Written and drawn by Emmanuel Guibert
Photography by Didier Lefèvre
Design, color, and layout by Frédéric Lemercier
288 pages, color
Published by First Second Books

I’m a little mortified to admit that it’s taken me a couple of months to finally read The Photographer, the story of photojournalist Didier Lefèvre’s journey with Médecins Sans Frontièrs (Doctors Without Borders) into Afghanistan in 1986. It seemed like the kind of book that I couldn’t take lightly, that I wanted to reserve extra time to read. Finally, the rest of the world slowed down around me, and over the course of two days I dove into the book. What I found made me wish that somehow I could relive that initial experience of reading it all over again.

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Saturn Apartments Chapter 1

By Hisae Iwaoka
32 pages, black and white (with color pages)
Published by Viz

It’s fun watching Viz fully embrace the power of online comics. After all, it’s letting them release Rumiko Takahashi’s Rin-Ne simultaneously with Japan. With the launch of their version of IKKI magazine, we’re getting a wide collection of off-beat and different comics and (presumably) letting them build up an audience and good word-of-mouth as people check out the stories for free. Now that IKKI is full of all sorts of different comics, I have to say that I’m glad all these new series are available. If nothing else, it means that I now know that I’ll buy any Saturn Apartments books that are eventually released.

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Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938

By Hal Foster
120 pages, color
Published by Fantagraphics Books

"Prince Valiant? Really?" That was more or less the response I got when my boyfriend discovered I’d bought Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938. From there, he explained why this was such a bad idea, and what a dull, boring comic it was. And you know something? I understood where he was coming from. I remember Prince Valiant strips growing up being an exercise in dullness, like all the serial strips that I didn’t care to follow. But after seeing Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook pay homage to Prince Valiant in Wednesday Comics #1, well, I just had to give it another shot. As it turns out, it was a good decision.

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Britten and Brulightly

By Hannah Berry
112 pages, color
Published by Metropolitan Books

I must admit, of all the "buddy story" creations out there, a man and his tea bag hardly seems like the most gripping one. With Hannah Berry’s debut graphic novel Britten and Brülightly, though, the idea almost seems to work. What we end up is not really a story about a man and his tea bag, but rather about a private investigator delving into the uglier side of life and what he finds waiting for him.

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Finding Nemo: Reef Rescue #1

Written by Marie Croall
Art by Erica Leigh Currey
32 pages, color
Published by Boom! Studios

Writing a comic book sequel to a hit movie has got to be a thankless task. It’s a project that by very definition will be compared to something that’s a different form of media, and as a result run the real potential of falling short in the reader’s mind. I guess that’s why I was so impressed, then, with Marie Croall’s script for Finding Nemo: Reef Rescue #1. Reading the comic, it’s hard to not feel like this is something that’s perfectly in tune with the Finding Nemo film.

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Little Mouse Gets Ready

By Jeff Smith
32 pages, color
Published by Toon Books

One of the things I appreciated about Toon Books’s line-up from the very beginning was that their books for children are all targeted at different age ranges. For the youngest readers, they’ve already released two books in a landscape (9×6") format, Jack and the Box by Art Spiegelman, and Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons by Agnes Rosenstiehl. With Jeff Smith’s Little Mouse Gets Ready, though, the bar for Toon Books’s ages 4-and-up books has most definitely been raised.

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Unknown #1-2

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Minck Oosterveer
32 pages, color
Published by Boom! Studios

I remember when Mark Waid wrote the mystery series Ruse back in the day. It was a fun shift into a genre that few English-language titles have explored, even as it does well in other countries. When I heard that The Unknown was in some ways a return to that genre from Waid, I was looking forward to it. What I didn’t expect to find, though, was a very different sort of mystery waiting to be told.

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Yokai Doctor Vol. 1

By Yuki Sato
224 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

I think Del Rey is trying to corner the market on books starring yokai (Japanese spirits) in English. Late last year they released Yokaiden, and now they’re translating Yuki Sato’s Yokai Doctor. Yokai Doctor is definitely a step in the right direction for books with yokai in them, but even then it’s hard to shake the feeling that we’re seeing a little too much sameness between Yokai Doctor and a lot of other releases.

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Greek Street #1

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Davide Gianfelice
40 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

How well do you know your Greek plays? Sure, everyone’s familiar with the basic Greek myths of Zeus, Apollo, Herakles, and Perseus. I’m talking about the the dramas, though; ones starring Oedipus, Agamemnon, Medea, Cassandra, or Ion.

No? Well don’t worry, Greek Street is still going to be extremely accessible to you, coming across as a rival family drama with a crime undercurrent moving through it. But for those who are familiar with some Greek works, though, there’s a nice extra punch to Peter Milligan’s new series.

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Hellblazer #256

Written by Peter Milligan
Layouts by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Finishes by Stefano Landini
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

It’s hard to believe that Hellblazer had to get all the way up into the 250s before Peter Milligan became its new regular writer. Milligan was one of the pre-Vertigo writers whose book Shade the Changing Man became one of the Vertigo launch titles, and his contributions to the Vertigo line have continued ever since then. We’re several issues into his run on Hellblazer, and I think what’s made me the most pleased so far is that Milligan’s managed to mix just about everything I like about the book back into the title all at once.

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