By Veronique Tanaka
64 pages, black and white
Published by NBM

There are times when the back cover copy to a book can actually be a turn-off. Let’s take Veronique Tanaka’s debut graphic novel Metronome, which states, "Just when you thought that nobody could create something new in the comic medium, here comes Metronome […] a ‘silent’ erotically-charged visual poem, an experimental non-linear story using a palette of iconic ligne clair images. Symbolism, visual puns and trompe l’oeil conspire in a visual mantra that could be described as ‘existential manga’…" Now maybe I’m in the minority here, but this sounds so snooty that my first reaction was to not want to read it. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the introduction by Jeff Smith mentioned on the front cover, I might have passed it by. But you know something, I’m glad I took the time to read it—despite the best efforts of the copy writers.

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Le Chevalier d’Eon Vol. 1

Story by Tou Ubukata
Adaptation by Kiriko Yumeji
208 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

Comics in any country often have a large number of similar plot points or genres that get repeated from one work to the next, regardless of creator. From the evil sibling to the secret identity, seeing these ideas crop up over and over again becomes less and less of a surprise the more you read. In the case of Le Chevalier d’Eon, though, I must admit that Tou Ubukata and Kiriko Yumeji managed to sneak up on me with a well-known trope in Japanese manga. After my surprise faded, it hit me as to why they’d managed to get me—I’d never have expected it in a historical horror saga.

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Three Shadows

By Cyril Pedrosa
272 pages, black and white
Published by First Second Books

Reading Cyril Pedrosa’s Three Shadows, I couldn’t help but think about the brief author’s biography provided in the end-flaps of the graphic novel. In it is the mention that Pedrosa was inspired to create the book after watching close friends lose a young child. It seems like a particularly grim thing to put up front, but at the same time I think it’s actually the smart thing to do. Providing context for this story makes what might feel like an overly long book instead makes its padding work in its favor.

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