Mushishi Vol. 1

By Yuki Urushibara
240 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

There’s nothing quite like the discovery of something that was both an unknown and something you were looking for. It’s rather apt that Mushishi is just that on two different levels. The lead character of Ginko is forever searching for the mysterious mushi, even if he doesn’t know exactly what he’s trying to find at times. And as a reader, Mushishi‘s strange mix of cryptozoology, horror novel, thriller, and crazy biology is in many ways just what the doctor ordered.

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Korgi Vol. 1

By Christian Slade
80 pages, black and white
Published by Top Shelf Productions

So often, books that are marketed as all-ages are really meant just for children. It’s a fine line between the two, finding something that will appeal to adults while still being appropriate and interesting for younger readers as well. Christian Slade’s Korgi is the sort of book that falls squarely into all-ages but considering his past as a Disney animator that probably shouldn’t be surprising. In many ways, Korgi is a prime example of how to handle an all-ages book. With just the right level of surprise and adventure, it’s determined to hook older readers just as quickly as children.

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Tanpenshu Vol. 1

By Hiroki Endo
232 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

It’s always interesting for a creator best known for one specific work to suddenly have something else published. Hiroki Endo’s main creation that’s been officially released in English is the epic Eden, a science-fiction dystopia set in the near future. Based on the book’s mix of thoughtfulness and extreme violence, the idea of getting a two-volume release of Endo’s other (primarily non science-fiction) stories is an appealing one indeed. And in the end? It’s a strange combination of everything and nothing that I expected.

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New Tales of Old Palomar #1

By Gilbert Hernandez
32 pages, black and white
Published by Fantagraphics Books

A “fill-in” in the comics world usually refers to a series where guest creators step in to work on an issue to keep the production schedule moving forward. In other industries, though, “fill-in” has a very different meaning. For example, a “fill-in” in a transit system has to do with adding in a station to the middle of an existing line, such as a train or subway system. It’s with that in mind that I think of Gilbert Hernandez’s New Tales of Old Palomar as being a fill-in; not because it’s a different creator working on the book, but because Hernandez is stepping back to an earlier point in his long-running series of stories and inserting these new adventures into the middle.

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Project: Romantic

Edited by Chris Pitzer
256 pages, color
Published by AdHouse Books

Themed anthologies are a tricky proposition. First, you’ve got to have a theme that readers will find interesting enough to want to read. Next, it needs to inspire creators without constricting them so much as to make it unworkable. Last but not least, it needs to avoid being one-note, with the same basic idea getting retreaded by every story in the collection. I think all of that is why AdHouse Books’s Project: Romantic is one of my favorite anthologies to come out in a long while; it avoids all of the pitfalls associated with themed anthologies while hitting numerous highs.

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Pizzeria Kamikaze

Written by Etgar Keret
Art by Asaf Hanuka
104 pages, two-color
Published by Alternative Comics

Some books you read and are glad you took the time to experience, and can’t wait to tell others about. Others you might read and then run out to warn people away from. But then there’s that rare sort of book like Etgar Keret and Asaf Hanuka’s Pizzeria Kamikaze, where you’ll put down the book and appreciate the experience that went through courtesy its creators. But if someone asked you if they should read it? Well, you’re not sure. And that’s ultimately the crux of this book.

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Fate of the Artist

By Eddie Campbell
96 pages, color
Published by First Second Books

Eddie Campbell is probably best known in comics as the artist for From Hell (written by Alan Moore), or as the creator of his ten-volume Bacchus series. His most personal creations, though, are his autobiographical Alec graphic novels that show Campbell’s life in an unflinching and honest manner. The Fate of the Artist, then, is an almost metafictional response to Alec. Detailing Campbell’s disappearance, this strange documentary journey into Campbell’s life is truly like nothing else in comics to date.

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Mister I

By Lewis Trondheim
32 pages, color
Published by NBM

A couple of years ago, NBM published a North American edition of Lewis Trondheim’s Mister O, detailing the continual attempts (and deaths) of a little O-shaped man desperately trying to get across a chasm. Now we’re presented with its thematic sequel, Mister I, in a new cycle of attempt-and-death by a character shaped like the letter he’s named after. The big difference, here, is that everyone will be cheering Mister I on to his inevitable death.

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Breaking Up

Written by Aimee Friedman
Art by Christine Norrie
192 pages, black and white
Published by Graphix/Scholastic Books

“Wouldn’t it be fun to go back and do it all again?” It’s a phrase that’s often aimed at the teenage/high school experience, and to be honest it’s a little mind-boggling. To me, high school life was punctuated with four years of confusing hormones, cruel teenagers (myself included), and generally immature behavior. Friendships were made and broken at the drop of a hat, no one had the answers they were looking for, and the rest of life was still one big question mark. Reading Aimee Friedman and Christine Norrie’s Breaking Up drove home two points along those lines for me. First, that high school really was exactly as I remembered it. Second, while I may be over twice as old as the characters in Breaking Up, some things in life really never do change.

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