Dave McKean – whose Cages Bookplate Edition can account for a considerable part of the bookshelf bend – gives us his first solo graphic novel since that aforementioned weighty tome. It’s called Celluloid and it’s got rude bits in. “There are so many comics about violence. I’m not entertained or amused by violence, and I’d rather not have it in my life. Sex, on the other hand, is something the vast majority of us enjoy, yet it rarely seems to be the subject of comics. Pornography is usually bland, repetitive and ugly, and, at most, ‘does the job.’ I always wanted to make a book that is pornographic, but is also, I hope, beautiful, and mysterious, and engages the mind.” Comicbook Resources have a big interview with McKean and lots of preview pages too, but if you need more you can find them at Fantagraphics’ Flickr.
Two new things from Nobrow this week – and I say things because one of ‘em ain’t a book. There’s The New Ghost, a softcover comic by Rob Hunter (whose work you’ll have seen in A Graphic Cosmogeny) about a ghost’s first day being a ghost. Canadian arts blog Squidface & The Meddler (which is a good one to keep an eye on, incidentally) has a short review along with a preview. “Rob Hunter’s art runs against many of the strong currents in the world of comics…how often do you come across a comic that’s light as air, dreamy and poetic?”
The other Nobrow offering is Flesh and Bone: A Colouring Concertina by John Sibbick, who in his long career illustrating natural history books and designing things for London’s Natural History Museum probably has a lot to do with what the dinosaurs in your head look like. As a long-standing fan of dinosaurs (the Stegosaurus is the best one, by the way) and basically everything’s skeletal insides – this is my pick of the week. It’s a double-sided fold-out, much like Micah Lidberg’s Rise and Fall: A Concertina of Life – a black and white panorama of animals on one side (monkey, sloth, lizard, whale et al) with the exact same composition on the back with flesh and fur now gone and only skeleton remaining. Give it to a kid to colour in or stick it on your bedroom wall like I’m about to. Preview at Nobrow.
Jim Woodring’s follow-up to last year’s Weathercraft has landed. In Congress of the Animals Frank’s left home and is dealing with all manner of horrific realties, though I don’t see him crying over his tax returns in the preview. “The story Congress of the Animals is one I’ve wanted to tell for a long time. In a lot of ways it’s the most personal of the Frank stories and it breaks some aspects of the Frank mold,” Woodring said to Comicbook Resources. “There’s a lot going on that may not be apparent, but I operate on the theory that is, there is something there people will pick up on it even if they don’t see it directly. And that if they are sufficiently interested in puzzling it out, the meaning will become apparent.” In the same interview Woodring talks about wielding a massive nib pen he made called the Nibbus Maximus, an impractical illustration tool which he didn’t use on a single panel in this book but it’s a funny and absurd story worth a read anyway.
Shaun Tan’s got another typically lovely looking book on the shelf already: The Bird King, being a collection of sketches from all over the place – preliminary book designs, theatre stuff, and drawings from life. There’s 128 pages of it – including Tan’s written explanations – and he has a preview over on his website.
Our own Barnaby Richards has teamed up with Tanya Meditzky (most recently of The Man Who Clapped with Matt Abbiss) and come up with a book called Two Sentences. The two exchanged sentences for the other to illustrate – an experiment in seeing how they would each interpret the other’s words and worlds. As Barnaby writes in his blog preview, they did this five times and the result is the beautiful hand-stitched book currently looking mighty swish on the new release shelf.
There are two strange self-published things from Anders Nilsen (Big Questions) you might like, none of which take the usual book form: There’s The Game, which reprints the three-page strip Nilsen did for the now long-out-of-print and ridiculously eBayable Kramers Ergot #7 in 2008 as a poster, along with a previously unpublished fourth page. The Monologuist Paper Blog Update is a mini-comic with a bunch of postcards, a sticker and a Big Questions trading card. Pictures of The Game and The Monologuist Paper Blog Update are available here and here.
Jason (I Killed Adolf Hitler) has enlisted a writer for the first time in Fabien Vehlmann, a well known name in France but the Sean Phillips illustrated Seven Psychopaths is his only translated work so far, except for this new one of course. “I expect to run out of ideas at some point, and then I will have to work with a writer, so I tried it out now to see how it felt,” said Jason to CbR. “I was a bit surprised by the darkness of the story, since I figured it to be an all-ages book. I think my stories can be dark occasionally, but Fabien went much further than I had expected when the story reached the island. Like the scene with the parrot in the dungeon, it was almost like a Treasure Island film suddenly being directed by David Lynch.” It’s about pirates, obviously. There’s a preview at Fantagraphics.
Another one from Fantagraphics is Disney’s Mickey Mouse Volume 1: Race to Death Valley, a hardcover collecting old strips all fully remastered and shot directly from the proof sheets of Disney and private collections. They’re by Floyd Gottfredson, who was employed at Disney as an apprentice animator and in-betweener in the early ‘30s. He was temporarily put on the Mickey Mouse strip and somehow ended up drawing it for the next 45 years. Check out his work at Fantagraphics.
Gosh! Favourite Ian Edginton (Scarlet Traces, Sherlock Holmes) has another classic adaptation on the shelf in the form of Pride and Prejudice from SelfMadeHero. Art on this one is by Robert Deas, whose work you’ll most recently have seen in A Tale of Two Cities and Le Morte D’Arthur. The preview function on the SelfMadeHero site is becoming the bane of my existence so if I were you I’d head straight to Deas’ own site where he gives you full pages of artwork to peruse at your leisure, rather than the infuriating enforced slideshow of the aforementioned.
London Walks by Badaude is an illustrated guided journey around this old city of ours that starts and ends at the famous Foyles, on Charing Cross Road. “I’m not a Londoner born and bred. When I first moved here, I’d just finished a degree in English Literature. I’d spent all my life building up a mental map of the city through books but, although I’d visited a few times, I’d never experienced the city day-in, day-out. It was interesting to draw a map of personal experiences on top of the map of everything I’d read. And, after living in different parts of the city for several years, I found parts of my experience crossed other parts, like lines drawn on a map, some hard and some faint, each erasing and distorting others I’d made. I wanted to draw attention to and replicate this multilayered, four dimensional experience of being in a city.” Interview and preview pages at Design Week.
That’s it for new books but here’s some collections you might like to bag: Generation Hope Volume 1: Future Is a Four Letter Word written by Kieron Gillen (Phonogram), Batwoman Elegy TP Volume 1 by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III, Baltimore: Plague Ships by Christopher Golden and Ben Stenbeck in hardcover, and Mister X: The Brides of Mister X also in hardcover, which collects Dean Motter’s return to Radiant City in the late 1980s. For a preview and proper list of that last one’s contents head to Dark Horse.
As for floppy comics, Space Warped #1 (of 2) by Herva Bourhis and Rudy Spiessert is billed as being in the tradition of Robot Chicken: Star Wars and Spaceballs so it should be fun. Comixology has a preview. Andi Watson’s 15 Love #1 (of 3) illustrated by Tommy Ohtsuka is out and previewed here, and if you think it sounds familiar it probably does: the series was announced eight long years ago. There’s a preview of Samurai’s Blood #1 (of 6) by Owen Wiseman, Nam Kim, Matthew Dalton, and Jessica Kholinne here, and will be of interest to people who like samurais and blood and vengeance and stuff.
Screamland #1 is a comic set in a world where movie monsters are real and mostly unemployed. That’s, uh, except for the ones cast in some monster porn film, of course. Preview here.
In the Marvel camp there’s Ghost Rider #0.1 by Rob Williams (Dark Wolverine) and Matthew Clark, offering new readers a chance to jump on the back of that particular motorbike (preview), and Iron Age Alpha #1, also by Williams, is previewed here. There’s also Ka-Zar #1 (of 5) by Paul Jenkins (Inhumans) and Pascal Alixe which sees the Savage Land under seige – preview – and Supreme Power #1 (of 4) previewed here.
Mystery Men #1 (of 5) is a comic in which you should not expect to see an appearance from The Shoveller or even Captain Amazing but you can expect comic shop employees the world over to beg Marvel to just do a brainstorm session or something and come up with new names for things. Written by David Liss and illustrated by Patrick Zircher, it’s about what dark conspiracies drive five heroes to put on masks and save the world. From the preview it looks kind of pulpy.
Vertigo launches a spin-off series in American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #1 (of 5) by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy (Joe the Barbarian). It’s set during WWII in a Nazi-occupied Romania where some vampire hunters have gone behind enemy lines. Preview.
There’s a couple of Green Lantern Movie Prequel one-shots which fill newbies in on key characters so they won’t have to elbow whoever’s next to them in the film and whisper, Who’s that guy? Kilowog and Tomar-Re are first off the block, by Peter J. Tomasi/Joe Bennett and Marc Guggenheim/Cliff Richards, respectively.
Four Flashpoint titles this week ensure the F shelf will be mostly red and yellow:
Flashpoint Citizen Cold #1 (of 3) written and illustrated by Skott Kolins.
Flashpoint Deathstroke: Curse of the Ravager #1 (of 3) by Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Bennett.
Flashpoint Emperor Aquaman #1 (of 3) by Tony Bedard and Ardian Syaf
And Flashpoint: Frankenstein – Creatures of the Unknown #1 (of 3) by Jeff Lemire of Sweet Tooth fame, with art by Ibraim Roberson.
If you’re losing your place (and why wouldn’t you be) here’s a Flashpoint checklist again. Stick it in your pocket.
Finally, I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle but you should do. It’s excellent. As a special bonus Big Hairy Alan Moore turned up for a short history lesson in this episode here, which you’d best watch now because it’ll disappear from the Internet in about a week or so.