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8Jan/150

Top of the Shops: January 2015

January is traditionally a quiet month in the book industry, the relentless torrent of autumn releases and Christmas gift books swept aside by diets and wishful thinking texts of the new year, but nobody seems to have told the comics industry. Thank goodness.

With such a wealth of intriguing new titles on sale it's easy for some of the smaller fish to get lost in the gigantic pond, so without further ado here are some choice pickings on the shelves this month - indies, graphic novels, and floppies alike!

Top of the Shops: January 2015

And Then Emily Was Gone
John Lees, Iain Laurie, Megan Wilson
Comixtribe
TPB
£13.50 - $13.95
28 Jan 2015

It's the indie horror comic that came from nowhere to infest our 2014 with gruesome monsters and skin-itching tales from a Scottish duo of miscreants, now collected in trade to kickoff another frightful year. The promo work for this comic was incredibly on point, garnering reviews and previews from the likes of Newsarama and CBR - an impressive indie feat. The Visit Merksay companion site is fully of tasty previews, shining a light on the adventures of a man who sees monsters and the girl who recruits him to save her friend.

And Then Emily Was Gone And Then Emily Was Gone

Lees is a well known face on the Scottish scene, his previous work The Standard hinting at some of the darkness to follow, and Laurie continues to be an utter revelation. I'd come across the artist before thanks to his frequent collaborations with writer Craig Collins - Crawl Hole, Roachwell, Metrodome, and Haunted Bowels are well overdue their own spotlight here (coming soon!) - but seeing his twisted imagination at play across a whole trades worth of comics is a very welcome treat.

Barbarella & the Wrath of the Minute-Eater
Jean-Claude Forest, adapted by Kelly-Sue DeConnick
Humanoids
Hardcover, Slightly Oversized edition
£22.99 - $34.95
7 Jan 2015

Barbarella, Queen of emancipated female comic characters everywhere since the 60s and damn near impossible to find in print. Thankfully Humanoids have taken up the challenge, not only reprinting the original collection and the first never before translated sequel, but bringing Kelly-Sue DeConnick on board for a brand new translation all round. Published last September as a lavish coffee table book, this "slightly oversized edition" is a tad less harsh on the bank balance. (You can read a preview here!)

The Celestial Bibendum
Nicolas De Crécy
Humanoids
Hardcover, Reprint, Limited Slipcase Edition
$38.00 - £44.99
28 Jan 2015

Previously collected in 2012, Humanoids appear to have a reprint of this lavish hardcover coming out from the European star. That De Crécy is not more well known is testament only to how few wonderful comics from the continent are actually translated, but if you were to pick any of his works to own, this would be the one.

Celestial Bibendum Celestial Bibendum

The comic is beautiful, the layers divine. The cast, from Diego the seal to our decapitated narrator Professor Lombax, are bizarre, detailed, and weird. Bizarre, brilliant, disjointed, rebellious - if you are a fan of the weird, this may be just up your street. (You can read a preview here!)

Top of the Shops: January 2015

Eel Mansions
Derek Van Gieson
Uncivilized Books
Paperback, New Release Special
£13.99 - $19.95
13 Jan 2015

Released to rave reviews in 2014, a new edition deserves a new release date. Van Gieson, best known for his work in Fantagraphic's Mome, is let loose with his first full length graphic novel, a "supernatural soap opera noir".

Eel Mansions

Initially tempted by the Moomin-esque character upon the cover, this was my intro to Uncivilized Books. (You can read a preview here!)

Fatherland: A Family History
Nina Bunjevac
Liveright
Hardcover, US Release
£16.99 - $22.95
19 Jan 2015

Published by Jonathan Cape back in August 2014 in the UK, Bunjevac (of Komikaze and Heartless fame) was lavished with critical praise for her autobiographix. Beginning in her Canada, Bunjevac is visited by her mother and delves back into a past that saw her mother flee from her extremist father, torn apart by fear, anger, and Serbian troubles. Comparisons with Persepolis are perhaps inevitable, but this is a smaller slice of personal history with Bunjevac's unique style. (You can read a preview here!)

First Year Healthy
Michael DeForge
Drawn & Quarterly
Hardcover
£9.99 - $14.95
20 Jan 2015 - 22 Jan 2015

With Very Casual in 2013 and Lose #6 in 2014 dominating "best of year" lists, DeForge is out the gates early in 2015 with what will no doubt star in many a December article.

First Year Healthy

In truth there are very few creators where I will add a book to my wishlist site unseen, but DeForge is a constant source of inspiration to me, and a friendly reminder that I might be weird, but I'm not the only one. (You can see some preview images here!)

Top of the Shops: January 2015

Heads or Tails
Lilli Carré
Fantagraphics
Paperback, US Reprint
$24.99
4 Jan 2015

A new printing of the Eisner/Harvey/Ignatz nominated collection that is an absolute joy to read. The 2012 edition is still available in the UK, but this will be a welcome relief for US fans who have been staring down hefty price tags.

Heads or Tails Heads or Tails

This is one of those books that I insist everyone own. (You can read a preview here!)

Henni
Miss Lasko-Gross
Z2 Comics
Paperback
£14.99 - $19.99
6 Jan 2015 - 20 Jan 2015

There's an alternative cover image listed for the UK release which I kind of hope is an error - the original is simply perfect. Lasko-Gross caused a small sensation with her original two semi-autobiographical works (Escape from "Special", A Mess of Everything), and Henni will no doubt continue that trend.

Henni

The titular character strikes out on her own, away from the restrictive religious society she lives within, with previews suggesting a "commentary on religion, coming of age, and being yourself". (You can read a preview here!)

Henshin
Ken Niimura
Image
Paperback
£14.99 - $19.99
14 Jan 2015 - 27 Jan 2015

Niimura is, of course, the artist from the award winning and beloved I Kill Giants. Those who follow his work will know he's been keeping busy, but it still feels like a celebratory moment to see a new work sitting upon the shop shelves. Originally published digitally on Shogakugan's Ikki Paradise website back in early 2013, the book collects 13 stories of Japanese life. (You can read a preview here!)

Top of the Shops: January 2015Top of the Shops: January 2015

I Should Have Said: Witty Comebacks I Only Wish I'd Said...to Friends and Lovers
Daisy de Villeneuve
Hardie Grant Books
Hardcover
£7.99 - $12.95
27 Jan 2015 - 29 Jan 2015

Perhaps not traditional comics fare but I know many comix/zine friends who love the quirky felt tip and typing fragment works of de Villeneuve eager to add this to their collection. Previews seem a little hard to find on this one but you can have a look at some pages from her seminal He Said, She Said here if you are curious about her style.There is also a lone page floating on twitter:

I Should Have Said

Villeneuve's pages have a real immediacy, as if furtively torn from a diary, but it's the unapologetically sharp illustrations that I really love. If only my seven year old self had persevered with her felt tip pens!

Imaginary Drugs
Michael McDermott, Various
IDW
Paperback
£14.99 - $24.99
27 Jan 2015

I am the actual master of narrowly missing out on Kickstarter projects that look amazing, and this is one I kept bookmarked for updates on publication. The book has grown exponentially in the interim with more creators joining the anthology when it raised more than double its original humble goal of $5500, and again when IDW were announced as publisher. From an initial planned 56 pages to the resulting 208, there are 36 complete edgy pop sci-fi fantasy stories in this volume, and this is such a big star on my radar that I've been actively avoiding previews. Because I want to sit down with this beast and just drink it in.

Pilgrimage Pretty Lights

I'm not sure there's a complete list of creators involved anywhere yet, but you can bet your ass I'll be reviewing this when it comes out! In the meantime, enjoy some pages from the ridiculously talented Christine Larsen: Pilgrimage and Pretty Lights.

Intelligent Sentient
Luke Ramsey
Drawn & Quarterly
Hardcover
£13.99 - $22.95
22 Jan 2015 - 10 Feb 2015

There are times when you come across an upcoming book that just seems to sing from the page, and this one is particularly intriguing given that it can be read in either direction. Or at random.

Intelligent Sentient

It's a comic of theme rather than narrative, and the transition from visual arts to the world of the sequential is an interesting one to navigate; there's an implicit willingness to break the rules alongside an undeniable corruption from the medium itself. The appeal of a comic that can be read both forwards and backwards is the hidden seduction of sequential art: order from chaos, the subjective story. Or, y'know, pretty pictures. (You can see some preview images here!)

Top of the Shops: January 2015

Kingdom Of The Wicked
Ian Edginton, D'Israeli
Titan
Hardcover, Reprint
£14.99 - $19.99
6 Jan 2015

First published almost twenty years ago in 1996, it's impressive to note that Edginton includes mentions of JK Rowling and Lemony Snicket. I jest of course - the book was updated in 2004 to bring it a little more up to date and, more importantly, to add gorgeous colour to D'Israeli's mighty inks. That edition is, alas, somewhat hard to get a hold of these days so Titan have come to the rescue with a nicely priced hardcover reprint. At 104 pages it's a tad slighter than I remember but despite being a quick read this remains a favourite of mine. D'Israeli, of SVK, Leviathan, and Stickleback fame is surely long overdue the ridiculous amount of fame he deserves, while Edginton this seems like something a little different, a little auto-biographical and wondering.

Chris is a children's author, and long ago, as a child himself, he created the fantastical world of Castrovalva. But what happened to that land when he left his childhood behind? And why is he returning now in its moments of final peril?

Kingdom of the Wicked

Did you read Brass Sun from Edginton and INJ Culbard, out last month? I have a review of that in the current issue of SciFiNow (I think it's the current issue, I'm currently house-bound due to ill lungs) but I must write about it here sometime as well. It is BRILLIANT. You can read a preview here and a small preview of Brass Sun here as an extra.

Lady Killer #1
Joëlle Jones, Jamie S. Rich, Laura Allred
Dark Horse
$3.50
7 Jan 2015

Jones is an artist I utterly adore, mostly because her woman are always drop dead sexy but absolutely killer powerful with it, but also because there's often a spike of vintage-retro pop-ad to her work. This then is completely up my street! A post-war housewife who looks after her twin girls, the family dog, puts up with her cranky mother-in-law, gets dinner on the table for her husband and, y'know, quietly and gleefully murders people for a living. There are shades of Jennifer Blood here, but the kitsch aesthetic of the 60s throws the gleeful violence into far sharper relief - a vintage pre-Stepford advert with added blood spatter.

Lady Killer Lady Killer

Jones is on writing duties here too, alongside previous You Have Killed Me collaborator Rich, which makes Lady Killer an even more interesting prospect than the marvellous Brides of Helheim currently available from Oni Press.

For what it's worth I really enjoyed the review copy of this - there is some fantastic perspective work as well as being just so damn pretty - and eagerly await more! (You can read a preview here.)

(Also I'm pretty sure Jones has a pug - all the best people have pugs!)

The Late Child & Other Animals
Marguerite Van Cook, James Romberger
Fantagraphics
Hardcover
£21.99 - $29.99
22 Jan 2015 (UK release)

Yes that is the same Van Cook of The Innocents and Steppin' Razor and Ground Zero and 7 Miles a Second. Whether you know her from punk, art, or her Eisner-nominated comics colouring, or just from being effortlessly fucking cool, this is a book you'll want to check out. On writing and colouring duties, this is a generational memoir of Van Cook's own childhood in Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, and Normandy, and of her mother's survival of World War II and subsequent struggle to prove she is a fit parent.

Aside from the preview I know literally nothing about this book but considering my desire for a graphic memoir of Van Cook's life before now, I'm pretty damn stoked. Frequent collaborator, artist and Hooded Utilitarian writer, Romberger (Van Cook's husband) is the artist. (You can read a preview here!)

Top of the Shops: January 2015

The Life After, Vol 1
Joshua Hale FialkovGaboNick Pitarra
Oni Press
TPB
£7.50 - $9.99
28 Jan 2015

Oni Press absolutely killed it in 2014, far and away the publisher of the year. One reason? Fialkov. While I've raved about The Bunker before and will do so again, it's this little post-death series that I've been recommending to all my mates. Firstly because the concept of an afterlife is one that absolutely fascinates me in fictional form (see Death in Discworld, Beetlejuice etc), secondly because this is a twist on the concept I hadn't seen before, and thirdly Ernest Fucking Hemingway.

Our protagonist is Jude, a seemingly normal guy living a seemingly normal ever-so-boring life. Until one day he wakes up and realises just what kind of place he's been sleepwalking through. It's the afterlife for suicides, where maintenance is a tad sloppy, angels and devils are equally terrifying, and Hemingway is on hand to make sense of the impossible. The best fantasy has its own crazy sandbox to play in, from Lord of the Rings to Star Wars, but the afterlife? That is the best sandbox of all - all these rules just waiting to be broken and made anew. And Jude is seriously messing things up.

The Life After The Life After

Gabo - of Charley Loves Robots and Tout Le Monde fame - is on top form here, with a subtle palette that ramps up the volume as the plot gets ever crazier. There's some incredibly pretty panel play within the first few pages, edges bleeding away from real to unreal, and I had no clue until now that I could spot a bad guy by his teeth alone.

This is a direct market/comic shop exclusive release, so get your paws on it asap!

Love: The Tiger
Frédéric Brrémaud, Federico Bertolucci
Magnetic Press
Hardcover
£13.50 - $17.99
10 Feb 2015 (available via publisher now)

I first heard of this book via Panel Mania at Publisher's Weekly back in December, and was immediately determined that it must be mine. It won't be available on Amazon and elsewhere til February but Americans at least can buy it through the Magnetic Press store now. I have a terrible terrible weakness for wordless comics - the ability of a writer and artist to come together within the comics form and create a story through art alone is such an impressive feat, particularly to somebody like me who is stuck with words alone. The preview pages are simply gorgeous, telling a story that I will want to read again and again.

Love: The Tiger Love: The Tiger
Love: The Tiger Love: The Tiger

As a child my favourite films were The Jungle Book and The Lion King, and as an adult my favourite graphic novel/series is Blacksad, so it's no huge surprise that this is the kind of book that would hook me. But there's more! This is the first volume of a series, The Fox and The Lion come after, and all of them look absolutely stunning. Here's hoping Magnetic Press aim to release the set. There are many preview images at Bertolucci's site here.

Secret, Vol 1
Yoshiki Tonogai
Yen Press
Paperback
£9.99 - $13
20 Jan 2015

It's manga! I haven't written enough about manga in the past as I'm a little bit of a newb, but my enjoyment of Claymore and Attack on Titan has brought me a little further into that world. Tonogai's Doubt grabbed me immediately with its cover of dead-eyed rabbit-headed school children, and Yen Press has published both that four-volume series and the six-volume sequel Judge in their entirety (vol 6 of the latter is out next month).

In Doubt, a viral game gets a little too real when the rabbits must sniff out the lying wolf in their midst. In Judge, a group of sinners are brought together to judge one another, with death sentences. And in Secret, six survivors of a horrific accident are told that there are three murderers in their midst who must make amends. Whoever or whatever is arranging these "games" remains the constant, alongside the grotesque animal masks, and it's well worth checking out. (I can't find any translated previews but you can see some previews of the original here!)

Top of the Shops: January 2015

Soppy
Philippa Rice
Square Peg
Hardcover, UK Release
£10.99 - $14.99
8 Jan 2015

Americans have been enjoying this since last month but we poor Brits have had to wait a tad longer. Rice is one of the wonderkids of the UK indie scene, wowing fans with My Cardboard Life, Sister BFFsSt Colin and the Dragon, Looking Out, and just generally being as cool as a cucumber. This then is a collection of her Soppy webcomic, chronicling real-life moments with her boyfriend, which is just aww.

Soppy

It's a comic I can relate to A LOT, having been with my own fella for over a decade and being just a bit, I guess a tad, a tiny smidgen... soppy. A deliciously generous preview can be read here, to warm the cockles of your heart.

Treasury of Mini Comics Vol. 2
Michael Dowers
Fantagraphics
Hardcover
£21.99 - $29.99
18 Jan 2015 - 22 Jan 2015

Mini-comics are pretty inescapably hit or miss, but with over 800 pages to work with the chances of finding gems is pretty damn high. On top of sheer volume the contributor list is highly impressive: Trina Robbins, Renee French, Jeffery Brown, Jim Rugg, Kristyna Baczynski... the list goes on. Curated by Dowers and with a potted background in Tijuana Bibles as a bonus feature, this really is the kind of thing that Fantagraphics does best - rummaging through the past of the underground to present us lazy readers with the best that history has to offer. This is concluding volume of the 2-volume set, and a worthy addition to any comic historian's shelf.

The Unicorn and the Woodsman
Kate Brown
Self-Published
£4 - £6.20 (pre-order price)
31 Jan 2015

It's no huge secret that Brown is one of my favourite artists - Fish + Chocolate is a comic I tell everyone to buy, and The Phoenix desperately needs to collect The Lost Boy and Tamsin and the Deep asap (or y'know, a Kate Brown collection) - so a new self-published comic from her pen is a HUGE deal.

The Unicorn and the Woodsman

If there's one constant to Brown's style it that it is always evolving, and The Unicorn and the Woodsman is both different in storytelling - a rhyming comic - and in layout. The colours too are far more subdued than usual, with a violent sprinkling of red, reminding me a tad of her Crown of Blood short, but with a far more detailed and woodsy feel.

20 pages, 240x170mm, full colour... £4! (You can read a preview and buy here!)

Top of the Shops: January 2015

Ur
Eric Haven
AdHouse Books
Paperback
£8.25 - $14.95
(10 Feb 2015) - 20 Jan 2015

Pushed back from its December publication date, Ur is finally here! A collection of work previously published in various anthologies (some of which can be seen on Haven's site), this is a must-get for fans of absurdist art, Jack Kirby, or absurd vintage Marvel in general.

Ur

To be honest you can probably tell from the cover whether this is your kind of comic or not, and my brain is already well on board. (You can read a preview here!)

 

Wrinkles
Paco Roca
Knockabout
Hardcover
£12.99
22 Jan 2015

The first comic featured in my 2015 stint at Panel Mania for Publisher's Weekly, so do read that for a full preview!

It's interesting to note that this is a dual release in both the UK and US for Knockabout, thanks to the recently formed Distribution Engine that works to bring UK comics publishers across the Atlantic. Creator Paco Roca has had great success across Europe with titles including Les voyages d'Alexandre Icare and Emotional World Tour, but it is perhaps Wrinkles (Rides in the original French) and its equally acclaimed animated adaptation of the same name that the artist is most famous for. Winner of two prestigious Goya Awards in Spain, the English dub of the film scored Martin Sheen on cast and raised the comics profile in the national consciousness before it ever hit our shores.

Wrinkles hit a little close to home as I suspect it will do for many - watching our older relatives lose their sense of self is as frightening as it is heartbreaking - and it's a reminder that many of us will come to similar fates. The fact that it explores such a well avoided subject is precisely why, I think, it's such an important (as well as beautiful) read.

 

Yuichi Yokoyama: Ourselves
Yuichi Yokoyama
Nieves
Paperback
£13 - $20
27 Jan 2015

Not a comic! This is a portrait series by the infamous experimental neo-mangaka, whose comics are pretty much... well, amazing is an understatement.

Ourselves

His work was pretty easy to get a hold of when PictureBox were still around, but this is something a little different and is perhaps more for the dedicated fan or fine art aficionado. It's an interesting insight into the mind of Yokoyama though and surprisingly accessible. (You can see a preview here!)

 

Top of the Shops: January 2015

Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift #1
Meredith GranCarey Pietsch
KaBOOM! Studios
$3.99
14 Jan 2015

Let's have a look at a few all ages titles now.

Marceline and the Scream Queens was a huge success a couple of years ago, and Octopus Pie's Gran is back with a new series that sees both Marceline and Princess Bubblegum travel through space.

Marceline Gone Adrift

This time we have Pietsch on artist duties, and the preview pages look super sweet! I'm a huge fan of the Adventure Time comics in general, and they are always a big hit with younger family members. (You can read a preview here!)

Beyond The Surface
Nicolas André
Nobrow Press
Hardcover, US Release
£10 - $16
27 Jan 2015

A US release for last years 20 panel panoramic concertina comic that takes the reader from the centre of the Earth to the highest of its peaks, celebrating the incredible feats humanity has achieved in the space in between. André's work is always a treat, but it is playing with colour that his work really grasps for a whole new level - something this unique little book deftly illustrates. (You can see preview images here!)

Feathers #1
Jorge Corona
Archaia
$3.99
7 Jan 2015

There are certain publishers that I have an absolute weakness for, and Archaia is one of them - always publishing very interesting little books that can so easily be overlooked. So when the publisher announced Feathers from Corona, consider me on board to try it out!

Feathers

Corona is perhaps best known for his Teen Titans GO! run along with Image's more recent Goners ongoing (incidentally sporting some of my favourite covers in the last year). Here though he is flying solo with a tale of reclusive kids, street gangs, child-snatchers, and a boy covered in feathers. (You can read a preview here!)

Top of the Shops: January 2015

Gotham Academy #4
Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl
DC
$2.99
21 Jan 2015

I wouldn't normally pick a non-#1 comic for Top of the Shops but I only recently caught up with the first three issues of this series and WOW. I am a huge fan of Kerschl's, particularly due to his phenomenal The Abominable Charles Christopher webcomic, but I wasn't terribly familiar with his non-Charles style. Gotham Academy is ridiculously pretty, and other-worldly, distancing itself nicely from the grim and gritty echoes of the other Gotham book while wrapping itself in a dark cloak all of its own. Writers Cloonan and Fletcher are constructing a splendid story here, with friendship, mystery, and most importantly, some very unanswered and curious questions. (No preview but you can read a preview of #1 here!)

Princeless: The Pirate Princess #1
Jeremy Whitley, Rosy Higgins, Ted Brandt
Action Lab Entertainment
$3.99
28 Jan 2015 (available digitally now)

Princeless is the series I most wish had been around when I was a kid. I loved the idea of adventures and dragons, but as a girl it seemed like your only option was to wait around in a tower for some icky boy to come rescue you. Well times change and thankfully Princess Adrienne and her dragon Sparky are here to help princesses save themselves! In volume 2 Adrienne was joined by Bedelia the blacksmith, and volume 3 opens up with a new potential member of their grrrl power group - Raven the pirate princess!

Princeless: The Pirate Princess

Creator Whitley is at the writing wheel again, while newcomers Higgins and Brandt make the girls' adventures look better than they've ever looked before. It's worth pointing out that one of the key attractions to this book is not only breaking the default of princesses being weak, but also breaking the default of them being white. The story is action packed, and I highly recommend this book to all young readers. Especially those who enjoyed Frozen! (You can read a preview here!)