Best American Comics 2013,edited and with an introduction by Jeff Smith
The latest installment of this annual collection showcases the work of both established and up-and-coming contributors. Editor Jeff Smith, creator of the classic comic Bone, has culled the best stories from graphic novels, pamphlet comics, newspapers, magazines, mini-comics, and web comics to create this collection. A review in Paste Magazine states that "Remember, nerds, that this book is an introduction to comics as much as a recognition of the best in the field. It's as if the Grammys were a mixtape you give to a friend who'd never heard music. That's a tough job, and, as ever, it's unsurprising that some worthy folks were missed." It is a tough job but Smith knows his stuff and, at the very least, this serves as an excellent introduction for folks that are just getting acquainted with the world of Graphic Novels.
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward: a graphic novel, adapted from the original novel by H.P. Lovecraft; text adapted and illustrated by I.N.J. Culbard
With creepy, spooky art, and sinister, suspenseful text, I. N. J. Culbard brings new life and death to H. P. Lovecraft's psychological mystery of forbidden knowledge and pursuits. Young Charles Dexter Ward is fascinated by the history of Joseph Curwen, his wizard ancestor of the 17th century. Curwen was notorious for haunting graveyards, practicing alchemy, and never aging. Ward can't help his fixation: He himself looks just like Curwen. In an attempt to duplicate his ancestor's cabbalistic feats, he resurrects the fearsome Curwen . . . and then the true horror begins!
This review from The Comic Journal is insightful and provides some history behind Lovecraft's novel that this graphic work is based upon.
Co-Mix: a retrospective of comics, graphics, and scraps, by Art Spiegelman
In an art career that now spans six decades, Art Spiegelman has been a groundbreaking and influential figure with a global impact. His Pulitzer Prize-winning holocaust memoir Maus established the graphic novel as a legitimate form and inspired countless cartoonists while his shorter works have enormously expanded the expressive range of comics. Co-Mix: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics, and Scraps is a comprehensive career overview of the output of this legendary cartoonist, showing for the first time the full range of a half-century of relentless experimentation. Starting from Spiegelman's earliest self-published comics and lavishly reproducing graphics from a host of publications both obscure and famous, Co-Mix provides a guided tour of an artist who has continually reinvented not just comics but also made a mark in book and magazine design, bubble gum cards, lithography, modern dance, and most recently stained glass. By showing all facets of Spiegelman's career, the book demonstrates how he has persistently cross-pollinated the worlds of comics, commercial design, and fine arts. Essays by acclaimed film critic J. Hoberman and 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.
The Graphic Canon, volume 3: from Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest, edited by Russ Kick
Volume 3 of this series brings to life the literature of the end of the 20th century and the start of the 21st, including a Sherlock Holmes mystery, an H.G. Wells story, an illustrated guide to the Beat writers, a one-act play from Zora Neale Hurston, a disturbing meditation on Naked Lunch, Rilke's soul-stirring Letters to a Young Poet, Anaïs Nin's diaries, the visions of Black Elk, the heroin classic The Man With the Golden Arm (published four years before William Burroughs' Junky), and the postmodernism of Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, Kathy Acker, Raymond Carver, and Donald Barthelme. The towering works of modernism are here--T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Waste Land," Yeats's "The Second Coming" done as a magazine spread, Heart of Darkness, stories from Kafka, The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf, James Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses, and his short story "Araby" from Dubliners, rare early work from Faulkner and Hemingway (by artists who have drawn for Marvel), and poems by Gertrude Stein and Edna St. Vincent Millay. You'll also find original comic versions of short stories by W. Somerset Maugham, Flannery O'Connor, and Saki (manga style), plus adaptations of Lolita (and everyone said it couldn't be done!), The Age of Innocence, Siddhartha and Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Last Exit to Brooklyn, J.G. Ballard's Crash, and photo-dioramas for Animal Farm and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Feast your eyes on new full-page illustrations for 1984, Brave New World, Waiting for Godot, One Hundred Years of Solitude,The Bell Jar, On the Road, Lord of the Flies, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and three Borges stories. Robert Crumb's rarely seen adaptation of Nausea captures Sartre's existential dread. Dame Darcy illustrates Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece, Blood Meridian, universally considered one of the most brutal novels ever written and long regarded as unfilmable by Hollywood. Tara Seibel, the only female artist involved with the Harvey Pekar Project, turns in a series of illustrations for The Great Gatsby. And then there's the moment we've been waiting for: the first graphic adaptation from Kurt Vonnegut's masterwork, Slaughterhouse-Five.
This is a seriously ambitious undertaking and Publisher's Weekly has called this collection "the most beautiful book of 2013." This is definitely worth taking a look at.
The Great War: July 1, 1916 : the first day of the Battle of the Somme: an illustrated panorama, by Joe Sacco
A 24-foot-long black-and-white drawing printed on heavyweight accordian-fold paper and packaged in a deluxe hardcover slipcase that describes the battle on the first day of World War I, which saw 20,000 British soldiers killed and another 40,000 injured, on the banks of the French river as they mounted a joint offensive against the German army. This is insanely detailed and a wonder to behold.
Read a Guardian (UK) interview with Sacco where he talks about the book here.
Hand Drying in America, by Ben Katchor
Katchor, a master at twisting mundane commodities into surreal objects of social significance, now takes on the many ways our property influences and reflects cultural values. Here are window-ledge pillows designed expressly for people-watching and a forest of artificial trees for sufferers of hay fever. The Brotherhood of Immaculate Consumption deals with the matter of products that outlive their owners; a school of dance is based upon the choreographic motion of paying with cash; high-visibility construction vests are marketed to lonely people as a method of getting noticed. Katchor reveals a world similar to our own,lives are defined by possessions, consumerism is a kind of spirituality, but also slightly, fabulously askew. Frequently bizarre, Hand-Drying in America ensures that you will never look at a building, a bar of soap, or an ATM the same way.
Harlan Ellison's 7 Against Chaos, Story and art by Harlan Ellison & Paul Chadwick
In a distant future, Earth is in grave danger: The fabric of reality itself in unraveling, leading to catastrophic natural disasters, displaced souls appearing from bygone eras, and sudden, shocking cases of spontaneous combustion. The only hope for Earth's survival is a force of seven warriors, each with his or her special abilities. But can these alien Seven Samurai learn to get along in time to find the source of the gathering chaos and save all of reality?
Red Handed: the fine art of strange crimes , by Matt Kindt
Welcome to the city of Red Wheelbarrow, where the world's greatest detective has yet to meet the crime he can't solve--every criminal in Red Wheelbarrow is caught and convicted thanks to Detective Gould's brilliant mind and cutting-edge spy technology. But lately there has been a rash of crimes so eccentric and random that even Detective Gould is stumped. Will he discover the connection between the compulsive chair thief, the novelist who uses purloined street signs to write her magnum opus, and the photographer who secretly documents peoples' most anguished personal moments? Or will Detective Gould finally meet his match?
The Simon & Kirby Library: Science Fiction , by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
This collection 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. This includes an introduction by Dave Gibbons, the award-winning co-creator and illustrator of Watchmen. Read more about the history of Simon and Kirby in this post from the Los Angeles Times "Hero Complex" blog. Also, here is an informative review from the Pop Matters blog.