A tale about a shape-shifting shark from Hawaii for young readers, a look at the characters and folklore of Cleveland, and a gutsy look at modern war – just a sampling of the wide variety from this week’s promising new graphic novels and comic books.
Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer picks three brand new releases worth checking out that should be suitable for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga 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.
Today’s battlefield isn’t just about the uniformed soldier in service to his country; there’s also the contractor, who answers to the corporation. Call them mercenaries, soldiers-for-hire, or private military operators, they are a new breed of combatant in today’s conflicts.
Shooters is the story of Terry Glass, a warrior whose spirit and soul has been hardened in countless battles. When a horrible accident shatters his world, Glass finds himself waging a private war on several fronts – against his career, his marriage, and ultimately, his faith.
Written by Eric S. Trautmann (Checkmate, Red Sonja, Flash Gordon) and Brandon Jerwa (G.I. Joe, Battlestar Galactica, Highlander), and drawn by Eisner Award-winning artist Steve Lieber (Underground, Whiteout, Road to Perdition: On the Road), Shooters tells a story of modern warfare that will stay with you forever.
Meet Nanaue, a boy craving to be who he truly is.
From the islands of Hawaii comes the electrifying tale of Nanaue, who has to balance his yearning for Dad’s guidance with his desire for Mom’s nurture.
Award-winning cartoonist R. Kikuo Johnson transports young readers to the lush, tropical shores of his native Hawaii. Emerging readers, fluent or not, will be thrilled when they experience the transformative powers of this stirring literary work.
R. Kikuo Johnson grew up in Hawaii on the island of Maui. For generations, native Hawaiians have told tales of the shape-shifting shark god Kamohoalii; The Shark King is the artist’s version of one such tale about the insatiable appetite of Kamohoalii’s son, Nanaue. Kikuo’s 2005 graphic novel, Night Fisher — also set in Hawaii — earned him both the Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award and a Harvey Award. Kikuo spent his childhood exploring the rocky shore in front of his grandmother’s house at low tide and diving with his older brother. Since moving to the mainland, Kikuo has discovered the joys of swimming in fresh water and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he enjoys cooking, playing his ukulele, and riding his bike all over the city.
A lifelong Cleveland resident, Harvey Pekar (1939-2010) pioneered autobiographical comics, mining the mundane for magic since 1976 in his ongoing American Splendor series. Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland is sadly one of his last, but happily one of his most definitive graphic novels.
It combines classic American Splendor-ous autobiographical anecdotes with key moments and characters in the city’s history as relayed to us by Our Man and meticulously researched and rendered by artist Joseph Remnant.
With an introduction by Alan Moore to boot!
Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?
(Still catching up. Time keeps on slipping-slipping-slipping into the future. For your patience… a sorta-kinda Halloween-themed edition!)
Here’s some brand new stuff that came out the week of September 23 that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.
Don’t have a lot of time, so not much commentary from me. Just imagine me being excited about all of these because they all look awesome.
Disclaimer: For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.
Ghost Comics: A Benefit Anthology for RS Eden – $10.00
Edited by Ed Choy Moorman
176 pages; published by Bare Bones Press
Ghosts of dinosaurs, transforming robots, and forgotten pasts abound in this star-studded book of staggeringly good comics.
All proceeds benefit Minneapolis substance abuse treatment facility RS Eden.
Including: Monica Anderson, Tuesday Bassen, Jeffrey Brown, Kevin Cannon, Allison Cole, Warren Craghead III, Will Dinski, Will Hayes, Hob, John Hankiewicz, David Heatley, Toby Jones, Reynold Kissling, Aidan Koch, Lucy Knisley, Mike Lowery, Sean Lynch. Jessica McLeod, Ed Choy Moorman, Sarah Morean, Corinne Mucha, Abby Mullen, Madeline Queripel, Evan Palmer, John Porcellino, Zak Sally, Jillian Schroeder, Mark Scott, Eileen Shaughnessy, Jenny Tondera, Sarah Louise Wahrhaftig, Maris Wicks, and Jessica Williams.
“An excellent sampler of what’s being done in today’s indie comics scene.” – Midnight Fiction
Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror #15 – $4.99
Edited by Sammy Harkham
48 pages; published by Bongo Comics; available at PictureBox
Guest edited by Sammy Harkham, the award-winning creator of the popular Kramers Ergot anthology, this year’s issue is jam-packed with some of the most idiosyncratic takes on “The Simpsons” universe ever.
Among Halloween-inspired short strips by such visionary cartoonists as C.F. (Powr Mastrs), Will Sweeney (Tales from Greenfuzz), Jordan Crane (Uptight), Tim Hensley (MOME), and John Kerschbaum (Petey & Pussy), are four featured tales of inspired Simpsons lunacy: heralded artists Kevin Huizenga (Ganges, Or Else) and Matthew Thurber (1-800 Mice, Kramers Ergot) collaborate on a weird and wild story equal parts Lovecraftian eco-horror and Philip K. Dick identity comedy. Jeffrey Brown (Incredible Change- Bots, Clumsy) does a creepy and suitably pathetic story featuring Milhouse in a “Bad Ronald”-inspired tale of murder and crawl space living. Harkham and Ted May (INJURY) pull out all the stops for a tragic monster tale of unrequited love, bad karaoke, and body snatching at Moe’s Bar. Ben Jones (Paper Rad) does the comic of his life with an epic tale of how bootleg candy being sold at the Kwik-E-Mart rapidly spirals out of control into an Invasion of The Body Snatchers-like nightmare of a Springfield filled with cheap bootleg versions of familiar characters. And nobody does squishy, sweaty, and gross like up and coming cartoonist Jon Vermilyea (MOME), who outdoes himself with “C.H.U.M.M.,” a C.H.U.D.-inspired parody featuring everybody’s favorite senior citizen, Hans Moleman!
Every year “The Simpsons” TV show does a special Halloween-themed episode. They also put out a comic book that’s probably even more bizarre and hilarious. Here’s a review of it with some previews.
Underground #1 – $3.50
By Jeff Parker & Steve Lieber
32 pages; published by Image Comics
Park Ranger and avid caver Wesley Fischer is on a one-woman mission to stop Stillwater Cave from being turned into a tourist trap, but public opinion is not on her side. When locals begin blasting in the cave, Wes and a fellow ranger investigate – and a confrontation spirals into a deadly chase deep under the Kentucky mountains!
Yes, there are even comics about people who explore caves. Claustrophobics be warned. Here’s a 7-page preview. One of the characters are named Corey, so I don’t really think it’s possible for this to not be awesome.
(And if you haven’t read Whiteout, I highly recommend it. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I haven’t really heard good things about it. Like with Watchmen and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, ignore the movie and enjoy the comic.)
The author of the acclaimed “North Country” is back with a dark comedy. Despite Rick Watt’s best efforts to keep it together, he feels his life is falling apart, turning him into a zombie. After a cross-country move with girlfriend in tow, his fresh start turns into a festering mess. As a video game artist, Rick is subjected to the incompetence of three bosses and a kinky art director. His overactive imagination helps him cope until… his seven-year relationship tailspins and his ex takes flight with the guy across the parking lot. Other jobs and a new GF don’t look any better. Caught between his fantasy world and reality, Rick decides to pull the trigger.
With a foreword by Robert Kirkman, creator of the Walking Dead.
Here’s a 10-page preview. That flooded comics scene might be the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
How did Robin of Loxley become Robin Hood? Why did he choose to fight injustice instead of robbing for his own gain? Expressive and gritty, this graphic novel whisks readers back to Crusades-era England, where the Sheriff of Nottingham rules with an iron fist, and in the haunted heart of Sherwood Forest, a defiant rogue — with the help of his men and the lovely Maid Marian — disguises himself to become an outlaw. Lively language and illustrations follow the legendary hero as he champions the poor and provokes a high-stakes vendetta in a gripping adventure sure to draw a new generation of readers.
Here’s a 30-second preview for you:
And here’s the graphic novel’s blog, for interviews, reviews and some other preview images.