Monday, October 27, 2014

2014 Holiday Shopping Guide: Top Ten Comics and Graphic Novel Staff Picks

“Capturing the sights and sounds of the early 20th century United States, Kill My Mother combines the guts and glitz of an Old Hollywood film with spunky characters reminiscent of a classic radio show. With Shakespearean plot twists that you’ll never see coming, Kill My Mother takes you back to an America between wars, just before Prohibition ended and up through the Second World War, introducing you to fierce female characters whose ambitions are life-altering. You’ve never read a graphic novel like this before; Jules Feiffer’s Kill My Mother is sure to become a modern-day classic!!” —Mel Morrow

“My favorite new series! Bursting with raw emotion, suspense, and action. When the Joker tries to kill Lois Lane, Superman decides that the only way to protect Earth is to rule it with an iron fist. Half of the Justice League agree with him and the other half agree with Batman—that no one should have absolute power. Earth’s fate is in their hands!” —Jen Steele

“Don’t be deceived by the trim-size and length of this graphic novel: the story is dense and takes on a range of topics including college life, peaceful protest, police brutality, urban planning, military strategy, world history, and politics of all kinds including gender, sexuality, and race politics. War of Streets and Houses is Sophie Yanow’s experience as an American student at Montreal exploring her identity, studying architecture, and participating in several protests. The scope and depth of this work is incredible—in every panel and with every line, Yanow contributes to a complex tale spanning centuries of settlement, questioning what it means to be one of the many living in any given city across the world, at once anonymous and integral to the communities to which one belongs, raising the question: how do people come to know their place—in any place on Earth? Of all the graphic novels and comics I’ve read, this is by far the most complete, engaging, and altruistic: Yanow is the kind of artist whose work is destined for positive global impact. War of Streets and Houses is a lot of punch in a small package and will change the way you read graphic novels.” —Mel Morrow

“Roz Chast’s cartoons combine everyday minutiae with absurdity and a larger truth. In her first longform work of fiction, she chronicles her relationship with her aging parents offering her trademark humor and great insight into her life and into the readers too. Heady stuff for a book of cartoons. Great stuff!” —Daniel Goldin

“Finally! A book collecting the stories of unsung African-American heroes!! From the wildly successful and charismatic Bass Reeves to the elusive and entertaining stage magician Richard Potter, each chapter of this book fills in a blank in this nation's past. With plenty of signifyin’—and without glossing over the nastier parts that racial politics play—Gill presents a gorgeous collection of stories that will inform and entertain people of all ages. Discovering this collection feels very much like discovering a hidden manuscript containing vital pieces once missing from the tapestry of US history.” —Mel Morrow


“Jeff Lemire’s SweetTooth rocked my socks off! Now, in a complete change of pace, he presents a trippy science fiction tale of two very different people in two very different times whose lives are inextricably tied together. Smart, gorgeous, and just the right amount of weird. Lemire is a rock star.” —Greg Bruce

“A brilliant feat in storytelling! Philippe paints the images of our planet’s crisis with climate—or really our crises with it. It is literally in black and white—and terrifically researched. Did I say brilliant?!” —Jason Kennedy

“Andre was a legend for more than just his size, and Box Brown does wonderfully in illustrating a highlight reel of Andre’s best stories in the ring and around the world. Definitely NOT for children!” —Josh Davis

“The World War I 369th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed The Harlem Hellfighters, were the first African-American regiment to fight in the war, facing overwhelming discrimination and bigotry. It is sad to learn that these extraordinary men were not recognized or celebrated for their bravery and many accomplishments on the battlefield by the very country and democracy they served to protect. It’s an intense and important chapter of American History masterfully told by Max Brooks—history buff and brilliant World War Z author—in graphic novel form!” —Jen Steele

“Oh delightful beard tale! Bald Dave lives Here (an island surrounded by the sea, surrounded by There), where life is neat and tidy. Everything is normal—he works, draws, and listens to ‘Eternal Flame’ on repeat—until the lone curly hair that won’t stay plucked begins to grow uncontrollably and take over his face. And his house. And his town. And his formerly neat and tidy life! Both grave and whimsical, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins strikes me as the book Maurice Sendak would have written with Theodor Adorno, and reads like a rhyming picture book for adults. More than just a book about a neat freak and his weird beard, it touches on creativity, assimilation, normalization, subculture, media hysteria, government intervention, and the punk revolution. Whether you love, loathe, or are ambivalent about beards—you’ll adore this book!” —Mel Morrow