HOLIDAY 2009

Book News by Trent Shaw

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the newest Graphic Novel and Manga Newsletter – now called Graphic Times. I thought it was only fitting that we unwrap our new look by offering up the best bets for the holiday season. This season offers some truly great titles and hopefully this newsletter will help highlight the best of the [...]

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Graphic Novels - Art & Technique

The Art of Osamu Tezuka

Helen McCarthy
(Abrams, $40.00 HC, 9780810982499)

The Art of Osamu Tezuka is a wonderful new retrospective of the life and career of one of the most influential comics artists in the world. The book is a treasure-trove of information about Tezuka’s life and work, and includes hundreds of cover images, interior art, sketches, posters, photographs, animation stills, details about unfinished works, and much more. The book is also packaged with a 45-minute never-before-released DVD documentary showing Tezuka in the creative process. Historian Helen McCarthy includes as much information about his work as she could access, and it’s great to see images from and information about the many works not translated in English. Tezuka’s fan base is huge and this is the perfect gift for any of them. Rated T.

Graphic Novels - Biographical

Alec: The Years Have Pants

Eddie Campbell
(Top Shelf, $35.00 TP, 9781603090254)

Alec: The Years Have Pants is a big, sprawling collection of celebrated comics artist Eddie Campbell’s autobiographical pieces. In the Alec stories, collected here for the first time, Campbell (best known for From Hell, with Alan Moore) relays the ups and downs of Alec MacGarry, Campbell’s alter-ego, from his youthful artistic ambitions to the everyday happenings of mid-life and beyond. Also included is a new Alec story, as well as other rare and never-before-seen material. Campbell has a huge following, both commercially and critically, and this much-anticipated release should garner lots of media attention. Click here for a preview and here for an informative interview with Campbell. Rated M.

Graphic Novels - Crime & Mystery

Parker: The Hunter

Darwyn Cooke
(IDW, $24.99 HC, 9781600104930)

If you haven’t done so yet, take a look at Parker: The Hunter, a brilliant adaptation of Richard Stark’s classic crime novel. I’m a big fan of Darwyn Cooke, and his signature stylized art is the perfect match for the hardboiled/noir story. In fact, each panel looks like a stylized 60s ad. Parker is an independent criminal who does a big job once a year to bankroll his lifestyle. After being double-crossed by a new partner and left for dead at a heist gone wrong, Parker goes on the rampage for revenge. It’s a fun, gritty story that leaves the reader wanting more, which fortunately, will happen in the Summer of 2010 when IDW releases the next Parker adaptation. Read a lengthy excerpt here. Rated M.

Graphic Novels - General

The Book of Genesis Illustrated

R. Crumb
(Norton, $24.95 HC, 9780393061024)

Who would have thought that the most hard-to-get book – not just graphic novel, but overall book – this holiday season would be a graphic novel adaptation of the first book of the Holy Bible? The Book of Genesis Illustrated, by comics legend Robert Crumb is a straightforward, faithful adaptation that doesn’t shy away from any violence or sexuality (hey, this is Crumb after all). Reviews have been mostly positive, but that doesn’t really matter – the endless demand and very short supply already tell the entire story. However, if you’re interested, you can read reviews from The New York Times , NPR (where you can also read a five page excerpt), and Los Angeles Times. You can also view an interesting interview with Robert Crumb at fora.tv. Word is that Norton doesn’t have enough copies coming in to cover all of their backorders, so supply looks to remain limited throughout the holiday season. Get it while you can! Rated T+.

Also New in Graphic Novels - General:

Graphic Novels - Horror

The Stand Vol. 1: Captain Trips

Stephen King
(Marvel, $24.99 HC, 9780785142720)

Not released in time for pre-Holiday shopping, but the perfect item for post-Holiday gift certificates is the graphic novel adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand. King’s previous comics adaptation of his Dark Tower series has been a huge hit in bookstores, and this should do just as well. Marvel is releasing the first two volumes, Captain Trips (9780785142720 – $24.99) and American Nightmares (9780785142744 – $24.99) simultaneously on 1/5/2010. You can read a preview of the first volume here. Rated M.

Graphic Novels - Juvenile

Little Mouse Gets Ready

Jeff Smith
(Toon Books, $12.95 HC, 9781935179016)

One of the cutest graphic novels I’ve seen in quite some time is Jeff Smith’s Little Mouse Gets Ready. Part of the Toon Books graphic novels for beginning readers, Little Mouse Gets Ready very simply shows the steps in getting dressed, from undies and socks to the more difficult shoes and buttons. It’s simple and short, but manages to work as both a beginner reader book and an instruction book for kids. Jeff Smith, who everyone will recognize as the creator of the popular Bone series, is one of the best comics artists working today (I love his use of line thickness), and Steve Hammaker’s coloring is perfectly bright and cheerful. I’d recommend a face out in your children’s section – it’s irresistable! Rated E.

Graphic Novels - Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century

Frank Miller & Dave Gibbons
(Dark Horse, $99.95 HC, 9781593076542)

‘Tis the season for deluxe, collected editions and one of the pricier is The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century from comics heavyweights Frank Miller (Sin City, 300) and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen). Released over a period of almost twenty years, the Martha Washington stories are collected here for the first time, all remastered, and delivered in an oversized, slipcased hardcover. The volume also includes behind-the-scenes material, a new introduction from writer Frank Miller, and tons of commentary from artist Dave Gibbons. At $99.95, it’s a pricey gift, but considering the individual volumes are hard to track down – some of which have never been reprinted – it’s probably a pretty good deal. Check out a preview here. Rated M.

Also New in Graphic Novels - Science Fiction & Fantasy:

Humor

Bloom County Complete Library, Vol. 1

Berkeley Breathed
(IDW, $39.99 HC, 9781600105319)

I was very excited to see that IDW was taking on releasing the complete (FINALLY!!) collection of one of the most popular strips ever, Bloom County. The Complete Bloom County Library, Vol. 1 presents, in chronological order, every Bloom County strip that appeared in newspapers from its debut in 1980 through 1982. Subsequent volumes – there will be five in all – will collect about two years worth of strips and the second volume is due in April 2010. Throughout the volumes, periodic annotations, many from creator Berkeley Breathed, help place the strips in historical and political context. This has been long overdue, and IDW has done a great job with the presentation and packaging, creating editions that any fan will want to collect. It’s sure to be on many Holiday wish lists. Rated T.

Manga

GoGo Monster

Taiyo Matsumoto
(Viz, $27.99 HC, 9781421532097)

One of the most popular anime films in recent years has been TekkonKinkreet, based on Taiyo Matsumoto’s gritty tale of orphan delinquents in a sprawling metropolis. U.S. fans have been longing for another work by Matsumoto, and Viz has finally released Gogo Monster, a big, thick one-volume edition that may very well be one of the most beautifully designed manga I’ve ever seen. Similar to TekkonKinkreet, the story straddles the fence between the real and the surreal – young Yuki Tachibana is an outsider at his school, considered weird by his classmates for constantly talking about them, beings who live on the “other side” that only Yuki can hear and see. Matsumoto is a master at portraying the loneliness and awkwardness of childhood and growing up, especially for those that fall a bit outside the norm. Viz has smartly replicated the same packaging as the Japanese edition – a slipcased hardcover with gorgeous cover illustrations that wrap around the entire book, including the end pages. It’s striking, beautiful, and deserves to be faced out or displayed on a table at the front of your store. Click here to see pictures of the Japanese version. Did I mention I want this for Christmas? I’m betting I won’t be the only one. Rated T.

Also New in Manga: