Best of the Rest – June 2013

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.


Two of the Greats

simon kirby

I feel like, when it comes to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, I don’t really need to write any copy here to justify a book among “the best.” This new oversize hardcover from Titan Books collects two decades of work from the masters. The Simon and Kirby Library: Science Fiction kicks off with ten issues of Blue Bolt, the first series the pair ever worked on together. From there, the book barrels through WWII- and Cold War-era science fiction books from Kirby, Simon, and some of their collaborators. This book is chock full of retro sci-fi goodness. Having just bought the first Fear Agent Library volume, it’s great to see how much inspiration Moore, Opena, and Remender took from these early masters.

THE SIMON & KIRBY LIBRARY: SCIENCE FICTION
by JOE SIMON and JACK KIRBY
Titan Books
On Sale June 4th
Hardcover|  320 pages | $49.95

The Simon and Kirby Library: Science Fiction spans more than 20 years, beginning with the first stories Joe Simon and Jack Kirby ever produced together (beginning in June 1940)-their ten-issue run of Blue Bolt adventures. Then the Cold War years will be represented by Race For the Moon, featuring pencils by Kirby and inked artwork by comic book legends Reed Crandall, Angelo Torres, and Al Williamson.”Joe was one of the industry’s greatest innovators-he commissioned stories from some of the greatest talents of the time,” series editor Steve Saffel notes. “Thanks to his efforts, we have exclusive access to more than 80 pages of original artwork from the 1950s. Stories by all four artists appear in all of their stunning detail. This was a book Joe wanted the world to see.”Other rarities from both decades are included, and as a bonus for readers, the volume features stories illustrated by Crandall, Torres, and Williamson-without Kirby.Including an introduction by Dave Gibbons, the award-winning co-creator and illustrator of Watchmen, this is an historic volume no comic book aficionado will be able to live without.

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The Missing Link

primates

Two types of comics I’m happy to feature in this monthly feature are all-ages books and non-fiction. In Primates, Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks provide both. The book offers profiles of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas, three remarkable primatologists. Ottaviani may be familiar to readers as the author of Feynman, another great biography of groundbreaking twentieth century science. The author skillfully links the three women and their discoveries into a single entertaining, informative narrative. Marie Wicks’ bold, simple cartooning is a delight. Drawing expressive characters with just a few bold lines, her art recalls Chris Ware’s work.

PRIMATES
by JIM OTTAVIANI and MARIS WICKS
First Second
On Sale June 11th
Hardcover | 144 pages | $19.99

A fun and immersive look into the lives of the three greatest primatologists of the twentieth century: Biruté Galdikas, Dian Fossey, and Jane Goodall, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Feynman.

Jim Ottaviani returns with an action-packed account of the three greatest primatologists of the last century: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. These three ground-breaking researchers were all students of the great Louis Leakey, and each made profound contributions to primatology—and to our own understanding of ourselves.

Tackling Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas in turn, and covering the highlights of their respective careers, Primates is an accessible, entertaining, and informative look at the field of primatology and at the lives of three of the most remarkable women scientists of the twentieth century. Thanks to the charming and inviting illustrations by Maris Wicks, this is a nonfiction graphic novel with broad appeal.

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Kids Say the Darndest Things

neglectful

One of my favorite European comic artists is Guy Delisle, whose Jerusalem and Burma are among my most-loved nonfiction books. In A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting, Delisle turns his eye from far-flung travels to his life at home. While his role as a stay-at-home dad has always been in the margins of his other books, it takes center stage in this humorous collection. One of Delisle’s greatest skills has always been bringing his dry, wry writing to life on the page, and his exaggerated cartooning style is a perfect fit for his newest work. Just like Jeffrey Brown’s Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess, A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting is the perfect book for both parents and their children.

A USER’S GUIDE TO NEGLECTFUL PARENTING
by GUY DELISLE
Drawn and Quarterly
On Sale June 11th
Paperback | 192 pages | $12.95

With A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting, the trademark dry humor that pervades Guy Delisle’s landmark and praised graphic travelogues takes center stage. Quick, light vignettes play on the worries and cares any young parent might have, and offer wry solutions to the petty frustrations of being a dad who works from home.

Readers familiar with Delisle’s stranger-in-a-strange-land technique for storytelling (employed in Jerusalem, Pyongyang, Burma, and Shenzhen) will recognize the titular parent in this book; Delisle’s travelogues were simultaneously portraits of complex places and times, and portraits of a stay-at-home dad’s ever-changing relationship with his children while his wife is out working for Doctors Without Borders. The relationship between young child and all-too-irony-aware parent is beautifully done here, and Delisle’s loose flowing style has been set free, creating a wonderful sense of motion throughout.

A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting is an intimate, offbeat look at the joys of parenting.

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Prize-Winning Punk Profile

last day

I’ve been looking forward to Ulli Lust’s Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life for a long time. The English-language release has been pushed back before, but it looks like it’s finally coming to the US this June. The graphic memoir depicts Ulli and her friend Edi’s travels from Austria to Italy at age 17 with no money and no documents. It’s not a light-hearted story. The girls are are harassed, raped, and even hunted by the mafia. Dark as it is, it’s a totally gripping and engrossing story. Lust is a confident and  skilled storyteller, and she tells her story with the perspective added by 25 years. Already a winner of multiple awards in Europe, the book is sure to catch critical attention here in the states.

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
by ULLI LUST
Fantagraphics
On Sale June 15th
Paperback | 460 pages | $35.00

Back in 1984, a rebellious,17-year-old, punked-out Ulli Lust set out for a wild hitchhiking trip across Italy, from Naples through Verona and Rome and ending up in Sicily. Twenty-five years later, this talented Austrian cartoonist has looked back at that tumultuous summer and delivered a long, dense, sensitive,and minutely observed autobiographical masterpiece.

Miraculously combining a perfect memory for both emotional and physical detail with the sometimes painful lucidity two and half decades’ distance have brought to her understanding of the events, Lust meticulously shows the who, where, when, and how (specifically, how an often penniless young girl can survive for months on the road) of a sometimes dangerous and sometimes exhilarating journey. Particularly haunting is her portrait of her fellow traveler, the gangly, promiscuous devil-may-care Edi who veers from being her spunky, funny best friend in the world to an out-of-control lunatic with no consideration for anything but her own whims and desires.

Universally considered one of the very finest examples of the new breed of graphic novels coming from Europe, Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life won the 2011 “Revelation” prize, and Fantagraphics is proud to bring it to English speaking readers.

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Superheroics from Across the Pond

war machine

Recently, I’ve been diving into the world of much-loved British comic series. Many of these books are from 2000 AD, home of Judge Dredd, Tharg the Mighty, Strontium Dog, and scores of others. One of the marquee strips is Rogue Trooper, created by Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons in 1981. Later that decade, Gibbons returned to the series with The War Machine. This time out, he took on writing duties, with Will Simpson taking over on art. Gibbons took the chance to radically remake the book, making a new war on a new planet with a new main character. The new book, which concentrated more on wartime politics and economics than the pulpy original, was a success. This new US edition reprints the groundbreaking revamp of the series.

THE WAR MACHINE
by DAVE GIBBONS and WILL SIMPSON
2000 AD
On Sale June 18th
Paperback | 96 pages | $17.99

Dave Gibbons (superstar artist of The Watchmen, Marha Washington) writes the story of genetically enhanced super-soldier Friday. Artist Will Simpson provides the fully painted art. They are the best of the best. Alpha Company, first genetic infantry, have been created for war. Able to survive in the harshest environments, Friday and his brothers know how to obey orders. Fight hard. Die well. But as the sole survivor of a brutal massacre, Friday starts to question those who have made him this way, making an uncontrollable war machine the most dangerous creature in the galaxy! This is a work of passion from Gibbons, who retold the story of the character that first made him famous in comics, Rogue Trooper, in the way he had always wanted the story to be told.

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Digital First, Print NOW!

edison rex

With debate raging about comics that go print- or digital-only, it’s nice to remember that we can sometimes have our cake and eat it to. Originally published as part of Monkeybrain Comics’ digital catalog, Edison Rex is getting a print edition thanks to IDW. The series is a clever subversion of some superheroic tropes – if a super-smart supervillain actually succeeded in taking out the good guy, what would he do next? Edison and Valiant are pretty transparently based on our ol’ DC buddies Clark and Lex, and Roberson and Culver use the connection to make some clever nods to classic stories that I won’t spoil here. Culver’s art is exceptional here, and reminds me of the best of DC’s Saturday morning animation projects. If you skipped Edison Rex as a digital release, the IDW trade is a perfect excuse to jump in and catch up.

EDISON REX
by CHRIS ROBERSON and DENNIS CULVER
IDW Publishing
On Sale June 25th
Paperback | 96 pages | $19.99

Edison Rex is the smartest man in the world, a criminal genius, and the archnemesis of the world’s greatest protector, Valiant. Having dedicated his life to defeating Valiant and proving once and for all that he is a menace to humanity and not a hero, what will Edison do once he finally succeeds? And with Valiant out of the way, who will be left to protect the Earth? This volume collects the first seven issues of the Monkeybrain Comics digital series for the first time.

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Comments

  1. jams jams says:

    first of all, guy delisle is french-canadian not european.

    i work at a comic shop in toronto and we had ulli lust up for a festival we throw and we came in a day early and sketched everyone in the store. it was a really cool experience. all she wanted to do was see niagra falls.

    • Thanks for the correction! I think the Fraco-Belgian publisher of his earlier books – not to mention all the time he spends abroad – threw me off.

  2. Book about Anthropologists? Sold. Book about stay-home dads? Sold. Guess what? iFanboy just got some ad fee dollars from the Zon (you do get it for preorders, I hope).

    I encourage you to do more articles precisely like this one. Make me aware of new, good stuff that’s coming out and sell me some books. I’d love to get a weekly Amazon round-up article detailing some suggested collections and OGNs.

    @Josh Christie: Thanks for making me aware of these and for the great, informative descriptions. The format of this article is spot-on in terms of the variety presented, the inclusion of the solicitation, the Amazon link, and your commentary. I hope this format can be emulated because I’d like to see articles like this more often. Great job.

  3. My in-laws gave me the Simon and Kirby Superheroes Library for Christmas last year, I’ll definitely add the Science Fiction one to my wish list, I bet it’s awesome.

  4. These are some really great choices Josh.

    Ottaviani did a great bio comic on Richard Feynman so I have no doubt this compilation on primatologists is just as good. Plus how can you go wrong with anything by Simon and Kirby? The answer: You can’t.

  5. ilovecomics says:

    Rogue Trooper Rocks!