SEPTEMBER 26, 2011

Book News by Trent Shaw

Welcome to the newest issue of Graphic Times. Some truly great titles have released over the past several weeks and many more are due just around the corner. Hopefully this newsletter will help highlight the best of the new releases, point out some interesting trends, and help sell some books!  As always, don’t hesitate to [...]

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Graphic Novels - Biography & Autobiography


Jim Ottaviani & Leland Myrick
(First Second, $29.99, HC, 9781596432598)

Initial sales have been good for FEYNMAN, the graphic biography of the Nobel-winning quantum physicist. We follow Richard Feynman from an inquisitive child on Long Island through his legendary exploits and adventures, his work on the Manhattan Project, and up through his battle with cancer. Creators Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick are able to keep the tone light and the story moving, delving into Feynman's scientific theories without becoming mired in the details. A perfect suggestion for those who enjoyed last year's Logicomix. Read a preview here. Rated T+.

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Graphic Novels - Collectible and Gift

Amazing 3-D Comics

Craig Yoe, introduction by Joe Kubert
(YoeBooks/IDW, $39.99, HC, 9781600108532)

Back in the 1950s, during the first wave of the 3-D craze, even the comics industry got in on the fun, producing some of the bestselling comics of all time - with print-runs in the millions. Documenting this thrilling and short-lived history is AMAZING 3-D COMICS, a great retrospective collecting over 20 vintage 3-D stories, including Felix the Cat, The Three Stooges, Sheena Queen of the Jungle, Stuntgirl, Tor, and many others. Included is a pair of 3-D glasses, an introduction from the legendary Joe Kubert (who co-invented 3-D comics), pages of rare artifacts, and an in-depth history by historian Craig Yoe. You'll want to face this one out to show off the fantastic lenticular 3-D cover! Rated E.

Also New in Graphic Novels - Collectible and Gift:

Graphic Novels - General


Craig Thompson
(Pantheon Books, $35.00, HC, 9780375424144)

The biggest release of the year, and perhaps several years to come, is HABIBI, Craig Thompson's first major work since his acclaimed Blankets. Set in an unidentified time and place, the story follows two slaves, Dodola, a young Arab girl, and Zam, a black infant whom Dodola "adopts," and their love and devotion to each other despite nearly unimaginable circumstances. I cannot begin to do it justice in this short space, but suffice it to say it's an amazing, beautiful, and heart-wrenching accomplishment. Thompson employs some dark elements - slavery, prostitution, poverty, racism, disfigurement, guilt, shame - but does so with a constant thread of healing and hope, with an ending that is beautiful and affirming. Visually, Habibi is breathtaking, with some of the most detailed and gorgeous art I've seen in a long time, utilizing Arabic calligraphy and symbols, Middle Eastern architectural details, and religious symbolism as the basis for the lush, heavily inked pages - in a word: stunning. This will get major review attention, so don't be caught short. You'll also want to make sure you're also stocking Thompson's Carnet de Voyage (9781891830600, Top Shelf, $14.95, TP) his short travelogue which includes his travels to Morocco, where he spent time researching Habibi. If you haven't yet seen the book, here's a 9-page preview. Also, check out this fantastic gallery detailing his artistic process for the book. Rated M.

Also New in Graphic Novels - General:

Graphic Novels - Historical


Art Spiegelman
(Pantheon Books, $35.00, HC, with bonus DVD, 9780375423949)

One of the major releases this fall is METAMAUS, Art Spiegelman's deconstruction of his groundbreaking Pulizer Prize-winner, Maus. 25 years after the original publication, Spiegelman revisits the book that ushered in the modern comics era and its lasting impact on the American literary landscape. The accompanying interactive DVD includes an onscreen reference copy of The Complete Maus, which grants access to thousands of historical and structural details behind the book. Every page of the book is linked to a large archive of digital information, including the original audio interviews between Spiegelman and his father, audio and video commentary, hundreds of historical documents, archival photographs, page drafts, panel sketches, and home movies. The book also includes memories of his mother, historical reference materials, essays about the art of cartooning, thousands of sketches and early drafts, scans of Spiegelman's private notebooks, and much more. It really is amazing. Expect this to get major media attention and it should be a perfect gift for the holidays, so keep your eye on it. Watch a short trailer here. Rated T+.

Graphic Novels - Horror

The Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us

Robert Kirkman & Charlie Aldard
(Image Comics, $14.99, TP, 9781582407753)

One of the biggest successes of last year was The Walking Dead, with all volumes of the series flying off the shelves when the television series debuted last October. Sales were huge and viewership actually increased as the short (six episodes) season progressed. You'll want to make sure you're once again well stocked on all the books in anticipation for the second season premiere on October 16th. Given the fact that even more people have watched the series due to the DVD release in March, I'm anticipating the second season premiere will be huge. Since this new season covers much of the material in THE WALKING DEAD VOL. 2: MILES BEHIND US, I'd suggest going a bit heavier on that volume. You can watch the trailer for season two here. Rated M.

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Graphic Novels - Juvenile

Bake Sale

Sara Varon
(First Second, $16.99, TP, 9781596434196)

I'm very excited that Sara Varon is finally out with a new book, BAKE SALE. Her previous book, Robot Dreams (9781596431089, First Second, $16.99, TP) is one of my very favorites and has continued to sell well since its release in 2007. I have to say, Bake Sale is a very worthy follow-up and another sweet, touching tale of friendship. Cupcake owns a bakery and sticks to his usual routine of working at his shop and playing in a band with his best friend, Eggplant. But, he's starting to get a bit bored baking the same things and his brief explorations outside the norm haven't ended in the success he would like. When he discovers that Eggplant's mother is business partners with the famous chef, Turkish Delight, he decides to work extra, save some money, and join his friend on an upcoming visit overseas. While it doesn't carry quite the same emotional impact as Robot Dreams, Bake Sale is still a sweet, touching look at friendship. Varon's art is once again fantastic, with a bright, cheery color palette. Here, she trades in her animal characters for anthropomorphic fruits, vegetables, milk cartons, etc. - all to perfect effect. Don't miss this one! Rated E.

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Graphic Novels - Science Fiction & Fantasy

Rust: Visitor in the Field

Royden Lepp
(Archaia Entertainment, $24.95, HC, 9781936393275)

In RUST: VISITOR IN THE FIELD, Roman Taylor is struggling to run his farm. With his younger brother and sister about to return to school, he's desperate for some help and is trying to reprogram a mechanized robot leftover from a war fought 48 years previously. But, he gets more than he bargained for when Jet Jones, a young boy with a jet pack, crash lands in his field, pursued by a larger, mechanized machine. This first volume of a series sets up the story nicely, with an ending that will have readers eagerly expecting the second volume. Rated T.

Graphic Novels - True Crime

Green River Killer: A True Detective Story

Jeff Jensen & Jonathan Case
(Dark Horse Books, $24.99, HC, 9781595825605)

Sales have been very strong for GREEN RIVER KILLER: A TRUE DETECTIVE STORY, a look into the 20-year search to find the Green River Killer. Seamlessly transitioning between the 1980s and 2003, the story focuses on detective Tom Jensen and the 188 days he spent interviewing Gary Leon Ridgeway in an effort to get answers and gain closure for the families of the 48 victims. Written by Jensen’s son, the book doesn’t dwell on the violence, but instead on Jensen’s tireless efforts to bring the killer to justice and the sacrifices he made in the process. Due to the author’s ties (he’s a reporter for Entertainment Weekly), this has received national attention and Seattle area stores, in particular, should make sure to feature it prominently. You can read a preview here. Rated M.


The Book of Human Insects

Osamu Tezuka
(Vertical, $21.95, HC, 9781935654209)

It's no secret I'm a big Osamu Tezuka fan and I couldn't be happier with Vertical's steady stream of thoughtful, well-designed translations of his works. The newest release is THE BOOK OF HUMAN INSECTS. Originally written from 1970-1971, toward the beginning of his transition to darker, more adult tales, The Book of Human Insects centers around Toshiko Tomura, an alluring woman in her early twenties who wins top prizes in every field she enters - from acting to architecture to writing. In reality, however, Tomura is nothing but a brilliant mimic who has plagiarized, blackmailed, and stolen the works of others, often resorting to murder to achieve fame and celebrity. It's definitely lurid and dark, but completely entertaining and an interesting (albeit not very flattering) look at Japan's attitude toward ambitious women in the early 1970s. Rated M.

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FF, Vol. 1

Jonathan Hickman, Steve Epting, and Barry Kitson
(Marvel, $19.99, HC, 9780785151449)

Spinning off from the pages of Fantastic Four is a new super group, the Future Foundation, whose first exploits are collected in FF VOL. 1: TOMORROW. With the death of the Human Torch, the other members form a new group, which includes Spiderman, Doctor Doom, and many others. Written by Jonathan Hickman and with fantastic art from Steve Epting and Barry Kitson, FF has been a huge hit for Marvel, so this first collection should sell quite well. The art really is very nice - check out a preview here. Rated T.