Tag: Graphic Novels
Graphica / December 19, 2013
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).
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...
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!)
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...
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.
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
Paul Pope's long-awaited graphic novel Battling Boy is finally released next week, and the award-winning American comic book artist will be in Toronto to launch the book with The Beguiling on the evening October 15th!
"A straight-up, kick-butt superhero book for kids and grown-ups alike," Battling Boy is the story of an untested hero charged with defending a city infested with monsters. The first of two hotly anticipated volumes, it's already the subject of much excitement in the comics world.
Starting at 7:00pm at the Revival Night Club, Pope — whose previous work includes the acclaimed 100%, Heavy Liquid, and Batman Year 100 — will be on stage to talk about his new work, before taking questions from the audience and signing copies of the book.
Join us if you can!
BATTLING BOY BOOK LAUNCH
Featuring author Paul Pope
@ Revival, 783 College Street, Toronto
Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
Doors at 7PM. Event starts at 7:30pm
Graphica / June 11, 2013
Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan, first published by Drawn Quarterly in 2007 (and now available in paperback), is one of my favourite debut graphic novels of recent years. Set in modern-day Tel Aviv, and drawn and coloured in a beautiful, contemporary ‘ligne claire’ style, the book is a portrait of modern Israel, a place where sudden death and dissolution of family ties is an everyday reality.
I met Rutu in Toronto at the International Festival of Authors shortly after Exit Wounds. One of the first cartoonists to be invited to the literary festival, she was a witty, charming and down-to-earth advocate for both the medium and women in comics. It's not surprising that they have invited many more cartoonists since.
Now six years(!) later, Rutu has brought a similar combination of wit, style and realism, to her second full-length graphic novel The Property. Like Exit Wounds, it's a book that deals with family, relationships, and harsh truths. In a recent interview with The Comics Journal, Rutu discussed her own background and family, as well as the influences and ideas that informed The Property:
The idea for The Property came to me after I finished “Mixed Emotions.” One of the stories was about my grandmother. She was this tough, unpleasant old woman, the type that is called in the US “Yiddisher Mama” and in Israel “a Polish lady.” I got very emotional responses to this story in particular. It seems that everyone in the world has “a Yiddisher grandmother,” Italians, Koreans, Japanese, everyone. Maybe it’s not so much about being Jewish. So one night I was lying in bed, just about to fall asleep when suddenly it just came to me. I said, ‘I’ll do a story about this young woman who is going with her grandmother to look at the property.’ I thought it would be a good combination of family relations and money and history, with the Holocaust in the background, but only in the background.
It’s funny because I met Joe Sacco at Angoulême a year ago and we were talking about this book and I said ‘It’s not a Holocaust book, but the Holocaust is in the background.’ I told him I didn’t want to make the grandmother a Holocaust victim. That’s why she came to Israel before the war, because making her the victim is like saying that you can’t touch her. I said, ‘for me, it’s more interesting for the characters to be attached to the drama but not in the middle of it,’ and he said, ‘wow, that’s exactly like Exit Wounds.’ <laughs> I said, ‘oh, I didn’t think about it, but actually, yes. It’s the same.’ <laughs>
The Property is available now.
Graphica / August 16, 2011
The mini-comics took 10 years to complete, but as Ander's recently told Comic Book Resources, that was just the beginning a long process to bring them together for the book:
I finished the last issue somewhere around September-October and then after that, there was a good six months that was just editing. I think out of all of those pages, probably ninety percent or more have some changes, even if it was just moving a word balloon over or adding a word there. It turned into this giant editing process. I didn't redraw much. I added a few pages. I added one scene in the body of the book and then extended the material from the last two issues. I think I added ten or so pages to the end of the book. There were some deadlines which I did not quite make. I think the book was originally supposed to come out in May for TCAF, which did not happen. That process was just crazy labor intensive and it wasn't the fun part of coming up with the story and doing the drawings. When I was finally done with that, I was definitely exhausted and just slept for a couple days.
After all that, Big Questions, finally done, is over 600 pages long and a stunningly beautiful book. It is also now available from bookstores and Anders is touring to promote it. You can read a PDF preview at Drawn & Quarterly's website, but here are a couple of the pages from book to whet your appetite:
Graphica / July 25, 2011
As Robot 6 notes, Daybreak maybe a zombie book, but it's "a zombie book with a unique twist." The story is viewed entirely from the perspective of an unnamed survivor (that means you, the reader!) exploring a post-apocalyptic landscape who finds a potential ally in a one-armed man:
I had not seen a “first-person shooter” style of comic before. It turned out to be very exciting approach to storytelling. I was constantly trying to figure out new ways for the reader to feel like they were interacting with the characters and become characters in the story as well. I made some decisions along the way; to never show the reader’s “character” such as in a mirror. I didn’t want the reader to talk with a word balloon. I felt those things would break the illusion. It was tricky to work with those constraints, but such a fun challenge.
But interestingly, despite the “first-person shooter” style of Daybreak, you don't see a lot of zombies in the book:
I made a couple attempts at sketching the zombies thinking, of course, that I should include them, but I kept finding ways to avoid them. I wasn’t sure why, but it never felt right. Ultimately I decided that it just wasn’t necessary for the story I was trying to tell. The story is about traveling around with a stranger and becoming friends. Are any zombie stories really about the zombies? I don’t think so. The stories and movies are about the survivors having to form relationships. The blood and guts cheapen that. Plus, what a fun constraint, to draw a zombie book without ever showing a zombie? That’s crazy.
Read the full interview here.
Constructed from intimate interviews with four survivors of near-fatal suicide attempts, it is both poetic and profound meditation on life, the decision to end it, and what comes after...
The book is launching on May 3rd, 2011 with a free discussion with the entire creative team behind the book — including indie-comics star John Porcellino —hosted by This Is Not A Reading Series.
The hour-long discussion will be followed by a reception, and will also mark the opening of an exhibition of original artwork from The Next Day, as well as animations, soundscapes, projections and more from the upcoming interactive experience at the NFB Mediatheque in Toronto through late May.
BOOK LAUNCH & EXHIBITION OPENING
Co-Presented by: The National Film Board, TVO, TINARS, Hot Docs, TCAF, The Canadian Mental Health Association, Raincoast Books and The Toronto Animated Image Society:
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The National Film Board of Canada Mediatheque
150 John St. (at Richmond St. W), Toronto
Doors open at 7:00; Event starts at 7:30
Admission is FREE
The Next Day will be available in Canadian bookstores and comic shops in early May. You can also catch the creative team at the Toronto Comics Art Festival May 7th and 8th at the Drawn & Quarterly store in Montreal May 10th.
The Next Day was developed simultaneously as a separate interactive animated documentary online, in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada and in association with TVO as part of the NFB-TVO Calling Card Program.
Graphica / March 16, 2011
The Doug Wright Awards, Canada’s premier comics awards, have just announced their 2011 finalists.
The nominees for Best Book are:
- Bigfoot by Pascal Girard (Drawn and Quarterly)
- Chimo by David Collier (Conundrum Press)
- Lose #2 by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)
- Moving Pictures by Kathryn Immonen, Stuart Immonen (Top Shelf)
- Streakers by Nick Maandag
The nominees for Best Emerging Talent are:
- Aaron Costain, Entropy #5
- Alex Fellows, Spain and Morocco
- Keith Jones, Catland Empire (Drawn and Quarterly)
- James Stokoe, Orc Stain Volume One (Image)
- Tin Can Forest (aka Marek Colek and Pat Shewchuk), Baba Yaga and the Wolf (Koyama Press)
The nominees for the "Pigskin Peters Award" (recognizing non-traditional and avant-garde comics) are:
- Indoor Voice by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn and Quarterly)
- Stooge Pile by Seth Scriver (Drawn and Quarterly)
- So I’ve Been Told by Maryanna Hardy (Conundrum Press)
- Spotting Deer by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)
- Wowee Zonk #3 edited by Patrick Kyle, Ginette Lapalme and Chris Kuzma (Koyama Press)
In addition, this year’s inductee into "The Giants of the North", the Canadian Cartoonists Hall of Fame, will be legendary Vancouver cartoonist David Boswell, the creator of the influential alternative comic Reid Fleming: World’s Toughest Milkman.
The 2011 nominees were chosen by a committee from a long list of works and submissions published during the 2010 calendar year, which for the first year officially included web comics. This year’s committee included Chester Brown, Seth, Jerry Ciccoritti, Bryan Munn and Sean Rogers.
The 2011 winners will be decided by a five-member jury and will be announced at a gala ceremony as part of the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF). The jury will include Sara Quin (musician; one-half of Tegan and Sara), Michael Redhill (poet; author of Consolation and Martin Sloane; publisher of the literary journal Brick), Anita Kunz (artist, award-winning illustrator), Marc Bell (artist, cartoonist of Hot Potatoe; winner of the 2010 Pigskin Peters Award) and Mark Medley (National Post Books Editor).
Graphica / February 17, 2011
Adrian Tomine's latest book, Scenes from an Impending Marriage, started life as a small personal gift for guests at his wedding. But what began as an illustrated card soon grew into a collection of short comics strips about the absurd process of getting married.
Now a fully-fledged comic book, Scenes from an Impending Marriage sweet-naturedly skewers (in a funny, all too relatable way) the modern marriage process, including hiring a DJ, location scouting, trips to the salon, suit fittings, dance lessons, registering for gifts and managing familial demands.
Adrian AND his wife Sarah Brennan talked about the book, and the process of getting married, with NPR's All Things Considered earlier this week:
Tomine says that he also has an easy time drawing himself.
"It helps that I have some fairly typical comic book shorthand qualities like big glasses and a beard and a funny posture," he says. "Even if the technical likeness isn't there, if you throw in some of those things, it's enough to communicate who it's supposed to be."
"You're also frequently crabby like a lot of cartoonists," Brennan says.
Adrian was also recently interviewed by The Economist's More Intelligent Life this week:
If the hypothetical reader's life has progressed similarly to mine, they'll probably enjoy the book. If it hasn't, then they might want to sit this one out. What can I say? I took a gamble! The one thing I'd say is that the only thing this book really whole-heartedly endorses is a good relationship. I should mention that another impetus for publishing this work was the simple fact that it was time for me to do something different. I think the worst thing I could've done to follow up “Shortcomings” would be to do another book with a similar tone and drawing style. So it was kind of exciting for me when I realised that kind of departure that I was aiming for was already completed and ready to go.
You can read a 6-page PDF preview of Scenes from an Impending Marriage is available here.
Graphica / September 03, 2010
[C]omics have perhaps never been as diverse, vibrant and exciting as now—for they are no longer possible to pigeonhole. Comics publisher Chris Oliveros, founder of the Montreal-based publisher Drawn & Quarterly, says “the work today is so diverse—everyone has a unique vision.” Insofar as comics can be considered a literary medium, there seems to be no category they’ve neglected, whether memoir (A Drifting Life), journalism (Joe Sacco’s Palestine) or fictional biography (Seth’s George Sprott). Chester Brown wanted to do Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography because, well, who else was doing history as comics? And besides, he explains, “comics’ visual dimension makes a story more engaging, and keeps history from being dull.”
Read the whole article here.
Graphica / July 16, 2010