comicbookGRRRL Do not offend the chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible.


Panel Mania: Ba and Moon Explore Home and Family in ‘Two Brothers’

Oh just a special edition of Panel Mania with a little world exclusive for y'all ;)

A ten-page preview of the upcoming graphic novel, Two Brothers, from Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon, which looks very promising indeed!

The best selling brothers are back, as publisher Dark Horse Comics reveal the first look at Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá’s new graphic novel, Two Brothers. The Brazillian creators have been celebrated with a clutch of awards each, and their previous collaboration, Daytripper, became a critically acclaimed knockout.

An adaptation of Dois Irmãos (The Brothers) by the eminent Brazillian author, Milton Hatoum, Two Brothers promises a story of strained family relations and identity, with more than a hint of intrigue bestowed by the two brothers translating the tale in both language and medium.

Omar and Yaqub are identical twins with many differences between them. The strong love of their mother, Zana, only causes more trouble in their relationshop and a violent exchange sees the “good son”, Yaqub, sent from his home in Brazil to live with relatives in Lebanon. As the book opens, he is returning home after five years, a virtual stranger to his parents, estranged from Omar, and with family tensions still very much intact.

The Brazillian setting, on the riverbanks of the Amazon in the port city of Manaus, is a celebration of the vibrant and diverse country, and host to this Brazillian reimagining of a treasured local author’s tale – the themes of the home country and the relationship of brothers reflect upon each other in a startlingly unique way.

The ten-page preview underscores the subtle arts of graphic storytelling - the words unsaid, the looks avoided, the porous nature of time. Bá’s distinctive lines render unique characters in minimal strokes; clever transitions, cunning shadows, and scenic panels promise a beautiful book.

Read the full preview here: Ba and Moon Explore Home and Family in ‘Two Brothers’

Two Brothers


Panel Mania: Fashion Forward with ‘Girl in Dior’

This month's first Panel Mania spotlights the upcoming translation of French comics maestro Annie Goetzinger - Girl in Dior.

A love letter to fashion, Paris, and the House of Dior, NBM brings French superstar Annie Goetzinger to conquer the US, following in the footsteps of the titular designer. One of the rare Grandes Dames of comics in France, Goetzinger is well known for her blend of the historical and nostalgic, most often with a societal sting in the tale.

Her works (Agence Hardy, Paquebot, Le Tango du disparu), with their sumptuous Art Nouveau-influenced style, have rarely been translated for the English market, but Jeune fille en Dior perhaps has a wider audience than most – the world of fashion is rarely restricted by mere geographical borders.

The heroine of the title, Miss Clara Nohant, is a fictional creation serving as our viewpoint on the rise of Christian Dior and the fierce loyalty he inspired in those around him. Given little personality of her own, the cub reporter gazes in wonder upon his creations, with her mother and grandmother giving their own, generationally different, opinions.

For those looking for a hard-hitting historical expose, be warned – this is a feather light kiss upon history, with only a slightly belligerent sabre rattle of socialist concern, but oh the dresses. The beautiful, stylish, inspired dresses. Goetzinger’s background in fashion is apparent not only in the flowing lines of the countless outfits and the way they gloriously capture the light, but in the layouts, backgrounds, and characters of the entire comic.

This is for fans of beauty and refinement, both in comics and in clothing, an indulgent present for those who love fashion and the female form. The original French edition by Dargaud was praised for its lavish presentation and exquisite binding, a trait that NBM have consistently proved to be a mutual priority.

Goetzinger has been working in comics since the ‘70s, and while this is far lighter than most of her body of critically acclaimed work, it’s lovely to see a subject often derisively dismissed as “feminine” being treated with such love and respect. A guilty pleasure? No guilt required!

Girl in Dior opens with a quote from Dior himself: “In a machine age, dressmaking is one of the last refuges of the human, the personal, the inimitable.” Comics, perhaps, is a similar refuge.

Read the full preview here: Fashion Forward with ‘Girl in Dior’

Girl in Dior


Panel Mania: Lucy Knisley Explores Aging in ‘Displacement’

I always love Lucy Knisley's work but this new title is particularly special. It's very uplifting, though I did have a wee cry afterwards.

Touching and relatable, New York Times best-selling artist Lucy Knisley follows up her previous hit autobiographies with a travel journal of her trip aboard a cruise ship with her elderly grandparents. With memories of a childhood shared with an active grandma and grandpa, Knisley is forced to confront the mortality of those dear to her alongside the sheer exhaustion of being their temporary carer.

Knisley’s previous works have focused on a trip to Paris with her mother (French Milk), her love of food (Relish), and a travel memoir of her adventures in Europe (An Age of License). Travel then is certainly a topic of speciality but the focus here is very much upon feelings of grief, guilt and compassion rather than youthful adventure.

Knisley’s grandma has dementia, which is getting worse, and her grandpa also needs near constant care and supervision. It’s a sad flip of the parent-child relationship that comes with advanced age, and something many of us struggle with and try to avoid even thinking upon. Knisley though is unflinchingly honest in her writings – her love for her grandparents is powerful even when she is gripped with guilt and fear over the many daily decisions she has to make. Her anger too at family members who avoid dealing with the realities of her grandparents’ situation is palpable, her emotions conveyed not only in carefully chosen words but in the expressive drawings of chosen moments.

The clever blend of comics, illustrations, and hand-lettered text is Knisley’s signature and her skill increases with every book – in some ways Displacement almost feels too short as the reader wishes desperately to stay in Knisley’s world just a little longer. Her art too, with soft lines and colours and occasional humorous expressions act as a wonderful filter for the story. What could be rather depressing is lifted by the human moments shown; small changes in expression, little thought bubbles of the artist’s thoughts, emotions hinted at that are far harder to convey in text alone.

In contrast to the daily routine of caring for an elderly couple are the grandpa’s journal extracts peppered throughout. His jotted down experiences of being a pilot in World War II are a sharp reminder of the young man he once was, with his own opinions, memories and life revealed, brought to life by his granddaughter. It can be difficult to connect the elderly relatives we have with the people they once were, and for older grandchildren in particular it can be heart breaking to see once active grandparents seemingly fade away as visits unintentionally decrease.

Displacement is a travel memoir on the surface, but the journey is through time and emotion rather than to any one particular destination. As Knisley struggles with the task of caring for her grandparents, schmaltz is avoided by the genuine internal arguments laid out on the page. There is no grand reveal or change of minds, but there is a whole lot of heart and truth and love, and for grandchildren everywhere this is an absolute gift.

Read the full preview here: Lucy Knisley Explores Aging in 'Displacement'



Panel Mania: ‘Wrinkles’ A Haunting Portrait of Aging

My first new piece of the year was also the first of my stint as captain of the Panel Mania ship at Publisher's Weekly - a great excuse to spotlight some of the fantastic comics coming out this year.

The Panel Mania column is published twice per month, and features an exclusive preview of an upcoming comics release, and my first choice was an easy one.

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.

A comics tour de force is blowing in from across the Atlantic as the recently formed Distribution Engine brings a Spanish creator, French smash hit, and UK publisher together under one striking cover: Wrinkles, a journey through the power of memories and their devastating loss.

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.

Memories are all that we are, and as our protagonist Ernest leans out of a train carriage window on the cover, snapshots of his life fly from his open head, lost forever to the winds of time. In this deft and deceptively simple portrayal of our worst fears about aging the reader is reminded of the infinite potential of the comics medium.

Ernest is losing his mind to age, and his children, tired of explaining that he is no longer working in a bank as a young man and of dealing with his fits of confused anger, place him in a care home full of an assortment of elderly characters. His new friend, Emile, a sly old trickster who extols the blessing of having no family to forget him; Adrienne the kindly grandma; Georgette and Marcel, the latter with Alzheimer’s and the former his life long sweetheart; Rose, who lives in the memory of a train carriage on the Orient Express; Eugene the letch; Simone, always in search of a telephone to call her children who left her here by “mistake”.

Wrinkles is not always a kind read, but nor is it overly sentimental. It is a story of truth built with fiction, an observation of Roca’s own parents and those of his friends. In the world of the care home and the horrific second floor where those who have truly lost their minds reside, there is no happy ending in the face of the relentless onslaught of age – a future that we all face yet all hide from. A future that society as a whole shrugs away and forgets, frustrated with the annoyances of our elders who fumble within their own memories.

Roca shines a light on an issue that all of us have personal experience with and in doing so reminds us of the people that we are and will be. As Ernest slips into older, kinder memories, confused by his sudden age and placement, terrified by his prognosis, Roca shows us the world within and above all, how very necessary friendship, a knowing smile, and understanding can be.

Read the full preview here: 'Wrinkles' A Haunting Portrait of Aging