Ninety Candles

By Neil Kleid
48 pages, black and white
Published by Rant Comics

A strong hook is always good for getting a reader’s attention. Something different, something experimental, something to make it stand out from the crowd. That’s certainly present in Neil Kleid’s Ninety Candles, a comic where each panel is the next year in his protagonist’s life. The question is, once Kleid has the reader’s attention, can he keep it?

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Written by Antony Johnston
Penciled by Mike Norton
Inked by Leanne Buckley
144 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

So often these days you read comics that feel less like projects in their own right, but more like storyboards or pitches for movies. Inevitably, those sort of projects never really click in comics because they aren’t aiming themselves at the format that they’re being published in. I think that’s why Closer jumped out at me; it never feels like it’s trying to be anything but a really good graphic novel, which is perhaps why by the end all I could think was “you know, I bet a movie producer’s going to snap up the rights to this book”. Go figure!

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Ballad of Sleeping Beauty #1

Written by Gabriel Benson
Art by Mike Hawthorne
32 pages, color
Published by Beckett Comics

The story of Sleeping Beauty is certainly a classic fairy tale—a baby girl is cursed to fall into eternal slumber on her 18th birthday, with only a handsome prince able to break the spell. What Gabriel Benson and Mike Hawthorne have done, though, is moved the story out of its traditional home of medieval Europe and into a slightly more contemporary setting: the Wild West. And you know? It fits really well.

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Girl Genius #11

Written by Phil and Kaja Foglio
Art by Phil Foglio
32 pages, color
Published by Airship Entertainment

It’s been a while (the book was going to be published by a company that got bought up and then lost its publishing division), but Phil and Kaja Foglio’s comic Girl Genius is back. Trust me when I say that comics are all the richer for it.

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Dead Herring Comics

By the Actus Group
120 pages, color and black & white
Published by Actus Independent Comics, distributed in North America by Top Shelf Productions

Every time a friend of mine goes to the Angouleme comics festival in France, he brings back a copy of the Actus group’s new book. A five-person Israeli comic collective, their releases are always odd and intriguing, and even if I don’t like all the entries, I never feel like I’ve wasted my time. This year’s book, Dead Herring Comics, has both some familiar and new guest contributors added into the mix. The result? It’s mostly a good thing indeed, this dead herring…

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Voyage into the Deep

Written by François Rivière
Art by Serge Micheli
80 pages, color
Published by Harry N. Abrams Inc.

When I was very small, one of my favorite books was a children’s edition of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The idea of exploring the underwater lands of the world was fascinating, and while it was unfortunately a slightly dumbed-down version of the book, it still had enough of Verne’s story to captivate my mind. When I saw that François Rivière and Serge Micheli had created Voyage into the Deep, a fictionalized telling of Verne’s inspiration for the book, I was suddenly a six-year old boy all over again.

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Making Rain

By Ursula Murray Husted
56 pages, two-color
Published by Apocalyptic Tangerine

I consider myself very lucky in that I didn’t have any relatives close to me die until I was an adult. The grief of that sort of loss is always difficult for me to handle now, but the idea of doing so when I was more emotional and still trying to figure out life is a near-terrifying thought. Reading Ursula Murray Husted’s Making Rain, though, gives me a glimpse into one possible outcome of what such an experience at a younger age would’ve been like.

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Your and My Secret Vol. 1

By Ai Morinaga
184 pages, black and white
Published by ADV Manga

Like so many books on the market today, Your and My Secret relies on an initial gimmick to get the reader’s attention; in this case, it’s the old chestnut of “body swapping”. In the case of Your and My Secret, though, it’s not so much the basic idea that’s noteworthy, but what creator Ai Morinaga does with it.

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