Every month, we get simply slammed with new releases of comics. It’s not just the hardcover and paperback collections of the monthlies, either – there’s reprints, anthologies, translations, new-to-us imports, and original graphic novels and non-fiction. This is my monthly attempt to get past the big releases to the stuff you didn’t know you needed on your shelf.
Vox, by Matteo De Longis
There’s something to be said for the comic artist’s “album” – a book of standalone art, complete and incomplete, rather than a story. Vox was my introduction to Italian illustrator and designer Matteo De Longis, and the strength of the collection ensures I’ll be following his work in the future. The pieces in the book have a heavy focus on the female form (often nude, or scantily clad), mixed with elements of musical instruments, aircraft, and military machinery. The hybrid pictures are provocative, to be sure, but always interesting and alluring. I can legitimately say that I’ve never seen images quite like those in this book. The whole package is a knockout, as well, designed to mimic a vinyl record with a 12″x12″ plastic slipcase.
Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus Vol 1, by Roy Thomas, Howard Chaykin, Archie Goodwin, Jo Duffy, Chris Claremont, Carmine Infantino, Walter Simonson, Herb Trimpe
This month, the Star Wars license returns to the House of Ideas. Along with putting out a slew of new titles from top-tier creators (starting next week), Marvel is looking back to the 70s and 80s, when they published the very first Star Wars comics. The first book out of the gate is this massive 880-page omnibus. Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years collects issues 1-44 of the original tie-in series, as well as the first of three Marvel annuals. The book starts with an adaptation of A New Hope and ends with an adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back, but the middle 33 issues chronicle adventures of Luke, Leia, and Han that may be new to all but the most devoted fans. It’s a tour de force for a number of well-known writers and artists, including Howard Chaykin, Chris Claremont, and Walt Simonson.
Trilogy USA, by Hermann
Dark Horse continues to knock it out of the park with their English translations of European comics. Like the great Blacksad, Trilogy USA takes a look at noir and American crime from an outside perspective. As the title suggests, the book contains a trio of stories – “Blood Ties,” “Manhattan Beach, 1957,” and “The Girl from Ipanema.” Each one satirically tackles a different trope, from the femme fatale to the twist-per-page detective story. Hermann tells dense stories, often with paragraphs of text per page, but they’re well-plotted and, more importantly, well translated. And, perhaps most importantly, the text doesn’t take away from the art, and the wordless panels really have room to breathe. Hermann’s style is subdued and recalls watercolors, which is a great match for these stories.
Fatherland: A Family History, by Nina Bunjevac
I’ve long been a sucker for memoirs like Maus, Persepolis, and Fun Home – comics that give us a window into experiences of others that are often far different from our own. Fatherland, the new book by Canadian artist Nina Bunjevac, illuminates the conflicts in former Yugoslovia under Fascism and Communism. Bunjevac tells both the broad history of conflict in the Balkans from the 40s to the 70s, and the specific history of her family in the conflict. Just as Spiegelman’s Maus is a vehicle for the author to tell his father’s story, Fatherland is about Nina’s father’s ultimately tragic history as a dissident and nationalist, who struggled with the violence he saw throughout his life. It’s a striking, important book, and it illuminates a piece of world history I suspect will be news to many readers.
Kingdom Of The Wicked, by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli
This month’s “oh, you really can’t go home again” award goes to Edginton and D’Israeli’s Kingdom of the Wicked. The story concerns a children’s book author who, at the height of his success, starts having blackouts that send him into the world of his stories. While Castrovalva was a technicolor wonderland in his books, the current landscape is apocalyptic, and author Christopher Grahame has to figure out how to set things right. It’s great, dark stuff, fusing idyllic childhood imagery with a WWI-esque conflict. This new hardcover, put out by Titan Books collects the four-issue miniseries, which was originally published in Britain in the mid-90s.
Also Coming in January
Curse, by Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel, Riley Rossmo, and Colin Lorimer
Dream Logic, by David Mack
First Year Healthy, by Michael DeForge
Intelligent Sentient? by Luke Ramsey
Love and Rockets Library: Ofelia, by Gilbert Hernandez
Run Like Crazy Run Like Hell, by Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette
Veil, by Greg Rucka and Toni Fejzula