk toward the alien dystopias and lovesick outsider ballads that launched him into stardom. The narrative is embedded with a tapestry of sometimes subtle references, from William S. Burroughs to The Twilight Zone. Frequently overwhelming more mundane details of Bowie’s recording and collaborations on albums including Hunky Dory and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust is Allred’s art, a full-scale riot of color and sharp angles, with sensually rendered bodies, captivating eyes, and densely surreal montages. The attention to Bowie’s shifting personae unfortunately crowds out much sense of him as a person, giving short shrift to what lay behind the feverish creativity boiling out of him and his drive to continually reinvent himself. Despite an overemphasis on surface imagery, this tribute is a ravishing spectacle. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/15/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Inappropriate

Gabrielle Bell. Uncivilized, $19.95 (136p) ISBN 978-1-941250-38-9

Bell (Everything Is Flammable) explores the pitfalls and vulnerabilities of modern urban living to tender, wry, and often hilarious effect in this collection of short comics. Bell’s portraits have a lived-in feel: her pen-and-ink visuals linger on the bags under eyes, the wrinkles in clothes, and the rough masonry of New York City streets, rendered in flat, muted colors. In contrast, her subjects mix up the mundane and the fantastic. “Sometimes I wonder if Kate Middleton ever draws comics,” she wonders, “because even now, I still have my princess dreams.” Red Riding Hood idles away her days with the Wolf, who’d rather fix up old cars than eat grandmothers; dogs lead humans around on leashes; and Bell herself trudges to the East River to do her laundry by hand, because revealing she doesn’t know how to use the new washing machine is too unbearable to consider. The tension between these flights of fancy and the grit of her art knits together the disparate collection of stories into a winsome cohesive whole. In detailing her daydreams, Bell gets readers to feel uncomfortable in the most marvelous way. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/15/2019 | 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.