Good morning and happy new year. In 1013, which is to say one thousand years ago, the Danes invaded England and Sveinn Tjúguskegg became the first Danish king of England. So, in case my plan comes to fruition and I’m declared King of the United States of America within the next 12 months, don’t tell me that there wasn’t any historical precedent. Regardless, the holiday madness now well over it seems timely to once again turn to some of the interesting releases coming out in the next few months. Here, then, is another batch of 2013 releases to keep an eye on.
Charles Forsman, The End of the Fucking World (Fantagraphics)
It was exciting news when Fantagraphics, back in June 2012, announced that they had snatched up the rights to some of Charles Forsman’s work and planned to publish it over the course of 2013. Here, then, is the first of these books, a collected edition of Forsman’s previously published (via Oily Comics) 12-issue minicomic The End of the Fucking World, set to come out in August. The story centers around American teens James and Alyssa, he a budding sociopath and she an earnest girl made ignorant by love. The comic is a great roadtrip in the tradition of classic American film and literature, and Forsman is a talented artist with a clear narrative voice of his own. Go look at his website here, and pick up the book when it hits stores. I predict that this one will land on many best-of lists come December.
Tom Gauld, You’re All Just Jealous of my Jetpack (Drawn & Quarterly)
Are there any cartoonists currently writing for a major news publication as funny as Tom Gauld? I doubt it. His dark humor and sharp wit is hard to match, and this collection of strips originally appearing in The Guardian promises an abundance of both. Replete with funny (and sometimes disturbed) animals, literary commentary, and geeky references, all of Gauld’s books belong on the shelves of any self-respecting comics aficionado. This one is set to come out in late January or early February. Check out a preview of the book here, Gauld’s blog here, and his tumblr here.
Steve Moore and Alan Moore, The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic (Top Shelf)
Set to be released sometime in 2013, this 320-page hardcover tome is the work of comics luminaries Steve and Alan Moore, who also happen to be co-founders of the magic-performance-art-collective The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels. This is not so much a comic book as a collection of tongue-in-cheek instructional essays and rainy-day activities by the two authors, no doubt lavishly illustrated by a number of Moore’s frequent artistic collaborators, including Colthart, Gebbie, and O’Neill. The promotional material promises that the book will “transform your lives, your reality, and any spare lead that you happen to have laying around into the purest and most radiant gold.” It looks like a lot of fun, and is frankly a more interesting release than February’s Nemo: Heart of Ice, the newest LoEG title, which you will no doubt all acquire in any case.
Dash Shaw, New School (Fantagraphics)
One of two new Dash Shaw titles to come out from Fantagraphics this year (the other being 3 New Stories), New School is a 300+ page original graphic novel with a release date in May. The book is the story of 20-something Danny who goes looking for his older brother Luke at the theme park ClockWorld, a place seemingly inspired by Jurassic Park, which is located on an isolated island and built around the recreation of historical events. In a brief interview on the Fantagraphics blog, Shaw stated that the work “is my most personal book. It’s all true (sort of). I dramatized and changed things to make everything closer to how it felt. The book took years of difficult work to make. Now I can’t wait to hold it in my hands!” Shaw’s work is usually hit-or-miss with me, but this one sounds intriguing.
Craig Thompson, Doot Doot (Top Shelf)
Initially slated for a 2012 release but now pushed into 2013, this book is a collection of various bits and pieces (and “comics poems”) created by the productive and talented Craig Thompson. It includes his previous minicomics Doot Doot Garden and Bible Doodles, as well as a host of other published and unpublished material. While Thompson is probably better known for his long-form graphic novels, namely Blankets and Habibi, his shorter work is a nice departure from these complex narratives and usually offer a healthy dose of clever wit to boot. I expect this book to be a sure hit with existing fans. Read a short preview of the book here, and check out Thompson’s blog here.
Naoki Urasawa, 21st Century Boys vols. 1 and 2 (Viz Media)
If you thought Naoki Urasawa’s seinen epic (originally serialized in Big Comic Spirits) ended with last year’s volume 22, you would be …. well, I guess you would technically be right. But the storyline properly wraps up in this sequel, its two volumes set to be released in January and March respectively. I have yet to hear any word on a potential English release of the 2009 one-shot “Aozora Chu-Ihō,” credited to the in-universe pseudonym of Ujiko-Ujio, but it might be contained in the latter of the two volumes here. Regardless, those who made it through the previous 22 volumes of Urasawa’s brilliant (if at times overly protracted) series will no doubt want to pick up this epilogue.
The Manara Library vol. 4: The Adventures of Giuseppe Bergman and The Manara Library vol. 5: More Adventures of Giuseppe Bergman (Dark Horse)
Dark Horse continue their publication of these nice hardcover collections of Manara comics in 2013, with volume 4 coming out at the end of February and volume 5 scheduled for May. I’m quite ambivalent about Manara in general, and readily confess to disliking most of his self-authored stuff (Jog’s scorched earth-style take on Manara’s erotic work here articulates my own feelings better than I ever could). Even his oft-praised depiction of the female form puts me off somewhat – why is it that women of all ethnicities, when created by Manara’s pencil, always end up looking like Italians with different skin tones? The two Manara comics that I do hold quite dear are The Ape (written by Silverio Piso and included in volume 3 of the library editions, the best so far) and the Giuseppe Bergman titles. Most of the latter stories seem to be collected in volumes 4 and 5, spanning chronologically from 1978′s HP e Giuseppe Bergman (featuring a loving caricature of Hugo Pratt) to 2004′s L’odissea di Bergman. The Bergman stories start out as clever deconstructions of the comics adventure genre, riffing on classic tropes and character archetypes, but in latter installments they increasingly take the form of trite euro-sleaze, as only Manara can produce it. The first of these two volumes, at least, should deserve a flip-through.