Popeye #1

Written by Roger Langridge
Art by Bruce Ozella
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

It was only a couple of years ago that I read the first volume of the original E.C. Segar Thimble Theatre comic strips that are better known as Popeye. If you’ve never read them before, they’re a thoroughly enjoyable series of adventure comics about Castor Oyl (always looking for a get-rich scheme), Olive Oyl (his slightly abrasive sister), and Popeye (the sailor who usually gets dragged into Castor’s schemes). Reading IDW’s new Popeye #1, one thing became immediately clear: Roger Langridge and Bruce Ozella have clearly done their research.

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Liar’s Kiss

Written by Eric Skillman
Art by Jhomar Soriano
120 pages, black and white
Published by Top Shelf Productions

Brevity may be the soul of wit, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of comic and book creators from turning out some huge creations over the years. Maybe that’s what I initially found so refreshing about Liar’s Kiss by Eric Skillman and Jhomar Soriano. Clocking in at just 120 pages, I feel like it’s in many ways a lesson of how to tell a story at just the right length. Not too long, not too short, and ready to jump into the conclusion before it overstays its welcome.

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Alabaster: Wolves #1

Written by Caitlin R. Kiernan
Art by Steve Lieber
32 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

Alabaster: Wolves is a comic I’ve looked forward to ever since its announcement. It’s written by Caitlin R. Kiernan, who had a long run on The Dreaming and made the title her own, but who’s had a much bigger career as a writer of prose. It’s drawn by Steve Lieber, whose work on Whiteout made him a star in my eyes and who has produced numerous strong comics since then, too. And the idea of rebooting a character from Kiernan’s books and short stories, and taking her down a different road for a series of comics? Well, it sounded like a blast to me. And with this first issue, I feel like Alabaster: Wolves is already on a good path.

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Fracture of the Universal Boy

By Michael Zulli
208 pages, black and white
Published by Eidolon Fine Arts

I’ve loved Michael Zulli’s art ever since I first saw it, and over the years he’s just gotten stronger and stronger as a creator. When Zulli turned to Kickstarter last year to fund the printing of a 208-page hardcover graphic novel that he’d written and drawn titled The Fracture of the Universal Boy, I jumped at the chance to get a copy for myself. At the same time, though, I’ll admit that a voice in the back of my head warned me not to get too excited. Zulli wrote two of the three chapters of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Soul’s Winter back in the day (Stephen Murphy is credited as providing the script over Zulli’s story for the first third) and while the art was amazing, the story never quite came together. So it was with that slight hesitation that I finally sat down to read The Fracture of the Universal Boy to see just what I’d helped pay for.

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Farm 54

Written by Galit Seliktar
Art by Gilad Seliktar
128 pages, two-color
Published by Fanfare/Ponent Mon

Farm 54 is one of those books that quietly straddles multiple categorizations, almost silently defying you to try and place it somewhere. It’s autobiographical, but also fiction. It’s a graphic novel, but it’s based off of three prose short stories. Even the fact that it’s two-color instead of full color or black and white will no doubt perplex some readers. But if you’re willing to cross the boundaries to examine Farm 54, you end up with a curiously enjoyable experience.

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Art of the Secret World of Arrietty

By Studio Ghibli and Hiromasa Yonebayashi
200 pages, color
Published by Viz

As much as I love Studio Ghibli’s films, occasionally they’ll sneak past me in the movie theatres. That was the case with The Secret World of Arrietty, an animated movie based on the novels of The Borrowers that was released in North American earlier this year. While I continue to wait for a DVD release, though, I’ve found that yearning at least partially satiated by The Art of the Secret World of Arrietty, a book detailing the artistic creation of the film.

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Shark King

By R. Kikuo Johnson
40 pages, color
Published by Toon Books

When R. Kikuo Johnson’s Night Fisher graphic novel was published in 2005, I remember a lot of people proclaiming him to be the next big thing in comics. The book and Johnson got their fair share of awards, but since then there’s been remarkably little in the way of new creations from Johnson. I think I was as surprised as anyone else when The Shark King was announced; a book for young readers was almost certainly not where I’d expected him to show up next. This retelling of a Hawaiian myth, though, is going to enchant readers of all ages.

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Ragemoor #1

Written by Jan Strnad
Art by Richard Corben
32 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

When I think of a creepy old mansion with family members who refuse to leave, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher immediately leaps to mind. It certainly feels like the initial spark behind Jan Strnad and Richard Corben’s Ragemoor, a new mini-series from Dark Horse Comics. But where The Fall of the House of Usher quickly chronicled the end of the House of Usher (both in terms of the family line as well as the physical structure), Ragemoor is a construction that quickly proves itself to have quite a bit of life left in it.

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