Best of the Rest: September 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.


Art’s Craft

co-mix

I’m not sure if September is traditionally a weak month for releases, but I had to stretch to find enough books to fill this column this month. That said, if the only book I included in Best of the Rest was the new Art Spiegelman retrospective Co-Mix, I’d be satisfied I was sending you off with a great book. The oversized hardcover showcases a ton of Spiegelman’s work, much of which has never been collected before. I’ve always been a big Spiegelman fan, mostly for the stories he tells, but Co-Mix gave me a new appreciation for his skills as an artist. Many of his New Yorker covers, which I had little familiarity with before reading this collection, are particularly striking and innovative.

CO-MIX
by ART SPIEGELMAN
Drawn and Quarterly
On Sale September 17th
Hardcover | 120 pages | $39.95

Co-Mix is a comprehensive career overview of the output of the legendary Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman. Gorgeous full-page reproductions of his artwork, including covers for R. Crumb’s Short Order Comix and panels from Maus, overwhelm the senses. Essays by the acclaimed film critic J. Hoberman and the MoMA curator and dean of the Yale University School of Art Robert Storr bookend Co-Mix, offering eloquent meditations on an artist whose work has been genre-defining in every sense of the word.

Co-Mix began as a museum retrospective detailing Spiegelman’s lifelong involvement with comics, and was published in France in a bilingual edition during his presidency at the prestigious Angoulême International Comics Festival. This expanded North American edition has an additional thirty-two pages of content, including a full-size insert of the long-out-of-print Raw comic “Two Fisted Painters” and Spiegelman’s New Yorker comics about the authors Maurice Sendak, Charles Schulz, and Harvey Kurtzman.

Spiegelman has been a leader of, and an inspiration for, alternative comics artists throughout the past three decades, long before Raw magazine and Maus, and in Co-Mix readers will be able to trace the evolution of this multifaceted artist throughout his storied career.


Pre-code Sci-Fi From the Man Behind MAD

childoftomorrow

Month in and month out, Fantagraphics never fails to release really cool reprints from the golden and silver age of comics. In September, Child of Tomorrow by Al Feldstein continues this streak. Feldstein is best known for the nearly 20 years he spent as editor at MAD magazine, but he started his career at MAD‘s parent company EC Comics. Feldstein wrote and drew a number of comics (and many covers) in EC’s sci-fi line before the books were killed by the CCA. Feldstein’s stories, like the best science fiction, provides a new lens to look at controversial issues like race, drug abuse, and police brutality. On top of being a top tier writer, Feldstein was a stellar cartoonist, and the stories collected here feel as vital today as they must have in the 50s.

CHILD OF TOMORROW
by AL FELDSTEIN
Fantagraphics
On Sale September 7th
Hardcover | 200 pages | $28.99

Al Feldstein is best known as the main writer/editor of the EC comics line during the first half of the 1950s—and then the editor of MAD Magazine for the first three decades of its existence. But what many don’t know or remember is that Feldstein was also an accomplished and distinctive cartoonist, whose comics (which he both wrote and drew, a relative rarity in those days) adorned the pages of many of those self same EC comics. His powerfully composed, meticulously inked pages, often featuring grotesque creatures or scenes of ghastly destruction (and some of the greatest stiffly handsome/beautiful specimens of 1950s humanity ever put to paper), were a vital part of the allure of these classic comics. Feldstein’s contributions to the first year and a half of EC’s two SF titles, Weird Science and Weird Fantasy—comprising 16 classic O. Henry-style shock-ending stories with such evocative, vintage title as “’Things’ From Outer Space.” “The Flying Saucer Invasion,” “Spawn of Venus,” “Destruction of the Earth,” and “Am I Man or Machine?”—will be collected in their integrity in this volume, which will also boast a new interview with Feldstein about his years at EC, focusing in particular in his work on these science fiction titles that were the company’s pride and joy.


“As long as there’s, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the rock and roll.”

festival

Festival Frenzy, Kyle Platts new OGN, perfectly captures the dirty truth of music festivals – the people, parties, and anarchic atmosphere often overshadow the music. The slim 20-page hardcover purports to capture the “classic British summertime” festival, though the scenes of campers, drinkers and rockers will be all too familiar to American audiences. The book, which stretches out accordion-style to about six feet long, recalls the fun of the classic Where’s Waldo books. The fun here isn’t the narrative (indeed, there isn’t one), but spotting all the craziness among the pages.

Nobrow has a preview of the book on their website.

FESTIVAL FRENZY
by KYLE PLATTS
Nobrow
On Sale September 10th
Hardcover | 20 pages | $24.95

Burning Man, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury: eat your hearts out. This is the festival to end all festivals. Prepare to get frenzied!

What if Spinal Tap, AC/DC, and Metallica teamed up to throw the most almighty party? You’ve just imagined Festival Frenzy, a concertina foldout that evokes the festival experience in all its horrific majesty. Smelly campers, drunken partyers, raging rock stars-from the campsite to the main stage, it’s all here.

This is the perfect gift for any rock music fan. But be warned, this is not for the faint of heart.


The Power of Protest

fight the power

Since I started this column, Seven Stories Press has been the biggest surprise. Despite a pretty strong presence in bookstores, the publisher was nearly unknown to me. They’ve built a strong backlist in recent years, with books that it’s tough to imagine being published elsewhere like The Graphic Canon and The Beginning of the American Fall. Fight the Power, a new collection written by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson, joins these unique social justice-focused titles. In the book, Wilson and Dickson look at the history of protest over the last few centuries. With a focus on English speaking countries, they tell the story of protests from agrarian rebellions in the 1800s up to the Occupy movement of recent years. It’s a fascinating read, and it illuminates what has changed about non-violent protest over many years.

FIGHT THE POWER!
by SEAN MICHAEL WILSON and BENJAMIN DICKSON
Seven Stories Press
On Sale September 24th
Paperback | 192 pages | $19.95

According to Gandhi, the Four Stages of Protest are as follows: First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win!

In Fight the Power!, comics authors Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson team up with illustrators Hunt Emerson, John Spelling, and Adam Pasion to show how this process has been played out again and again throughout history-and has slowly but surely led to hard-won rights for the people along the way. Focusing on the English-speaking nations, Wilson and Dickson chronicle the struggles of the Luddites and Swing Riots in the early 1800s, through the Irish Rebellions that lasted through 1922; from the suffragettes in 1918 to Rosa Parks and the bus boycott of the mid-1950s; from the trial of Nelson Mandela to the Occupy movement that has only just begun. By illuminating the variety of protests-and the valuable connections among them-through an accessible art form, Fight the Power! shows that there is a point to the struggle, fight by fight, win by win.


Civil War Comix

grant v lee

We are, with rare exception, fans of Civil War stories here at iFanboy. Grant vs Lee takes a look at the dramatic final year of the war, when Grant and Lee’s veteran soldiers fought to the conflict’s bloody end. Wayne Vansant, who wrote and illustrated the excellent Gettysburg, has a strong sense of narrative and succeeds in putting the many players in understandable context. He’s particularly adept with maps and military strategy, which makes the many clashes in the book particularly striking. Packed with detail and well-told, the book is a good bet for people with a passing or a deep interest in the War Between the States.

GRANT VS LEE
by WAYNE VANSANT
Zenith Press
On Sale September 30th
Paperback | 104 pages | $19.99

Grant vs. Lee tells the dramatic story of the final year of the Civil War in Virginia – a bloody and unyielding fight for both sides-through the eyes of the two greatest Civil War generals: the North’s Ulysses S. Grant and the South’s Robert E. Lee.

The long and violent campaigns that took place from 1864-1865 (the Overland Campaign, Petersburg Campaign, and Appomattox Campaign) represent the beginning of modern warfare. By this point of the war, both sides employed seasoned and hardened soldiers who looked past the Victorian sensibilities of the gentleman soldier and understood that there would be no falling back. By the end of 1864, both sides built trenches and mounted attacks to break each other’s lines. There was a stalemate that winter.

Grant’s forces had superior numbers and supplies and by March 1865 they pushed Lee’s army out of the trenches at Petersburg and took Richmond, the Confederate capital. Lee’s dwindling forces retreated west, looking for food and other Southern forces to help continue the fight. After a bitter final battle at Sailor’s Creek, Lee’s army was surrounded by Union forces at Appomattox Court House. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant and the Civil War was over.

Beautifully illustrated and vastly researched, Grant vs. Lee is a dramatic, illustrated introduction to one of the most pivotal years in American history.

Comments

  1. IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

    “Child of Tomorrow”. Isn’t there a story in there talking about race and segregation with a Black Astronaut as the main character? I remember hearing about it on a Comic Book documentary and I’ve been trying to find the story to read it. Also, classic Sci-Fi stories intrigue me as well.

  2. sheldon-kerr says:

    Fight the Power sounds quite interesting, I might have to order that.

  3. Rory426 says:

    Two summers ago I saw an Art Spiegelman exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Paris and picked up that Co-Mix book there. It may be a different edition that’s coming out (mine is in both English and French, for example) but it’s a really nice book. Highly recommended.