Blog Archives

New Comics for New Readers – May 8, 2013

Photo by Christopher Butcher

Photo by Christopher Butcher

Want to try reading comics? Don’t know where to start? Want to try something different?

Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer spotlights up to three brand new releases worthy of your consideration. Sometimes we list more on really good weeks. All of these have been carefully selected as best bets for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before. They each highlight the variety and creativity being produced today. These are also great for those that haven’t read comics in awhile or regular readers looking to try something new.

While we can’t guarantee you’ll like what we’ve picked, we truly believe there’s a comic for everyone. If you like the images and descriptions below, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. You can often buy straight from the publishers or creators. If not, head over to your local comic book store, check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon, or download a copy at comiXology, or the comics and graphic novels sections of the Kindle Store or NOOK store. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

For a full list of this week’s new releases, see comiXology, ComicList.com and PREVIEWSworld.

(Please note these aren’t reviews. Recommendations are based on pre-release buzz, previews, and The Comics Observer‘s patented crystal ball. Product descriptions provided by publisher.)

BennyBreakiron1

Benny Breakiron in The Red Taxis by Peyo

Benny Breakiron Vol. 1: The Red Taxis
Written and illustrated by Peyo
Published by Papercutz
Genre: Humor, Adventure
Ages: 7+
64 pages
$11.99

Benny Breakiron is an honest, polite little boy with an an exceptional quality: he possesses superhuman strength, can leap over huge distances, and can run unbelievably fast! This little kid packs quite a punch, and he devotes his play time to stopping crime and injustice.

In this first volume, a new taxi service has moved into Benny’s town threatening to put Benny’s friend, taxi driver Mr. Dussiflard, out of business. The more Benny learns about the Red Taxi Company, the more he realizes something isn’t right. Who’s behind this mysterious enterprise, and just what are they up to? Benny aims to find out and put a stop to it once and for all, and hopefully keep the property damage to a minimum!

NothingCanPossiblyGoWrong

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
Written by Prudence Shen
Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
Published by First Second Books
Genre: Young Adult
Ages: 12+
288 pages
$16.99

You wouldn’t expect Nate and Charlie to be friends. Charlie’s the laid-back captain of the basketball team, and Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. But they are friends, however unlikely—until Nate declares war on the cheerleaders. At stake is funding that will either cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms—but not both.

It’s only going to get worse: after both parties are stripped of their funding on grounds of abominable misbehavior, Nate enrolls the club’s robot in a battlebot competition in a desperate bid for prize money. Bad sportsmanship? Sure. Chainsaws? Why not. Running away from home on Thanksgiving to illicitly enter a televised robot death match? Of course!

In Faith Erin Hicks’ and Prudence Shen’s world of high school class warfare and robot death matches, Nothing can possibly go wrong.

WillandWhit

Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge

Will & Whit
Written and illustrated by Laura Lee Gulledge
Published by Amulet Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Ages: 12+
192 pages
$12.95

Wilhelmina “Will” Huxstep is a creative soul struggling to come to terms with a family tragedy. She crafts whimsical lamps, in part to deal with her fear of the dark. As she wraps up another summer in her mountain town, she longs for unplugged adventures with her fellow creative friends, Autumn, Noel, and Reese. Little does she know that she will get her wish in the form of an arts carnival and a blackout, courtesy of a hurricane named Whitney, which forces Will to face her fear of darkness.

Laura Lee Gulledge’s signature visual metaphors will be on full display in this all-new graphic novel, a moving look at shedding light on the dark corners of life.

RedHanded

Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt

Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes
Written and illustrated by Matt Kindt
Published by First Second Books
Genre: Crime
Ages: 14+
272 pages

Welcome to the city of Red Wheelbarrow, where the world’s greatest detective has yet to meet the crime he can’t solve—every criminal in Red Wheelbarrow is caught and convicted thanks to Detective Gould’s brilliant mind and cutting-edge spy technology.

But lately there has been a rash of crimes so eccentric and random that even Detective Gould is stumped. Will he discover the connection between the compulsive chair thief, the novelist who uses purloined street signs to write her magnum opus, and the photographer who secretly documents peoples’ most anguished personal moments? Or will Detective Gould finally meet his match?

Matt Kindt operates with wit and perception in the genre of hard-boiled crime fiction. Red Handed owes as much to Paul Auster as Dashiell Hammett, and raises some genuinely sticky questions about human nature.

YoureAllJustJealousOfMyJetback

You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld

You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack
Written and illustrated by Tom Gauld
Published by Drawn and Quarterly
Genre: Humor
Ages: 14+
160 pages
$19.95

A new collection from The Guardian and New York Times Magazine cartoonist

New York Times Magazine cartoonist Tom Gauld follows up his widely praised graphic novel Goliath with You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, a collection of cartoons made for The Guardian. Over the past eight years, Gauld has produced a weekly cartoon for the Saturday Review section of Britain’s most well regarded newspaper. Only a handful of comics from this huge and hilarious body of work have ever been printed in North America – exclusively within the pages of the prestigious Believer magazine.

You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack distils perfectly Gauld’s dark humor, impeccable timing, and distinctive style. Arrests by the fiction police and fictional towns designed by Tom Waits intermingle hilariously with piercing observations about human behavior and whimsical imaginings of the future. Again and again, Tom Gauld reaffirms his position as a first rank cartoonist, creating work infused with a deep understanding of both literary and cartoon history.

GoodRiddance

Good Riddance by Cynthia Copeland

Good Riddance
Written and illustrated by Cynthia Copeland
Published by Abrams ComicArts
Genre: Memoir
Ages: 16+
224 pages
$17.95

When you think you live in a Norman Rockwell painting—married 18 years, three kids, beautiful old house in the country, successful career as a writer—you don’t expect there’s another side to the canvas. Until you read a lovesick e-mail to your husband… that didn’t come from you!

Good Riddance is an honest and funny graphic memoir about suffering through and surviving divorce. Cynthia Copeland chronicles the deep pain, confusion, awkwardness, and breakthroughs she experiences in the “new normal” as a wife who’s been deceived, a mom who’s now single, a divorcée who’s dating, and a woman who’s on her own figuring out what she truly wants from her life. Copeland tells her story with an emotional candor and spot-on humor that makes Good Riddance poignant, painful, and hilarious all at once.

New Comics for New Readers – April 24, 2013

Photo by Christopher Butcher

Photo by Christopher Butcher

Want to try reading comics? Don’t know where to start? Want to try something different?

Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer spotlights up to three (sometimes a little more on really good weeks) brand new releases worthy of your consideration. All of these have been carefully selected as best bets for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before. They each highlight the variety and creativity being produced today. These are also great for those that haven’t read comics in awhile or regular readers looking to try something new.

While we can’t guarantee you’ll like what we’ve picked, we truly believe there’s a comic for everyone. If you like the images and descriptions below, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. You can often buy straight from the publishers or creators. If not, head over to your local comic book store, check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon, or download a copy at comiXology, or the comics and graphic novels sections of the Kindle Store or NOOK store. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

For a full list of this week’s new releases, see comiXology, ComicList.com and PREVIEWSworld.

(Please note these aren’t reviews. Recommendations are based on pre-release buzz, previews, and The Comics Observer‘s patented crystal ball. Product descriptions provided by publisher.)

MarbleSeason

Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez

Marble Season
Written and illustrated by Gilbert Hernandez
Published by Drawn & Quarterly
Genre: Autobiography; Coming-of-Age
Ages: 12+
128 pages
$21.95

The untold coming-of-age story from a contemporary comics master

Marble Season is the all-new semiautobiographical novel by acclaimed cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez, author of the epic masterpiece Palomar, and co-creator of the groundbreaking Love and Rockets comic book series, along with his brothers Jaime and Mario. Marble Season is his first book with Drawn & Quarterly and one of the most anticipated books of 2013. It tells the untold stories from the American comics legends’ youth, but also portrays the reality of life in a large family in suburban 1960s California. Pop-culture references—TV shows, comic books, and music—saturate this evocative story of a young family navigating cultural and neighborhood norms set against the golden age of the American dream and the silver age of comics.

Middle child Huey stages Captain America plays and treasures his older brother’s comic book collection almost as much as his approval. Marble Season subtly and deftly details how the innocent, joyfully creative play children engage in (shooting marbles, staging backyard plays, and organizing treasure hunts) changes as they grow older and encounter name-calling naysayers, abusive bullies, and the value judgments of other kids. An all ages story, Marble Season masterfully explores the redemptive and timeless power of storytelling and role play in childhood, making it a coming-of-age story that is as resonant with the children of today as the children of the ’60s.

WhoIsAC

Who is AC? by Hope Larson and Tintin Pantoja

Who is AC?
Written by Hope Larson
Illustrated by Tintin Pantoja
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
Genre: Fantasy; Superhero; Action/Adventure
Ages: 12+
176 pages
$21.99 (hardcover); $14.99 (paperback)

In this breakthrough graphic novel from the award-winning author of Mercury, there’s a new superhero in town—and she’s got kick-butt cyberpowers.

Meet Lin, a formerly average teenage girl whose cell phone zaps her with magical powers. But just as superpowers can travel through the ether, so can evil. As Lin starts to get a handle on her new abilities (while still observing her curfew!), she realizes she has to go head-to-head with a nefarious villain who spreads his influence through binary code. And as if that weren’t enough, a teen blogger has dubbed her an “anonymous coward!” Can Lin detect the cyber-criminal’s vulnerability, save the day, and restore her reputation?

With ingenious scripting from graphic novel phenom Hope Larson and striking art from manga illustrator Tintin Pantoja, this action-packed story brims with magical realism and girl-power goodness.

HowToFakeAMoonLanding

How to Fake a Moon Landing by Darryl Cunningham

How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial
Written and illustrated by Darryl Cunningham
Published by Abrams ComicArts
Genre: Non-Fiction
Ages: 12+
176 pages
$16.95

Is hydro-fracking safe? Is climate change real? Did the moon landing actually happen? How about evolution: fact or fiction? Author-illustrator Darryl Cunningham looks at these and other hot-button science topics and presents a fact-based, visual assessment of current thinking and research on eight different issues everybody’s arguing about. His lively storytelling approach incorporates comics, photographs, and diagrams to create substantive but easily accessible reportage. Cunningham’s distinctive illustrative style shows how information is manipulated by all sides; his easy-to-follow narratives allow readers to draw their own fact-based conclusions. A graphic milestone of investigative journalism!

Praise for How to Fake a Moon Landing:

“Cartoonist Darryl Cunningham… is a welcome voice, shedding some much needed light on the darker areas of science and culture… Cunningham does a remarkable job with difficult material and for high school students, just opening their eyes to the world around them, this is a terrific primer.” — ComicMix

Jerusalem

Jerusalem by Boaz Yakin and Nick Bertozzi

Jerusalem: A Family Portrait
Written by Boaz Yakin
Illustrated by Nick Bertozzi
Published by First Second Books/Macmillan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Ages: 12+
400 pages
$24.99

Jerusalem is a sweeping, epic work that follows a single family—three generations and fifteen very different people—as they are swept up in chaos, war, and nation-making from 1940-1948. Faith, family, and politics are the heady mix that fuel this ambitious, cinematic graphic novel.

With Jerusalem, author-filmmaker Boaz Yakin turns his finely-honed storytelling skills to a topic near to his heart: Yakin’s family lived in Palestine during this period and was caught up in the turmoil of war just as his characters are. This is a personal work, but it is not a book with a political ax to grind. Rather, this comic seeks to tell the stories of a huge cast of memorable characters as they wrestle with a time when nothing was clear and no path was smooth.

3 New Comics for New Readers – March 28, 2012

This week, a biography of Hunter S. Thompson, a horror story of a woman who won’t die, and a supernatural tale of three Irish immigrants in New York City catch our eye.

Each week, The Comics Observer picks three brand new releases worth checking out that should be suitable for someone who has never read comics before.

If you like what you see here, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. Then head to your local comic book store, or check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.

Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson by Will Bingley & Anthony Hope-Smith

Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S Thompson
Written by Will Bingley
Illustrated by Anthony Hope-Smith
Foreword by Alan Rinzler
Published by Abrams ComicArts (originally published in the UK by SelfMadeHero)
Non-Fiction
180 pages
$17.95

The great American writer, the great American iconoclast, the great American hedonist – however you choose to view him, Hunter S. Thompson remains the high-water mark for all social commentators worldwide, and a truly fearless champion of individual liberties.

This is his story, the story of a troubled kid from Louisville who went on to become an international icon. A story that plumbs the darkest depths of American society and charts the now legendary adventures that birthed Gonzo Journalism, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and a lifestyle beyond imagination.

Rachel Rising Vol. 1 by Terry Moore

Rachel Rising Vol. 1: Shadow of Death
Written and illustrated by Terry Moore
Published by Abstract Studios
Horror
120 pages
$16.99

Rachel Beck wakes in a shallow grave and claws her way free as a mysterious woman watches from a bluff. With no memory of the night before, Rachel enlists the help of Aunt Johnny, the town mortician, to find her killer.

But when repeated attacks send her to the morgue, Rachel’s ability to wake from death again and again prove to be a blessing and a curse, and the eerie town of Manson will never be the same!

Collects issues #1-6.

 

 

 

 

Gone to Amerikay by Derek McCulloch and Colleen Doran

Gone to Amerikay
Written by Derek McCulloch
Illustrated by Colleen Doran with José Villarubia
Published by Vertigo / DC Comics
Crime
144 pages
$24.99

This sweeping, century-spanning graphic novel explores the vivid history of Irish émigrés to New York City via three intertwined tales, from a penniless woman raising a daughter alone in the Five Points slum of 1870, to a struggling young artist drawn to the nascent counterculture of 1960, the year America elected its first Irish-Catholic president.

Ciara O’Dwyer is a young woman raising a daughter alone in the Five Points slums of 1870; Johnny McCormack is a struggling actor drawn to the nascent folk music movement in Greenwich Village 1960; and Lewis Healy is a successful Irishman who’s come to present-day Manhattan on his wife’s anniversary-present promise to reveal the connection between him and them. The mystery originates with Ciara’s runaway husband, who disappeared after promising to join her in America, and carries into mid-century when Johnny, devastated by an unexpected romance and a lost shot at musical fame, gets a supernatural visitor.

Written by Eisner Award-nominated writer Derek McCulloch (Stagger Lee, Pug), and beautifully illustrated with period detail by Colleen Doran (The Sandman, Orbiter) and color by Jose Villarrubia.

Disclaimer: These are recommendations based on available press, buzz and the magic Comics Observer crystal ball. These are not reviews.

Interview: Stan Goldberg

Archie Marries... (click to buy from publisher Abrams ComicArts)

Speaking with comics artist Stan Goldberg was an honor, and I’m very grateful for his generosity with his time. I definitely did not expect this to go 45 minutes but he had a lot to share, and it’s worth it to hear him talk about all of this. His love for his work comes across quickly. He really loves what he does. It’s clear that this is a man still enjoying and exploring his craft and the process of storytelling despite already being a master at it.

I was also struck with how unfortunate it is for someone who has lived and breathed the Archie characters for the last 40 years, who has been the artist on their most commercially successful and buzz worthy books (for good reason), now finds himself with some uncertainty. Fortunately he’s still immensely talented. His abilities not only haven’t diminished, but may be stronger than ever. And he remained classy throughout, with not a bad word to say about his former employers. Already plans are in the works for the next phase of his career, and that to me is exciting. With over 60 years in the biz, he still has a lot of creativity to give.

Here’s the audio of our interview:

MP3 Download

Here’s a breakdown of what he talked about:

  • His 40-year career with Archie Comics, characters he clearly loves and respects, and his recent departure from the company.
  • Creating the color designs for Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four (the Thing is colored like “a wrinkled orange”), the Hulk (his pants were meant to be magenta, not purple), and the rest of the Marvel Comics universe, including the villains like Dr. Doom.
  • Being asked by Marvel to draw the Fantastic Four 50 years after coloring the first issue in 1961.
  • His work being reprinted in prestige hard cover books: Archie: The Best of Stan Goldberg [Amazon link] and Archie Marries… [Amazon link]
  • Being mentored by Stan Lee the art director in the ’50s
  • Using the Marvel Method for Millie the Model
  • Creating Kathy the Teenage Tornado (reprint this, Marvel!)
  • On the comics industry during the Senate hearings of the 1950s and the industry’s response: “It almost destroyed the whole industry.” He says the Comics Code Authority, the industry’s content watchdog, went overboard: “They made some corrections, but I guess they had to show what they were then getting paid for.” Marvel even lost their distributor for a time, which resulted in Stan having to go freelance.
  • His work on Millie the Model influencing women in fashion design and magazines like Cosmopolitan, McCall’s and others.
  • Collaborating with Michael Uslan on last year’s “Archie Marries…” story starting in Archie #600, which sold 50% better than Marvel & DC comic books at the time. His pure penciled artwork for the covers of those six issues was reprinted in IDW’s recent Archie: The Best of Stan Goldberg
  • The story of the surprise debut of Archie Meets Punisher and the plans for a sequel that never came to be.
  • And perhaps most exciting of all… teasing a future project he’s creating with a writer.

Archie: The Best of Stan Goldberg (click to buy from publisher IDW)

(Also a cameo by my cat Cleo climbing up the back of my chair if you listen carefully. I should also apologize for the volume disparity between his voice and mine. Fortunately once we get started, it’s mostly him. Ah the joys of technology. I’ll try to work that out for the next interview.)

FF #1 variant cover by Goldberg (50th Anniversary of Fantastic Four #1, Marvel Comics)

Creativity with digital comics

Smart comics publishers and creators are (finally!) aggressively pursuing digital platforms for their comics. Right now it’s mostly as another form of distribution – you can get your comic books and graphic novels at specialty comic shops, book stores, libraries, oh yeah and also on your iPhone or iPad and online. There’s still quite a lot of toe-dipping but that will change the more it’s acknowledged digital comics are the only growing sector of comic sales right now. *

It’s great to have a digital replica of print, but there’s also a lot of room for experimentation to create a new experience. Some are already starting to surface.

Graphic.ly started with a focus on recreating the comic shop community atmosphere by allowing users to comment on specific comic pages and panels within their digital comics reader. That’s an interesting start, but what has me excited is seeing a couple of new apps launch with very creative uses for integrating digital aspects into a story without losing the sequential art part of comics (the reason I think motion comics aren’t working).

Ave! Comics has released a digital version of the biography graphic novel Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist, originally published to decent acclaim last year by Abrams ComicArts. It does what has become the standard panel-to-panel “guided reading” animation thing on your iPad or iPhone, but it adds a soundtrack to the reading experience. Tracks from Johnny Cash’s stellar catalog, including the legendary At Folsom Prison, come in and out of the story as you arrive on certain pages. The trick is that the app searches for specified songs in your iTunes library. If you don’t have them, you can buy them for 99 cents through iTunes or just read without them. So there’s the potential for hidden costs (unless you happen to have a very extensive collection of Cash songs on your iPad or iPhone, which I suppose isn’t entirely out of the question if you’re buying a biography of Johnny Cash). Despite that, it’s still a very cool idea. On the iPhone, it’s broken up to 3 separate apps for $1.99 each but the iPad’s HD version is one $4.99 app for the entire story. The soundtrack-less print edition is $17.95. Here’s Ave! Comics’ demo video (don’t be scared by the French iPhone used in the video):

Read the rest of this entry

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 183 other followers