Archive for the ‘Graphic Books’ Category

John Lewis On The MARCH

Friday, November 18th, 2016

9781603093958_0e365Winning the National Book Award has sent the March trilogy, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf) zooming on Amazon, jumping from #1,321 to #17.

The individual volumes are all soaring up the sales ranks as well, each leapfrogging over a thousand other titles.

It has also resulted in a glowing NYT book review: “The three volumes of March … aren’t just a record of Lewis’s activism but one of its brilliant examples, designed to help new generations of readers visualize the possibilities of political engagement.”

The review continues, saying the comics are a:

“galvanizing account of [Lewis’s] coming-of-age in the movement, it’s a capsule lesson in courage of conscience, a story that inspires without moralizing or simplifying in hindsight … Emphasizing disruption, decentralization and cooperation over the mythic ascent of heroic leaders, this graphic novel’s presentation of civil rights is startlingly contemporary. Lewis may be one of the “great men” of the movement, but his memoir is humble and generous.”

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Collectively the trilogy has received a number of groundbreaking honors:

March: Book One is a Coretta Scott King honor book, a Margaret A. Edwards honor book, an ALA Notable Children’s Book, and is the first graphic novel to win a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. It was also nominated for three Eisner awards.

March: Book Two won the Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work.

March: Book Three won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. This is the first time a graphic novel has been so honored (there have been graphic novel finalists. Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts, Scholastic/GRAPHIX, was also a finalist this year).

For just a taste of the power of the comics, see our post on the Congressman’s recent appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Wonder Woman Gets Second Trailer

Friday, November 4th, 2016

The second look at the next comic film adaptation from DC, Wonder Woman, has just been released.

Fans first saw this version of the Amazon princess in Batman v Superman, followed by the Comic-Con trailer in July.

SlashFilm offers a frame-by-frame breakdown of the new trailer, pointing out that the dual-time period movie will tie “into the large DC movie universe and further push us toward [the upcoming film] Justice League.”

Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious franchise) stars while Star Trek‘s Chris Pine co-starts as her romantic interest and ally. Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, and Danny Huston round out the cast.

The film premieres on June 2, 2017. Tie-ins have yet to be announced.

N.K. Jemisin on Peter S. Beagle and New SFF

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

The 2016 Hugo Award-winning novelist, N.K. Jemisin, returns with another of her NYT‘s columns focused on Science Fiction and Fantasy.

As we have written, she is a demanding and discriminating consumer of fiction. As a critic she is vibrantly engaged and is not willing to let much slide. As a reader she is interested in meaningful content rather than plot, values beautiful language, and appreciates in-depth characterizations. Since last December she has been sharing her views on Science Fiction and Fantasy in the NYT book review column “Otherwordly,” a bi-monthly roundup.

This month she takes on four works, a space opera, a graphic novel, the return of a beloved voice in Fantasy, and creepy speculative fiction.

9781616962449_ff216The work she clearly likes best is the long awaited return of Peter S. Beagle, a favorite of Fantasy readers for books such as The Last Unicorn. His newest novel in 17 years is Summerlong (Tachyon Publications), a contemporary take on the Persephone myth.

Jemisin writes that the characters are “fully textured,” the story is about “how ordinary people change, and are changed by, the numinous,” and the setting is beautifully realized:

“It’s a rare story of summer that feels like the summer — like dreamy intense passions rising and arcing and then spinning away; like beauty underlaid with a tinge of sadness because it is ephemeral. Beagle has captured that seasonal warmth here, beautifully, magically.”

9781632156945_bb8a6She also writes favorably about Pretty Deadly Volume 2: The Bear by Kelly Sue De Connick with art by Emma Ríos (Image Comics; OverDrive Sample), saying at its core it is “a masterpiece of mythopoeism that many literary fantasists struggle to emulate.”

She describes the story as a “weird western saga [that] gleefully, dreamily fuses a Greek chorus, spaghetti westerns, American trickster tales and creepy Japanese shoujo (girls’) manga.”

She is not a complete fan of the coloring in the comic, but says “This is a minor flaw. Every other element of this tale is a perfectly balanced mixture of the macabre with pure human poignancy. New readers will need Volume 1 too, but the return on investment is more than worthwhile.”

Vol.1 is Pretty Deadly: The Shrike (Image Comics; OverDrive Sample).

The full column is online. it ran in last week’s Sunday Book Review.

LUKE CAGE: To Watch and To Read

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

mv5bmtcymzc1mji5mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmze4ody2ote-_v1_sy1000_cr007041000_al_The premiere of Netflix’s new 13-episode Luke Cage series, based on the Marvel comics’ character, was so successful that it may have caused the streaming service to go down for two hours on Saturday.

The NYT television critic offers a lukewarm take on the new run, but he is in the minority. Most other critics agree with Deadline Hollywood which calls it “one of the most socially relevant and smartest shows on the small screen you will see this year.”

New York magazine calls the comic book Cage “one of the most important black characters in sequential art,” noting, however, that over his 44-year history, Marvel struggled to “make the character relevant in a world where conceptions of black characters in American pop culture were rapidly evolving.”

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-12-02-06-pmCharting the character’s evolution in “5 Comics to Read Before You Watch Luke Cage,” New York magazine writes that the first stories, collected in Luke Cage, Hero For Hire vol. 1, represent “Marvel Comics’ blatant attempt to cash in on the Blaxploitation craze.” As a result, the collection is “somewhat awkward to read today, with its urban patois (penned by white men, of course) and simplistic depictions of avarice.”

The Netflix series is quite the opposite. As the show’s creator Ched Hodari Coulter tells Wired magazine in a cover feature on the series, “There have been African ­American super­heroes on our screens before—such as Wesley Snipes’ titular turn in Blade—but Luke Cage is the first to be surrounded by an almost completely black cast and writing team and whose powers and challenges are so explicitly linked to the black experience in America.”

A collection of comics featuring the character was released in August,  Luke Cage: Avenger, (Marvel).

ZITA Blasts Off

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

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Heading off the comic page and onto the silver screen is Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke (Macmillan/First Second; 2/1/11; OverDrive Sample) reports Deadline Hollywood. Fox Animation has acquired rights to the trilogy. Morgan Jurgenson and Alex Ankeles (Robodog) will adapt the books.

The graphic novel trilogy, created by award-winning Hatke, follows the adventures of Zita as she learns to be brave and navigate her far out world. Bleeding Cool lists it as one of the “Essential 8 Comics For Kids,” writing:

“… everything I love about comic books; adventure, humor, humanity and a big heaping dose of wonder … Hatke has made something really special here … original and fun. It’s completely appropriate for kids but like the best stories, I think everyone will appreciate it.”

97815964380649781626720589_8fe46The other books in the trilogy are:

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (9/4/12; OverDrive Sample)

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl (5/13/14; OverDrive Sample)

Hatke won an Eisner Award for Little Robot. His other books include Nobody Likes a Goblin, and Julia’s House for Lost Creatures.

First Second reports that “Of all our books, Zita the Spacegirl has earned the most fan photos and cosplay” and provides some images to prove it.

Wired interviewed the author shortly after the second book in the trilogy hit shelves (accompanied by bonus illustrations).

Alan Moore, The Interviews

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

9781631491344_48f16Hitting shelves today with a hardy thunk is Jerusalem (Norton/Liveright), Alan Moore’s 1,000-plus page modernist novel that addresses “a secular theory of the afterlife,” the metaphysics of time, and poverty and class. So heavy is it (it is almost 10 inches thick and weighs more than some laptops) that the publisher is offering it in a boxed set of three volumes to make reading it more manageable.

It is fitting then that the most recent interviews with Moore, one published by New York magazine and another by The New York Times are weighty, too.

The New York magazine interview captures the author in a good, if reflective, mood, except for his take on certain comics. Known for many pioneering comics, including The Watchmen (DC Comics), he says, “I am really in a bad mood about superheroes,” and goes on to say about film adaptations that cycle through the same material, “What are these movies doing other than entertaining us with stories and characters that were meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of 50 years ago?”

Despairing about much of the comic industry and his own role in creating some of the most iconic comics of the past few decades he says “I probably only have about 250 pages of comics left in me to write. With regard to the superhero characters, my opinion is that they were what I was given to play with when I was starting out in the industry. That’s it. It wasn’t as if I had ever expressed any particular desire to do them.”

The NYT caught Moore in a worse mood, one in which he is both evasive and self-indulgent, but did manage to illicit the news that he is currently obsessed with David Foster Wallace and particularly  Infinite Jest.

Embracing GHOSTS

Monday, September 12th, 2016

GhostsGraphic novelist Raina Telgemeier was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition yesterday, causing her new book Ghosts (Scholastic/GRAPHIX) to jump to #8 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

She tells interviewer Barrie Handyman that she hopes the book will serve as a way to talk to children about a difficult subject, death.

The book will be published tomorrow.

MARCH Continues

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

9781603093958_0e365Congressman John Lewis appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night and talked about his graphic memoir March, set for release next week as a three-volume boxed set, March (Trilogy Slipcase Set), John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions).

He told Colbert that the ten-cent comic Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story served for him as a road map into the Civil Rights movement.

He hopes that March will become the road map for another generation, making history and civil action plain and real, so it “jumps off the pages and sings and dances” for readers.

The pair also talked about the sit-in recently held in Congress to draw attention to gun violence and how it is an example of finding a way to get into what Congressman Lewis calls “good and necessary trouble.”

Be sure to watch the segment to the end — it’s not to be missed.

BLACK PANTHER Takes Another Star Turn

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

5792a1f455b04Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay are collaborating on a Black Panther spin-off, Black Panther: World of Wakanda, reports The New York Times. The poet Yona Harvey is also writing scripts.

It is the first time Gay will work on a comic, as it was the first time for Coates when he wrote the Black Panther re-launch earlier this year. As we have noted, that comic was a top seller and made King T’Challa of Wakanda a major player in the Marvel universe.

Now Coates is pushing to expand that world, recruiting both Gay and Harvey, says the NYT, because “he thought it was important to have female voices help breathe life into these characters.”

Describing her story in an interview posted on the Marvel site, Gay said: “my book is going to be pretty intimate. There’s going to be all kinds of action, but I’m also really excited to show Ayo and Aneka’s relationship, build on that love story, and also introduce some other members of the Dora Milaje … I love being able to focus on women who are fierce enough to fight but still tender enough to love.” (Ed. note. the Dora Milaje is the security force protecting the Black Panther).

“It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done, and I mean that in the best possible way,” she told the NYT, continuing “The opportunity to write black women and queer black women into the Marvel universe, there’s no saying no to that.” In the same Marvel interview Coates says, “Wakanda is a deep, rich world. And I think Roxane is the perfect person to begin the literary excavations.”

As for Harvey, Coates told the NYT, “I have found that poetry is so correlated with writing comic books … That’s just so little space, and you have to speak with so much power. I thought she’d be a natural.” Her first story will be a “10-page second story … about Zenzi, a female revolutionary who incited a riot in the first issue of the Black Panther series.”

The Verge reports that “Coates recruited Gay and Harvey personally, and emphasized the importance of having diversity both on the page and on the payroll at Marvel.”

The start of the spin-off series is expected this November.

The “Oscars of Comics” Go To …

Monday, July 25th, 2016

The 28th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Oscars of the format, were announced on Friday during Comic-Con.

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What is essentially the best book of the year award went to Ruins by Peter Kuper (Abrams/SelfMadeHero, Oct. 2015) for “Best Graphic Album—New. “The publisher describes it as exploring “the shadows and light of Mexico through its past and present as encountered by an array of characters. The real and surreal intermingle to paint an unforgettable portrait of life south of the Rio Grande.”

March: Book Two, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Diamond/Top Shelf, Jan. 2015) won “Best Reality-Based Work.” Book Three in the series is schedule for release on Aug 2. PW reports that a delighted Lewis “bounded from his seat and ran to the stage at the announcement.”

Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (HC/Harper Teen, May 2015) won the Eisner for “Best Graphic Novel Reprint.” Librarians will recall it was a National Book Award finalist for Young Peoples Literature last year.

Image Comics swept the series stakes, winning all three categories:

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Paper Girls: Volume 1, Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chian (Diamond/Image Comics, Apr. 2016) won “Best New Series.” Paper Girls: Volume 2 is forthcoming in December.

“Best Continuing Series” went to Southern Bastards, Jason Aaron and Jason LaTour. Southern Bastards Volume 3: Homecoming is the most recent (Diamond/Image Comics, July 2016).

The Fade Out, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Diamond/Image Comics; OverDrive Sample) won for “Best Limited Series.” It was issued in three volumes starting in 2015 (vol 1, 2, 3) and will be released in a complete deluxe edition with added material this fall.

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“Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8)” went to Little Robot, Ben Hatke (Macmillan/First Second, Sept. 2015; OverDrive Sample).

“Best Publication for Kids (ages 9-12)” was snagged by Over the Garden Wall, Pat McHale, Amalia Levari, and Jim Campbell (S&S/Boom! Studios, Sept. 2016; OverDrive Sample). Volume 2 is forthcoming in Feb. 2017.

SuperMutant Magic Academy, Jillian Tamaki (Macmillan/Drawn and Quarterly, Apr. 2015) won “Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17).”

9781770462083_6c2d3In a year that was particularly notable for the number of women nominees, Kate Beaton’s Step Aside Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection (Macmillan/Drawn and Quarterly, Sept. 2015) won best humor publication, which The Hollywood Reporter points out, is “the first time in the Eisners’ long history that a woman has ever won that category solo.”

In addition, Lynda Barry and Matt Groening were voted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. The full list of winners is available online.

HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS,
Book Trailer

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

A trailer for the comic book based on Neil Gaiman’s short story, “How to talk to Girls at Parties,” (available online in both text and audio) was just released and is getting picked up by many entertainment news sites.

The graphic novel, released on Tuesday, is also set to be adapted as a movie, starring Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman and Alex Sharp. Gaiman is the executive producer for the project, set to begin filming in November.

9781616559557_1d4fbNeil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Neil Gaiman, Gabriel Bá, Fábio Moon
Dark Horse Books,:July 5, 2016
9781616559557, 1616559551
Hardcover
$17.99 USD, $23.99 CAD

Sneak Peek: ANGEL CATBIRD

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

9781506700632_97656Get an early look at Margaret Atwood’s first graphic novel via BuzzFeed. A mix of advocacy (for cats and wildlife) and storytelling, it pairs Atwood with noted illustrator Johnnie Christmas in a tale featuring a superhero scientist who is a part cat and part bird, Angel Catbird (PRH/Dark Horse; Sept. 6, 2016; ISBN: 9781506700632; $14.99).

As we noted in May, Dark Horse acquiring editor says it will be “a humorous, action-driven, pulp-inspired story … [with] …a lot of cat puns …. a strange mix of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, Grant Morrison and Chas Truog’s Animal Man, and Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s Squirrel Girl.”

Atwood told BuzzFeed that comics are not new to her, saying “I grew up in the 1940s drawing comics, and I’ve continued: I even drew a strip in the 1970s.”

9781506700991_1ada3Angel Catbird is not the only comic Atwood has in the works. She is part of The Secret Loves of Geek Girls: Expanded Edition, Hope Nicholson (PRH/Dark Horse; on sale Oct. 18), an anthology that started as a kickstarter campaign, reports The Guardian.

Atwood tweeted about it last year:

Live from Comic-Con

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

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If you’ve longed to attend San Diego Comic-Con, this year you can experience it vicariously. Syfy Presents Live From Comic-Con will run on the network the three nights of the show, July 21-23.

Host Will Arnett will, according to Deadline, “invite fans at the network’s outdoor stage to discuss and engage in the Con’s breaking news, insider party coverage, and exclusive content, along with sneak peeks of the most anticipated films and TV series.”

Too bad they don’t mention actual comics, but perhaps, at least, they will cover the Eisner winners. This year, by the way, a record number of women have been nominated for the award

ROMEO AND/OR JULIET
As You Like It

Monday, June 20th, 2016

9781101983300_c5d77Add comics to the recent flurry of successful Shakespeare re-vamps. Ryan North’s 1,100 page “chooseable-path” graphic novel  Romeo And/Or Juliet (PRH/Riverhead), is based on the famous romance and debuts on the NYT Best Sellers Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous list, landing at #7. He celebrates with a collage image on his homepage, labeled “AWESOME AND/OR WHAAAAAT.”

North’s wildly imaginative adaptation of the bard (in one adventure readers can choose to become the character of a glove) caught the attention of the media. He tells NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday that he thinks this way of encountering Shakespeare makes the play fun again, bringing the old story back to life, and providing a deeper understanding in the process:

“You know what these characters are supposed to be like, and when you kind of push them off the rails a little bit, there’s a sense of breaking the rules that’s a lot of fun.”

He tags his books “Plays weren’t meant to be read. They were meant… to be played.”

New York magazine’s site Vulture offers an illustrated interview that includes North commenting on the 100+ artists contributing to the book (including Noelle Stevenson, Randall Munroe, and Kate Beaton), how the book relates to video games (he mentions on his website that he has created an unlockable character), and the process of reading a work with so many endings. About the latter he says: “just because you give the reader a choice doesn’t mean it’s an easier book.”

Paste offers a gallery of images, showing the range of styles included.

9780982853740North’s first chooseable-path adventure was the Kickstarter-funded project To Be or Not to Be (Perseus/PGW/Legato/Breadpig, 2013), based on HamletAccording to North, it was the most funded publishing project in the history of Kickstarter.

North also creates Dinosaur Comics and writes for The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comics.

 

Readers’ Advisory: Comics

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday offers a capsule overview of the state of comics, interviewing George Gene Gustines, of the NYT‘s Arts Beat blog, about the format’s allure, both for readers and for authors.

The brief interview gives insight into the value of all the mixes, mash-ups, alliances, and re-issues for readers and the big-name authors being drawn to the format.

Gustine delineates the current audience for comics, pointing out that all age groups are fans but the sweet spot right now are readers in their 40s who grew up on comics and have followed every significant character evolution and story line. He says that publishers are trying to appeal to kids again with a lot of new material to ensure the format does not age out.

STL001673Gustines also discusses the trend for prose authors to move to comics. As we reported, Ta-Nehisi Coates is topping the charts with his new version of Black Panther (the graphic novel compiling issues #1-4 is forthcoming: Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Hachette/Marvel; Sept. 27, 2016; ISBN: 9781302900533; $16.99).

9781401263133_63839Brad Meltzer (bestselling author of thrillers such as The Tenth Justice) had a highly successful turn as well says Gustines, creating a run of the Justice League of America and the comic series Identity Crisis that Gustines says “sold like gangbusters.”

Another thriller author, Greg Rucka, has written dozens of comics for both DC and Marvel including work on Batman and Spider-Man and Michael Chabon created stories for the Casanova comic with Matt Fraction, the Eisner and Harvey award-winning author of such popular series as Sex Criminals and Hawkeye.

9781506700632_97656Due in September is, Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird (PRH/Dark Horse; Sept. 6, 2016; ISBN: 9781506700632; $14.99), the first in an  . The Guardian quotes Atwood, “I have concocted a superhero who is part cat, part bird. Due to some spilled genetic Super-Splicer, our hero got tangled up with both a cat and an owl; hence his fur and feathers, and his identity problems.”

Dark Horse acquiring editor said it will be “a humorous, action-driven, pulp-inspired story … [with] …a lot of cat puns …. a strange mix of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, Grant Morrison and Chas Truog’s Animal Man, and Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s Squirrel Girl.”

All this, of course, on top of what is also a busy market of adapting print only books into comics, such as Paul Auster’s City of Glass, Donald E. Westlake’s Parker novels, and both Game of Thrones and Outlander.