Blog Archives

New Comics for New Readers – June 5, 2013

Photo by Christopher Butcher

Photo by Christopher Butcher

Want to try reading comics? Don’t know where to start? Want to try something different?

Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer spotlights up to three brand new releases worthy of your consideration. Sometimes we list more on really good weeks. All of these have been carefully selected as best bets for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before. They each highlight the variety and creativity being produced today. These are also great for those that haven’t read comics in awhile or regular readers looking to try something new.

While we can’t guarantee you’ll like what we’ve picked, we truly believe there’s a comic for everyone. If you like the images and descriptions below, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. You can often buy straight from the publishers or creators. If not, head over to your local comic book store, check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon, or download a copy at comiXology, or the comics and graphic novels sections of the Kindle Store or NOOK store. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

For a full list of this week’s new releases, see comiXology, ComicList.com and PREVIEWSworld.

(Please note these aren’t reviews. Recommendations are based on pre-release buzz, previews, and The Comics Observer‘s patented crystal ball. Product descriptions provided by publisher.)

TodayIsTheLastDayoftheRestofYourLife

Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust

Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life
Written and illustrated by Ulli Lust
Published by Fantagraphics Books
Genre: Autobiography, Memoir
Ages: 16+
464 pages
$35.00

A powerful debut graphic memoir, Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life is the rollicking story of two teenaged girls’ wild hitchhiking trip across Italy from Naples to Sicily.

Back in 1984, a rebellious, 17-year-old, punked-out Ulli Lust set out for a wild hitchhiking trip across Italy, from Naples through Verona and Rome and ending up in Sicily. Twenty-five years later, this talented Austrian cartoonist has looked back at that tumultuous summer and delivered a long, dense, sensitive, and minutely observed autobiographical masterpiece.

Miraculously combining a perfect memory for both emotional and physical detail with the sometimes painful lucidity two and half decades’ distance have brought to her understanding of the events, Lust meticulously shows the who, where, when, and how (specifically, how an often penniless young girl can survive for months on the road) of a sometimes dangerous and sometimes exhilarating journey. Particularly haunting is her portrait of her fellow traveler, the gangly, promiscuous devil-may-care Edi who veers from being her spunky, funny best friend in the world to an out-of-control lunatic with no consideration for anything but her own whims and desires.

Universally considered one of the very finest examples of the new breed of graphic novels coming from Europe, Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life won the 2011 Angoulême “Revelation” prize, and Fantagraphics is proud to bring it to English speaking readers.

The-Hollows

The Hollows by Chris Ryall and Sam Keith

The Hollows
Written by Chris Ryall
Illustrated by Sam Keith
Published by IDW Publishing
Genre: Fantasy
Ages: 16+
104 pages
$21.99

Sam Kieth and Chris Ryall transport you to a near-future Japan, where burned-out husks – the Hollows – wantonly devour souls throughout the city. Far above, a segment of society lives safely in giant tree-cities, but the problems below have a way of growing out of control…

To combat the catastrophic death of a decaying Japan, survivors create genetically engineered supertrees – wooden leviathans capable of supporting entire cities suspended above the radioactive wastes below. Traveling via jetpacks to stay above the toxic air below, the survivors must also band together against the Hollows, irradiated husks whose humanity has been supplanted by an unquenchable desire to consume human energy!

The Hollows is the premiere of a wildly original new world realized in the vivid, expressive tones that can only emanate from Sam Kieth’s hands.

The-End

The End by Anders Nilsen

The End
Written and illustrated by Anders Nilsen
Published by Fantagraphics Books
Genre: Autobiography
Ages: 16+
80 pages
$19.99

Assembled from work done in Anders Nilsen’s sketchbooks over the course of the year following the death of his fiancée in 2005, The End is a collection of short strips about loss, paralysis, waiting, and transformation.

It is a concept album in different styles, a meditation on paying attention, an abstracted autobiography and a travelogue, reflecting the progress of his struggle to reconcile the great upheaval of a death, and finding a new life on the other side.

The book blends Nilsen’s disparate styles, from the iconic simplicity and collaged drawings of his Monologues for the Coming Plague to the finely rendered Dogs and Water and Big Questions.

Originally released in magazine form in 2007 (which received an Ignatz Award nomination for Outstanding Story), The End has been updated and expanded to more than twice its original length, including 16 pages of full color.

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New Comics for New Readers – May 29, 2013

Photo by Christopher Butcher

Photo by Christopher Butcher

Want to try reading comics? Don’t know where to start? Want to try something different?

Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer spotlights up to three brand new releases worthy of your consideration. Sometimes we list more on really good weeks. All of these have been carefully selected as best bets for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before. They each highlight the variety and creativity being produced today. These are also great for those that haven’t read comics in awhile or regular readers looking to try something new.

While we can’t guarantee you’ll like what we’ve picked, we truly believe there’s a comic for everyone. If you like the images and descriptions below, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. You can often buy straight from the publishers or creators. If not, head over to your local comic book store, check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon, or download a copy at comiXology, or the comics and graphic novels sections of the Kindle Store or NOOK store. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

For a full list of this week’s new releases, see comiXology, ComicList.com and PREVIEWSworld.

(Please note these aren’t reviews. Recommendations are based on pre-release buzz, previews, and The Comics Observer‘s patented crystal ball. Product descriptions provided by publisher.)

OddDuck

Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon

Odd Duck
Written by Cecil Castellucci
Illustrated by Sara Varon
Published by First Second Books
Genre: Fiction
Ages: 6+ / Grade: 1+
96 pages
$15.99

Theodora is a perfectly normal duck. She may swim with a teacup balanced on her head and stay north when the rest of the ducks fly south for the winter, but there’s nothing so odd about that.

Chad, on the other hand, is one strange bird. Theodora quite likes him, but she can’t overlook his odd habits. It’s a good thing Chad has a normal friend like Theodora to set a good example for him.

But who exactly is the odd duck here? Theodora may not like the answer.

Sara Varon (Robot Dreams) teams up with Cecil Castellucci (Grandma’s Gloves) for a gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming examination of the perils and pleasures of friendship.

GoodDog

Good Dog by Graham Chaffee

Good Dog
Written and illustrated by Graham Chaffee
Published by Fantagraphics Books
Genre: Fiction
Ages: 8+
96 pages
$16.99

Ivan, who is plagued by terrible nightmares about chickens and rabbits, is a good dog — if only someone would notice. Readers accompany the stray as he navigates dog society, weathers pack politics, and surveys canine-human interactions.

Good Dog‘s story and pen-and-ink art are deceptively simple, but Chaffee uses the approachability of the subject matter as a device to explore topics such as independence, security, assimilation, loyalty, and violence. Preteen-and-up dog fanciers, especially, will warm to the well-meaning Ivan and his exploits with a motley assortment of Scotties, Bulldogs, and mutts. Chaffee combines illustrative gravitas with cartooning verve and creates a richly textured, dog’s-eye view of the world. The story is a rousing Jack London-esque adventure as well as a moral parable.

Good Dog marks the welcome return of alternative cartoonist Graham Chaffee, who, after his successful 1995 collection of short stories, The Most Important Thing and Other Stories, and his acclaimed1997 graphic novel The Big Wheels, took a detour to devote himself to the art of tattooing, before charging back with his new, beautifully conceived graphic novel.

Journalism

Journalism by Joe Sacco

Journalism
Written and illustrated by Joe Sacco
Published by Metropolitan Books
Genre: Non-Fiction
Ages: 13+
208 pages
$22.00

“The images Sacco draws are so powerful that they burn deep into your retina and reconfigure how you see the world… Journalism displays Sacco at the top of his game.”—National Post (Toronto)

Over the past decade, Joe Sacco has increasingly turned to short-form comics journalism to report from conflict zones around the world. Collected here for the first time, Sacco’s darkly funny, revealing reportage confirms his standing as one of the foremost war correspondents working today. Journalism takes readers from the smuggling tunnels of Gaza to war crimes trials in The Hague, from the lives of India’s “untouchables” to the ordeal of Saharan refugees washed up on the shores of Malta. And in pieces never published before in the United States, Sacco confronts the misery and absurdity of the war in Iraq, including the darkest chapter in recent American history—the torture of detainees.

Vividly depicting Sacco’s own interactions with the people he meets, the stories in this remarkable collection argue for the essential truth in comics reportage, an inevitably subjective journalistic endeavor. Among Sacco’s most mature and accomplished work, Journalism demonstrates the power of our premier cartoonist to chronicle lived experience with a force that often eludes other media.

New Comics for New Readers – March 6, 2013

Photo by Christopher Butcher

Photo by Christopher Butcher

Want to try reading comics? Don’t know where to start? Want to try something different?

Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer spotlights up to three brand new releases worthy of your consideration. All of these have been carefully selected as best bets for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before. They each highlight the variety and creativity being produced today. These are also great for those that haven’t read comics in awhile or regular readers looking to try something new.

While we can’t guarantee you’ll like what we’ve picked, we truly believe there’s a comic for everyone. If you like the images and descriptions below, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. You can often buy straight from the publishers or creators. If not, head over to your local comic book store, check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon, or download a copy at comiXology, or the comics and graphic novels sections of the Kindle Store or NOOK store. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

For a full list of this week’s new releases, see comiXology, ComicList.com and PREVIEWSworld.

(Please note these aren’t reviews. Recommendations are based on pre-release buzz, previews, and The Comics Observer‘s patented crystal ball. Product descriptions provided by publisher.)

FannyAndRomeo

Fanny and Romeo by Yves Pelletier and Pascal Girard

Fanny and Romeo
Written by Yves Pelletier
Illustrated by Pascal Girard
Published by Conundrum Press
Genre: Comedy
Ages: 12+
$20.00

It’s him or the cat in this charming collaboration between first time author (and renown Quebec comic actor) Yves Pelletier and the established artist Pascal Girard (winner of the Doug Wright Award for Bigfoot).

The story concerns a young couple, Fanny wants to have children, and Fabien doesn’t feel ready. Then a cat called Romeo comes into their lives. She falls in love, but he’s allergic. Fanny becomes more and more attached to the cat, to the point where she actually rents a separate apartment for it. But it turns out her Romeo has actually been two-timing her.

A perfect blend of Pelletier’s writing with Girard’s beautiful watercolors, this story will warm the hearts of cat lovers and people lovers alike!

Barrage1

Barrage by Kouhei Horikoshi

Barrage Volume 1
Written and illustrated by Kouhei Horikoshi
Published by VIZ Media
Genre: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction, Comedy
Ages: 12+
192 pages
$9.99

Spunky slum kid Astro gets the chance of a lifetime to end the chaos ripping apart his home planet when the playboy prince switches places with him. Now Astro has become Prince Barrage, a boy charged with the duty of restoring peace to the planet…and given an all-powerful magical spear to do it!

In order to save the planet, Astro will have to battle terrifying aliens while learning how to fight from his even more frightening guardian, the exacting knight Tiamat. Does a kid like Astro have what it takes to become the real prince and save the planet?

 

 

MessagesInABottle

Messages in a Bottle by B. Krigstein

Messages in a Bottle: Comic Book Stories by B. Krigstein
Written and illustrated by Bernard Krigstein
Edited by Greg Sadowski
Published by Fantagraphics Books
Genre: Anthology
Ages: 16+
272 pages
$35.00

Working in comic books for just over a decade in the 1940s and ’50s, Bernard Krigstein applied all the craft, intelligence, and ambition of a burgeoning “serious” artist, achieving results that remain stunning to this day. While his legend rests mostly on his landmark narratives created for EC Comics, dozens of stories for lesser publishers equally showcase his singular draftsmanship and radical reinterpretation of the comics page.

Harvey and Eisner Award-winning Krigstein biographer Greg Sadowski has assembled the very best of the artist’s work, starting with his earliest creative rumblings, through his glory days at EC, to his final daring experiments for Stan Lee’s Atlas Comics — running through nearly every genre popular at the time, be it horror, science fiction, war, western, or romance.

This edition reprints the out-of-print 2004 hardcover B. Krigstein Comics, with a number of stories re-tooled and improved in terms of reproduction, and several new stories added. Legendary EC colorist Marie Severin, in her last major assignment before her retirement, recolored 20 stories for this edition. The remainder has been taken from printed comics, digitally restored with subtlety and restraint. Original art pages, photostats from Krigstein’s personal archives, and an extensive set of historical and editorial notes by Sadowski round out this compelling volume.

Honorable mentions for new editions of two favorites:

LastDayInVietnam

Last Day in Vietnam by Will Eisner

Last Day in Vietnam: A Memory
Written and illustrated by Will Eisner
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Genre: War, Memoir
Ages: 16+
80 pages
$17.99

Last Day in Vietnam recounts Will Eisner’s own experiences with soldiers engaged not only in the daily hostilities of war but also in larger, more personal combat. Some of the stories in this novel are comical, some heartrending, some frightening, yet all display the incredible insight into humanity characteristic of Eisner’s entire oeuvre.

* Introduction by Matt Fraction!

* Printed with special sepia ink and in hardcover for the first time.

* Released to coincide with Will Eisner Week — the annual celebration of Eisner’s life and work.

JoeTheBarbarian

Joe the Barbarian by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy

Joe the Barbarian
Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Sean Murphy
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics
Genre: Fantasy
Ages: 16+
224 pages
$19.99

Joe is an imaginative young kid of 11 who happens to suffer from type 1 diabetes. He can’t fit in at school. He’s the victim of bullies. His dad died overseas in the Iraq war. Without supervision and insulin, he can easily slip into a delirious, disassociative state that presages coma and death.

One fateful day, his condition causes him to believe he has entered a vivid fantasy world in which he is the lost savior — a fantastic land based on the layout and contents of his home. His desperate attempts to make it out of his bedroom and down the mountainous stairs, to find food, switch the lights on and answer the phone to his mother, transform into an incredible, epic adventure through a bizarre landscape of submarine pirate dwarves, evil Hell Hounds, Lightning Lords and besieged castles; a landscape which allows him to work out his own and his family’s problems.

But is his quest really just an insulin-deprived delirium — from which he can die if he doesn’t take his meds — or something much bigger?

New Comics for New Readers – January 9, 2013

Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer spotlights up to three brand new releases worthy of your consideration. These should be suitable for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before.

These are out today! If you like what you see here, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. Then head to your local comic book store, or check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

For a full list of this week’s new releases, see comiXology and ComicList.com.

(Please note these aren’t reviews. Recommendations are based on pre-release buzz, previews, and The Comics Observer‘s patented crystal ball. Product descriptions provided by publisher.)

Cherubs

Cherubs! by Bryan Talbot and Mark Stafford

Cherubs!
Written by Bryan Talbot
Illustrated by Mark Stafford
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Genre: Humor, Adventure
Ages: 16+
192 pages
$19.99

Falsely accused of heaven’s first homicide, five churlish cherubim escape to New York in pursuit of the renegade archangel Abbadon on the eve of the Apocalypse! Befriended by exotic-dancer Mary and chased by unstoppable Seraphim terminators, the Cherubs alone stand against hell’s hordes as Satan prepares to make war, not love!

From Eisner Award winner Bryan Talbot and Hades-hot indie artist Mark Stafford, Cherubs! is an outrageous, irreverent, supernatural comedy-adventure that’s heaven sent and hell bent! Featuring four previously unpublished issues of the Cherubs! comic-book series.

 

BetaTestingtheApocalypse

Beta Testing the Apocalypse by Tom Kaczynski

Beta Testing the Apocalypse
Written and illustrated by Tom Kaczynski
Published by Fantagraphics Books
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories, Anthology
Ages: 16+
136 pages
$19.99

A heady conflation of philosophy, fiction & comics.

It would be easy to call Tom Kaczynski the J.G. Ballard of comics. Like Ballard, Kaczynski’s comics riff on dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments. Yet while Kaczynski shares many of Ballard’s obsessions, he processes them in unique ways. His visual storytelling adds an architectural dimension that the written word alone lacks.

Kaczynski takes abstract ideas — capitalism, communism, or utopianism — and makes them tangible. He depicts and meditates on the immense political and technological structures and spaces we inhabit that subtly affect and define the limits of who we are and the freedom we as Americans presume to enjoy. Society and the individual, in perpetual tension. Once you’ve read Kaczynski’s comics, it should come as no surprise to learn that he studied architecture before embarking on a career as a cartoonist.

Beta Testing includes approximately 10 short stories, most notably “The New,” a brand new story created expressly for this book. It’s Kaczynski’s longest story to date. “The New” is set in an unnamed third-world megalopolis. It could be Dhaka, Lagos or Mumbai. The city creaks under the pressure of explosive growth. Whole districts are built in a week. The story follows an internationally renowned starchitect as he struggles to impose his vision on the metropolis. A vision threatened by the massive dispossessed slum-proletariat inhabiting the slums and favelas on the edges of the city. From the fetid ferment of garbage dumps and shanties emerges a new feral architecture.

AmericanHistory-LosTejanosLostCause

Jack Jackson’s American History

Jack Jackson’s American History: Los Tejanos and Lost Cause
Written and illustrated by Jack Jackson
Published by Fantagraphics Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Ages: 16+
320 pages
$35.00

Two landmark works of graphic nonfiction under one cover.

Jack Jackson loved American history and creating comics. He combined these into a single vocation and created a legacy of historical graphic novels that has never been equaled.

Jackson is credited with creating what many consider the first underground comic, God Nose, in 1964. He co-founded Rip Off Press in 1969, and made some of the most scathing satirical comics about contemporary America ever seen. But, Jackson was a Texan, and in the 1970s he returned to his roots and began writing and drawing short historical comics about Texas history. He then went on to produce six graphic novels chronicling 19th century Western history focusing on his beloved Texas and the Plains Indians. Fantagraphics is proud to bring his graphic histories back into print in a series of three volumes, each reprinting two of his long narratives.

The first volume features Los Tejanos, which Fantagraphics published as a solo book in 1981, and Lost Cause (1998) — chronicling Texas history before and after the Civil War.

Los Tejanos is the story of the Texas-Mexican conflict between 1835 and 1875 as seen through the eyes of tejano (literally Texan of Mexican, as distinct from anglo, heritage) Juan Seguín. It is through Seguín, a pivotal and tragic figure, that Jackson humanizes Texas’ fight for independence and provides a human scale for this vast and complex story.

Lost Cause documents the violent reaction to Reconstruction by Texans. As Jackson wrote, “Texas reaped a bitter harvest from the War Between the States. Part of this dark legacy was the great unrest that plagued the beaten but unbowed populace.” The tensions caused by Reconstruction are told through the Taylor-Sutton feud, which raged across South Texas, embracing two generations and causing untold grief, and the gunslinger John Wesley Hardin, who swept across Texas killing Carpetbaggers, Federal soldiers, and Indians.

Jackson’s work is as known for its rigorous research — he became as good an historian as he was a cartoonist — as well as its chiseled, raw-boned visual approach, reproducing the time and place with an uncanny verisimilitude.

This edition includes an essay by and interview with Jackson about the controversy Lost Cause generated, and an introduction by the novelist Ron Hansen.

New Comics for New Readers – January 2, 2013

Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer spotlights up to three brand new releases worthy of your consideration. These should be suitable for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before.

These are out today! If you like what you see here, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. Then head to your local comic book store, or check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

For a full list of this week’s new releases, see comiXology and ComicList.com.

(Please note these aren’t reviews. Recommendations are based on pre-release buzz, previews, and The Comics Observer‘s patented crystal ball. Product descriptions provided by publisher.)

Delphine by Richard Sala

Delphine by Richard Sala

Delphine
Written and illustrated by Richard Sala
Published by Fantagraphics Books
Genre: Horror
Ages: 16+
128 pages
$24.99

A mysterious traveler gets off the train in a small village surrounded by a thick sinister forest. He is searching for Delphine, who vanished with only a scrawled-out address on a scrap of paper as a trace.

Richard Sala takes the tale of Snow White and stands it on its head, retelling it from Prince Charming’s perspective (the unnamed traveler) in a contemporary setting. This twisted tale includes all the elements of terror from the original fairy tale, with none of the insipid saccharine coating of the Disney animated adaptation: Yes, there will be blood.

Originally serialized as part of the acclaimed international “Ignatz” series, Delphine is executed in a rich and ominous duotone that shows off Sala’s virtuosity — punctuated with stunning full-color chapter breaks.

Glitter Kiss by Adrianne Ambrose and Monica Gallagher

Glitter Kiss by Adrianne Ambrose & Monica Gallagher

Glitter Kiss
Written by Adrianne Ambrose
Illustrated by Monica Gallagher
Published by Oni Press
Genre: Humor
Ages: 10+
160 pages
$15.99

One kiss from Tinka’s sparkling lips leads to some unexpected consequences for the callous boys of Portage High School.

After a secret romance goes up in flames, she looks to a fortune teller for answers on finding true love, which leads to the summoning of some accidental–but hilarious–magic. But in the end, Tinka has to learn to take responsibility for her own decisions, with or without the aid of magic.

New Comics for New Readers – October 17, 2012

Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer spotlights three brand new releases worth checking out that should be suitable for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before.

These are out today! If you like what you see here, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. Then head to your local comic book store, or check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

For a full list of this week’s new releases, see comiXology and ComicList.com.

(Disclaimer: These aren’t reviews. Recommendations are based on pre-release press, previews, and The Comics Observer‘s patented crystal ball. Product descriptions provided by publisher.)

Ralph Azham by Lewis Trondheim

Ralph Azham Volume 1: Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love?
Written and illustrated by Lewis Trondheim
Translated by Kim Thompson
Published by Fantagraphics Books
Genre: Humor, Fantasy
Ages: 12+
96 pages
$14.99

Within his tiny village, Ralph Azham is considered an insolent good-for-nothing layabout, a virtual pariah — particularly since he was supposed to be a Chosen One. (Things didn’t work out.) Yet his odd azure coloration and a few unique abilities (he can predict births and deaths) suggest that there may be more to him than meets the eye. And when the terrifying Horde stages one of its regular raids on his village, Ralph takes the young Raoul under his wing and sets out for a series of adventures…

Trondheim is already well known to fantasy buffs for the worldwide success Dungeon, the complex set of interlocking series he created with fellow cartoonist Joann Sfar and a raft of artists. While Ralph Azham works within the same genre, this is a far more tightly focused, single-character-starring new series for which Trondheim is solely responsible — that is, except for the stunningly rich coloring, provided by his longtime collaborator Brigitte Findakly working in hand-executed watercolors for the first time in over a decade.

Witty and fleet-footed like all of Trondheim’s work, madly inventive in terms of characters, creatures, and events, Ralph Azham is scheduled to run for at least six volumes and is presented in a distinctive “landscape” format.

Ralph Azham Vol. 1: Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love? by Lewis Trondheim - video preview

Mike Norton’s The Curse

Mike Norton’s The Curse
Written and illustrated by Mike Norton
Published by Oni Press
Genre: Humor, Fantasy
Ages: 16+
80 pages
$14.99

In 2009, cartoonist extraordinaire and internet sensation Mike Norton (Battlepug, Double Feature Comics: The Answer) took the “24-Hour Comic” Challenge and created the pug-tastic comic The Curse over the course of a single day! He returned with sequels spawned during “24-Hour Comic” events in 2010 and 2011. Now all three tales of pirates and pugs are available in print in this new collection.

Mudman by Paul Grist

Mudman Volume 1
Written and illustrated by Paul Grist
Published by Image Comics
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Superhero
Ages: 12+
144 pages
$9.99

It’s the first day back at school for Owen Craig, and it’s not going too well. He’s been run over, got detention, and his police officer father has been taken prisoner by armed bank robbers.

And now his body seems to be turning to mud…

New Comics for New Readers – September 12, 2012

Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer picks brand new releases worth checking out that should be suitable for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before.

These are out today! If you like what you see here, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. Then head to your local comic book store, or check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

For a full list of this week’s new releases, see comiXology and ComicList.com.

(Disclaimer: These aren’t reviews. Recommendations are based on pre-release press, previews, and The Comics Observer‘s patented crystal ball. Product descriptions provided by publisher.)

Hugo Tate by Nate Abadzis

Hugo Tate
Written and illustrated by Nick Abadzis
Published by Blank Slate Books
Genre: Humor
Ages: 16+
192 pages
$19.99

The long-awaited collection of Nick Abadzis’ first magnum opus, from the pages of Deadline magazine.

Eighteen years after Hugo Tate drew to a close within the pages of Deadline, the comic’s entire six-year run is finally being collected in a single volume by Blank Slate.

Beginning life in 1988 as an acerbic humor strip featuring an eponymous stick man protagonist living in a figuratively-drawn world, Hugo Tate evolved into an intelligent look into the lives of a complex web of characters stretching from London to New York and beyond.

Described by The Comics Journal as “Britain’s Love and Rockets“, this collection includes the critically-acclaimed final story arc O, America!, in which Hugo finds himself on a drug-fueled road trip across the nightmarish underbelly of the United States. Featuring a gallery of rare extras, all-new commentary from Abadzis and Deadline editor Frank Wynne, as well as a special introduction by Garth Ennis, there’s never been a better time to read – or revisit – this genuine modern classic.

Bucko by Jeff Parker and Erika Moen

Bucko
Written by Jeff Parker
Illustrated by Erika Moen
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Genre: Humor; Mystery
Ages: 16+
136 pages
$19.99

After discovering a dead body in an office bathroom, hungover job interviewee Rich “Bucko” Richardson becomes suspected of the murder. What he thinks is a quest to find the real killer turns into a weeklong romp through the wilds of Portland, Oregon, complete with bike-mounted cover bands, steampunk Makers, Juggalos, SuicideGirls, meth heads, so much absinthe, and an entire city made of books. After taking the Internet by storm, Jeff Parker and Erika Moen’s dirty, funny murder mystery is now the most hilarious book in comic shops!

*Includes brand-new strips, commentary, and info on the real-life inspirations for Bucko!

*Best new webcomic of 2011!

Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte

Is That All There Is?
Written and illustrated by Joost Swarte
Published by Fantagraphics Books
Genre: Anthology
Ages: 16+
144 pages
$25.00

By appropriating and subverting Tintin creator Hergé’s classic “clear line” style, Joost Swarte revitalized European alternative comics in the 1970s with a series of satirical, musically elegant, supremely beautifully drawn short stories — often featuring his innocent, magnificently-quiffed Jopo de Pojo, or his orotund scientist character, Anton Makassar.

Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? collects virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s. Especially great pains have been taken to match Swarte’s superb coloring, which includes stories executed in watercolor, comics printed in retro duotones, fiendishly clever use of Zip-a-Tone screens, and much more. (There’s even a story about how to color comics art using those screens, with Makassar as the teacher.)

Other noteworthy stories include Swarte’s take on an episode from Hergé’s early days, a Fats Domino story, a tribute to the legendary “Upside-Downs” strip, and a story titled simply “Modern Art.”

“I’ve loved Joost Swarte’s perfect cartoons, drawings and designs for decades and it’s nothing short of ridiculous that a comprehensive edition of this brilliant artist’s work has never been available in America until now. Swarte is considered a national treasure in his native Holland, and if you open this book, you’ll understand why.” — Chris Ware

3 New Comics for New Readers – June 13, 2012

Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer picks brand new releases worth checking out that should be suitable for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before.

These are out today! If you like what you see here, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. Then head to your local comic book store, or check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

For a full list of this week’s new releases, see comiXology and ComicList.com.

The Massive #1 by Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson

The Massive #1
Written by Brian Wood
Illustrated by Kristian Donaldson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Genre: Action/Adventure
32 pages
$3.50

In a post-war, post-crash, post-disaster, post-everything world, the environmental-action trawler Kapital scours the earth’s oceans for its mysteriously missing sistership, The Massive. Captain Callum Israel, a man who has dedicated his life to the ocean, now must ask himself—as our planet dies—what it means to be an environmentalist after the world’s ended. Callum and his crew will come up against pirates, rebels, murderers, and thieves as they struggle to remain noble toward their cause. Can you save a planet that’s already doomed?

* The perfect follow-up to Wood’s DMZ!

The Massive is a book to keep an eye on in 2012.” —IGN

At the end of the world, the story begins.

New York Mon Amour by Jacques Tardi

New York Mon Amour
Written by Jacques Tardi and Benjamin Legrand
Illustrated by Jacques Tardi
Translated by Kim Thompson
Published by Fantagraphics Books
Genre: Crime
84 pages
$19.99

A quartet of big-apple-centric stories by Tardi including “Cockroach Killer” and “Manhattan.”

Many years ago, Jacques Tardi was introduced to American audiences with “Manhattan,” a grim and grimy story of depression, madness and suicide in New York City whose appearance in the premiere issue of RAW magazine was instrumental in defining both that magazine’s virtuoso aesthetic and its dark sensibility. Three decades later, New York Mon Amour collects “Manhattan”and three other tales of the Big Apple — rendered by Tardi with just as much panache and you-are-there detail as Paris or the trenches of World War I in his other books — in one spectacular volume.

Aside from “Manhattan,” the centerpiece of the book is the graphic novel “Cockroach Killer,” written by Benjamin Legrand. This violent,surreal conspiracy thriller, starring a hapless exterminator named Walter, features a striking two-color black-and-red technique unique in Tardi’s oeuvre, and remains one of the cartoonist’s most startling, confounding works. New York Mon Amour is rounded off with two short stories written by Dominique Grange: “It’s So Hard” (starring John Lennon — but not that John Lennon — and never before published in English) and “The Killing of Hung” (a story of revenge and redemption).

New York Mon Amour is a crucial and unique addition to Fantagraphics’ acclaimed Tardi collection.

Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco

Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt
Written by Chris Hedges
Illustrated by Joe Sacco
Published by Nation Books
Genre: Non-fiction, Journalism, Travelogue
320 pages
$28.00

Two years ago, Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges and award-winning cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco set out to take a look at the sacrifice zones, those areas in America that have been offered up for exploitation in the name of profit, progress, and technological advancement. They wanted to show in words and drawings what life looks like in places where the marketplace rules without constraints, where human beings and the natural world are used and then discarded to maximize profit. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is the searing account of their travels.

The book starts in the western plains, where Native Americans were sacrificed in the giddy race for land and empire. It moves to the old manufacturing centers and coal fields that fueled the industrial revolution, but now lie depleted and in decay. It follows the steady downward spiral of American labor into the nation’s produce fields and ends in Zuccotti Park where a new generation revolts against a corporate state that has handed to the young an economic, political, cultural and environmental catastrophe.

[Note: Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt mixes prose with short comics interludes.]

3 New Comics for New Readers – May 9, 2012

It’s international week! From Japan to Italy to Ireland, experience three exceptional graphic novels that provide all new experiences and perspectives: a poetic journey through childhood memories of a grandmother, a fantastical creature examining the day-to-day lives of residents of an apartment building, and the legendary story of an 11th Century king who changed history.

Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer picks three brand new releases worth checking out that should be suitable for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before.

If you like what you see here, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. Then head to your local comic book store, or check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

For a full list of this week’s new releases, see comiXology and ComicList.com.

NonNonBa by Shigeru Mizuki

NonNonBa
Written and illustrated by Shigeru Mizuki
Published by Drawn and Quarterly
Genre: Drama, Memoir
432 pages
$26.95

NonNonBa is the definitive work by acclaimed gekiga-ka Shigeru Mizuki, a poetic memoir detailing his interest in yokai (spirit monsters). Mizuki’s childhood experiences with yokai influenced the course of his life and oeuvre; he is now known as the forefather of yokai manga. His spring 2011 book, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, was featured on PRI’s The World, where Marco Werman scored a coveted interview with one of the most famous visual artists working in Japan today.

Within the pages of NonNonBa, Mizuki explores the legacy left him by his childhood explorations of the spirit world, explorations encouraged by his grandmother, a grumpy old woman named NonNonBa.

NonNonBa is a touching work about childhood and growing up, as well as a fascinating portrayal of Japan in a moment of transition. NonNonBa was the first manga to win the Angouleme Prize for Best Album. Much like its namesake, NonNonBa is at once funny and nostalgic, firmly grounded in a socio-historical context and floating in the world of the supernatural.

Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli

Interiorae
Written and illustrated by Gabriella Giandelli
Published by Fantagraphics Books
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
144 pages
$19.99

A high-rise apartment building in an unnamed European city. Its inhabitants come and go, meet each other, talk, dream, regret, hope… in short, live. A ghostly, shape-shifting anthropomorphic white rabbit roams from apartment to apartment, surveying and keeping track of all this humanity… and at the end of every night, he floats down to the basement where he delivers his report to the “great dark one.”

Lushly delineated in penciled halftones, this moody graphic novel was originally serialized in Fantagraphics’ acclaimed “Ignatz” series of upscale saddle-stitched booklets in duotone form, but this complete edition restores the artist’s original striking full-color treatment.

Brian Boru: Ireland’s Warrior King by Damien Goodfellow

Brian Boru: Ireland’s Warrior King
Written and illustrated by Damien Goodfellow
Published by O’Brien Press
Genre: History, Biography
$24.50

Men’s lives are controlled by powerful warlords. Brutal tribal warfare ensures glory and riches for some, slavery and destruction for others.

From the dark misty shores west of the Shannon, Brian Boru battles his way to become High King, ending the six-hundred-year reign of the Northern O’Neill’s. But status, once gained, must be retained; the Norse and Danes, new migrants to Irish shores, fight to stem Brian’s increasing power, while fierce Irish tribes also seek control.

As Brian spends his days in a whirlwind of constant conflict, his wife, Gormfhlaith, battles to save her family – at any cost …

Dig Comics: Wednesday Surprise – Bizarro Depravity Edition

Guest columnist Miguel Cima, director/host of the award-winning documentary Dig Comics, continues his series of essays looking at what makes comics so great, and what’s holding them back.

[NOTE: In this space from time to time, I will write about a Wednesday Surprise. What is that? It’s a comic that takes me to a new place in the comicsphere. Visions written and drawn to feed some starved part of my brain I didn’t know was there. I spend a lot of time and money to find these comics. When they hit my eyes, I remember why I still seek them out, why I don’t quit comics. If your consciousness could use some expanding from sequential art once in a while, you may like coming here. And now that you’ve read this, you won’t need to do so again. The same blurb will appear in this space word for word and after all – you won’t keep reading to not be surprised.]

If I may, please allow me to define a sub-genre which I think I may be making up: Bizarro Depravity comics. The simple definition is: sequential art employing elements of destructive and socially unacceptable behavior and imagery, meant to induce moral and/or philosophical confusion, and characterized by surreal narrative and/or rendering which is often disturbing, yet causes your mind to engage in new visual languages. That’s all a very fancy way of saying, these comics are really messed up, but in a smart artistic way, and the violence and antagonism encountered is meant to challenge your brain, not exploit your emotions. If you are still confused, I can’t help you, you’ll just have to check out the comics I’m talking about.

The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #4 by David Hine and Shaky Kane

This week’s Wednesday Surprise was The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred, issue #4 (Image Comics). You really don’t need to read the previous series (the awesome surreal love letter to comics, The Bulletproof Coffin) or even the previous issues to “get” what writer David Hine and artist Shaky Kane offer up here. As they explain in their foreword, they’ve simply taken 84 comics panels, cut them up, and laid them out in a non-linear narrative form. They even encourage you to start reading from any random point and progress in any direction you want. The result is a comic book with no rules, and yet a distinct and deliberate evocation for your mind. Each panel is an individual scene of nightmare, drudged from everything including pop culture, crime sheets, horror comics, sci-fi movies, junky novels, and childhood fears. Some of the panels are related and could be placed together for their own narrative. But why do that? Just like some fevered dream, time doesn’t need to happen chronologically here, logic doesn’t need to organize events, and control is out the window. Reading through the issue is like a breathless voyage through terror and our own worst thoughts. And reason won’t save you: it’s been purposefully eschewed here. It’s a funhouse ride through the rotten dregs of your soul, and a direct homage to William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch which is acknowledged both through the rather odd afterword as well as the “Where’s Waldo?” game of Burroughs references littered throughout. If you enjoy being deeply spooked and can let go of need for a conventional story, I recommend you buy this comic (and I would also pick up a copy of Shaky Kane’s solo work – Monster Truck – which is not quite as harsh or non-linear).

Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #4, page 5 by David Hine and Shaky Kane

The Cabbie Vol. 1 by Martí

So of course, this has me recalling some Bizarro Depravity Wednesday Surprise comics from the past that I’d like to share here with you. And we’ll stay clear of non-linear narrative by starting with the page-turner The Cabbie, by Spanish creator Martí (Fantagraphics Books). This complex reaction to Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy, the Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver, and the Underground Comix scene from the ’70s and ’80s was cooked up in the post-Franco era in Spain. After years of repression, artists really let it all hang out, pushing boundaries of acceptability and subject matter. The Cabbie follows the tale of a pious, hard-working taxi driver who has a penchant for crime-fighting. His unwitting involvement in catching a crook draws him into the world of a poverty-stricken criminal family living in the slums by a sewer drain pipe. There’s no shortage of hookers, booze, knife fights, toxic sludge and murder in this landscape. And the deeper the Cabbie gets into it, the darker his own soul becomes – but maybe he had a head start. After all, what seems like a decent citizen on the surface turns out to be a fanatical weirdo who wildly drifts between great avarice and deep guilt, all the time projecting a veneer of decency. As for the depraved criminal family – they have a good side, too. They really care about each other – even if that means promoting robbery and prostitution to their children as an acceptable survival tool. Visually, The Cabbie throws stark classical comic stripping in your face, confusing your eyeballs with the expectation of a palatable Sunday funny page, all the while drawing you deeper into the madness and perversions found on the fringes of civilization. I can’t help but wonder if this wasn’t an important influence on Kaz’s brilliant Underworld strip, which similarly takes us to the dark alleys and gutters of the mind – albeit in a far more humorous way. There’s no real laughs in The Cabbie, but it’s not really depressing at all. It’s just massively absurd and insane. I did laugh a few times, but in that “holy shit, this is fucked up” kind of way. But I have to emphasize: The Cabbie is a really good solid tale. There are no abstractions here, only a moral ambiguity which is probably far more real than most of us would like to admit.

Prison Pit Book One by Johnny Ryan

Back to being funny, Bizarro Depravity has a strong foundation in comedy, and perhaps the most extreme version of this in the last few years is Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit (Fantagraphics Books). Three volumes of this gratuitously gruesome humor book have graced my grey matter so far. In this work, Ryan essentially deconstructs the fantasy genre and superheroes at the same time. The story – a minimal prop for the action – is about a bunch of super-powered creatures from across the cosmos lumped onto a penitentiary planet which becomes a de facto gladiatorial arena for some very weird monsters. The grizzly battles are long and protracted – and uniquely violent. The trick is in the various abilities of the fighters. One gets its head torn off, only to have a much more horrific and deadly set of appendages emerge. Another monster gets eaten, chewed to bits and shit out – only to transform his fecal form into a corrosive blob that keeps fighting. Yes, every disgusting body part gets Ryan’s attention – and he makes a few up as well. Alien genitals, mutated orifices, it’s all limited only by Ryan’s thick imagination. His drawing style is far too funny to be disturbing, but what he makes you look at forces you to think about dismemberment, regeneration and excretion in a whole new way. It’s made for horror and fantasy fans, pressing you to re-imagine the traditional meta-human powers. Things like great strength, flight, fire, and telekinesis are amongst the familiar fare in Prison Pit – they’re just not the limit of things. Yes, it’s a venture into potty humor, totally immature and adolescent, so if you don’t think ass jokes are funny, don’t bother. But if you do, and you have a strong constitution, Prison Pit offers some of the most creative – and I MUST stress the term creative – blood-splattered, monster-filled, battle-ridden experiences in comics. And it’s damned funny too. But don’t confuse Ryan’s intent with a horror book like Crossed. While Crossed has its sick sense of humor as well, Prison Pit isn’t meant to give you night terrors. It’s just a smart and goofy guy finding a way to have some fun being naughty while making fun of the typical fanboy books which so many “adults” take so seriously. And like all three books here, it’s got its own distinctive place in the Bizarro Depravity genre.

Argentinean-born New Yorker and NYU film school graduate Miguel Cima is a veteran of film, television and music. He has worked for such companies as Warner Bros., Dreamworks and MTV. An avid comic book collector since he could read, Miguel began writing stories in 4th grade and has not slowed down since. He is a world traveler, accomplished writer, filmmaker, and comics creator. He is the writer, director and host of the award-winning documentary Dig Comics. Follow Dig Comics on Facebook. Read Miguel’s comic book recommendations.