Saturday, August 4, 2012

5 new graphic novels

Roschach's Journal: October 12th, 1985

Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face.

The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown.

The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "No."
― Alan Moore, Watchmen

Graphic novels. Comics. Illustrated novels. Comic strips. Narrative work. Whatever you choose to call them, we hold an interesting (and varied) selection of graphic novels, and we receive new titles all the time and for me, it's like Christmas every day of the year. During the nine years I've worked in public libraries, it has never ceased to amaze me how discussions about what to call 'graphic novels,' and whether or not they qualify as 'art' or 'literature' and are 'worthy' (you wouldn't believe how much I hate this type of value judgement about books) can get heated. And unnecessarily so. I remember, about five years ago, being told that graphic novels were for lazy people who couldn't be bothered to read full length novels. That took me aback. My parents had given me comics - and I mean actual comics - as a kid. I never received the impression from mum and dad that this form of reading was 'less than.' I had always been taught that the issue should never be about how people are reading, or what format they're reading in. People are still reading. That's worth celebrating. I spend a fair bit of time in the New Books lists each month, and the new graphic novels list gets a serious workout, and here are 5 that I've picked out. (That, not coincidentally, I've also requested and am working my way through at the moment). And while I'm thinking about the new book lists, they were updated just the other day. So make sure to check them out!

Folly [graphic novel] : the consequences of indiscretion : a celebration of human weakness / comics by Hans Rickheit
Lovers of art comics will know Hans Rickheit from his smashing graphic novel The Squirrel Machine but Rickheit has, for over a decade, been producing his own self-published comics - reaching into the deepest cupboards of the back mind and culling these strange artefacts. Originally distributed as pamphlets, these underground 'comix' can be construed as the subterranean ruins of the psyche. Finally, these scattered elements have been compiled into a compact, lushly illustrated bedside reader. Surreal, mind-bending concepts and beautiful images.

  • The result is a narrative mosaic that pairs sumptuous, horrific imagery against a strange but lighthearted sense of humor - Publishers Weekly
  • Rescued from their original appearances in Rickheit's slim, stapled-together Chrome Fetus Comics, these stories are less polished than his current stuff (there's definitely too much square cross-hatching here) but fully developed in every other aspect of his puzzling, engrossing, and disturbing storytelling - Booklist
  • Black fire [graphic novel] / written and illustrated by Hernán Rodríguez ; lettering, Troy Peteri ; script translation, Anna Rosen Guercio
    Black Fire is a dark, psychological thriller steeped in Slavic folklore and European history. Two soldiers in Napoleon's army retreating from his disastrous campaigns in Russia are separated from their unit by a Cossack attack and stumble across an ancient, abandoned mining town where strange and horrific doings are afoot. Teaming up with another unit of forlorn stragglers, they soon discover that they are lost deep in forbidden territory--trapped in the earthly prison of a dark monster-god out of Slavic legend and nightmare. Stalked by the freezing cold of the Russian winter, starvation, madness, the ghosts of the dead, and each other, how can they escape a terrible fate without unleashing an evil bane upon the world?

  • Rodriguez's art is powerful and striking, splashed with lurid, bloody color, his primitive faces and figures so deeply etched it's like cubist Orthodox iconography. Not for everyone, perhaps, but perfect for the tale - Booklist
  • Severed [graphic novel] / [written by ]Scott Tuft, Scott Snyder ; [art & covers], Attila Futaki ; chapters 4-7 colors, Greg Guilhaumond ; additional inks, Bill Nelson
    1916. A man haunts the roads. A man with razor-sharp teeth and a hunger for flesh. When twelve-year old Jack Garron runs away from home to find his father, a wayward minstrel who he hasn't seen since birth, he'll discover how quickly the American Dream can become a nightmare.

  • Although the story is perhaps not strongest in its climactic moments-when readers must be a bit more conscious of their suspension of disbelief - Severed combines the verbal and the visual to present a haunting story - Publishers Weekly
  • Not for the faint of heart hell, barely for the hard of heart, either - Booklist
  • A game of thrones. Volume 1 [graphic novel] / George R.R. Martin ; adapted by Daniel Abraham ; art by Tommy Patterson ; colors by Ivan Nunes ; lettering by Marshall Dillon
    Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

    Golden Age Western comics / edited by Steven Brower ; foreword by Christopher Irving
    Restored, full-color complete scans of over 40 Western stories created between 1948 and 1956. Millions know and love the legends of Jesse James, Annie Oakley, Davy Crockett and others who settled in the Wild West. The stories of frontiersmen, outlaws, cowboys and Indians are indelibly linked to the spirit of America. Golden Age Western Comics presents a collection of these uniquely American stories.

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