It doesn’t seem that graphic novels have seasons like other genres in publishing. Maybe it’s because of their roots in what are now labeled “floppies,” episodic comics with monthly releases: what we used to call comic books. Then there’s the fact that some of the books that fall under the graphic header in publisher’s catalogs, bookstores, libraries, and best-seller lists can be omnibus editions of strips, journalism, trades (softcover collections of four to six previously published episodes of a floppy), or coloring book mashups (e.g. the current Color Your Own Deadpool). The whole category of graphic books is a wide channel — and interesting new books are released into it throughout the year. In an effort to pace our graphic novel reading for 2016, here are 10 new books that we’ll be looking at before the summer solstice.
By Mark Beyer
New York Review Comics
Release date: March 22
Not a “new” book, per se, but new to me (and maybe you, too). The imprint is new, debuting with this book, first published in 1987. Beyer, a self- taught artist, was a preeminent contributor to Art Spiegelman’s RAW magazine. Agony is Beyer’s darkly funny rendering of Amy and Jordan’s misadventures through an urban landscape of destruction and despair.
Mary Wept Over the Feet Of Jesus
By Chester Brown
Drawn & Quarterly
Release date: April 12
Subtitled ‘Prostitution and religious obedience in the Bible’, this book by award-winning and bestselling Brown is likely to attract both praise and bile. In Mary Wept, Brown recreates nine stories of the Old Testament and those stories’ depictions of prostitutes. Brown is known for the careful research shown in his previous two non-fiction books, Louis Riel and Paying for It; Mary Wept includes Brown’s notes.
By Daniel Clowes
Release Date: March 21
The graphic novel for which there has been a steady hum of anticipation since announcement of its publication last spring, Clowes’ Patience is billed as a time-travelling sci-fi love story. Clowes, who created feature-film length stories Ghostworld and Wilson in less than 100 pages has Patience weighing in at 180 pages. In Clowesian terms, that’s a lot of story.
By Michael Deforge
Drawn & Quarterly
Release Date: February 23
Deforge, an Ignatz award-winning artist/writer, first caught our eye with Very Casual, a collection of pieces culled from his mini-comics, on-line comics, and anthology contributions. He has a unique art style and a wry sense of humor. Big Kids is a straight-ahead coming-of-age story, and who doesn’t like a good one of those?
By Nick Drnaso
Drawn & Quarterly
Release Date: January 26
Drnaso’s debut graphic novel charges out of the gate with six interconnected stories of suburbia. The candy-colored art belies the chill at the heart of it all. As with all fine graphic novels, the words in Beverly —one story is titled “Grassy Knoll”— are as precise, necessary and well-chosen as each line of drawing.
Hot Dog Taste Test
By Lisa Hanawalt
Drawn & Quarterly
Release Date: June 14
Who wouldn’t look forward to a James Beard award-winning cartoonists’ (who knew the James Beard Foundation awarded cartoonists?) follow-up to a book titled My Dirty Dumb Eyes? And did we mention that Hanawalt is the producer/designer of Bojack Horseman? Yep, June 15, we’ll be settled in for some good laughs (and, apparently, baking tips) at Hanawalt’s invitation.
Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir
By Tom Hart
St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 12
Hart, founder and director of the Sequential Artists Workshop, has been making comics for over 20 years. When his toddler daughter, Rosalie, died suddenly and inexplicably, Hart knew one of his ways through grief would be creating art. What emerged is a lovely and loving examination of what it is to survive and begin to heal from the truly unimaginable.
Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride
By Lucy Knisley
Release Date: May 3
Knisley, who has created well-received books on food (Relish) and travel (French Milk, An Age of License, and Displacement) now turns her attention to her own wedding. Knisely describes herself as the ultimate DIY-er who set out to create the adorable DIY wedding to end all adorable DIY weddings. Sounds. . . well. . . adorable, but not in a bad way.
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By Ted Rall
Seven Stories Press
Release Date: January 19
Prolific and provocative Rall is at it again with his unapologetic case for the 2016 election of Bernie Sanders to the Presidency. A good part of the book is dedicated educating the reader on the dramatic shift to the right that the Democratic Party has taken in the past four-plus decades. The balance of the book illuminates Bernie, who Rall believes could re-introduce progressivism to the left.
Paper Girls Volume 1
By Brian K. Vaughan
Release Date: April 5
This is one of the “trades” mentioned above, collecting the first five episodes of a new adventure story. Set in 1988, writer Vaughan (megahit epic Saga) and artist Cliff Chiang have described their series as “Stand By Me meets War of the Worlds.” This release is untypically timely – most trades lag the release of the floppies by many, many months. Paper Girls is already a hit and a likely winner during awards season.