Wednesday, January 14, 2009
2009's Most Anticipated Graphic Novels -- I read a lot of really good comics last year (here's my best comics of 2008 article), and as always the past decade or so, I remain amazed at the diversity of the artform and by all the little surprises that pop up during the year (Solanin, for a recent example) in addition to the expected wonders from known talents.
[Note: As I was preparing this piece, Douglas Wolk over at Savage Critics posted a pretty comprehensive list of comics and graphic novels coming out in 2009, click on over and have a look. Thanks to David Wynne for pointing that list out to me. At the end of this list, I am highlighting just the stuff off that list that I intend to buy.]
I always look forward to any new work at all from Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, R. Crumb, Renee French, James Kochalka, Diana Tamblyn, Jason Marcy, Alan Moore, and Los Bros Hernandez, to name a few. I'm definitely hoping the Fantagraphics history book comes out this year, although "delayed indefinitely" gives me enough despair to leave it off my official list of five most anticipated books, below.
Speaking of lists, I asked some notable writers and other comics-involved folks to share their lists of whatever five comics or graphic novels they were most looking forward to in 2009. Not everybody came up with five, but I appreciate everyone taking the time to respond with their thoughts. While you're reading along, take note of the titles that stand out in your mind, and make sure you let your retailer know you want a copy of anything that catches your eye here. Recent reports suggest Diamond may be making it harder to find some stuff within the Direct Market, so it's in your best interest more than ever in 2009 to stay in top of what's good in comics, and to find whatever good sources you can to keep you supplied with the very tantalizing array of titles slated for release this year. All I can say is, if you find a good comic book store that genuinely works hard to service your needs, support the hell out of them in whatever way you can to help them make it through the current economic environment.
Here's my list of five comics and graphic novels I am most looking forward to this year:
1. A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi [Drawn and Quarterly] -- Tatsumi's series of deluxe hardcovers (reprinting his highly personal and political fiction) have been some of the best comics of the past few years. A Drifting Life is his epic stab at autobiography, and is pretty much the graphic novel at or near the top of most artcomix readers' want lists in 2009. [Buy A Drifting Life from Amazon.com.]
2. The Art of Harvey Kurtzman [Abrams ComicArts] -- If it seems like there's a resurgence in appreciation for EC Comics in general and Kurtzman in particular these past couple of years, let me tell you that it almost always seems that way. As long as I've been reading comics (hint: Nixon was still President when I started), readers have studied and loved Kurtzman's unique approach to cartooning and creating comics, and this book promises to be one of the most sought-after comics related art books of the year. [Buy The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics from amazon.com.]
3. You'll Never Know Book One: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler [Fantagraphics] -- Tyler's Late Bloomer (also published by Fantagraphics) was a stunning collection of autobio comics, and marked Tyler as someone on my permanent "must read" list. I can't wait to see what she has in store in this new release. [Buy You'll Never Know, Book One: "A Good and Decent Man" from amazon.com.]
4. George Sprott 1894-1975 by Seth [Drawn and Quarterly] -- It seems like a long time since we've had a new Seth volume to immerse ourselves in; this one collects strips that were available online, but I think his style quite obviously lends itself most ideally to print, and this should be one of the great artcomix delights of the year. [Buy George Sprott: (1894-1975) from amazon.com.]
5. Alec: The Years Have Pants by Eddie Campbell [Top Shelf Productions] -- Okay, if you aren't salivating already at the very thought of all of Campbell's Alec stories in one mammoth volume, I don't know how I can help you. These are the gold standard of autobiographical artcomix, and come hell or high water, I will find away to afford this in the pricier hardcover format. It'll be well worth the expense, as this is one I'll be re-reading again and again and passing on to my kids someday as an example of just how high the comics artform could aspire with the proper amounts of will, determination and talent. [Buy Alec: The Years Have Pants (a Life-Size Omnibus) - Hardcover Edition from amazon.com.] [Buy Alec: The Years Have Pants (a Life-Size Omnibus) - Softcover Edition from amazon.com.]
...and here's what others had to say.
Dick Hyacinth (Blogger)
1. The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: I feel that I need this much, much more than the Ditko or the Kirby books, and I really like Ditko and Kirby.
2. Babel #3: I'm just guessing it's coming out this year; hopefully I'm right. I think the first two issues of this are David B's best work, so I can't overstate my anticipation for this.
3. A Drifting Life: I'm guessing this will be the most-cited book.
4. The first volume of the new complete Pogo series: This really isn't coming out until November?
5. Little Nothings Vol. 2: Should be out shortly. Hopefully Trondheim will keep doing these strips for a long time to come.
Diana Tamblyn (Cartoonist)
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the Universe, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Oni Press (due February)
O'Malley has turned the Scott Pilgrim book releases into an event. I think a lot of people anticipate these like you do a major movie release. I'm sure this will be THE book at the Feb NYC Comicon.
I am always shocked at how retailers really under-order the book though on release week (except for the Beguiling of course). They always seem to be surprised when they sell out of the 3 or 5 copies they ordered in the same day! Then shocked again when their re-order of 3 copies sells out. I really hope that they are more on the ball the fifth time around. I know I'll be picking up my copy on the day of the release.
George Sprott by Seth, published by Drawn & Quarterly (due May)
Okay, I admit I actually didn't read this when it came out in serial form in the New York Times. This is an expanded and re-mastered version though, so will be even better than that version I'm sure.
Plus you can't beat having it in book form. I'm really looking forward to it. I loved, loved, loved Wimbledon Green and this story seems to be in the same vein.
Cecil and Jordan in New York, by Gabrielle Bell, published by Drawn & Quarterly (due March)
I think this was originally solicited for November of last year and I was bummed when it didn't come out. I love Gabrielle Bell and I think she's just getting better and better. This collection of stories features full-colour work by her that looks really lovely. The one short story has been adapted by director Michel Gondry.
Nancy Volume One, by John Stanley, published by Drawn & Quarterly (due June)
Continuing in the new tradition of all the reprints coming out (Popeye, Little Orphan Annie, Peanuts), this book reprints some of the classic Nancy strips with an eye-catching cover design by Seth.
My mom's favourite comic when she was little was Little Lulu by Stanley, and I still have a few of those old comics. They are great!
Ten Against the World, by Scott Morse, published by Red Window (due Summer 09?)
Morse just wrote about this project on his blog. It's to be a 160 pg Kirby/Toth inspired monster comic set in the 1950's. He is doing the whole thing with his cintiq in two-colour. Not sure when it will be out. Maybe for SDCC? He also might release instalments online. It will be printed by his own Red Window press (which often gets distributed by AdHouse Books).
Stop right there, you had me at Kirby/Toth. I think I'm welling up here... What a great sounding project!
And finally, I will add a sixth...
Parker, by Darwyn Cooke, published by IDW (due Summer '09?)
This project was announced last year but I'm not sure when the first volume is supposed to come out. Back then they said Summer '09. Here's hoping!
It's to be four full-length graphic novels that adapt the Parker crime books.I am a big enough nerd that I even bought the promo art cards done for SDCC off of eBay.
This is a project made for Cooke and I can't wait to get it.
Augie De Blieck (Columnist)
Absolute Superman for Tomorrow: I know it wasn't terribly good, but I think it's some of Jim Lee's best artwork. As I recall, he was in Italy while he drew this one, and there's a definite European sensibility rubbing off on his art here. Much more restrained layouts, detailed backgrounds and props. Beautiful work.
Little Nothings: The Prisoner Syndrome - Speaking of European comics...I loved the first volume: charming, humorous, easy on the eyes. I want more!
Absolute Planetary Volume 2: OK, this hasn't been announced yet. It might not be a given for 2009, but I hope it makes it. I've held off reading the last 10 issues or so of the series for the Absolute edition. I'm anxious.
Chickenhare Volume 3: It's fun, it's anthropomorphic, it's action-packed, and Dark Horse didn't pick it up. Wait, nevermind. This one can't count.
The Comic Book Podcast Companion by Eric Houston: I admit it -- I wasinterviewed for the book. I can't help but anticipate it. Published by TwoMorrows in May.
Saga of the Swamp Thing HC, Book One - I've read and enjoyed the first two trade paperback collections of Moore's heralded run on the title. But then never went any further. Put it all in hardcover format, and
Brian Cronin (Blogger)
The five books I'm most anticipating (I am sure there would be more if I knew for sure everything that is coming out next year) are:
Joshua Cotter's Driven by Lemons - It sounds like a risky endeavor, working directly from his sketchbook, but I am looking forward to anything new by Cotter (from AdHouse Books).
Alan Moore's new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books - It's new Alan Moore and there are supposedly going to be TWO of them in 2009! Kevin O'Neill's covers look great (from Top Shelf).
George Sprott: (1894-1975) - I liked this Seth work while it was appearing in the New York Times Magazine, and I think it will read even better as one solid work (especially as Seth is going to go back and do some changes to make the collected work seem worth reading to those who already read the serialized story) (from Drawn & Quarterly)
Mike Dawson's Ace-Face: The Mod with the Metal Arms - I really loved Mike Dawson's Freddy and Me, and while I wasn't exactly blown away at the Ace-Face short story in Project: Superior, I bet in the long form, Dawson will be a lot more impressive (from AdHouse Books).
Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library #20 - It WILL be out in 2009, right? Well, I always look forward to it, so it has to be on the list (distributed by Drawn & Quarterly).
Steven Grant (Writer/Columnist)
The only graphic novel I'm eagerly awaiting this year is mine, Piecemeal, from Vertigo. I haven't been paying attention, so don't know what others are even scheduled to appear.
Though now that I think of it my webcomic Odysseus The Rebel will likely be collected as a graphic novel this year by Big Head Press, so that's two...
Rob Vollmar (Writer)
The gruesome answer is I canít think of many graphic novels to which Iím specifically looking forward. I could name fifty cartoonists and/or writers whose work I will gladly pick up if they release some. The only new writers Iíve really enjoyed of late are Jonathan Hickman and Greg Pak, though Iíd like to see some non-franchise work from Pak. By and large, Iíd say that the comic strip reprint market is getting the largest chunk of my dollars so that will hopefully mean new volumes of Peanuts, Nemo, Little Orphan Annie, Krazy Kat, and a holy host of others too large to own up to. Iím excited to see new work from Nate Powell, Kevin Huizenga, Anders Nilsen, Hans Rickheit, Chris Ware, Jeff Brown, Farel Dalrymple or Marc Bell when and however it comes. There is still a wealth of good material coming over from Europe so you can throw Joann Sfar, Lewis Trondheim, Manu Larcenet, Christophe Blain and Guy Delisle on there too. Iím looking forward to Naoki Urasawaís PLUTO starting up and am still enjoying a few new offbeat manga like Wild Animals from Yen Press, Kingdom of the Winds from Netcomics, Bride of the Water God from Dark Horse and Sand Chronicles from Vizís SHOJO BEAT line.
Overall, my impression of the North American comics industry is that it is in a rapid retraction both financially and creatively from a peak that hit about 2005 and began actively cooling off in the first quarter of 2007. There are fundamental problems with the economic arrangements by which graphic novels are produced and eventually distributed that I donít think have been dealt with yet and are hampering the growth of the form.
Johanna Draper Carlson (Blogger)
The Big Skinny by Carol Lay (Villard), and I'm very much looking forward to Fanta's collection of Sam's Strip (originally due before Christmas).
Grant Goggans (Blogger)
1. The ten-buck Skinny Showcases coming in the summer (The Creeper, Bat Lash, Eclipso)
2. Nikolai Dante: Army of Thieves and Whores
3. Top Shelf's Marshal Law Omnibus
4. Stickleback series three
5. Playboy's Complete Gahan Wilson
Leigh Walton (Publicist)
Top Shelf is having such a big year I had to make two lists! Hope that's okay.
1) LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN (VOL III): CENTURY by Alan Moore
and Kevin O'Neill
The legend continues! You'll have to read this with the book in one
hand, Wikipedia in the other hand, and both buttocks on the edge of
2) FAR ARDEN by Kevin Cannon
Kevin's book blew me away. Originally constructed from a series of
24-hour comics, he welded the whole thing into a seamless,
rip-roaring, epic adventure that ripped my brain out of my head,
zoomed around the world with it, and slammed it back in the other
3) SURROGATES: FLESH AND BONE by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele
(http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?type=12&title=612), not to
mention the SURROGATES movie! The original graphic novel is a
perfectly executed, thoughtful thrill ride, and we're so lucky to be
getting not only a prequel book but also an eight-figure big-screen
adaptation with Bruce frikkin' Willis!
4) THE 120 DAYS OF SIMON by Simon Gšrdenfors
into the decadence of contemporary Swedish youth! Well, sort of. Simon
G may just be the most adorable vagabond ever -- these are the true
stories of his four-month journey across Sweden via the kindness of
strangers willing to share their couch... or their bed! And did I
mention he's a rapper and bona fide pop star?
5) JOHNNY BOO 2 (TWINKLE POWER) and 3 (HAPPY APPLES) by James Kochalka
aren't just comics for your inner five-year-old. These are comics that
MAKE you five years old. It might be my favorite Kochalka work ever.
New editions of past masters:
1) ALEC: THE YEARS HAVE PANTS by Eddie Campbell
monumental edition that this monumental work has deserved for years.
2) AX edited by Sean Michael Wilson and Mitsuhiro Asakawa
when people thought that manga would dry up because all the good
licenses would be gone after a few years? Ha. The age of grown-up
manga is just beginning.
3) The Complete ESSEX COUNTY by Jeff Lemire
thrill of this trilogy is watching Jeff depict a frigid landscape full
of frigid people with art that looks like he's inking with his own
blood. The heart and soul poured into his depictions of people and
places betray the deep wells of emotion that these characters wish
they could ignore. And it's gonna read even better as a single volume.
4) MARSHAL LAW by Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill
Righteous indignation turned up to 11. I still can't really believe
that this was first published by Marvel Comics. It's the the missing
link connecting Watchmen, Dark Knight, American Flagg, and The Boys --
and somehow more insane than any of them.
5) [tie] VOICE OF THE FIRE softcover by Alan Moore
Metafiction for the masses! Somehow, after all these years Alan Moore
can still leave you shaking your head over his way with words... and
this is 300+ pages of some of his best ever.
5) [tie] LOST GIRLS single-volume edition by Alan Moore and Melinda
One of the most notorious graphic novels ever published gets a new,
more affordable edition! A lot of people who had trouble justifying
the price of the first edition will finally get a chance to see what
all the fuss is about.
David Wynne (Cartoonist)
First of all, I'm including collections in this. I've got back into buying mostly periodicals over the last few years, so I'm just geared more that way right now. The books I'm most looking forward to are often things I'm already reading in serialised form.
Also, I'm not going to do this in any particular order- Just the order I thought of them.
1: Bryan Talbot's Grandville. A steampunk detective thriller with anthropomorphic animal characters? I can't think of anyone other than Talbot who would have my money without question for the premise. Since it's him, I can't wait.
2: Dark Entries by Ian Rankin and a, so far as I can tell, as yet un-named artist. 200 pages, black and white, digest hardcover graphic novel from my favourite living crime writer, as part of the launch of the Vertigo Crime line of books. This ticks more of my boxes than I knew I had.
3: Moving Pictures by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen, due in the spring from Top Shelf. I started following this online when they began serialising it a page at a time at webcomicsnation (like all the cool good looking people do); but a couple of months in I stopped reading it, realising that I wanted to wait till it was done and read the whole thing at once. Since then I've read the occasional page, and I can't help but at least look at each new one, just because they're so pretty. The story has me intrigued as well, apparently something to do with art-smuggling in WWII- although the writing is enigmatic enough in the early pages that I'm not certain about that.
4: Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp's No Hero. I loved Black Summer, which, in the way it married thrills and spectacle with thought provoking political and scientific questions and then wrapped the whole thing inside a surprisingly fresh take on an old genre, was the nearest thing I'd read to classic 2000AD material in a long time. No Hero seems, so far, to be very much in the same vein- and I look forward to reading the whole thing in one go, cackling like a disturbed child as I turn the pages.
5: Hellboy: The Wild Hunt by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo. I love Hellboy, and I found the art transition from Mignola to Fegredo be not only painless, but in fact highly refreshing. Needless to say, this latest volume will be a must buy for me, just like every other book in the series so far.
I have an honourable mention, of sorts -- I agonised a great deal over whether or not to include the next Scalped TPB in this list, since I am looking forward to it very much indeed (it promises to be a doozy, too); in the end I decided not to on the grounds that Scalped is really a long-form work, in the mould of books like Preacher and Transmetropolitan, and as such I won't really regard it as a complete graphic novel untill the whole thing's done. The individual trades are just larger periodicals, really.
JK Parkin (Blogger)
Paul Hornschemeier: Life with Mr. Dangerous (Villard)
Gene Luen Yang/Derek Kirk Kim: The Eternal Smile: Three Stories (:01)
Alan Moore/Kevin O'Neill: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910 (Top Shelf)
Jeff Lemire: The Nobody (Vertigo)
Brendan McCarthy's Spider-Man/Dr. Strange project (Marvel)
Dan Fish (Cartoonist)
1. New LOEG
2. Classic Captain Britain team-up with Black Knight (From Hulk Weekly) from Panini
3. Whatever the first comic happens to be that I'll be reading curled up with a milky coffee on my first quiet weekend after unpacking into my new house.
Various V-Hive Folks
Casanova coming back, really. [Kieron Gillen]
LoEG. Nothing else. [Nick Locking]
I am very much looking forward to Fantagraphics actually publishing and shipping the two-volume slip case collection of Humbug I've had on order forever and a day. [Brian Wells]
The new Scott Pilgrim is the only comic I'm actively looking forward to. [Andrew Wheeler]
The last issue of Planetary (Only 11 years after the preview was released). [Mark Annabel]
Habibi by Craig Thompson...and the new Scott Pilgrim. Reprints, the DC Showcase Presents: Suicide Squad collection, DC Showcase: Jonah Hex, Vol. 2, and since those two are just wishful thinking, I'll end with a real possibility, Paul Pope's Battling Boy. [Benjamin Russell]
Whatever Garth Ennis will be doing. I'd say LoEG but not if it's going to be another Black Dossier. [Robin Shortt]
Ian Rankin's Hellblazer OGN [Ade Brown]
1. The remainder of Final Crisis
2. Seaguy II: Slaves of Mickey Eye
3. LoEG: Century
4. the remainder of Umbrella Academy II
5. Phonogram II
1. The promised collection of Morrison-influencing Bat-comics (though I suspect it's been replaced by the death themed volume out in a few weeks).
2. Showcase: Strange Adventures (those are some awesome covers. Surely the contents won't disappoint!)
3. JLA: the Deluxe Collected Edition volume II (Rock of Ages!)
Finally, as promised way up top, and using Douglas Wolk's list of expected 2009 releases, here's my planned purchase list for this year:
Lewis Trondheim: Little Nothings: The Prisoner Syndrome (NBM)
Gilbert Hernandez: Luba (Fantagraphics)
Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely: All Star Superman vol. 2 (DC)
Bryan Lee O'Malley: Scott Pilgrim Vs. the Universe (Oni)
Larry Gonick: Cartoon History of the Modern World Pt. 2: From the Bastille to Baghdad (Collins)
Gilbert Hernandez: The Troublemakers (Fantagraphics)
Yoshihiro Tatsumi: A Drifting Life (Drawn & Quarterly)
Ariel Schrag: Likewise (Touchstone)
Paul Hornschemeier: Life with Mr. Dangerous (Villard)
Tom Spurgeon/Jacob Covey: Comics As Art: We Told You So (Fantagraphics)
Alan Moore/Kevin O'Neill: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910 (Top Shelf)
C. Tyler: You'll Never Know, Book 1: "A Good and Decent Man" (Fantagraphics)
Seth: George Sprott 1894-1975 (Drawn & Quarterly)
Jaime Hernandez: Locas II: Maggie, Hopey, & Ray (Fantagraphics)
Fletcher Hanks/Paul Karasik: You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation! (Fantagraphics)
Ben Schwartz, ed.: Best American Comics Criticism (Fantagraphics)
David Mazzucchelli: Asterios Polyp (Pantheon)
Peter Bagge: Everyone Is Stupid Except for Me (Fantagraphics)
James Jean: Process Recess 3 (AdHouse)
Eddie Campbell: Alec: The Years Have Pants (Top Shelf)
Alan Moore/Curt Swan: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Deluxe Edition (DC)
Warren Ellis et al.: Planetary vol. 4 (WildStorm/DC)
Charles Burns: Skin Deep (Fantagraphics)
Michael Kupperman: Tales Designed to Thrizzle (Fantagraphics)
Zak Sally: Like a Dog (Fantagraphics)
Los Bros Hernandez: Love & Rockets: New Stories #2 (Fantagraphics)
Alan Moore/Kevin O'Neill: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century #2 (Top Shelf)
Gary Panter: Dal Tokyo (Fantagraphics)
VA: AX Vol. 1 (Top Shelf)
SOMETIME IN 2009, MAYBE:
R. Crumb: R. Crumb's Book of Genesis (Norton)
Farel Dalrymple: The Wrenchies (:01)
Whew! Here's to hoping the economy picks up. This looks like another banner year for comics and graphic novels. I can't wait. Thank you to all who sent in their lists, and please feel free to share your thoughts and these or any other 2009 releases in the comments.
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