Unthinkable

New Graphic Novels, Comic Books for You – 12/3/09

Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?

Here’s some brand new stuff that came out the week of December 3 that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.

Disclaimer: For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.

A Very Zombie Christmas – $3.50
By Fred Perry, Joe Wight & David Hutchison
32 pages; published by Antarctic Press

We wish you a scary Christmas and a happy new fear!

Remember that classic holiday film about what the world would’ve been like if someone had never been alive? Well, this isn’t quite the same… This winter, the weather outside isn’t the only thing that’s frightful!

The wrong sort of holidays spirits are on the loose as zombies roam the streets, spreading their own gift that keeps on giving. You’d better watch out…

Three short stories of yuletide horror. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the holidays. Here’s a 13-page preview of Joe Wight’s story. Good lookin’ stuff!

Unthinkable – $19.99
By Mark Sable & Julian Totino Tedesco
128 pages; published by Boom! Studios; available at Amazon.com

They’ve been hired to think the UNTHINKABLE. But what happens when the unthinable actually happens?  After 9-11, best-selling author Alan Ripley joins a government think tank consisting of the most imaginative minds in diverse fields. Their job? Think of nightmare scenarios and crippling terrorist attacks so the government can safeguard against them. But what happens when the think tank folds, and the attacks start to happen?

I can’t believe this has already been released. It seems like only yesterday the first issue of this mini-series came out. Anyway, great high concept, compelling premise, solid art. Here are links to 10-page previews from writer Mark Sable’s blog, which includes some comments from him about the story.

365 Samurai and a Few Bowls of Rice – $16.95
By J. P. Kalonji
392 pages; published by Dark Horse Comics; available at Amazon.com

J. P. Kalonji wields a clean, street-informed style to deliver a tale that glistens with blood and drama, yet is ultimately uplifting. Nearly four hundred pages long, this graphic novel employs full-page panels to tell the story of an Edo-era swordsman’s quest for survival and enlightenment. When Ningen leaves his dojo at the request of his master — to travel the world and grow as a swordsman — he embarks on a journey that becomes a metaphor for the cycle of life and every human’s possibility for spiritual growth.

* Collaborating with such international clients as Wyclef Jean, Amnesty International, Thrasher, and Burton snowboards, illustrator J. P. Kalonji has begun to enchant the world with his energetic art style. Now he’s ready to make a splash with his English-language graphic-novel debut!

* This engaging, nearly 400-page tale draws comparisons to both Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal and Jeff Smith’s Bone.

I can definitely see Jeff Smith’s influence. Great choices in framing and pacing make this feel like a Kurosawa film. Check out this big ol’ 33-page preview.

One Model Nation – $17.99
By Courtney Taylor & Jim Rugg
144 pages; published by Image Comics; available at Amazon.com

In Germany 1977, music is violence.

As the country is still shattered from the devastation of war, the youth fight back against a repressed nation with their only figurehead of this violent, well dressed revolution to be a band later forever lost in time, Das Model.

Dandy Warhols frontman COURTNEY TAYLOR and Street Angel illustrator JIM RUGG bring you the complete story of Das Model, revealing just how they kick started the revolution that revitalized a country and mysteriously disappeared without a trace only months later.

I’m a little unclear as to whether this is completely non-fiction or if this is about an actual German band from the ’70s. “Das Model” is the name of a song from the electronic band Kraftwerk. That’s about the extent of any real world connections I could find with the power of Google. Anyone with hipper music knowledge have any info? Regardless, check out this 6-page preview to see how good this looks.

Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary – $29.00
By Justin Green
64 pages; published by McSweeney’s; available at Amazon.com

A lost classic of underground cartooning, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary is Justin Green’s autobiographical portrayal of his struggle with religion and his own neuroses. Binky Brown is a young Catholic battling all the usual problems of adolescence—puberty, parents, and the fear that the strange ray of energy emanating from his private parts will strike a picture of the Virgin Mary. Deeply confessional, with artwork that veers wildly between formalist and hallucinogenic, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary is the controversial masterpiece that invented the autobiographical graphic novel.

Following the original 1972 publication of this, Justin Green’s “neuroses” were reportedly diagnosed as OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Art Spiegelman has said that without this publication, his own Pulitzer-winning Maus would have never happened. Spiegelman writes an introduction in this re-release. Publisher’s Weekly has a great article on Binky Brown. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any previews.

New to Comics? New Comics for You! 5/13/09

Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?

Here’s some brand new stuff coming out today that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.

Disclaimer: Having not read these yet, I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, they just might appeal to you.

Unthinkable #1 – $3.99
By Mark Sable and Julian Totino Tedesco
~32 pages; published by Boom! Studios

They’ve been hired to think the UNTHINKABLE. But what happens when the unthinkable actually happens? After 9-11, best-selling author Alan Ripley joins a government think tank consisting of the most imaginative minds in diverse fields. Their job? Think of nightmare scenarios and crippling terrorist attacks so the government can safeguard against them. But what happens when the think tank folds, and the attacks start to happen? Find out in this new mini-series from hot writer Mark (TWO-FACE YEAR ONE, CYBORG) Sable and rising talent Julian Totino Tedesco.

This seems ripe for a movie adaptation, but the original source material almost always has a bit more bite to it. In these types of potentially controversial stories, that’s usually the case even more so.

Applegeeks Volume 1: Freshman Year – $14.95
By Ananth Panagariya and Mohammad F. Haque
184 pages; published by Dark Horse; available at Amazon.com

Jayce, an introspective writer, and Hawk, an excitable artist and inventor, have unofficially taken up residence in the home of sweet and thoughtful Alice and hard-drinking, hard-smoking, hard-hitting Gina. The foursome’s busy trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives, and how the heck to fit their college classes in around marathon video-game sessions, visits to the comic shop, and offbeat road trips, but when Hawk gets fed up with constantly striking out with women and decides to create the perfect girlfriend in his basement lab, passing classes suddenly becomes the least of the group’s worries! If Hawk’s project is a success, will his creation be content with being the perfect girlfriend, or will she have dreams of her own? And… uh… how many more things is she going to blow up?

* Dark Horse Comics is proud to bring the hit webcomic Applegeeks (applegeeks.com) off of the net and into print! Our first volume, Applegeeks: Freshman Year, will include the first two years’ worth of Applegeeks comics, as well as extensive creator commentary, a pinup gallery, and lots of other great bonus material.
* Applegeeks.com receives an average of 250,000 unique visitors a month, and over 1,000,000 page views a month!
* This popular webcomic will appeal to fans of Megatokyo, Penny Arcade, Mac Hall, and PvP.

Looks like a fun read. Probably reads best to a younger audience. Dark Horse recommends 14+ which sounds about right.

Unwritten #1 – $1.00
By Mike Carey & Peter Gross
40 pages; published by DC Comics/Vertigo

Everyone’s read the Tommy Taylor books, the popular series of novels turned pop culture phenomenon about a boy wizard’s adventures. And everyone knows about Tom Taylor, the boy the novels were based on, whose life was so overshadowed by his Dad’s fictional epic that Tom’s become a lame Z-level celebrity at best and a human viral marketing tool at worst.

But what if the resemblance goes even deeper? What if Tom is the boy-wizard of the books made flesh? And if that sounds crazy, why is it bringing him into the crosshairs of an ancient faction that has never been named in any book or text?

To discover the truth about himself, Tom must search through all the places in history where fiction and reality have intersected. And in the process, he’ll learn more about that unwritten cabal and the plot they’re at the center of –– a plot that spans all of literature from the first clay tablets to the gothic castles where Frankenstein was conceived to the self-adjusting stories of the internet.

A conspiracy mystery a la The Da Vinci Code, THE UNWRITTEN is the eagerly anticipated reunion of Mike Carey (X-Men, HELLBLAZER) and Peter Gross (FABLES, Chosen) – the team behind the multiple Eisner-nominated LUCIFER. Acclaimed artist Yuko Shimizu (SANDMAN: DREAM HUNTERS) joins the duo on covers, and the series kicks off with a 4-issue opening storyarc with the extra-sized 40-page debut promo-priced at only $1.00!

Obviously Tommy Taylor is Harry Potter (if Harry Potter had a real-life counterpart), but what’s really intriguing is the exploration beyond that. Mike Carey and Peter Gross are a pretty reliable duo. I have high hopes for this.

From The Ashes #1 – $3.99
By Bob Fingerman
~32 pages; published by IDW Publishing

From the man who brought us the comical miseries of Minimum Wage comes a surprisingly perky take on Armageddon and a new spin on the old autobiographical comics genre: The Speculative Memoir! Bob Fingerman and his wife Michele find out the apocalypse isn’t the end of the world in this hip satirical survival romp through Manhattan’s ruins. Think The Road, only funny!

This should be pretty silly.

(On a side-note, I’m glad to be able to put a number of actual comic books on this list this week. Typically I lean heavier on graphic novels, since they tend to be more easily read on their own, without tons of back story, set-up and explanation.)

I Kill Giants – $15.99
By Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura
184 pages; published by Image Comics; available at Amazon.com

Barbara Thorson, a girl battling monsters both real and imagined, kicks butt, takes names, and faces her greatest fear in the bittersweet coming-of-age story called “Best Indy Book of 2008” by IGN. AICN says “a great mini full of eccentricity, humor and humanity that I not only highly recommend, but hope to see get some well deserved attention come Eisner time.”

From what I’ve seen of this, it looks both weird and fantastic. Another one I’m really looking forward to reading myself.