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
Tag: Graphic Novels (11-20 of 67)
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.
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
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 Chen, a 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 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.
Acclaimed cartoonist Chris Ware is not one to shy away from experimentation. (Building Stories, Ware’s 2012 opus, wasn’t even a traditional book—rather, it was a collection of pamphlets and booklets in a big box roughly the size of a board game.) For his latest project, Ware is turning to the funny pages—of a website.
Called The Last Saturday, the project is a weekly comic strip for The Guardian‘s web page. Released every Saturday, the story will focus on a cast of six from the resort town of Sandy Port, Michigan. The first strip is the briefest of introductions, but it does note that it will have ‘functionality’ designed by The Guardian‘s Interactive Team, so hopefully that level of support allows Ware to get experimental and take full advantage of the digital medium.
Also, if you like reading comics in this fashion, consider delving into the world of webcomics—there’s a wealth of high-quality completed and in-progress works available for free on the internet, right now. Here is a good list to get started.
In some ways, pop culture is a form of passive time travel. Any given work is informed by the time in which it was made, and the act of creation is also an act of preservation—our books and shows and music are all bits of dilated time, worlds perfectly preserved for us to visit at will and think of all the ways in which we have changed.
As complex a subject as time travel can be, almost all time-travel stories start with a simple choice: forward or backward? Regardless of which is chosen, or how complex the means by which that decision is made, the result is often the same: We, the readers, learn what we will become or attempt to fix what we were.
Time-travel stories, then, never really make the most poignant statements about the past or the future, but the present.
Released simultaneously in the first week of August, Trillium by Jeff Lemire and The Bunker Vol. 1 by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari are both graphic novels about time travel that succeed by focusing on something human and personal rather than getting caught up in the whys and wherefores of their sci-fi.
Robert Kirkman has already conquered the zombie genre with his comic book-turned-television hit The Walking Dead, and now he is ready to turn his attention to demonic possession with a new comic titled Outcast. Written by Kirkman and illustrated by Paul Azaceta, issue #1 of Outcast will be released June 25, and you can get an exclusive sneak peek at the first two pages right here. Not only that, but we spoke to Kirkman to get the inside scoop on his latest project (which already has a TV adaptation deal in place with Fox International and Cinemax). Read on for more, and then check out the first two pages, which end on a truly disturbing note. READ FULL STORY
Saved by the Bell‘s Mario Lopez’s upcoming memoir Just Between Us will be released on September 30. In the book, the Extra host opens up about his successes in the entertainment industry and “the heartbreaking mistakes” that still haunt him, including his highly public, and at times tumultuous, love life. In a release from his publisher Celebra, Lopez added, “There are no do-overs in life, so I had to learn to pick myself up and move forward, never forgetting the hard-won lessons. I’m thrilled to share my story in this memoir, to reveal the memories I’ve held close to my heart for the time.” This will be Lopez’s fourth book. [The Hollywood Reporter] READ FULL STORY
Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn takes a shot at writing a graphic short called “Masks,” and frankly, it’s a little terrifying. Illustrated by Dave Gibbons, the graphic story artist who drew Alan Moore’s Watchmen comic series, the comic is V for Vendetta except with masked moms who are exacting vigilante justice on high school bullies. In a masked frenzy, the well intentioned moms end up bludgeoning an innocent kid to death. This collaboration was part of a promotion for the upcoming comics exhibit at the British Library in London, so Flynn hasn’t forsaken her prose novels. But it would be cool if she got a taste for comics and did her next novel as a graphic! [Guardian]
Neil Gaiman is giving away free copies of Stardust on May 3rd! That got you excited right? Well, the fine print is that it’s only happening in Sainsbury’s, a UK grocery chain. Eff. When you pick up a copy of The Guardian in the grocery, you get a copy of Stardust to celebrate the paperback release of his newest book The Ocean at the End of the Lane. So Brits, get on that…and please send me one! [Guardian]
The Polish poet Tadeusz Różewicz passed away at 92. His poetry was deeply influenced by the European political turmoil of the 20th century: the insidious infiltration of fascism, the terrors of World War II, the rise and fall of the USSR. The Guardian reports that both he and his brother (also a poet) served in the Polish Underground, but his brother was killed by the Gestapo in 1944. His hard life led to his stripped down style of poetry, affecting and merciless. [Guardian]
I am an unabashed Celine Dion fan. Whether you love her or loathe her, Slate has an interesting essay by Mary Gaitskill, who wrote the story that became that movie Secretary (such a great flick). She picks apart why Dion is so polarizing (and it’s not because she’s Québécois!) and why our tastes in art can make us want to throttle artists sometimes. This is an excerpt from the upcoming book, Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste. Need this. [Slate via NPR]
Rush over to The New Yorker because they have some new work by Rebecca Solnit! Solnit is both an avid environmental activist and a beautiful, philosphical writer. She’s written 16 books, including these amazing city guides where she layers old maps showing various forgotten and unusual aspects of city history, unfolding magical energy lines and mysteries. So far she’s done San Francisco and New Orleans. This essay in The New Yorker is an adaptation from her new collection Men Explain Things to Me. Brilliant title. [The New Yorker]
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