I will return to reviewing new comics after the weekend, but for now here is an annotated list of releases slated for the first half of 2013, some of which might be of interest to you. I thought it would dovetail nicely with the best of 2012 post, and possibly function as a mild antidote to the general theme of incredibly stupid lists of random names that seem to dominate the world of, ahem, comics journalism this week. As the title indicates, this list is a work-in-progress.
David B., Black Paths (SelfMadeHero)
This book by David B. has been out for a while in Europe, including in an English language edition published in the UK. In March SelfMadeHero will publish it on US shores, giving readers here a chance to read the great and weird story of the Austro-Hungarian port city of Fiume, declared an independent free state in 1919 by dadaist, poet, and self-declared pirate king Gabriele d’Annunzio. The Free State of Fiume was an actual historical place, born out of the chaos and tumultuous political landscape of the end of the Great War, but filtered through the imaginative pen of David B. it turns into a surreal world of decadence and fantasy, becoming the scene of both horror and romance. Check out some brief samples here.
Guy Delisle, A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting (Drawn & Quarterly)
Set to be released in late June, this new title by the autobiographical comics journalist and travel writer Guy Delisle changes gears somewhat from his earlier writings, seemingly letting the exotic locales of most of his previous work take a backseat to the true task of a cartoon-drawing travel-along husband – neglectful parenting. There is sparse information available about the title, and I am not even sure if it has been published in a French edition yet, but it seems that the go-to translator of Delisle’s work (and that of number of other Francophile comics creators), Helge Dascher, will also tackle this one.
Jess Fink, We Can Fix It! (Top Shelf)
Jess Fink made a splash with the publication of her humorous and erotic webcomic Chester 5000 XYV last year. Now Top Shelf is putting out her second book, which looks to be a semi-autobiographical tale of time travel, regrets, and, I’m guessing, various sexy hijinks along the way. Fink is a talented and funny cartoonist, so this one should be well worth checking out. The release date is still unknown, but have a look at some samples at her site. And make sure to read Chester 5000, if you haven’t done so already. It is a hilarious piece of work, but beware – it contains several drawings of naked robots and humans engaged in coitus.
Shigeru Mizuki, Kitaro (Drawn & Quarterly)
As I alluded to in my list of the best comics of 2012, revered mangaka Shigeru Mizuki’s classic GeGeGe no Kitaro is at long last coming out in an English language release in early February. Originally begun in the early 1960s, Kitaro is the ongoing story of a young, one-eyed yōkai boy and his adventures with the supernatural and the mundane alike. A pioneer of the now-classic shōnen style of manga, this lighthearted adventure title has been greatly influential in Japan, spawning numerous adaptations, including both animated and live action movies (the latest one from 2007), and hopefully this 432-page volume will be but the first in a series of books about the lovely little monster.
Jacques Tardi, The Astonishing Exploits of Lucien Brindavoine (Fantagraphics)
There are quite a few Tardi books slated for 2013, but this June release is the one that has me the most excited. The first work entirely written and created by Tardi, Lucien Brindavoine is set in the same fantastical and trope-filled universe as Adèle Blanc–Sec, leading to an eventual crossover of sorts in the next Adèle volume, planned for 2014. This book is perhaps a slightly less mature piece than some of Tardi’s later self-authored work, but it is filled with a vibrancy and a dark humor that makes it a thing not to be missed, especially so for those who enjoy his amusing riffs on traditional genre pastiches, with a nice dose of violence and sarcasm thrown in. Besides the main treat, a story of the titular protagonist finding himself in the middle of geopolitical and financial power struggles in Istanbul, this book also offers the first chapter of a never-to-be-finished series, featuring Lucien fighting as a soldier in the trenches of the First World War.
Jacques Tardi and Jean-Pierre Verney, Goddamn This War! (Fantagraphics)
Most of you will probably be aware of this April release from Fantagraphics, following up as it does on the wildly successful It Was the War of the Trenches, released in English in 2010. I have been reading Tardi since I was a kid, mostly in Danish translations, but I am not familiar with this particular book, published in France only a few years ago. It looks very promising, and seems to be more of a single narrative spanning the entirety of the war, rather than the looser vignette-style format of the earlier book. Fantagraphics also promises to include an extensive section on the history of the war, including reproductions of photographs and historical documents, curated and written by historian and frequent Tardi-collaborator Jean-Pierre Verney.
Various, Ax vol. 2 (Top Shelf)
Ax, the great anthology of alternative manga that came out in 2010 from Top Shelf, finally gets a second volume. The release date is not yet publicized, but it seems likely to be sometime early in the year. The editors are once again Sean Michael Williams and Mitsuhiro Asakawa, both very talented editors who will no doubt present another thrilling collection of icky and enticing manga from the Japanese underground. In a US manga market that seems dominated by extremely long running shōnen action titles, the brevity, creativity, and vit of the pieces in anthologies such as this are much welcome, both as art and entertainment in their own right, and as a reminder that the Japanese comics scene is every bit as diverse as our own.
Various, Eros Gone Wild (Humanoids)
As far as raunchy European pseudo-pornographic comics go, this January release from Humanoids is going to be hard to beat. It is a large hardcover collection of the Fripons anthology of erotic comics, originally published as five volumes in French between 1990 and 1992. The contributors span wide, and include such luminaries as Annie Goetzinger, Enki Bilal, Philippe Druillet, Paul Gillon, and, of course, covers by Fred Beltran. Most of the strips seem to be short, humorous pieces with varying degrees of sleaze and craft. I can’t speak to the quality of the work, but for those who want samples, such can be had at the always informative Bedetheque website.
Wishful thinking addition:
Tom Spurgeon, Comics as Art: We Told You So (Fantagraphics)
Okay, so I don’t actually have any idea when this book, a comprehensive history of Fantagraphics, will be coming out, if ever. It’s been scheduled for release since 2006, and is now listed with a “release date TBA” on the publisher’s website. Regardless, since I really want to read the whole thing, and going by Karl Rove’s surprisingly postmodern thesis that “when we act, we create our own reality,” I’m going to include it on this list of 2013 releases. While you wait for Godot, you can go and read the first three chapters of the book here.