Good Neighbors Vol. 1: Kin

Written by Holly Black
Art by Ted Naifeh
144 pages, black and white
Published by Scholastic

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Ted Naifeh’s, especially when he’s working on books like Courtney Crumrin, or Polly and the Pirates; his ability to write and draw his young female characters as strong, intelligent protagonists has always been a real attraction. So, the idea of Naifeh teaming up with young adult novelist Holly Black seemed like a perfect match, with Black not afraid to tell dark, creepy stories that Naifeh himself is so good at.

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Classics Illustrated: Through the Looking Glass

Adapted by Kyle Baker
Based on the novel by Lewis Carroll
64 pages, color
Published by Papercutz

I have a strange confession to make; when it comes to Lewis Carroll’s two books about Alice, my favorite isn’t Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Rather, it’s the second book, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, that always intrigued me more, with Alice’s journey across a chessboard in an attempt to become a Queen instead of a Pawn. When Papercutz had Kyle Baker’s adaptation of Through the Looking Glass (originally published by First Comics in 1990) on their schedule, I was excited. Kyle Baker? Through the Looking Glass? How could this possibly go wrong?

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Disappearance Diary

By Hideo Azuma
200 pages, black and white
Published by Fanfare/Ponent Mon

At some point in time, I think everyone’s wanted to "get away from it all" and just escape. It’s a pretty normal urge—even if most people don’t actually follow through on it. Maybe that’s why I was almost instantly attracted to the idea of Hideo Azuma’s Disappearance Diary, an autobiographical story of how a manga artist suddenly snapped and decided to become a homeless man. The reality of his situation? Perhaps not what you would expect.

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Crogan’s Vengeance

By Chris Schweizer
192 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

I always loved one of the finer details of Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, and that had to do with the state of the comic book industry. With no comic books about superheroes (what with the real things existing), that gap was instead filled with comics about pirates. That made perfect sense to me; larger than life, full of adventures of daring and surprise. In other words, a real-world equivalent to a superhero. With all that in mind, I’m really happy that Chris Schweizer is able to channel that with his new graphic novel Crogan’s Vengeance; there may have been a lot of pirate comics in our own world, but I think is the one that really best captures that sense of excitement and adventure.

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Papercutter #8

By Corinne Mucha, Elijah Brubaker, and Jeremy Tinder
32 pages, black and white
Published by Tugboat Press

One of the best things about going to a show like the Small Press Expo (SPX) is that so often, creators time their new releases to be right around the time of the show. So by way of example, if it’s late September/early October, there’s a good chance that Greg Means will have assembled a new issue of Papercutter. And once again, I must say, if you aren’t reading Papercutter then you’re missing out on one of the best alternative-comics anthologies being published.

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Baobab #3

By Igort
32 pages, two-color
Published by Fantagraphics Books

Sometimes, it’s good to be patient. That’s what immediately leapt to my mind this summer when Fantagraphics Books (in association with Coconico Press) released Baobab #3, part of their Ignatz Series line. Created by Ignatz Series founder Igort, it’s been two years since the last issue, and my first inclination was if I’d waited this long for another installment, maybe I should just wait out a few additional years for an inevitable graphic novel collection. All it took was one quick glance at the comic, though, and I realized that two years was a long enough wait.

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Blade of the Immortal Vol. 19: Badger Hole

By Hiroaki Samura
168 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

About ten years ago, I picked up the first collected volume of Blade of the Immortal; Dark Horse started publishing Hiroaki Samura’s fantastical samurai story in the late ’90s, and I’d heard enough good things about the series to give it a try. I was hooked, and for years I read each new volume as it showed up. Then, about four years ago, I got the idea that I’d re-read the entire series when the next volume was released. I kept buying the new volumes even as I put them aside, unread, while telling myself that sooner or later I’d tackle such a feat. Suddenly I realized that I’d stockpiled no less than eight volumes of Blade of the Immortal (how did four years pass by so quickly?), and if there was ever a time to finally catch up, this was it. And oh, how things had changed since I’d last read the book.

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Fire Messenger #1

By Penina Gal
36 pages, color

One of the things I like about going to the Small Press Expo is that I often end up with mini-comics (self-published, hand-assembled comics) that I’d have never found anywhere else. A comic that almost immediately jumped out at me was Penina Gal’s The Fire Messenger; for people who assume that mini-comics are all assembled on creaky copy machines with cheap paper and reeking of old toner, this full-color book would certainly be a bit of a surprise.

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Back in mid-October!

Just letting all the readers know that the site is taking a very short break; while I normally try to write my reviews one-to-two weeks ahead, with the Small Press Expo (SPX) this weekend all my free time has gone towards it instead of writing reviews.

After the show’s over and I get a chance to catch my breath, though, new reviews will resume. Thanks so much for your patience!

(And if you’re in the Washington DC area, do make sure to swing by! It’s a great show, and I say that not as someone who used to run it (and is now in charge of the Ignatz Awards), but as someone who enjoyed going to the show so much that I wanted to help work on it. Come on over! Buy some stuff!)

Back to Brooklyn #1

Written by Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Mihailo Vukelic
28 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

With Garth Ennis’s run on The Punisher now over, I was starting to wonder where I could get another sharp, well-written crime drama on that same level. And, as if on cue, Back to Brooklyn showed up, a new mini-series co-plotted and written by Garth Ennis. No super-powers, no fantastical elements, just a gritty real life drama involving the mob and someone trying to get out with his family. But would it be able to measure up Ennis’s earlier highs?

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