Foreword Reviews

6 Best Comics, Graphic Novels of Fall 2015

comics

From fantastical horror theme parks and zombie apocalypses to the realities of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s to the true stories of artists and musicians, these six comics represent the best offerings published this fall. Done in vastly different styles, all six gorgeous books are must-reads.

Zombillenium Vol. 3

Control Freaks

Book Cover
Arthur de Pins
NBM
Hardcover $14.99 (48pp)
978-1-56163-956-4
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Arthur de Pins has crafted another gorgeous addition to the fabulous Zombillenium series. The secret behind the Zombillenium Horror Theme Park is that all of the staff are actually monsters—vampires, werewolves, demons, zombies—forced into an eternity-long contract working for the devil … er, the park. But the mysterious head honcho isn’t pleased with current park revenue and sends in bloodthirsty Jagger to shake things up.

With clever, witty writing and exquisite, imaginative art, the undead have never seemed more human. De Pins has worked in animation, and it shows in all the best ways. The previous two installments are not to be missed, and the fourth and a forthcoming movie are eagerly anticipated.

ALLYCE AMIDON (August 27, 2015)

Junior Braves of the Apocalypse

Book 1: A Brave is Brave

Book Cover
Greg Smith
Michael Tanner
Zach Lehner, illustrator
Oni Press
Softcover $19.99 (211pp)
978-1-62010-144-5
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

When the Junior Braves of Roseland, Washington, a diverse, Boy Scout-like group of preteens and teens, get back from a weeklong wilderness camping trip, they expect to return to video games, caring parents, and relatively easy suburban lives. They don’t expect to return to find the zombie apocalypse has taken over their town. It’ll take all of their courage, resourcefulness, and Junior Brave knowledge to escape the clutches of undead monsters and track down their missing parents. This thrilling adventure will keep readers biting their nails on the edge of their seats, while the black, white, and green tricolor illustrations evocatively portray what sure seems to be the end times.

ALLYCE AMIDON (August 27, 2015)

The Story of My Tits

Book Cover
Jennifer Hayden
Top Shelf Productions
Softcover $29.99 (352pp)
978-1-60309-054-4
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

In this fabulous memoir, Hayden traces her coming of age in terms of her breasts, from flat-chested adolescence to motherhood to breast cancer and a double mastectomy, taking readers full circle into her second life. For a story that cancer twines through (Hayden’s mom and mother-in-law both had cancer as well), it is delightfully hilarious. Hayden has a gift for slowly building up the emotion until you’re crying and then flipping it in the very next panel, so you’re suddenly laughing. Make no mistake, this isn’t just breast-cancer memoir, it’s a true story of growing up: of discovering parents are fallible, of negotiating relationships and dealing with that complicated time when it seems everyone’s getting married and having babies except you, of discovering what it is you want to do with your life. In the epilogue, Hayden is just starting to do comics and worries that she won’t be good enough. Nine years and several comics later, it’s pretty clear she has the right stuff.

ALLYCE AMIDON (August 27, 2015)

Ghetto Brothers

Warrior to Peacemaker

Book Cover
Julian Voloj
Claudia Ahlering, illustrator
NBM
Softcover $12.99 (128pp)
978-1-56163-948-9
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

The best way to stay safe living in the Bronx in the 1960s and ‘70s was to join a gang, which was exactly what Benjamin “Benjy” Melendez, the son of Puerto Rican immigrants, did, eventually forming and running the Ghetto Brothers gang. Voloj traces Benjy’s story, the rising gang violence, and the surprising Hoe Avenue Peace Treaty in a fascinating examination of the events that led to the emergence of Hip Hop. It’s also a personal story of survival, loss, oppression, and reclaiming one’s heritage. Gorgeous black-and-white watercolor illustrations enhance this inspiring true story.

ALLYCE AMIDON (August 27, 2015)

Roses in December

A Story of Love and Alzheimer’s

Book Cover
Tom Batiuk
Chuck Ayers, illustrator
Kent State University Press
Softcover $24.95 (272pp)
978-1-60635-234-2
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Sometimes the best way to deal with a tough topic is through comic form. This collection of Crankshaft comics brings together the long-running strip’s two Alzheimer’s stories: Helen and her husband (Crankshaft’s friend Ralph) and Crankshaft’s neighbors, sisters Lillian and Lucy. Fourteen years of comics delicately trace the progression of Alzheimer’s, from first diagnosis through growing confusion and personality changes, the difficult decision by caregivers to move their loved one to a nursing home, all the way to the inevitable end, eliciting both laughter and tears. With an appendix of resources, this is a wonderful gift for those whose lives have been touched in any way by Alzheimer’s.

ALLYCE AMIDON (August 27, 2015)

Pascin

Book Cover
Joann Sfar
Edward Gauvin, translator
Uncivilized Books
Softcover $24.95 (200pp)
978-0-9846814-7-1
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

This is a whirlwind biography of Jules Pascin, “The Prince of Montparnasse,” a bohemian Jewish artist who lived and worked in France in the 1920s. Various vignettes from his life are portrayed, illuminating Pascin’s voracious sex life (starting at a very young age), his love of alcohol, and his diverse group of friends and companions, encompassing everything from fellow artists to gangsters. Though there are scenes of Pascin drawing and painting, Sfar chooses to focus on Pascin’s relationships, creating a more humanized portrait of the renowned artist. Pascin, and bohemian France of the ‘20s, is truly brought to life in Sfar’s skillful hands.

ALLYCE AMIDON (August 27, 2015)

Allyce Amidon

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