Comics I’m Picking Up the Week of May 15, 2019

Here are some original graphic novels you can find now at many fine local comic shops and bookstores. On this light week for new series launches, I’d like to highlight some original graphic novels (OGNs) released in the last few months.

In working his way through accreditation to become a school librarian, my husband took a class on the use of graphic novels in the classroom. This surprised me, because when I was taking English classes (in high school and college) the idea that a printed work that relied (even partially) on pictures to tell its story was either cheating or unworthy of the “literature” label. It’s heartening to know that in more circles the educational possibilities of graphic novels are being explored. Outside of the school context I get the impression that people feel freer reading OGNs in public spaces (e.g., coffee shops, public transit, and parks) than they do single issues of comics (“floppies”).

While comics continue to be associated in pop culture solely with the superhero genre—I blame you The Big Bang Theory—the OGN seems to have been embraced as the means to tell more personal, sophisticated, and diverse stories. The elevation of graphic memoirs like Persepolis and Fun Home to an emerging 21st century canon is just one aspect of this growing appreciation. Their sales outside the LCS may also be an aspect, but exploring that would be a graduate level sociological thesis. I also see a parallel to the transition from Victorian serials to 20th century novels. (If you’re interested in that I can suggest a comparison of the structures in George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Adam Bede.)

Below are some recent publications that explore the perspectives and audiences that publishers of floppies may not see a market for: Autobiographical and “write what you know” stories, for multiple age groups and genres from adventure/survival to tongue-in-cheek fantasy to historical biography. (My fellow contributor Rae Black has a list of young reader classics here.)

Share your recent finds in the comments.

Waves

Publisher: Boom! Studios/Archaia
Words/Story: Ingrid Chabbert
Art/Colors: Carole Maurel

“After years of difficulty trying to have children, a young couple finally announces their pregnancy, only to have the most joyous day of their lives replaced with one of unexpected heartbreak. Their relationship is put to the test as they forge ahead, working together to rebuild themselves amidst the churning tumult of devastating loss, and ultimately facing the soul-crushing reality that they may never conceive a child of their own.

Based on author Ingrid Chabbert’s own experience, coupled with soft, sometimes dreamlike illustrations by Carole Maurel, Waves is a deeply moving story that poignantly captures a woman ‘s exploration of her pain in order to rediscover hope.”

Cover of Waves

Boom! Studios/Archaia

Island Book

Publisher: First Second Books
Words/Story: Evan Dahm
Art/Colors: Evan Dahm

“Sola is cursed. At least, that’s what everyone tells her. It all started the day the Monster came to the island. While others fled, Sola stood before the creature, alone and unafraid. Since then she’s been treated like an outcast. Shamed and feared for an event she doesn’t understand, Sola sets out to sea looking for answers. In an endless ocean far from home, she discovers that her island isn’t alone—and the Monster isn’t the only life to be found in these uncharted waters. Boundless adventure awaits in Island Book, an epic tale of friendship, teamwork, and the wisdom we gain when we face the unknown with bravery and an open heart.”

Island Book cover

First Second Books

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

Publisher: First Second Books
Words/Story: Mariko Tamaki
Art/Colors: Rosemary Valero O’Connell

“Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.

Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: Break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.”

Cover of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

First Second Books

Story Without a Hero and Twenty Years After

Publisher: Cinebook
Words/Story: Jean Van Hamme
Art/Colors: Dany

“A comic book without a hero. No inevitable, strong, handsome, righteous main character, just
ordinary people. That’s Dany and Van Hamme’s self-imposed challenge in this story of a band of survivors marooned in the jungle. A plane from a South American company crashes in the jungle. Only half of the passengers and crew survive. Some businessmen, a university professor, a steward, an aging movie star, a banana republic general, a young boy and his nanny. All these varied personalities will have to find a way to unite and work together to survive. But who should they listen to? Who should they follow? Who can they trust? And is relief even on its way?”

“Deliberately twisting on itself the very principle behind the first book, Van Hamme and Dany revisit the survivors of Story Without a Hero, and take us on a thrilling adventure with the youngest of them, 20 years later! Twenty years have passed since the survivors of the Corsair crash emerged from the jungle. But suddenly they begin dropping like flies. Rafalowski, the cowardly pianist, vanishes. Miss Taylor, the nanny, drowns. Draillac, who was 12 at the time of the accident, is kidnapped and believed dead. His abductors are actually members of an intelligence service and staged his death to save his life as someone is trying to eliminate all the survivors!”

Cinebook

Sincerely, Harriet

Publisher: Graphic Universe
Words/Story: Sarah W. Searle
Art/Colors: Sarah W. Searle

“Harriet Flores struggles with boredom and an unrequited crush while learning to manage her chronic illness through a long, hot, 1990’s summer in Chicago. She uses her imagination to cope, which sometimes gets her into trouble, as she makes up fantastical fibs and wonders if there are ghosts upstairs. One neighbor, Pearl, encourages Harriet to read and write, leading Harriet to have a breakthrough and discover the power of storytelling.”

Cover of Sincerely, Harriet

Graphic Universe

Provocative Colette

Publisher: NBM Comics Biographies
Words/Story: Annie Goetzinger
Art/Colors: Annie Goetzinger

“From her marriage at the age of 20, until her divorce, this snapshot of Colette’s life focuses on her formative years. Incredibly complex, powerfully determined, truly gifted, Colette challenged herself to reinvent her life and assert herself as a free woman. In her day, her behavior scandalized and vexed the establishment. But in the end, she helped to free women in their thinking and became member and then president of France’s prestigious Académie Goncourt, among many other honors as one of France’s preeminent authors.”

Eileen Gray: A House Under the Sun

Publisher: Nobrow Press
Words/Story: Charlotte Malterre-Barthes
Art/Colors: Zosia Dzierzawska

“Meet Eileen Gray, the queer, Irish architect behind the world-renowned E-1027 house and a pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture. In 1924, her work began in earnest on a small villa by the sea in the south of France. Nearly a century later, this structure is a design milestone. But like so many gifted female artists and designers of her time, Eileen Gray’s story has been eclipsed by the men with whom she collaborated. Dzierzawska’s exquisite visuals illuminate the previously overlooked struggles and triumphs of a young queer Irish designer whose work and life came to bloom during the Années Folles of early 20th-century Paris.”

Covers of The Provocative Colette and Eileen Gray: A House Under the Sun

NBM Comics Biographies/Nobrow Press

Escape From Bitch Mountain

Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing
Words/Story: Hannah Chapman
Art/Colors: Various

“Comic Book Slumber Party is back! And this time they’re taking on the dank dungeons of Bitch Mountain. Far famed for its cruel Warlock overlord, Bitch Mountain is easily the deadliest destination on any adventurers map, but with its rumored riches and guaranteed bragging rights its an opportunity Greasy can’t refuse. Can Greasy find her way out of the depths with her treasure (and her dignity) intact?”

Cover of Escape From Bitch Mountain

Avery Hill Publishing

See you at the bookshelves!

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