Graphically Speaking: Sequential Art Continues To Proliferate | Spotlight on Graphic Novels

According to our graphic novels preview, titles based on sequential art continue to proliferate, in libraries and beyond. We also interview the folks at Drawn & Quarterly and new publisher Tee Franklin

Now, more than ever, graphic novels are the air pop culture breathes, providing the source material for today’s biggest events in film, TV, online/digital content, and publishing in general, as sequential art steadily infiltrates the literary and academic worlds.

Libraries and their patrons are greatly responsible for this rising popularity, as evidenced by the swell in circulation and sales of graphic novels across digital and print platforms. OverDrive’s collection development specialist and resident graphic novel expert Jack ­Phoenix reports a 47 percent increase in circulation of the company’s more than 30,000 titles in the category, noting manga as a vast contributor to that growth. He further cites a staggering 75 percent spike in circulation of nonsuperhero titles, including biographies, memoirs, and those dealing with historical and social issues, such as civil rights pioneer Congressman John Lewis’s autobiographical March trilogy, cocreated with writer ­Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell.

According to Josh Hayes, head of Diamond Book Distributors and executive VP of Diamond Comic Distributors, “Despite a difficult 2017, libraries performed above the traditional retail channels, which is a testament to the quality content we’re seeing in the category year over year.” Another important factor is the expansion of middle grade graphic novels, easily one of the most successful segments right now.

Not to be outdone, hoopla digital owner and cofounder Jeff Jankowski tells LJ that “since 2016, we’ve seen a 76 percent increase in graphic novel circulation and a 46 percent increase in unique comic book users.” Superhero series such as Wonder Woman and The Avengers are the highest circulating for hoopla, followed by humorous works, such as Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate and Sarah Anderson’s “Sarah’s Scribbles” collections. Jankowski adds that “comics and graphic novels are becoming a preferred reading choice in schools and libraries. We continue to invest in the experience and depth of content we are offering public library patrons.”

Debuts drawing interest

This fall sees the comics landscape continue to diversify with the arrival of fresh voices from across the literary and entertainment industries. In September, Aminder Dhaliwal, a Disney animation director, debuts Woman World (Drawn & Quarterly [D&Q]), a witty, thoughtful look at a post­apocalyptic universe in which a genetic mutation has killed off all males. D&Q marketing director Julia Pohl-Miranda describes the work as “very funny, very feminist…an e-original in a distinctive way since it began and blew up in popularity on Instagram before it became a D&Q release.” [See the interview with D&Q publisher Peggy Burns below.]

Also decidedly feminist is newcomer Emma’s The Mental Load: Comics from the Front Lines of Women’s Lives and Other Social Justice Issues (Seven Stories, Oct.), which investigates unpaid labor in the 21st century done primarily by women, as well as social justice issues, including immigrant rights and income ­inequality.

Esteemed author Margaret Atwood’s first foray into comics (Angel Catbird) was so successful that this autumn sees the Man Booker Prize winner release two new works with Dark Horse. Joining fellow Canadian and Astro Boy artist Ken Steacy, Atwood launches the first single-issue of War Bears (Sept.), which considers the impact of World War II on a Canadian creator’s life and career. In October comes The Complete Angel Catbird, illustrated by the acclaimed Johnnie Christmas and Tamra ­Bonvillain, collecting the first three volumes of the popular series combining human/animal hybrids and pulpy superhero adventure. With Infidel (Image, Sept.), former best-selling Vertigo editor and short film writer/director Pornsak Pichetshote makes his comics writing debut, accompanied by celebrated artists Aaron Campbell, José Villarrubia, and Jeff Powell. This genre-bending haunted house story centers on an American Muslim woman and her multiracial neighbors who move into a building occupied by entities that feed on xenophobia.

In the realm of dark speculative fiction, Prentis ­Rollins’s first full-length graphic novel, The Furnace (Tor, Jul.), is described by Tor editor Diana Pho as a “cautionary tale about the surveillance state and a searing critique of the prison-industrial system, all told through the eyes of a man trying to be a better father.” Pho draws parallels between Rollins’s work and 2017’s widely praised YA graphic novel I Am Alfonso Jones, from Tony Medina and others, as both convey “big, weighty topics told through intimate human perspectives and vibrant art that paints a complicated picture.”

Q&A: Tee Franklin

Tee Franklin, a queer disabled black woman, founded Inclusive Press to publish her own comics and those of other marginalized creators. The author has since received widespread acclaim for the queer romance novella Bingo Love, illustrated by Jenn St-Onge and Joy San, which garnered $60,000 via Kickstarter and won the 2017 Queer Press Grant before being released by Image Comics (LJ 2/1/18; ow.ly/ylBu30k2TBd). We interviewed Franklin about her experiences with Kickstarter, self-publishing, and more.

What were your expectations when you started your Kickstarter campaign to fund Bingo Love? I honestly expected to have to beg and plead with people to fund the Kickstarter. Never did I think that we were going to be funded in five days; that was just completely unheard of. As the numbers kept rising, I almost hit the cancel button and returned everyone’s pledges. I’m so glad I didn’t! Bingo Love is creator-owned but published by Image Comics—what does that mean in terms of the practical tasks involved? Bingo Love was self-published by me and my publishing company, Inclusive Press, via Kickstarter. Instead of bringing it to any of the major comics publishers, I decided to give it to the people and let them tell me yes or no. A few months after the Kickstarter ended, I was introduced to the head honcho at Image. Image believed in Bingo Love and wanted to publish the book and have it reach people and places that I couldn’t have reached on my own.... I’m forever grateful. Hazel and Mari’s story is one readers don’t typically encounter. Has its reception been what you’d hoped for? Bingo Love (already in its third printing) has been accepted by many people. A story of two teens who fall in love and reunite in their mid-sixties doesn’t get told because “happily ever afters” for the LGBTQ community typically don’t exist in [mainstream] entertainment. And it’s because [readers] get to see these characters—black, queer women—grow old together, love each other...that [they] see themselves. This is why I believe the book has sold so well. How did the creative team come together? I found artist Jenn St-Onge and colorist Joy San via Twitter. Comics editor Erica Schultz and I had known each other for several years, and Erica knew letterer Cardinal Rae. I reached out and offered them all jobs; I’m so thrilled they said yes. They did such a fantastic job, they’re all extremely talented. Is the artwork what you envisioned for the book, or did the artists’ style move you to consider another direction(s)? I didn’t consider any other direction for Bingo Love. Jenn’s beautiful artwork, along with Joy’s colors, fit perfectly in the Bingo Love universe. Jenn took my script and created a masterpiece, bringing tears to the eyes of people as young as 11, all the way to an 80-year-old woman. This team knocked it all the way out of the park. What can you tell us about your next project(s)? I’m working on a horror miniseries that will be coming out through Image this year, and I have a few more comics in the pipeline to keep me busy for the next few years. I’ve also decided to dip my toe into the prose pool, so we’ll see what happens; hopefully I don’t drown. What are the most important takeaways from your experiences in making Bingo Love? Bingo Love has given people hope and that’s something that is needed.... I’ve even had Hazels and Maris thank me for telling their story. People have broken down in my arms and thanked me for what I’ve done—[both] straight and LGBTQ folks. It’s a relatable [story] about finding your true love. To the creators out there, especially marginalized creators, you don’t have to take no for an answer. Just get on out there and create. The only person who can stop you from creating something is you.

Fan faves meet scholarship

Times have changed when a major comic book publisher launches a series of prose works and academic presses turn their attention to graphic novels. Kathryn Marguy, publicity and communications manager, University of Texas (UT), acknowledges that “perhaps unsurprisingly, not many university presses work in the [graphic] space.” Yet this year brings more academic publishers promoting illustrated works, a sign that visual storytelling is indeed gaining traction in the academy. UT puts forth its first-ever graphic biography with debut author/artist María Hesse’s Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Life (Sept.). Originally published in Spanish and translated into English by Achy Obejas, this volume portrays the artist’s tumultuous life from her own perspective. Two new additions to Ohio State University’s “Latinographix” series also arrive in September, with Eric J. García’s Drawing on Anger: Portraits of U.S. Hypocrisy offering a scathing indictment of Republicans, Democrats, and America itself via cartoons and comics collected from 2004 to the present. Tales from la Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology, edited by Frederick Luis Aldama, touted as the first anthology of its kind, spotlights comics and artwork by more than 80 Latinx contributors.

Princeton builds on its growing list of graphic narratives with Totally Random: Why Nobody Understands Quantum Mechanics (A Serious Comic on Entanglement) (Jun.) from father-daughter team Jeffrey and Tanya Bub. In July, Pennsylvania State (Penn State) brings us reportage illustrator Olivier Kugler’s Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters with Syrian Refugees, a firsthand look at the life of refugees and their caregivers, as documented by the author while on assignment. Academic presses are also dabbling in fiction. Writer Ilan Stavans and artist Roberto Weil’s meta-adaptation of Don Quixote of La Mancha (Penn State, Oct.) has Miguel de Cervantes’s fictional knight and his luckless squire encountering past and present creators and adaptors as well as the modern world (available in English and Spanglish editions).

Fans of military and naval history and biography, general history, and stories of the high seas, are sure to embrace several works from the Naval Institute’s Dead Reckoning imprint, launching in September. First releases include Ian Densford’s Trench Dogs, an anthropomorphic retelling of World War I; Kevin Knodell and others’ The ‘Stan, a series of short comics chronicling the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan; and Brent Dulak and others’ Machete Squad, depicting a U.S. Army medic’s struggle to preserve life and sanity during a tour in Afghanistan.

For readers seeking comics with a more literary bent, Humanoids’ Life Drawn imprint promises “diverse voices...from different points of view, whether powerful political and personal stories from Afghanistan or Vietnam or a biography of Hedy ­Lamarr,” reports ­Fabrice Giger, CEO/publisher. Highlighting its debut season is Luisa: Now and Then (Jun.; LJ 6/1/18), a queer transformative tale about self-acceptance and sexuality by French creator Carole ­Maurel, adapted by Caldecott Medal winner Mariko Tamaki (This One ­Summer).

Simon & Schuster’s graphic imprint Gallery 13 brings lots of in-house love to Eisner-nominated writer Alex de Campi and artist Victor Santos’s ambitious historical noir thriller Bad Girls (Jul.), which tells of three tough ladies looking to escape Cuba, with $6 million in stolen cash, the night before the country fell to Castro’s Communist rule.

Q&A: Drawn & Quarterly, 28 Years of Quality Lit

Illustration by Pascal Girard

Montreal-based Drawn & Quarterly (D&Q) is a preeminent publisher of literary graphic novels. For almost three decades, its output has been designed by writers and artists solely responsible for the ideas behind their works. Its past and present roster speaks for itself: Lynda Barry, Daniel Clowes, Kate Beaton, Chester Brown, Seth, Guy Delisle, and Yoshihiro Tatsumi, to name a few. We queried publisher Peggy Burns to find out more about the press and its methodology. In your 15 years at D&Q, three as publisher, what achievement(s) are you most proud of? What goals are you determined to accomplish? The biggest achievement is [that] we have created a professional, streamlined alternative for authors that exists between multinationals and micropublishers. We provide creative freedom, solid distribution and sales, ­author-friendly royalty rates, transparent contract and payment terms, first-rate foreign rights, and a full-scale integrated marketing campaign in three countries.

Illustration by Seth

What qualities does D&Q look for in prospective titles? D&Q is different from most major publishers in that we are not seeking to replicate past successes by following a blueprint. We look for authors with singular visions. Equally important is that each creator stands out from the others on our list. We publish 25 books a year, so it is imperative that each have its own personality and [make its own] contribution. Each season requires a mix of fiction, memoir, reprints, and both new and established authors in order to succeed. Our unofficial mandate is less is more—to publish fewer books and sell more of those titles, thereby fully supporting each work on our list. In 2017, we toured ten authors, so our commitment to marketing each book is sincere. What qualities do you consider when selecting works in translation? We do not treat translations differently from other books we acquire. With each work we ask, “Is this a distinctive approach? How does it complement our list?” We just started translating works in Korean. In 2017, we published Yeon-Sik Hong’s Uncomfortably Happy, and in September we’ll release Ancco’s Bad Friends. Quality literature is quality literature, no matter the language in which it is written. Does D&Q have any new imprints in the works? D&Q has its house brand and our children’s imprint, Enfant. We also have a significant reprint project...that we’re pretty proud of and will announce soon! What 2018 titles are you most enthused about sharing with our readers? I adore all of our books! I am enthusiastic about how our list ebbs and flows and the various ways the works all relate to one another, even if we look for distinct qualities in each of them. In May, we launched Aline Kominsky­-Crumb’s Love That Bunch (Xpress Reviews 5/25/18), putting the career of this pioneering female cartoonist—the first to delve into autobiographical comics—in its rightful historical context. At the same time, John Porcellino (the contemporary king of autobiographical comics) was on the road touring his new book From Lone Mountain, published in March. John also contributed to Julie Doucet’s Dirty Plotte, releasing this fall, and Aline featured Julie in Weirdo magazine, for which Aline is a co­editor. It all comes together, sometimes it just takes a few decades.

Big houses, new imprints

Many of the most exciting developments at DC Comics are all about imprints. In August, DC’s new Black Label line unleashes modern comics luminaries Frank Miller, John Romita Jr., Kelly Sue ­DeConnick, Scott Snyder, Phil Jimenez, Lee Bermejo, John Ridley, Greg Rucka, and Greg Capullo to create epic, out-of-continuity Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman stories. First up is Miller and Romita’s three-part Superman: Year One (Nov.), in celebration of the Man of Steel’s 80th anniversary.

August also sees Neil Gaiman’s return to DC Vertigo with the debut of the Sandman Universe line, which kicks off with his The Sandman Universe. The imprint’s four ongoing series by creators of Gaiman’s choosing feature Si Spurrier and Bilquis Evely (The Dreaming, Sept.), Nalo Hopkinson and Dominike Stanton (House of Whispers, Sept.), Dan Watters and others (Lucifer, Oct.), and Kat Howard and Tom Fowler (Books of Magic, Oct.). Mature readers who miss DC ­Vertigo’s glory days of Hellblazer, Preacher, and the like are directed to two new imprints, both curated by former Vertigo editors. IDW’s creator-owned Black Crown label, established in 2017 by editor Shelly Bond, follows up its first series, Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler’s Kid Lobotomy, with a collected edition of the initial arc of Tini Howard and Gilbert Hernandez’s Assassinistas (Aug.), which follows a gay college student happy to coast through life until his bounty hunter mom blows his tuition on the gear she needs to get back in the game, meaning her son is in for a ride and an interesting semester abroad. At Dark Horse, veteran editor Karen Berger, who oversees Berger Books, announces two works with edge: Emma Beeby’s graphic biography of the infamous courtesan and spy Mata Hari (Nov.) and Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece’s ­Incognegro: Renaissance (Oct.). Johnson and Pleece’s prequel to the ­much-admired Incognegro follows Zane Pinchback, a black cub reporter in early 1920s Harlem who poses as a white man to find the killer of a black writer.

Women artists at work

With the momentum brought on by the #metoo and #timesup movements reinvigorating women’s narratives, something trailblazers such as Gabrielle Bell (Cecil & Jordan in New York) have been at for more than a decade, new comics arrive to further women’s stories in an industry still largely dominated by men.

From Fantagraphics, Swedish cartoonist Liv Strömquist’s Fruit of Knowledge (Aug.) traces how different cultures and traditions have shaped women’s health and body image throughout history, reminding us of modern civilization’s shortcomings in those areas; Anne Simon’s The Song of Aglaia (Jul.) introduces a willful sea nymph who, after experiencing betrayal and rejection from the men in her life, comes to value her independence; and Georgia Webber’s Dumb (Jun.) presents a graphic memoir about overcoming a throat injury and muteness to find one’s voice.

Independent presses such as D&Q continue to specialize in literary works both utterly of the social and political moment and firmly grounded in the comics canon. With Coyote Doggirl (Aug.), Lisa Hanawalt, producer of Netflix’s BoJack Horseman, delivers an uproarious, feminist send-up of and tribute to Westerns. In Blame This on the Boogie (Oct.), cartoonist Rina Ayuyang chronicles the adventures of a Filipino American girl born in the decade of disco. Other current and upcoming profemale releases include comprehensive collections of the raw, autobiographical cartoons of Aline Kominsky-Crumb (Love That Bunch, May) and Julie Doucet (Dirty Plotte: The Complete Julie Doucet, Oct.).

From IDW in September, Top Shelf’s Girl Town collects minicomics and anthology contributions by Carolyn Nowak (Lumberjanes), while Black Crown sends the anthology Femme Magnifique, edited by Shelly Bond, back to print. A Kickstarter success, ­Magnifique gathers illustrated minibios of 50 women who changed the world, from Harriet ­Tubman and Sally Ride to Kate Bush and Michelle Obama, as told by more than 100 global creators, including Cecil Castellucci, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mike Carey, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Tee Franklin [see the Q&A, p. 36], and Gilbert Hernandez.

In October, Anne Frank’s Diary (Pantheon) gets introduced to a new generation of readers with the first graphic adaptation of this important historical work. Authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation and including text from the original, the project is headed by Oscar-nominated director Ari Folman and artist David Polonsky.

DiversE makers, material

The growing supply of and demand for diversity in graphic novels and in those who create them strengthen the argument that sequential art is a singularly exciting medium. Calvin Reid, senior news editor, Publishers Weekly, contends that “the demand for genres beyond superhero comics, the demands of women, people of color, LGBTQ folks, kids, and others for comics that reflect their lives is changing the American comics marketplace dramatically.”

Thus consider Gumballs (Top Shelf: IDW, Jun.), a pioneering comic from transgender cartoonist Erin Nations, in which graphic memoir combines with observational comedy, character studies, and more. Or Lauren Keller and others’ How Do You Smoke a Weed? A Comics Guide to a Responsible High (Jun.) from Charlie “Spike” Trotman’s Iron Circus Comics, which boasts a talented roster of queer, straight, male, female, nonbinary, and multiracial creators. Coming in September from PM Press, edited by Quincy Saul, Maroon Comix: Origins and Destinies collects stories about the Africans who escaped slavery in the Americas and created their own new societies and cultures. With A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns (Limerence: Oni, Jun.), genderqueer artist/writer Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson illustrate the basics of everyday usage, leavening a serious topic with just the right amount of ­humor.

Notable forthcoming graphic biographies and memoirs include Congressman Lewis’s much-anticipated Run: Book One (Comics Arts: Abrams, Oct.). Cocreated with writer Aydin and illustrators Afua Richardson and Powell, it begins the next chapter in the life of the civil rights icon, starting after the historic success of the 1965 Selma campaign. Also continuing his acclaimed memoir series, French-­Syrian cartoonist Riad Sattouf releases The Arab of the Future. Vol. 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985–1987 (Metropolitan: Holt, Aug.). Other standouts include Keiler Roberts’s unsparing ­Chlorine Gardens (Koyama, Sept.), which touches on pregnancy, raising children, and mental illness; ­Liana Finck’s self-dubbed “neurological coming-of-age story” Passing for Human: A Graphic Memoir (Random, Sept.); and Eisner-nominated cartoonist Tom Hart’s The Art of the Graphic Memoir (St. Martin’s, Nov.).

Noam Chomsky comes to comics in Jeffrey Wilson and Eliseu ­Gouveia’s The Instinct for Cooperation: A Graphic Novel Conversation with Noam Chomsky (Seven Stories, Jun.). Sure to satisfy sports fans is The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling (Ten Speed: Crown, Oct.), as told by ­Aubrey ­Sitterson and Chris Moreno.

COMICS IN THE CLASSICS

On the crime fiction, thriller, and noir front, Pulitzer Prize winner Jules ­Feiffer presents The Ghost Script (­Liveright: Norton, Jul.; Xpress Reviews 6/8/18), the gripping finale to his innovative “Kill My Mother” ­trilogy. Artist John K. Snyder III adapts novelist Lawrence Block’s Eight Million Ways To Die (IDW, Jul.) into a graphic, grainy, and moody setting that evokes the noir magazine covers of the period. And depicting male adolescence in the 1950s with grit, David Small’s first major adult work, Home After Dark (­Liveright: Norton, Sept.; LJ 6/1/18), follows up (and possibly surpasses) his National Book Award finalist Stitches. Meanwhile, top suspense from Titan Comics/Hard Case Crime features Edgar-­nominated Duane ­Swierczynski’s Breakneck, illustrated by Simone Guglielmini (Aug.); Max Allan Collins’s Quarry’s War, with artist Szymon Kudranski (Jul.); and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer: The Night I Died (Oct.), penned by Collins, with artist Marcelo Salaza, and timed to celebrate the 100th birthday of the legendary crime novelist.

Stunning literary adaptations include Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel, illustrated by Fred Fordham (Harper, Nov.); Jack London’s classic short story To Build a Fire (Gallery 13, Oct.), from acclaimed writer/­artist ­Christophe Chabouté; and award-winning cartoonist Peter ­Kuper’s ­Kafkaesque: Fourteen Short Stories (Norton, Sept.). For music fans, creator Bill Morrison’s lavish adaptation of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine (Titan Comics, Aug.) complements NBM’s The Beatles in Comics! (Nov.), the complete illustrated story of the Fab Four, from their formation through Beatlemania and the turbulent 1960s to their breakup. Rock enthusiasts will savor Joe Pearson and others’ Pearl Jam: Do the Evolution (IDW, Sept.), detailing the creation of the group’s Grammy-­nominated animated video, codirected by comics’ Todd ­McFarlane and Kevin Altieri.

Translations & manga

Speaking to the wide appeal of comics and graphic novels, or Bandes dessinées, in France, Flore Piacentino, project manager, French Publishers Association/Syndicat national de l’edition, tells LJ that “half of the [French] population reads at least one Bande dessinée per year, with 35 percent of books borrowed [from libraries] in France being graphic novels.” Furthermore, over the past decade, sales of French comics for adults and children, manga, and American comics have strongly increased. Highlighting the growing success of translated French works for American audiences, Piacentino says that “each year, translation rights for more than 200 French comics are sold to American ­publishers.”

Responding to the trend, D&Q has added several fresh voices from abroad to its 2018 offerings. German cartoonist ­Aisha Franz’s Shit Is Real (Jun.) traces a young woman’s struggles with depression in the wake of an unexpected breakup, while Korean creator Ancco’s Bad Friends (Sept.) examines female friendship in a 1990s South Korea torn between tradition and Western modernity. D&Q’s Pohl-Miranda is most excited about Ancco’s work after the huge success of Yeon-Sik Hong’s Uncomfortably Happy, noting “there’s a really good space for literary manhwa [Korean manga] carved out by the manga (and gekiga [alternative manga]) reading public.”

Mark de Vera, publishing sales manager, VIZ Media, relates that VIZ’s “library business has grown steadily over the past five years because of big new hits such as Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul [see Vol. 5: re, Jun.]...and Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia [see Hideyuki Furuhashi & Betten Court’s Vigilantes. Vol. 1, Jul.], as well as sequels to beloved manga ­series.” De Vera lists the most notable new trends as “the success of RWBY, a manga adaptation of the hit YouTube show [see RWBY Official Manga Anthology. Vol. 2: Mirror, Mirror (Aug.) and RWBY: Official Manga Anthology. Vol. 3: From Shadows (Nov.)] and continued growth of My Hero Academia, currently the biggest manga and anime property in America.”

Morgana Santilli (mangamaven.com), manager of Comicopia bookstore, Boston, also cites My Hero Academia as a “straightforward shonen action series...[drawing] from the very American influence of superhero comics…it has wide crossover appeal, and people who might not have typically read manga before are coming in and asking for it by name.” Santilli further credits the present growth of manga to technological advances, stating that “(t)he wide availability of anime streaming services means that more people…are able to access shows they might not have been able to…and in turn they are looking for the source material for those stories.” Santilli also acknowledges that publishers “are releasing much of their backlist and frontlist digitally, with some titles being digital-first or digital-only options.” Thanks to publications from small presses, such as Seven Sea’s 2017 success Nagata Kabi’s My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness and Chii’s The Bride Was A Boy (May), “the sudden appearance of LGBTQ+ voices in manga feels like a long time coming,” said Santilli. Moreover, vintage titles, including Go Nagai's Devilman and Leiji Matsumoto's Captain Harlock, also from Seven Seas and available in English for the first time, make it “clear that nostalgia is just as marketable for manga as it is for films and other media.”

The next age of superheroes

Signaling that the superhero genre is alive and well is the unprecedented success of the Black Panther film, which garnered a record-breaking $242.1 million in box office sales in its first days of hitting theaters this past February. Jenny McClusky, collection development librarian, Ingram Library Services, considers superhero saturation from the perspective of libraries, telling LJ that “with the name recognition of critically acclaimed graphic novel creators [e.g., Mariko Tamaki, Gene Luen Yang] now on board to write superhero stories, the usual complexities of superhero worlds should hopefully take a backseat in ­public library collection development. If this approach works, we could see libraries and educators, as well as graphic novel fans, embrace superheroes in a whole new way.”

PW’s Reid notes several recent attempts by Marvel and DC to incorporate “diversity and social trends to their well-known heroes: Marvel has a lady Thor as well as an Afro-Latino Spider-Man...an Islamic Ms. Marvel, the revival of Black Panther, Iceman coming out as gay.” Fans should also look to John Ridley’s The American Way. Vol. 2: Those Above and Those Below, continuing a series the Oscar-winning director (12 Years a Slave) began a decade ago, as well as a new series he’s working on that expands the background of DC heroes from marginalized communities, The Other ­History of the DC Universe. Still, many of the major current releases are collected or deluxe editions of ongoing series or recent successes, including Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Dark Nights: Metal; Deluxe Edition (Jun.), with Quarto set to release Robert Greenberger’s long-overdue DC Comics Heroines: 100 Greatest Moments (Sept.).

Etching out the times

Among the big titles set in the continually revisited World War II era is Anthony Del Col and others’ Son of Hitler (Image, Jun.), which sees a British agent find the title character in occupied France and recruiting him for a most dangerous mission.

America and its conflicted history remain popular themes as well. Val Mayerik and Jim Berry’s Kickstarter-funded Of Dust & Blood: The Battle at Little Big Horn (NBM, Oct.) views that fateful event through the eyes of a cavalry scout and a young Lakota warrior. Jump ahead to 1970s America, a popular setting for the macabre, as seen in National Book Award winner Nate ­Powell’s Come Again (Top Shelf: IDW, Jul.), marking the artist’s first solo graphic novel in seven years. In a hilltop “intentional community” in Arkansas, high in the Ozark Mountains, the spirit of the Love Generation is kept alive even as the Me Decade comes to an end.

As evidenced by this latest crop of titles, the graphic medium continues to transform the storytelling landscape. Citing Congressman Lewis’s March trilogy and Ken Krimstein’s upcoming graphic biography The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt (Sept.), Bloomsbury associate publisher and editorial director Nancy Miller considers the current strengths and boundless possibilities of comics. For Miller, “graphic nonfiction can be especially effective in bringing a historical subject to vivid life in a way that makes it feel quite of the moment, both politically and visually—and almost cinematic in its sweep and immediacy...speak[ing] to readers in new ways.”


Going Graphic

Below are the forthcoming titles mentioned in this article. Translations are denoted by (Tr.)
AUTHOR TITLE PUBLISHER RELEASE
Aldama, Frederick Luis (ed.) Tales from la Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology Latinographix: Ohio State Sept.
Ancco Bad Friends (Tr.) Drawn & Quarterly Sept.
Atwood, Margaret & others The Complete Angel Catbird Dark Horse Oct.
Atwood, Margaret & Ken Steacy War Bears Dark Horse Sept.
Ayuyang, Rina Blame This on the Boogie Drawn & Quarterly Oct.
Beeby, Emma Mata Hari Berger: Dark Horse Nov.
Block, Lawrence & John K. Snyder III Eight Million Ways To Die IDW Jul.
Bond, Shelly (ed.) Femme Magnifique Black Crown: IDW Sept.
Bongiovanni, Archie & Tristan Jimerson A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns Limerence: Oni Jun.
Bub, Tanya & Jeffrey Bub Totally Random: Why Nobody Understands Quantum Mechanics (A Serious Comic on Entanglement) Princeton Univ. Jun.
Cervantes, Miguel de & others Don Quixote of La Mancha Penn State Oct.
Collins, Max Allan & others Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer: The Night I Died Hard Case Crime/Titan Oct.
Collins, Max Allan & others Quarry’s War Hard Case Crime/Titan Jul.
De Campi, Alex & Victor Santos Bad Girls Gallery 13: S. & S. Jul.
Del Col, Anthony & others Son of Hitler Image Jun.
Densford, Ian Trench Dogs Dead Reckoning: Naval Inst. Sept.
Dhaliwal, Aminder Woman World Drawn & Quarterly Sept.
Doucet, Julie Dirty Plotte: The Complete Julie Doucet Drawn & Quarterly Oct.
Dulak, Brent & others Machete Squad Dead Reckoning: Naval Inst. Sept.
Emma The Mental Load: Comics from the Front Lines of Women’s Lives and Other Social Justice Issues Seven Stories Oct.
Feiffer, Jules Ghost Script Liveright: Norton Jul.
Finck, Liana Passing for Human: A Graphic Memoir Random Sept.
Frank, Anne & others Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation Pantheon Oct.
Franz, Aisha Shit Is Real (Tr.) Drawn & Quarterly Jun.
Furuhashi, Hideyuki & Betten Court My Hero Academia. Vol. 1: Vigilantes (Tr.) VIZ Jul.
Gaiman, Neil & others The Sandman Universe Sandman Universe: DC. Aug.
Garcia, Eric J. Drawing on Anger: Portraits of U.S. Hypocrisy Latinographix: Ohio State Sept.
Greenberger, Robert DC Comics Heroines: 100 Greatest Moments Quarto Sept.
Hanawalt, Lisa Coyote Doggirl Drawn & Quarterly Aug.
Hart, Tom The Art of the Graphic Memoir St. Martin’s Nov.
Hesse, María Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Life (Tr.) Univ. of Texas Sept.
Hopkinson, Nalo & Dominike Stanton House of Whispers Sandman Universe: DC Sept.
Howard, Kat & Tom Fowler Books of Magic Sandman Universe: DC Oct.
Howard, Tini & Gilbert Hernandez Assassinistas Black Crown : IDW Aug.
Ishida, Sui Tokyo Ghoul. Vol. 5: re VIZ Jun.
Johnson, Mat & Warren Pleece Incognegro: Renaissance Berger: Dark Horse Oct.
Kafka, Franz & Peter Kuper Kafkaesque: Fourteen Short Stories Norton Sept.
Keller, Lauren & others How Do You Smoke a Weed? A Comics Guide to a Responsible High Iron Circus Jun.
Knodell, Kevin & others The ‘Stan Dead Reckoning: Sept.
Kominsky-Crumb, Aline Love That Bunch Drawn & Quarterly May
Krimstein, Ken The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt Bloomsbury Sept.
Kugler, Olivier Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters with Syrian Refugees Myriad: Penn State Jul.
Lee, Harper & Fred Fordham To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel Harper Nov.
Lewis, John & others Run: Book One Comics Arts: Abrams Oct.
London, Jack & Christophe Chabouté To Build a Fire Gallery 13: S. & S. Oct.
Maurel, Carole & Mariko Tamaki Luisa: Now and Then (Tr.) Life Drawn: Humanoids Jun.
Mayerik, Val & Jim Berry Of Dust & Blood: The Battle at Little Big Horn NBM Oct.
Miller, Frank & John Romita Jr. Superman: Year One Black Label: DC Nov.
Morrison, Bill The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine Titan Comics Aug.
Nations, Erin Gumballs Top Shelf: IDW Jun.
Nowak, Carolyn Girl Town Top Shelf: IDW Sept.
Pearson, Joe & others Pearl Jam: Do the Evolution IDW Sept.
Pichetshote, Pornsak & others Infidel Image Sept.
Powell, Nate Come Again Top Shelf: IDW Jul.
Roberts, Keiler Chlorine Gardens Koyama Sept.
Rollins, Prentis The Furnace Tor Jul.
Sattouf, Riad The Arab of the Future. Vol. 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985–1987 (Tr.) Metropolitan: Holt Aug.
Saul, Quincy (ed.) Maroon Comix: Origins and Destinies PM Sept.
Simon, Anne The Song of Aglaia Fantagraphics Jul.
Sitterson, Aubrey & Chris Moreno The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling Ten Speed: Crown Oct.
Small, David Home After Dark Liveright: Norton Sept.
Snyder, Scott & Greg Capullo Dark Nights: Metal; Deluxe Edition DC Jun.
Spurrier, Si & Bilquis Evely The Dreaming Sandman Universe: DC Sept.
Strömquist, Liv Fruit of Knowledge Fantagraphics Aug.
Swierczynski, Duane & others Breakneck Hard Case Crime/Titan Aug.
Various The Beatles in Comics! NBM Nov.
Various RWBY: Official Manga Anthology. Vol. 2: Mirror, Mirror (Tr.) VIZ Aug.
Various RWBY: Official Manga Anthology. Vol. 3: From Shadows (Tr.) VIZ Nov.
Watters, Dan & others Lucifer Sandman Universe: DC Oct.
Webber, Georgia Dumb Fantagraphics Jun.
Wilson, Jeffrey & Eliseu Gouveia The Instinct for Cooperation: A Graphic Novel Conversation with Noam Chomsky Seven Stories Jun.

Jody Osicki, Community Services Librarian, Saint John Free Public Library, NB, began reviewing videos and graphic novels for LJ in 2006. A pop culture devotee since age three, he has written about film, music, books, and other works of popular art for various publications since 1990. Osicki was LJ’s 2014 Video Reviewer of the Year

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