Ads, previews, press releases … every week, we get loads of info on the latest and greatest books coming out in single issues and trade. Not as well covered are the myriad other works that fill the shelves of comic shops and bookstores. From the graphic novels published by comic publishers like Fantagraphics, First Second, and Drawn and Quarterly to the comics made at traditional publishing houses, there’s a whole world of comics that aren’t promoted on the back cover of the most recent Batman. There are great non-fiction works, translations of foreign comic albums, and reprints collecting out-of-print classics. Truly, these books can offer a refreshing perspective on comics.
Best of the Rest is a monthly series looking at the best upcoming works you may otherwise miss out on.
Percy Van Winkle
Wake Up, Percy Gloom is a treat for anyone who grew up with a steady diet of Nickelodeon cartoons. Cathy Malkasian, an animator who worked on ‘toons like Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, and Curious George, presents the continuing adventures of Percy Gloom. First introduced in 2007 in Percy Gloom, our hero is a polite, meek, safety-obsessed ball of neuroses. He’s also immortal, which can be a problem when he naps – he could sleep for days, years, or even centuries whenever he nods off. When he wakes in Wake Up, Percy Gloom unaware of how long he’s been asleep, he sets off in search of his mother and his lost love, Miss Margaret. Malkasian decorates the tale with surreal and absurd dressing (reminiscent of the land of Oz, more than anything else), and plots with twists and turns that are almost impossible to anticipate. She also draws with a light hand: characters, landscapes, and even buildings seem to be all curves and no corners. If L Frank Baum, Jim Henson and, Jeff Smith wrote a comic together, it would feel (and look) a bit like Percy Gloom.
WAKE UP, PERCY GLOOM
by CATHY MALKASIAN
On Sale July 5th
Hardcover | 200 pages | $28.99Cartoonist and animator Cathy Malkasian follows up her 2007 graphic novel Percy Gloom (a minor classic) with the further adventures of the small, immortal man with a light-up head. In Wake Up, Percy Gloom, kindhearted Percy awakens from (what he thinks is) a 200-year nap and finds himself in a strange new land. As Percy goes on a quest to locate his mother, he encounters many inspired inventions and bizarre, and sometimes dangerous, characters and situations, such as singing goats and furniture parades. Through it all he pines for his long-lost love and soul mate, Miss Margaret—but his love may not be as doomed as he thinks. Malkasian’s lush and detailed pencil drawings, surreal humor, absurdist characters and stunning visual storytelling ensure that fans of the first graphic novel will find the sequel just as fantastical, touching, and hilarious; new readers will discover a gorgeously rendered world of luminous landscapes, gentle humor, and a cast composed variously of wise, naïve, and flawed characters in a wide-ranging story that stands on its own.
Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed Nomini Tuo da Gloriam.
I’ve always been kind of fascinated in the Knights Templar, reputedly the most skilled fighters in the Crusades. Jordan Mechner’s Templar throws readers right into the history and mythology of the order, and follows 14th century knight Martin as he returns home from the Crusades. Life ain’t grand for Martin; he gets back to France to find that the love of his life married someone else, and the King and Pope are conspiring to sink the Knights Templar and take their riches. Our hero (as heroes are wont to do) takes matters into his own hands, and plans to snag the treasure from the villains’ grasp. Templar was originally going to be released as three separate volumes, but First Second opted to put the entire story in a single omnibus. The final product is a gorgeous piece of work, 480 pages of full-color, hardcover beauty. If you’re into historical fiction – and I know many iFanboy readers are – this book is totally your jam.
by JORDAN MECHNER, LEUYEN PHAM and ALEX PUVILLAND
On Sale July 9th
Hardcover | 480 pages | $39.99When the king of France and the pope conspire against the Knights Templar, it’s up to one renegade knight to avenge his slain brothers in this sprawling historical adventure
Martin is one of a handful of Templar Knights to escape when the king of France and the pope conspire to destroy the noble order. The pope and king aim to frame the Templars for heresy, execute all of them, and make off with their legendary treasure. That’s the plan, anyway, but Martin and several other surviving knights mount a counter-campaign to regain the lost treasure of the Knights Templar. With gorgeous illustrations by LeUyen Pham and Alexander Puvilland and lush coloring from Hilary Sycamore, this 480-page, full-color, hardcover graphic novel is itself a treasure.
Heroics + Statistics = Super Graphic
Infographics – which are, in the simplest terms, visual representations of stats and info – are a big deal right now. It’s not just online, where blogs like I Love Charts are hugely popular. Book publishers are getting in on the action; the storied “Best American” series is publishing their first infographic book this year, and single subject infographic books are all the rage. The newest addition to this field is Tim Leong’s Super Graphic, a compendium of comic-related charts, graphs and diagrams. From a Walking Dead kill counter to a diagram of the Library of Congress’ comics catalog, the book breezily mixes high-brow and low-brow, serious analysis and charts about Wu-Tang’s RZA. Chronicle books are uniformly well-designed (they’re kind of like the Archaia of the trade book world), and Super Graphic is no exception. Probably my most anticipated book of July.
by TIM LEONG
On Sale July 16th
Paperback | 196 pages | $18.95The comic book universe is adventurous, mystifying, and filled with heroes, villains, and cosplaying Comic-Con attendees. This book by one of Wired magazine’s art directors traverses the graphic world through a collection of pie charts, bar graphs, timelines, scatter plots, and more. Super Graphic offers readers a unique look at the intricate and sometimes contradictory storylines that weave their way through comic books, and shares advice for navigating the pages of some of the most popular, longest-running, and best-loved comics and graphic novels out there. From a colorful breakdown of the DC Comics reader demographic to a witty Venn diagram of superhero comic tropes and a Chris Ware sadness scale, this book charts the most arbitrary and monumental characters, moments, and equipment of the wide world of comics.
“We fatties have a bond, dude. It’s like a secret society.”
One of the wonderful things about the world of Judge Dredd and Mega-City One is the fertile ground for creative worldbuilding. With millions of citizens spread across hundreds of blocks and thousands of miles, there’s plenty of space for writers and artists to create unique social groups. One of the most entertaining (and least politically correct) is the “Fatties,” whose stories are collected in Judge Dredd: Fatties. A class of gigantically fat Mega-City One citizens who pass the time by eating, the porcine Fatties participate in Eating Championships and even have tripod-like “bellywheels” to keep their guts off the ground. Oh, and they sometimes eat entire cars. 2000 AD’s newest collection puts all the Fatties stories from the past decades into a single trade. It’s a perfect, hilarious introduction to one of the weirder corners of the Dredd universe, buoyed by some great writing (John Wagner, Alan Grant) and art (Carlos Ezquerra, Mike McMahon and Cam Kennedy).
JUDGE DREDD: FATTIES
by JOHN WAGNER, ALAN GRANT, CARLOS EZQUERRA, MIKE MCMAHON, and CAM KENNEDY
On Sale July 16th
Paperback | 144 pages | $19.99In the nightmarish metropolis of the future known as Mega-City One, a majority of the citizens are unemployed. Boredom drives many of these people to invest their time in a variety of different hobbies including eating. As a result, a new sub culture of gluttonous, gargantuans have emerged. Nicknamed ‘fatties’ by the other citizens, these blubbery boys and girls compete in the Intercity Eating Championships to be the biggest and the best citizens ever to use a bellywheel.This is the very first time the complete set of Fatties stories have been brought together under one cover – if one cover can hold them!This side-splitting collection of stories from John Wagner (Al’s Baby) and Alan Grant (Lobo), features the stunning art of Carlos Ezquerra (Adventures in the Rifle Brigade), Mike McMahon (Ro-Busters) and Cam Kennedy (Star Wars: Dark Empire), and is guaranteed to leave you wanting more!
50 Shades of Cervantes
Chris Northrop and Jeff Stokely, who have both already distinguished themselves as creators (the former at Oni, the latter at Archaia), unite in July for an original graphic novel. The Reason for Dragons, published by Archaia, is a story of motorcycles, dragons, and Renaissance Faires. 15-year-old Wendell is a lonely dreamer, a bit of an outcast who’s unable to connect with his stepfather. Exploring a nearby fairground, the high schooler stumbles upon a seemingly insane hermit who insists on calling himself Sir Habersham. In a turn familiar to anyone who read Don Quixote in high school, Habersham thinks himself a medieval knight (clad in homemade armor, natch) and insists he’s hunting a dragon. Stokely’s whimsical artwork is a perfect match for the fantasy-tinged story, and the book succeeds both as an adventure yarn and a coming-of-age story.
(The Reason for Dragons also concept and design credits for Sean Murphy, just in case you needed more convincing.)
THE REASON FOR DRAGONS
by CHRIS NORTHROP and JEFF STOKELY
On Sale July 17th
Hardcover | 128 pages | $19.95Wendell is a high school outcast who lives a lonely, suburban existence, losing himself in books in order to avoid his distant, motorcycle-riding stepfather, Ted. When the school bullies convince Wendell to venture into the forest around their neighborhood and explore the long-abandoned Renaissance Faire grounds they all believe to be haunted, Wendell is surprised to find a man living in the barn – and even more surprised by the man himself. His new acquaintance seems the definition of crackpot, believing himself to be a medieval knight named Sir Habersham, tasked with the duty of slaying the dragon he insists is wandering the woods. But when Wendell starts hearing rumblings – and listening to Habersham’s stories – he starts to wonder if, perhaps, it could all be true. In a heartfelt coming-of age story, Wendell must defy logic in order to follow his heart.
An Unlikely Love Story
Samuel R Delany’s Bread & Wine, first published in 2000, is getting a posh reprint in July from Fantagraphics. The memoir tells the story of Delany’s relationship with his partner Dennis Rickett. It was an unlikely pairing – when they met, the author was a successful science fiction novelist and professor, while Rickett was a homeless book vendor living on New York’s streets. Bread & Wine graphs the pair’s relationship from their first meeting, to the first time they have sex, to eventual cohabitation. The book is short – just 72 pages, with only about half devoted to Delany and Wolff’s original comic – but packs some serious punch. Lots of the credit can go to Mia Wolff, whose black-and-white pen work adds some serious grittiness to the story. The only thing I love more than a good love story is a good atypical love story, and Bread & Wine fits the bill nicely.
BREAD & WINE
by SAMUEL R DELANY and MIA WOLFF
On Sale July 19th
Hardcover | 72 pages | $14.99The runaway critical and commercial success of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home has paved the way for the re-issue of Bread & Wine. Written by black, gay science-fiction writer, professor, and theorist Samuel R. Delany, and drawn by artist/martial arts instructor Mia Wolff, Bread & Wine is a graphic autobiography that flashes back to the unlikely story of how Delany befriended Dennis, and how they became an enduring couple—Delany, a professor at Philadelphia’s Temple University, Dennis, an intelligent man living on the streets. For casual readers and fans, Bread & Wine is a moving, sexually charged love story, with visuals informed by Wolff’s professional physical pursuits. Her black-and-white, pen-and-ink work not only expressionistically represents the characters’ “body language” and the bustling New York setting, but is also filled with impish art references and visual puns. The scholarly potential for the book, based on the poem “Bread and Wine” by the German lyric poet Friedrich Holderlin, not only encompasses queer, African-American, and graphic novel studies, but also exploration in the literary and paraliterary academic fields. This edition includes an introduction by Watchmen writer Alan Moore, commentary by the book’s protagonists, Delany and Dennis, and a new interview with Delany and Wolff.
Night at the
As a bookseller, picking up Incidents in the Night was a no-brainer. A book focused on journeys among Paris’ book shops is right up my alley. This is especially true of a graphic novel, where the artist can populate the pages with aisles of shelves and stacks of books. The story starts simply enough, with David exploring bookstores for a volume of the eponymous Incidents in the Night. Quickly, however, things get weird. Shops morph into labyrinths of books, populated by men and monsters alike. Conspiricies abound. As is often the case (literally and figuratively), the book is much more than just a book. It’s a love letter to the power of literature; to be transporting, to illuminate history, and to grant creators a kind of textual immortality.
It took over 20 years for the first volume of this delightful French series to be translated into English. Let’s hope the wait for volume two is much shorter.
INCIDENTS IN THE NIGHT
by DAVID B and BRIAN EVENSON
On Sale July 23rd
Hardcover | 100 pages | $19.95In Incidents in the Night David B. sets out to explore the uncharted territories of overflowing and dusty shelves of Paris’ legendary book shops. His journey quickly turns into an obsessive vision quest in pursuit of a mysterious nineteenth-century journal: Incidents In the Night. Mountains of books become sites of archeological digs as the author excavates layers of myth, fact and fiction in search of the elusive thread that links them all. Along the way he stumbles on fanatical Bonapartists, occult conspiracies and the angel of death. Incidents in the Night is an intricate, ever-expanding web of dream and reality exquisitely translated by Brian Evenson.