Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man

By Carl Barks
240 pages, color
Published by Fantagraphics Books

Reading the first of Carl Barks’ Duck comic collections from Fantagraphics last year, I found myself struck by how quickly I’d fallen in love with Barks’ entertaining stories of all lengths. After the review was published, though, I had several friends sidle up to me and warn me that the best was yet to come. They were referring to Barks’ Uncle Scrooge comics, which they swore up and down were even better. And now that Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man is out and I’ve had a chance to sit down and digest it? Well, sorry Donald, but I have a new favorite Duck and he’s the one with all the money.

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Ralph Azham Book One: Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love?

By Lewis Trondheim
96 pages, color
Published by Fantagraphics Books

If you like the fantasy genre and also the comics medium, hopefully you’ve been reading Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar’s Dungeon series, which is being reprinted in English by NBM Publishing. And if you’ve read everything in Trondheim and Sfar’s sometimes-silly, sometimes-grim series and are looking for something else, you’re in luck. Fantagraphics is translating a new fantasy series entirely by Trondheim, beginning with the long-titled Ralph Azham Book One: Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love? And while it’s quite different than Dungeon, I can’t help but think that those who’ve read the former need to check out this new series, too.

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Complete Peanuts: 1985-1986

By Charles M. Schulz
340 pages, black and white
Published by Fantagraphics Books

No one ever seems to agree for certain when Peanuts went from its glory years to the moment where it just wasn’t quite as good. And while I’m far behind on my Complete Peanuts reading, I decided to try jumping ahead a bit in the sequence and to give the brand-new Complete Peanuts Vol. 18: 1985-1986 to try and get a feel for what the mid-’80s era of the strip was like in comparison to the greatness of the ’70s.

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Prince Valiant Vol. 4: 1943-1944

By Hal Foster
112 pages, color
Published by Fantagraphics

With the current wealth of classic reprint series, it’s easy to fall behind on your reading. (I don’t even want to admit how far behind I am on the Complete Peanuts books.) With the fifth volume of the Prince Valiant reprints scheduled for this spring, though, it seemed like a good a time as any to catch up on Hal Foster’s legendary newspaper strip. With a slight shift in the format of the strip in this volume, it turned out this was the perfect time to take another look at the series.

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Wandering Son Vol. 2

By Shimura Takako
200 pages, black and white
Published by Fantagraphics

The first volume of Wandering Son, published in the middle of last year, was an intriguing look at two teenagers who both are trying to figure out their own gender identity and their place in the world around them. Fantagraphics released the second volume at the end of the year, and with a lot of the set-up completed, Shimura Takako’s story takes a stronger step forward here. Everything I liked about the first volume is still present, but any issues I’d had with it feel like they’ve been erased as her story progresses.

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Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes

By Carl Barks
240 pages, color
Published by Fantagraphics

Carl Barks is one of those comic creators that, up until now, I’d never read anything by. And as a long-time comic reader, that’s been a secret shame. Barks is, after all, one of the original three inductees into the Comic Book Hall of Fame (along with Will Eisner and Jack Kirby), and his comics for Disney made him a superstar across the world. Well, everywhere except for America, it seems. Here, his creations have been occasionally collected, but also quickly falling out of print and never making a huge splash. Fantagraphics is now giving Barks’ Duck comics a whirl, and based off this first volume alone if there’s any justice in the comics world, fame should finally (belatedly) be coming for the late, great Barks.

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Mickey Mouse: Trapped on Treasure Island

Written by Floyd Gottfredson, with Webb Smith and Ted Osborne
Penciled by Floyd Gottfredson
Inked by Al Taliaferro and Ted Thwaites
280 pages, black and white
Published by Fantagraphics

When people talk about classic Disney comics, they’re usually referring to the various Duck comics (Donald, Uncle Scrooge, Huey & Dewey & Louie, and so on) by Carl Barks, or perhaps Don Rosa. It wasn’t until Fantagraphics announced their Mickey Mouse comic strip collection project that I’d even heard of Floyd Gottfredson and his long tenure on the property. We’re two volumes into the series now, and at this point I’m finding the collections fascinating. With this new book, I feel like Gottfredson’s take on the characters is blossoming into something strong enough that I wish I’d encountered it much earlier in life.

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Hidden

By Richard Sala
136 pages, color
Published by Fantagraphics

Richard Sala is one of those creators that holds a fairly unique voice in comics. Many people have tried to replicate his off-beat brand of horror, but ultimately nothing out there quite like his. So with a new graphic novel called The Hidden out, the question for most people won’t be, "Should I read it?" but "When should I read it?" What you’ll find inside is a book that in many ways sums up both Sala’s greatest strengths and weaknesses.

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Celluloid

By Dave McKean
232 pages, color
Published by Fantagraphics

I’m a big fan of Dave McKean’s. Often dreamed of owning one of his covers. Read each issue of Cages as it was published and fell in love with it over and over again. Bought half a dozen copies of Cages and Pictures that Tick to give as gifts. Even bought some of his photography books over the years. So a new McKean graphic novel should have been the best news I’d heard all year. But now that I’ve read and re-read Celluloid, it’s hard to keep a bit of disappointment from creeping in, even as I can still admire its pluses.

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Congress of the Animals

By Jim Woodring
104 pages, black and white
Published by Fantagraphics

Jim Woodring is that rare comics creator whose works are truly unique. On the surface, you might think it sounds otherwise—a silent comic about a protagonist (Frank) in a strange world that perpetually seems out to get him—but the reality is anything but. Of course, that’s in part because the word "reality" and Woodring’s comics about Frank really don’t belong in the same sentence; these are some of the strangest, trippiest comics to crawl out of anyone’s headspace in a while, and at such a continual basis at that.

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