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Tag: Graphic Novels (1-10 of 62)

The EW pull list: The best comics of November (so far)

Welcome to the EW Pull List, a regular selection of some of the most interesting comics and graphic novels available. 

At first blush, The Wake—winner of this year’s Eisner award for best limited series—looks like a horror comic. And for a while, it is. But only for a while.

Written by Scott Snyder with art by Sean Murphy, The Wake begins with Dr. Lee Archer, a marine biologist called down to examine a monster at a secret undersea base. What starts as Alien many leagues below the sea becomes something grander in scope, a story about beginnings and endings and survival.

Bringing that story to life is Sean Murphy’s dense, moody linework. Murphy is absurdly talented—his work is instantly recognizable and worth the price of admission alone. That it’s paired with the work of superstar colorist Matt Hollingsworth makes it all the better. Scott Snyder’s story is fantastic too—perfectly paced, it’s both sweeping and personal; a wonderful piece of genre fiction with a real beating heart. READ FULL STORY

NASA meets time travel in Mark Millar and Sean Murphy's 'Chrononauts'

What if we explored time the way we did space—with expeditions manned by our best and brightest as the whole world watches on live television? That’s the premise behind Chrononauts, a new Image Comics series by Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, The Secret Service) and Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus, The Wake). 

READ FULL STORY

The best comics and graphic novels of October

October was a pretty good month for comics. Hardly a week went by without a number of great titles hitting the stands, both digital and physical—so many, you may have missed a few. So before you dive ahead into November, take a look at these comics that came out in October. It’d be a shame if you missed them.

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On the Books: Dave Gibbons named the first-ever comics laureate

- Renowned graphic novelist Dave Gibbons became the United Kingdom’s first comics laureate this week. Gibbons—the co-creator of and artist behind the acclaimed Watchmen series—received the title from Comics Literacy Awareness, a U.K. nonprofit that seeks to use comic books to promote child literacy and reading. Gibbons will begin his two-year ambassadorship in February. “He will be championing the role of comics in getting children to read as well as visiting schools and attending training events for staff and education conferences,” according to The Guardian

Gibbons’ influence on the genre has been well-articulated by Lev Grossman in Time, who called him “one of the major comic book artists of the 21st century, or the 20th, or really any other century you care to name.” Gibbons has also worked on esteemed titles like Green Lantern, Batman, and 2000AD.

- While Gibbons champions the power of comics for young people, writer and anthropologist Dana Walrath says they have the potential to benefit another generation, too. Earlier this month, writer and anthropologist Dana Walrath illuminated how comics can play an important role for the elderly in a TEDx Talk called “Comics, Medicine, and Memory.” After her mother fell victim to dementia, Walrath discovered that graphic novels were the optimal storytelling medium to entertain and engage her. She contends that most of the memories Alzheimer’s are able to retain are visual—similarly to very young children—and that the “visual-verbal combination [of comic books] makes up for some of the memory loss and lets content stay sophisticated.” Walrath penned a graphic memoir last year, Aliceheimer’s, chronicling her experiences with her ailing mother Alice. [GalleyCat]

- Speaking of the accessibility of comics for everyone: Offering a free Humble Bundle of Star Wars digital comic books, Dark Horse is.

Last week, the comics publisher democratized a collection of Star Wars graphic novels with the release of a massive digital package at a pay-what-you-want price. Dark Horse says, “fans of the epic sci-fi franchise can pay what they want for up to $190 worth of digital comics, all while supporting a great cause.” Buyers (or freebie-grabbers) can choose whether they want their contributions to support Dark Horse or the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Download it now, you should—the offer began last week and continues until Oct. 29.

- For more comics reading, consider picking up the bestseller The Best American Comics 2014, a comprehensive compilation of the latest and greatest in graphic novel publishing. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s annual collection spotlights comics from print and digital mediums, fiction and nonfiction, in and outside of the mainstream. This year, comics scholar (yes, that’s a thing) Scott McCloud guest-edited the anthology with Bill Kartalopoulos. McCloud is the author of the classic 1994 comics primer Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. 

Graphic novels look at illness and death with honesty and fantasy

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There’s a panel in John Porcellino’s new graphic novel, The Hospital Suite, where the author draws himself during a day at work in an Illinois grocery store. He’s just dealt with months of prolonged illness and hospitalization for an acute intestinal disorder as well as an agonizing inner-ear ailment. His treatments have encompassed everything from surgery to holistic medicine. At one point, he loses so much weight that he can barely walk.

On that day in the grocery store, he sees his own eyelashes fall out. At that point, he says, “in the midst of all this, I felt a strange peace. In a weird way, I looked forward with curiosity to what would come next. If it was my time today, then I was okay with it.” READ FULL STORY

Artist Jason Latour tells you why you should read 'Southern Bastards'

Southern Bastards isn’t your usual crime comic. Set in the fictional Craw County, Alabama, the story features a man on a mission to clean up his town with nothing but a stick locking horns with a crime boss who happens to be the local high-school football coach. READ FULL STORY

Acclaimed webcomic 'Strong Female Protagonist' is coming to print

Strong-Female-Protagonist

Created by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag, Strong Female Protagonist is a highly acclaimed and much beloved webcomic about Alison Green, a superpowered teen that used to fight crime as Mega Girl. But after a crisis of conscience leaves her wondering how much of a difference she can really make by punching bad guys, Alison decides to pack up her cape and go to college to try to help the world in other ways.

Equal parts dramatic and comedic, the series has been running since 2012 and you can read it all for free here. But maybe digital isn’t your thing. Maybe you want to enjoy Strong Female Protagonist in a way that doesn’t require batteries, or one that’s easier to lend to friends. You’re in luck.

After a successful Kickstarter last summer, Strong Female Protagonist is coming to print. Released as a graphic novel that will be distributed Top Shelf Productions, the self-published book will include the first four issues of the web series, along with some bonus material. It’s well worth checking out, and it’s indicative of the kind of bold and interesting things happening in the world of webcomics.

Strong Female Protagonist: Book One will be available in December 2014.

 

Cover up: 10 essential banned and challenged graphic novels

It’s a sad fact that books are still regularly challenged and banned by various groups, both public and private, in the United States. But it’s heartening that organizations like the American Library Association and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund are committed to fighting that censorship—especially this year, when the ALA is focusing its annual Banned Books Week—September 21 to 27—on comics and graphic novels.

Granted, that attention cuts both ways. While comics are now being taken seriously as literature, they’re also being challenged and banned along with literature. Below is a list of 10 essential graphic novels that have been deemed, at some point, unworthy of First Amendment protection. Taken together, they’re a measure of just how far we have to go when it comes to freedom of speech—and how far comics have come, in terms of popularity as well as their ability to embody everything from satire to education to poignancy. READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Nielsen Bookscan reports boom in graphic novel sales

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Americans have bought 5,618,000 graphic novels in 2014, Nielsen Bookscan reports—a 10-percent increase over last year. The rising success of the genre can be attributed to reliable fan favorites (The Walking Dead, Batman and Diary of a Wimpy Kid), the comeback of manga (Attack on Titan, Naruto, and One Piece), and breakout bestsellers like the space opera/fantasy series Saga (Image Comics), which topped lists in both its digital and paper formats. Similarly, Diamond Comics Distributors reports a near 4-percent rise in year-to-date sales and a near 6-percent rise in year-to-date units moved. The graphic novel business, including digital and periodical comics, made more than $870 million in 2013. [Publishers Weekly]

Other news indicating a resurgence in graphic novels is FilmNation Entertainment’s purchase of the film rights to The Undertaking of Lily Chena dark novel about “corpse brides” that “was inspired by an Economist article about the tradition of post-mortem marriage in China.” The New York distributor plans to turn the Danica Novgorodoff work into a Chinese-language movie, reporting it has had success in similar Chinese ventures before. [Mediabistro]

Another bestselling novelist is in the making his enthusiasm for the military known: James Patterson is donating 180,000 of his hardcover books to American troops. “Every day the men and women of our armed forces sacrifice on our behalf. I can’t think of a more deserving group to receive these books.” [USA Today]

'Zero' review: Being a spy will really mess you up

Zero is a comic book with a conceit that starts out simply: Should spies akin to James Bond exist in the real world, they would be irreparably damaged people. So what if one of these broken, efficient killing machines discovered that he was being used by the wrong side? What would that look like?

Written by Ales Kot and illustrated by a different artists every issue, Zero tells the story of Edward Zero, the best operative in a mysterious Agency, in the middle of a crisis of conscience. Trained from the age of 10 to be a killer, put on drugs to suppress his emotions, and placed on the front lines of a secret war that will radically change the entire world, Zero’s story unfolds bit by bit over a 20-year span beginning in 2018 and ending in 2038. With a nonlinear structure, the reader knows from the beginning that Zero defects—the framing narrative places an old, weary Zero in front of a gun held by a child sent by The Agency, with the same drugs and training Zero had burning through his system. Each issue tells a story involving Zero or one of his associates set in that time period and beyond. Each chapter offers a peek into the messy, broken, and violent headspace of its characters and asks you to sort it out. It’s a fascinating, disconcerting work.

The experience of reading Zero isn’t always a smooth ride. There’s an intricate density to the storytelling—Kot often manages to pull off the difficult trick of constructing each issue with a satisfying, self-contained story that’s complemented with cryptic clues about the near-future world it’s set in and devastating revelations that affect the ongoing plot. And while there’s a lot of thought put into every script, the pacing is highly irregular, and the nonlinear story can make for jarring transitions. But Zero does everything else so well—from art to design to dialogue and beyond—that a sometimes hard-to-follow plot is more of a feature than a bug. The experience of reading a comic book is rarely a prolonged one, and as such having reasons to reread, to pore over slowly and contemplate the ways a particular artist suits a particular story, are all good things.

With Zero on hiatus until October 29, now is the perfect time to pick up the first two volumes, An Emergency and At the Heart of It All, which collect the first 10 issues of the series. Designed by Tom Muller (who is also responsible for the striking look on the single issues), the trade dress for both volumes feature one of the most striking designs for a standard trade paperback in recent memory. The upper portion of the cover is devoted to abstract imagery that reflects the themes of the book—An Emergency is a messy collage designed to look like it was ripped off pages from the comics within, just like its protagonist is broken down and stitched together again into something bleak and impenetrable. Similarly, the second volume takes key art from the next batch of issues and distorts them, much like a signal that isn’t quite clear. It’s a strong setup for what’s to come, even if that isn’t entirely obvious. On both volumes, the lower third of the cover starkly lays out all the relevant information: series, title, price, and credits. It’s an eye-catching look that begs to be talked about and read.

One caveat: Zero is, in a word, violent. There is a graphic brutality on display that some readers will find uncomfortable. While that’s the point, it doesn’t make it any easier to read. In interviews, Kot describes Zero alternately as “what if James Bond was real” and an exploration of “bleak male rage,” expressing the importance of following up depictions of violence with equally considered looks at its lasting, devastating effects. With the help of the many other talented artists whom he has collaborated with, Kot has done exactly that: tearing down the psyches of characters we often encounter in action movies, and inviting us to wander through the rubble.

It’s a disturbing place.

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