Grampa and Julie: Shark Hunters

By Jef Czekaj
128 pages, color
Published by Top Shelf Productions

The genre of serial adventure fiction primarily lives on through comics, but it used to be much more widespread. People would go to the movie theatres and discover what was going on in the latest installment of “The Perils of Penelope”, for example, as each segment would get Penelope out of the previous cliffhanger, while bringing her promptly to a new one to keep audiences wondering what would happen next. It’s that sort of feel that Jef Czekaj brings to Grampa and Julie: Shark Hunters… except that here, you don’t have to go back to the movies a week later to see what happens next.

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Tsubasa Vol. 1-2

By CLAMP
208 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

I was more than a little hesitant about reading Tsubasa, one of the comic collective CLAMP’s new series now being published in both Japan as well as North America. The gimmick of the series made me think that as someone who hasn’t read the majority of CLAMP’s work, I’d be utterly lost, since it features characters and situations from many of their previous books. I was pretty surprised, then, to discover that not only was I doing just fine in comprehending it… but that I was enjoying the series to boot.

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Egg Story

By J. Marc Schmidt
64 pages, black and white
Published by Slave Labor Graphics

There are a lot of “coming of age” stories being told, in all types of media and in all shapes and forms. It’s a story that everyone’s familiar with, having had to live some part of it one’s self as time goes by. That’s certainly what J. Marc Schmidt tapped into for his new graphic novel—but unlike most stories of this nature, Schmidt took a slightly different tactic. His story is about a group of eggs.

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Salmon Doubts

By Adam Sacks
128 pages, two-color
Published by Alternative Comics

About a year ago, Alternative Comics publisher Jeff Mason was talking about an upcoming graphic novel he’d just gotten the rights to publish called Salmon Doubts, and how this would be a book that everyone would talk about for some time to come. Having now read Salmon Doubts for myself, it’s easy to see why he was so excited.

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Sock Monkey: Uncle Gabby

By Tony Millionaire
40 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

The first time Dark Horse published a color, hardcover Sock Monkey book, it was Tony Millionaire’s children’s book Sock Monkey: The Glass Doorknob. Under the circumstances, then, I think it’s forgivable that I assumed that the new Sock Monkey: Uncle Gabby was a second book for children. What I found instead, though, was a graphic novel that, like the regular Sock Monkey comic, is most definitely not a cute children’s book.

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A1: Big Issue #0

Written by Alan Moore, Steve Dillon, Ronald Shusett, Bob Burden, and Dave Gibbons
Art by Steve Parkhouse, Steve Dillon, Steve Pugh, Bob Burden, and Ted McKeever
48 pages, black and white
Published by Atomeka Press

Let there be no doubt about it: the original incarnation of the A1 comic anthology was nothing short of spectacular. With each new issue, the one certainty was that you’d get a lot of top-notch stories by some of the best writers and artists in the business. And then, after six issues and one special edition, that was it. (Well, there was the not-quite-as-good A1 anthology mini-series from Marvel’s Epic imprint but we’re willing to forget it.) Now Atomeka Press has brought A1 back from limbo… but is it the same?

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Dungeon Zenith Vol. 1: Duck Heart

Written by Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim
Art by Lewis Trondheim
96 pages, color
Published by NBM

Two of the biggest comic creators in France are Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar… so when they decided to co-create the Donjon series of graphic novels in France, there was a lot of reason for celebration. NBM started translating the series into English (as Dungeon) in late 2002 and publishing it as a black and white series of comic books. Now that it’s showing up as full-color graphic albums, though, it’s time for everyone to get reminded about just how good Dungeon really is.

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American Elf: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries of James Kochalka

By James Kochalka
520 pages, black and white, with some color pages
Published by Top Shelf Productions

In 1998, James Kochalka started keeping a daily “sketchbook diary”. Every day he draws a little comic strip (usually four panels) about what he did. Sounds easy, right? What began as just a humorous little side diversion turned into something much larger, though, and five years Kochalka’s sketchbook diary has turned into a phenomenon of its own right.

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Return of the Elephant

By Paul Hornschemeier
48 pages, two-color
Published by AdHouse Books

One trait that all of my favorite comic creators share is that I never really know what to expect. I’ve just learned that’s true with Paul Hornschemeier, someone who’s quickly moved his way onto that select group. His first issue of Forlorn Funnies was an inventive and humorous mixture of genres and styles, while Mother, Come Home was a meticulously crafted story of loss and remembrance. I thought that maybe I could expect what to get out of his new comic Return of the Elephant. I was wrong.

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Saikano Vol. 1

By Shin Takahashi
232 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

Relationships, under the best of circumstances, can be a little rocky when they’re first starting out. You’re figuring out your place in the other person’s life, as well as their place in yours. There’s a lot of learning that needs to be done, and pitfalls just waiting to trap you. In the case of Shin Takahashi’s Saikano, though, Takahashi is able to create a relationship hurdle like no other you’ve ever experienced.

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