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Tag: Chester Brown

My Favourite Comics of 2013, Dan Wagstaff

by Dan
Graphica / December 19, 2013

delilah dirk

2013 was a GREAT year for comics. If you like fantasy, adventure, and superhero comics, there was Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples excellent space opera Saga, Matt Fraction and David Aja's erstwhile Avenger Hawkeye, and Kelly Sue Deconnick's Captain Marvel.

The latest Batwoman by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman delivered more exquisitely drawn gothic horror, and The Joker returned in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's nightmare-inducing run on Batman. And—speaking of nightmares—H. P. Lovecraft met Jules Verne in Nemo: Heart of Ice by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill (I'm looking forward to next year's sequel, The Roses of Berlin, a lot).

Then there was the epic, Moebius-meets-Jack Kirby Battling Boy by Paul Pope, and the deliciously pulpy The Black Beetle by Francesco Francavilla.

The luscious historical fantasy adventure Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Vancouver's very own Tony Cliff was just a joy from beginning to end. Not only did it look beautiful (Tony is also an animator), but the dialogue was sharp and snappy.

Online, I have been quietly addicted to the post-Harry Potter fantasy adventure Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. But that won't be out as a book until 2015! (You can, however, find one of Noelle's illustrations on the cover of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell).  

You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack

Affectionately making fun of tight pants and all that heroic stuff was The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Halifax-based cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks (which I loved, loved, loved), and the brilliant You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld. While Superhero Girl dealt with the daily trials and tribulations of a novice superheroine, You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack mashed up literary classics with robots, astronauts, dinosaurs, sea monsters, Victoriana, and masked men (where else would you see a Batman-inspired steampunk Dickens?!).

Also somewhat affectionately deconstructing pop culture (but in an oh-so different way) was the bonkers and acidic My Dirty Dumb Eyes by illustrator Lisa Hanawalt. I'm not sure I'd describe it as comics exactly, but it was sure as hell funny (where else would you see Anna Wintour riding an ostrich?!).

For kids, the pair of eccentrics in Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon were lots of fun (the book's been a popular birthday gift), and I really liked Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson. Luke also contributed a really great story, 'The Boy Who Drew Cats', to the charming Fairy Tale Comics collection edited by Chris Duffy. (You can read my interview with Luke here).

My kids are still a bit young for them, but I fully expect My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Adventure Time Fionna & Cake will soon be in required reading in our house...        

Relish

But comics continued to explore new territory beyond the typical genres associated with the medium. Lucy Knisley's Relish was a tender food memoir with recipes; Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks, a colourful look at the work of primatologists Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas. The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg was a series of strange, funny, and magical stories. Gilbert Hernandez had two remarkable books out this year: Marble Season, a heartfelt, semi-autobiographical comic about childhood in 1960s southern California, and the haunting Julio's Day, a fictional account of man's life from his birth in 1900 to his death 2000. Peter Bagge returned with Woman Rebel, a surprising and fascinating biography of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.

(I actually had the pleasure of meeting both Beto and Peter this year. Peter was terrific at this year's IFOA—smart and disarmingly funny—but sight of Elvira Kurt sprinting from one side of a CBC studio to the other to meet Beto was something else entirely!)

The Property

Rutu Modan's The Property was an extraordinary follow-up to her debut graphic novel Exit Wounds. Lovingly observed, it told the story of an Israeli woman accompanying her elderly grandmother to Warsaw, ostensibly to reclaim property lost during World War II. It was funny, heartbreaking, beautiful and poignant. Literary in the best sense, it was still criminally overlooked by the critics.

And I didn't even get to Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh, The Great War by Joe Sacco... 

Louis Riel 10th Anniversary Edition

2013 was the 10th anniversary of Chester Brown's monumental Louis Riel—a book that changed how we thought about comics and, I think, profoundly expanded the possibilities of the medium. Would a book like Rebel Woman have been possible without it? I don't think so. Nor would my favourite comic of the year, Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang, which shared some of its sensibility.

The result of 5 years work, Boxers and Saints is a remarkable achievement. The two volume graphic novel told the intertwined stories of two young people on opposites of the Boxer Rebellion in 19th century China. While Boxers was a brightly coloured adventure story inspired by Chinese opera and superhero comics, Saints delivered an introspective story of identity and faith, drawing more from the personal narratives found in independent comics. Both books were beautifully coloured by Lark Pien (a cartoonist in her own right) and they are visually stunning. But it was the complex storytelling—in turn funny and tragic—and Gene's unique magical realism that made the books truly extraordinary.

boxers and saints

Shortly after the release of Boxers and Saints, Gene came to Toronto and delivered two brilliant presentations about becoming a cartoonist and his career from self-published indie comics to the present day. If you ever get chance to hear Gene talk about his work you should definitely take it. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of hours with him just talking comics and superheroes. It was one of the highlights of my year.

 

Dan, Online Marketing Manager


TCAF Photo Diary

by Dan
Graphica / May 19, 2011

TCAF by Sam Javanrouh

If you missed the excitement of Toronto Comics Art Festival (TCAF) a couple of weekends ago, never fear! The awesome online art magazine that is Squidface & The Meddler documented the event with a slew of photographs by talented Toronto photographer Sam Javanrouh.   

It was the 6th gathering of the annual arts festival founded by The Beguiling's Peter Birkemoe and Chris Butcher and it was bigger than ever this year with artists, writers, publishers and fans from all over Canada and abroad attending.

Needless to say the folks from Drawn + Quarterly were out in force and Javanrouh snapped these great shots of pals Chester Brown, author of Paying For It, and Seth, whose new book The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists is published this fall, working away at the D+Q table:

Chester Brown at TCAF by Sam Javanrouh

Seth at TCAF by Sam Javanrouh

More of Javanrouh's photos of TCAF — including snaps of Adrian Tomine (Scenes From An Impending Marriage), Chris Ware (The Acme Novelty Library #20) and Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant) — can be seen at Squidface & The Meddler, and you can see new pics by Sam every day at his Toronto photoblog Daily Dose of Imagery

(Special thx to Sam Javanrouh and Mike and Jes at Squidface and The Meddler for letting use these pics). 


Chester Brown in Vancouver TONIGHT!

by Dan
Events + Graphica + Vancouver / May 18, 2011

Chester Brown Vancouver

As in TONIGHT-TONIGHT! At 7pm!! 

Chester Brown will be reading from his new book Paying for It in the Alice MacKay room on the lower level of the Central Library. He'll also be answering questions, and signing books.

Did I mention it's TONIGHT? 


Paying For It

by Dan
Graphica / May 02, 2011

paying for it

Chester Brown's controversial new book Paying For It — both a contemporary defence of prostitution and a memoir of his personal experiences  is out this week, and the Toronto author was profiled in both the Globe and Mail and the National Post this weekend. Brad Mackay also reviewed the book for the Globe:

As is the case in most of his other autobiographical comics, Brown sets himself up as the target of the jokes. Joe Matt, a good friend and recurring character in Brown’s work, gets the lion’s share of the yucks here. I especially liked Matt’s reaction after he learns Brown has visited a prostitute: “This is disturbing, but it’s also good gossip.”

Of course, the art is as idiosyncratic as ever. Brown forgoes the six-panel grid and turns down the cross-hatching that he used in Louis Riel for a small, rectangular eight-panel layout inspired in part by the comics of Carl Barks. These oblong panels house some of the year’s most effective cartooning, capable of lending dignity to even the most awkward sex scenes.

You can also read reviews in The Walrus magazine, and at the Comics Reporter and Robot 6

Chester will be at the Toronto Comics Art Festival this coming weekend and at the Vancouver Public Library on May 18th. 


Chester Brown Tour Dates

by Dan
Current Affairs + Graphica / April 13, 2011

Paying For It Chester Brown

Chester Brown's controversial new book Paying For It is published later this month and Chester will be on the road to launch it in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver in May: 

TORONTO: Sunday, May 1st at Goodhandy's with Sasha
TORONTO: Saturday & Sunday, May 7th–8th at TCAF
MONTREAL: Saturday, May 14th at Librairie D+Q
VANCOUVER:Wednesday, May 18th at Vancouver Public Library with Lucky's
 

In Paying For It, Chester Brown calmly lays out the facts of how he became not only a willing participant in but a vocal proponent of one of the world's most hot-button topics—prostitution.