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Spotlight: JOHN CONSTANTINE: HELLBLAZER

Panel excerpt from John Constantine: Hellblazer #1

File under Diehard Offbeat Comics: the latest run from the Sandman Universe under DC Comics Black Label, John Constantine: Hellblazer. Sometimes, you just want something nice and weird…and yet familiar. Look no further than the murky and spooky world of John Constantine. You may, at times, find the narrative a bit loopy and hard to follow but a good yarn with some meat on its bones, and plenty of authenticity, makes up for it. Let’s consider a choice panel from the first issue right above. You are in good hands with writer Simon Spurrier. We can jump over to a sneak preview (Issue 4 out Feb 26) via Spurrier’s Twitter right below:

Cannot wwwwWAIT for you guys to meet Tommy Willowtree in #HELLBLAZER 4 next week. He is quite literally everything John isn’t.

John Constantine is back in London, back to his old tricks—and just in time, as things have become very dark indeed in his old stomping grounds. A small-time gang lord has found himself dealing with a big-time outbreak of supernatural weirdness…and without any allies to call on and nothing left to call his own, John doesn’t have much choice about taking a paycheck from one of London’s worst, or accepting the help of one of the gang lord’s would-be foot soldiers. But what should be an open-and-shut exorcism turns out to be anything but…and the author of this madness may just be getting started on their terrible masterpiece!

HELLBLAZER #1

The original Constantine is back in this series from Si Spurrier (The Dreaming) and Aaron Campbell (Infidel), with nothing to his name but decades of bad memories and an unearned second chance. How, exactly, will he squander it? There’s only one way to find out…

For more details, visit DC Comics right here.

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Book Review: ‘Gunning For Angels’ by C. Mack Lewis

Gunning For Angels by C. Mack Lewis

Some books just sneak up on you and you’re hooked. Such is the case with the crime novel, Gunning For Angels, by C. Mack Lewis. I can easily see Sam Rockwell play the role of private eye Jack Fox. And then there’s his live wire teen daughter, Enid Iglowski. The way these two meet is pretty hilarious and intense. Both of them court danger and trouble which all adds up to finely tuned contemporary pulp fiction. Lewis revels in all the cheap detective tropes and seems to have an endless supply of deliciously melodramatic metaphors.

Lewis has constructed a rollicking story with a touch of noir that revolves around the murder of a local tycoon. Daniel Hargrove had three daughters and each of them is quite different: one has brains, one has gorgeous legs, and the last one is simply strange. The girl with the brains is Eve Hargrove and she hires our hero, private eye Jack Fox, to drop a case started by the girl with the legs, Jeni Hargrove. Each sister is a raving beauty and spins a web that Jack can’t help but get caught in. Then there’s Bud, a seasoned police detective trying to solve the same murder if his family life doesn’t get in the way, including his heart condition. Into all this intrigue, walks in Enid Iglowski, all of sixteen, and ready to bite and claw whoever gets in her way of finding out the truth about her father, the conflicted lover boy, private eye Jack Fox.

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

A good crime thriller ends up placing assorted characters together from different social strata. Think of The Thin Man‘s sophisticated Nick and Nora trying to talk sense to a jaded teen hoodlum. Lewis enjoys those type of interactions as much as any good writer. Take for example a scene that brings together quite a spicy mix all at once. Bud, our senior detective, has been talked into bringing along his son Chip, a classic heartthrob, to observe him do his job. Father and son are in a swank mansion owned by the ultra-sexy Eve, still wet in her swimsuit from a dip in her negative edge pool. Eve is contemplating bedding Chip while Bud is thinking out loud about the teen crush Enid has for Chip. Finally, Eve momentarily flirts with Bud and threatens his heart condition. Fun stuff!

Paper Moon by Peter Bogdanovich

Enjoy this book on many levels, including a first-rate murder mystery and an intriguing dynamic between father and daughter that brings to mind the poignant, and hilarious, pairing of Ryan O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal in Peter Bogdanovich’s 1973 endearing classic film, Paper Moon.  The plot thickens when suddenly fingers point to Enid somehow being accused of murder. This is a yarn that just keeps going! Lewis is definitely having a good time with it and that crosses over for the reader. Lewis is not afraid to shift the action into high gear as the plot sees fit. You just never know what will happen next in this hip and clever noir crime novel set in Phoenix, Arizona.

Gunning For Angels is the first book in a trilogy and you can find it at Amazon right here.

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Review: THE DETECTION CLUB: PART 1 by Jean Harambat

The Detection Club: Part 1 by Jean Harambat

This is one of the most inspired scenarios for a comic that I’ve seen in a while. What if all the great mystery writers of the 193os formed a club–and had amazing adventures? That is exactly what is happening in this totally cool new graphic novel series, The Detection Club, script and art by Jean Harambat, published by Europe Comics. We’re talking about the golden age for mystery writers including G. K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr, and Dorothy L. Sayers. This is from the same brilliant talent who created the spy thriller series graphic novels, Operation Copperhead. If you like crisp and witty humor, then this is for you. And, yes, this book is in English. That’s an essential component of Europe Comics, your home for comics from Europe, translated into English.

The Detection Club page excerpt

First off, you need to know that there really was a Detection Club and it must have been something! Just imagine all of these world-class writers meeting on a regular basis, helping each other out with their craft, and even writing books together under the name of the club itself! I don’t think I was aware of this and, if I was, I’d forgotten. So many years and beers ago, you know. But now I’m fully aware of this fact thanks to this wonderful graphic novel series. So, that is the basis in reality for this series but Harambat takes it much further and places a select bunch of our writer heroes in quite a madcap adventure involving a crime-solving robot who may or may not have just committed murder! So, lots of fun for all ages, even for much older kids at heart such as myself.

Panel excerpt: Our main characters all in row.

I really like to showcase panel art. There are so many reasons to do this. The main reason is to simply get a closer look! This makes sense, just as you would focus on a particular passage in any novel. It gives us a moment to savor the process. What is key about Harambat is that he loves to draw. This is quite evident in the above example. Too many young aspiring cartoonists believe that any scrawl that they produce is priceless. That wrongheaded thinking is much too ingrained in the indie comics community. Yes, there is a place for spontaneity and a loose and sketchy style can be quite legitimate. But look at the dazzling results you get from rigorous  care in the pursuit of refined essentials. Everything reads as very crisp and clear! You want that kind of clarity!

The Detection Club page excerpt

Harambat is an auteur cartoonist who truly loves to write and draw economically. It is a very functional approach that makes it easier to tackle such an ambitious project that involves characters with formidable back-stories. We’re talking about some of the greatest popular writers of all time–either intimately known by readers or at least recognized to some degree. There are expectations already in place. Many readers coming to this graphic novel already have some notion as to who Agatha Christie was and expect someone unusual and clever–and will expect the same from her contemporaries. Any reader attracted to this book is already curious about the world of mystery and crime fiction and related matters. Harambat is there to deliver on all counts: he fills in the blanks, connects the dots, and thoroughly entertains. All the characters are drawn in a direct and clear way, easy to keep track of, easy to relate with. Then you bring in the villain, an eccentric billionaire living on some secluded tropical island with a huge robot at the center of a murder mystery. Bingo! What a premise to kick off this series!

The Detection Club: Part 1 is an 86-page book, available in digital format on various platforms. For more details, visit Europe Comics, your home for all European comics, all digital, all in English.

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Angoulême 2020: Emmanuel Guibert and Other Notable Winners

Emmanuel Guibert

ANGOULÊME FESTIVAL – The 47th annual Angoulême International Comics Festival took place January 30 thru February 2, 2020. Arguably, it is the most artful and significant of all comics festivals. It is, without a doubt, on many a serious cartoonist’s bucket list simply to attend. The Grand Prize of the Angoulême International Comic Book Festival (Fibd), which rewards an author each year for all of his work, was awarded to Frenchman Emmanuel Guibert. Other awards presented this year demonstrate the scope and breadth of comics of the highest quality. The Grand Prize of the City of Angoulême, awarded on the eve of the comics festival, is one of the highest distinctions for a comic book author. This prize is awarded following a vote by the community of professional comics authors published in French, regardless of their nationality. Emmanuel Guibert, screenwriter of Ariol and author of Space sardine, succeeds Japanese winner Rumiko Takahashi last year. The Angoulême International Comics Festival is the second largest comics festival in Europe after the Lucca Comics & Games in Italy, and the third biggest in the world after Lucca Comics & Games and the Comiket of Japan. It has occurred every year since 1974 in Angoulême, France, in January.

Emmanuel Guibert wins Grand Prix 2020

The following is a beautiful description from the Angoulême festival site of the career of Emmanuel Guibert, the winner of the Grand Prix for 2020:

After the American Richard Corben in 2018 and the mangaka Rumiko Takahashi last year, the Frenchman Emmanuel Guibert is elected Grand Prix of the 47th International Comic Book Festival of Angoulême, after a vote which brought together 1852 authors and comic book authors. With Emmanuel Guibert, it is a masterful author with an exemplary career who is today rewarded. Born in 1964 in Paris, Emmanuel Guibert began his career in comics with Brune , a work on the rise of Nazism in a hyper-realistic style which he quickly abandoned. The album, which it took seven years to produce, appeared in 1992. Frequenting the authors of the very young publishing house L’Association, he began to publish stories in the review Lapin , and joined the atelier des Vosges alongside notably Emile Bravo, Christophe Blain and Joann Sfar. On a script by the latter, he drew The teacher’s daughter , Alph’art coup de coeur and Prix René Goscinny at the Angoulême Festival in 1998. Emmanuel Guibert implemented a sepia drawing, sensitive and flexible, in a graphic style that he continues to shape in The Scarlet Captain with David B. in script (2000). Always with Joann Sfar, he began in 2000 the children’s series Sardine from space, of which he first wrote the screenplay before also ensuring the drawing. He gives free rein to his imagination and develops his formidable talent as a storyteller. From 2001 he drew the series Black Olives (3 volumes) on a little Jewish boy in Judea 2000 years ago, again with Joann Sfar in the script.

At the turn of the 2000s, Emmanuel Guibert began publishing an ambitious and long-term project, a series of albums inspired by the memories of his American friend Alan Ingram Cope, La Guerre d’Alan (three volumes from 2000 to 2008 ), Alan’s childhood (2012), Martha and Alan (2016). With his elegant and restrained line, of great technique, Emmanuel Guibert excels at staging Alan’s life, exposing the intimate with subtle modesty. This magnificent work of memory smuggler continues in The Photographer (three volumes from 2003 to 2006), inspired by memories and photos brought back from trips to Afghanistan with Doctors without Borders by photojournalist Didier Lefèvre. Here, photos and drawings complement and merge, to better fix time and memories. The Photographer will be rewarded around the world with the Prix Essentiel d’Angoulême in 2007, the Eisner Award for the best American edition of an international work and the Micheluzzi Prize for the best foreign series in 2010.

In Alan as in The Photographer , Emmanuel Guibert, by his virtuoso gesture and his technique, sublimates the intimate and the everyday, magnifies the innocent and the passing of time, and above all, unconditionally places the human at the heart of his stories. An interest in the other that can be found both in Alain’s news , a book on Roma communities in Europe produced with Alain Keler, and in the irresistible series for young people Ariol which he created in 2000 with Marc Boutavant at the drawing. There, under the cover of telling the adventures of a small anthropomorphic donkey, he explores modern life and everyday life as a child, appealing to his own memories. Emmanuel Guibert received the René Goscinny Prize in 2017 for all of his work.

The Grand Prix crowns a complete author, innovative designer and unparalleled narrator, whose work for adults and children is imbued with the greatest humanity.

Angouleme Palmares 2020

There is an essential list of eleven awards at Angouleme that provide a window into the wide and wondrous world of alternative comics. After all these years, many a talking head is still chattering away about the boom in arthouse comics and, sure, that is all well in good insomuch as it helps spread the word. After all these years, the playing field on the pop culture landscape is pretty far flung and spread out. We now have wave after wave of specialized “comics journalists” out there taking the pulse of the comics scene, many of who have never attempted to write or draw a comic of their own, have limited knowledge, and who are more ready than anything to espouse a hasty theory or proclamation about the comics medium. Well, that brings us back to the reality of a platform such as Angouleme where work has gone through a fairly rigorous vetting process. Hey, the process is subjective on many levels but quality work usually manages to rise to the top that is worth discussing and has a chance of holding up to the test of time. That is why a list of Angouleme award winners rates taking notice. Here is my own enhanced presentation that I cobbled together by making liberal use of the live Twitter feed by 20 Minutes:

Fauve d’Or for the best album: “Révolution” tome 1, by Florent Grouazel and Younn Locard

(Prize which rewards the best album of the year, regardless of genre, style or geographic origin)

Revolution

(Live Tweet) Ceremony of the Fauves – The Fauve d’or for the best album is awarded to Florent Grouazel and Younn Locard for “Revolution – Tome 1 Liberté” by Actes Sud / L’An 2 # FIBD2020 # BD2020 #BD #Angouleme # FIBD @ActesSud pic.twitter.com/NiJSS37IVX

– Festival d’Angoulême (@bdangouleme) February 1, 2020
The first part of this choral story focuses on the year 1789 and blows the wind of the Revolution in the street. This titanic project, expertly documented, was carried out by four hands by two young authors who retrace the revolutionary period in a resplendent graphic bubbling, inspired by the imagery of the time.

20 Minutes’ opinion: Telling the French Revolution of 1789 in just over 1000 pages is a very ambitious project, especially on the part of such young authors (the Breton Florent Grouazel is 32 years old and the Norman Younn Locard is 35 ). The value does not wait for the number of years, the first volume of “Revolution” is a total success, with dynamic and captivating narration (and choir, since we witness events through the eyes of three characters) and striking graphics of realism. Hyper-documented, demanding, their work has made, since its release, a critical and public unanimity. At 20 Minutes, we appreciated it so much that we rarely consider Fauve d’Or for the best album to have been so indisputable.

Révolution tome 1, by F. Grouazel & Y. Locard – Actes Sud / L’An 2 editions – 26 euros

Clyde Fans

Fauve Special Jury Prize: “Clyde Fans”, by Seth

(Prize given to a work which particularly marked the jury by its narration, its aesthetics and / or the themes addressed)

(Live Tweet) Ceremony of the Fauves – The special Fauve of the jury is awarded to “Clyde Fans” of Seth, published by @DelcourtBD # FIBD2020 # BD2020 #BD #Angouleme #FIBD pic.twitter.com/6FajrXrFUV

– Festival d’Angoulême (@bdangouleme) February 1, 2020Fruit of a work started twenty years ago, “Clyde Fans” tells the story of two brothers who inherited their father’s business after he abandoned them. The Canadian Seth, whose elegant graphics are imbued with a touch of nostalgia, is second to none to tell intimate stories that touch on the universal of the human condition.

Clyde Fans , de Seth – Delcourt editions – 49.90 euros

Lucarne

Fawn Revelation: “Skylight”, by Joe Kessler

(Prize awarded to the album of an author or an author at the start of their career who has professionally published a maximum of three books)

(Live Tweet) Ceremony of the Fauves – The Fauve Révélation is awarded to “Lucarne” by Joe Kessler, at @lassociation

# FIBD2020 # BD2020 #BD #Angouleme #FIBD pic.twitter.com/rPehVKGr62

– Festival d’Angoulême (@bdangouleme) February 1, 2020These five short stories impregnated with strong colors translate the most intimate sensations of the characters. A singular graphic and narrative experience, signed by the artistic director of the English publisher Breakdown Press, to express fear, pleasure or smells, supported by a hypnotic narration and an original vision of the world.

Skylight , by J. Kessler – Éditions L’Association 2 0 euros

In the Abyss of Time

Fawn from the series: “In the Abyss of Time”, by Gou Tanabe

(Prize which honors a work in four or more volumes, regardless of the number of volumes in total)

(Live Tweet) Ceremony of the Fauves – The Fauve of the series is awarded to “Dans l’Abîme du temps” by Gou Tanabe and HP Lovecraft at @ki_oon_Editions # FIBD2020 # BD2020 #BD #Angouleme #FIBD #Fauve pic.twitter.com / dXJgZDsjF7

– Festival d’Angoulême (@bdangouleme) February 1, 2020After The Hallucinated Mountains, Gou Tanabe continues his adaptation of the novels of the master of horror, HP Lovecraft. Leaving Antarctica for the Australian desert, with a black line of oppressive realism, the mangaka draws the inexpressible and gives body to this nightmarish SF masterpiece that combines a journey through time and a terrifying transfer of personality.

In the Abyss of Time , by Gou Tanabe (after HP Lovecraft) – Ki-Oon editions – 17 euros

Act of God

Fawn of Audacity: “Act of God”, by Giacomo Nanni

(Prize which rewards experimentation and formal innovation through an album with an inventive and innovative graphic style, using all the possibilities of comics to better push its boundaries)

(Live Tweet) Ceremony of the Beasts – The Beast of Boldness is awarded to Giacomo Nanni for “Act of God” by Here Same editions

# FIBD2020 # BD2020 #BD #Angouleme #FIBD @_icimeme pic.twitter.com/SnaUklWi1V

– Festival d’Angoulême (@bdangouleme) February 1, 2020On August 24, 2016, in Italy, an earthquake killed 298 people and left nearly 400 injured. Giacomo Nanni traps the moment in a choral tale that makes the mountains speak, lingers on a stray deer in front of a supermarket and tracks the unicorn in the viewfinder of two hunters. His pantheistic ode confronts man with nature and creation with chaos, in a pointillist and dazzling graphic magma.

Act of God , by G. Nanni – editions Ici même – 19.50 euros

The Green Hand and Other Stories

Fauve Patrimoine: “The green hand and other stories”, by Nicole Claveloux and Édith Zha

(Prize rewarding a work which is part of the world history of the 9th art and whose edition, re-edition or the integral offers a particularly neat editorial work)

Live Tweet) Ceremony of the Fauves – The Fauve du Patrimoine is awarded to “La Main Verte et autres récits” by Nicole Claveloux and Edith Zha at @ed_cornelius
# FIBD2020 # BD2020 #BD #Angouleme #FIBD pic.twitter.com/hVFmYwIy6d

– Festival d’Angoulême (@bdangouleme) February 1, 2020First volume of an anthology dedicated to Nicole Claveloux, painter, youth illustrator and cartoonist, passed by the magazines Métal Hurlant and Ah! Nana .Collection of poetic stories enhanced with flamboyant colors, “The Green Hand” describes an absurd and funny world in which reality plays hide and seek with reason.

Note that Nicole Claveloux received a Fauve d’honneur during the official Fauves award ceremony, Saturday, February 1, 2020.

Standing ovation for Nicole Claveloux who receives a Fauve d’honneur at @bdangouleme #Fauves # FIBD2020 # BD2020 pic.twitter.com/E4HhBMGfJy

– see read (@ see read) February 1, 2020The Green Hand and other stories , by N. Claveloux & E. Zha Cornelius editions – 23.50 euros

La Saison des Roses

Fauve Audience Award France TV: “Saison des roses”, by Chloé Wary

(Prize awarded by a jury of nine spectators from France Télévision)

(Live Tweet) Ceremony of the Fauves – The Fauve Audience Award France Télévisions is awarded to Chloé Wary for “La Saison des roses” at @editionsFLBLB @Francetele # FIBD2020 # BD2020 #BD #Angouleme #FIBD pic.twitter.com/PYdKw1x8Px

– Festival d’Angoulême (@bdangouleme) February 1, 2020Barbara passes the bac. She lives with her mother in the ordinary suburb of Rosigny-sous-Bois and lives only for her football club. But this year, the leaders decided to favor the men’s team, preventing the players from registering for the championship. With her markers, Chloé Wary puts her bright colors at the service of the story, to salute the team’s commitment to the collective field of football and the feminist struggle.

Saison des roses , by Chloé Wary Flblb editions – 2 3 euros

No Direction

Fauve Polar SNCF: “No Direction”, by Emmanuel Moynot

(Prize awarded by a jury of personalities)

(Live Tweet) The Fauve Polar #SNCF is awarded to “No Direction” by Emmanuel Moynot at Sarbacane editions @ SNCF # FIBD2020 # BD2020 #BD #Angouleme #FIBD @ESarbacane pic.twitter.com/QrpG938GRx

– Festival d’Angoulême (@bdangouleme) February 1, 2020In this paper road movie in the form of a choral narrative, Moynot follows two serial killers in their mad race across America, like a filmmaker filming on the shoulder. Bloody and hopeless epic, doomed to failure and violence, “No Direction” is a human comedy in twenty chapters that strike the reader in the stomach like so many punches.

No Direction , by Emmanuel Moynot Sarbacane editions – 2 4 euros

Komikaze

Fawn of alternative comics: “ Komikaze (collective – Croatia)

(Prize rewards the best non-professional publication, chosen from around thirty non-professional productions and coming from any geographic origin)

(Live Tweet) The price for alternative comics is given to Komikaze # 18 # FIBD2020 # BD2020 #BD #Angouleme #FIBD pic.twitter.com/ncmmty1HHw

– Festival d’Angoulême (@bdangouleme) February 1, 2020https://komikaze.hr

  • Culture
  • Angoulême Festival
  • Manga
  • BD
  • Literary prize
  • Palmares

Source: 20minf

Not included in this Twitter collection but just as worthy are two more titles…

Le Tigre de Neiges

The Youth Awards Adults Prize: Le Tigre de Neiges by Akiko Higashimura.

Les Vermeilles

The Youth Prize: Les Vermeilles by Camille Jourdy.

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Review: APOCALYPTIGIRL: AN ARIA FOR THE END TIMES by Andrew MacLean

APOCALYPTIGIRL: AN ARIA FOR THE END TIMES

Sometimes, a work of comics takes on a life of its own, irrespective of its creators and anything else. I think that’s what makes ApocalyptiGirl so appealing. This is a second edition of Andrew MacLean’s whipsmart comics, published by Dark Horse Comics. Now, a regular reader of comics needs a very good reason to keep turning the page and this loopy and hip dystopian comic does the trick. A lot of comics fall into traps, like trying to be too clever or explaining too much and often turn out to just be boring. ApocalyptiGirl is not boring. It is the opposite of boring: fun, engaging, a live wire act of comics!

APOCALYPTIGIRL: AN ARIA FOR THE END TIMES

This is the story of Aria, a lanky young woman and her pet cat, Jelly Beans, living in a series of abandoned subway cars and surviving some post-apocalypse mess of some kind. I don’t really care what kind and neither do you. We’ve had too many post-apocalypse scenarios so we simply accept the premise and move on. It’s smart to do so. Either you have some really compelling reason for everything having blown up to bits or you accept it and focus on your main character. Aria and Jelly Beans are fun to see move around and do things. The whole comic has a very pleasing look about it: fine crisp linework, nicely balanced and dynamic colors, strong composition all the better to keep your eyes moving along.

ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times, originally published in 2015, is available in a second edition hardcover, with bonus material, releasing on March 4, 2020. For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

 

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Review: ALWAYS GOODBYE by Ray Hecht

Always Goodbye by Ray Hecht

Always Goodbye by Ray Hecht. 88 pages. TWG Press, 2019, paperback, $5.99.

With great insight and humor, Ray Hecht shares his life with the reader in his autobiographical graphic novel, Always Goodbye. This is an ambitious work as Hecht takes stock of his whole life thus far. Hecht sums up his life, year by year, and he’s up to the challenge. He’s definitely an interesting subject: an artist, filmmaker, journalist, and author. What he’s doing here is giving the reader a window into what he’s done all his life: traveling, observing, and creating art. Like the results of a conversation between good friends, this graphic novel provides many gifts.

circa 1990

The theme of the book is found in the title. While traveling can be enlightening and full of adventure, it often comes at a price. And, of course, all travel is not completely voluntary. A lot of the nuts and bolts of travel are not glamorous and bring in a whole lot of issues including the trauma of displacement.

circa 2012

No doubt, Ray Hecht is doing exciting work with comics, both as a creator as well as an instructor. And he certainly has a wonderful track record of prose novels, including South China Morning Blues and The Ghost of Lotus Mountain Brothel. Hecht is an artist down to his bones and I definitely relate to that. Hecht has harnessed a creative drive that’s led to compelling work. Anyone interested in the inner life of an artist will get a lot out of his latest book. If you enjoy a hearty work of autobiography, this will appeal to you. Hecht’s comics have got enough of that quirk factor that earns him a place within that fine tradition of auto-bio comics that includes such luminaries as John Porcellino, Tom Hart, and Lynda Barry.

Always Goodbye is published by TWG Press and available right here.

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Review: ‘Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children’

Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children

Last June was the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. This year we observe 75 years since the liberation of the Nazi death camps beginning with the Soviet Army’s 322nd Rifle Division entering the concentration camp at Auschwitz. One book that helps young readers understand these events from the perspective of children has recently been published by Sourcebooks entitled, Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children. What is striking about this book is how accessible it is through its honesty and specificity.

Stepping into history, at the start of the Second World War.

It is understandable if you might think the subject of the Holocaust is too much for a young reader but this book finds a way that honors young readers ages 10 and up. It is as if a thoughtful grandparent is telling their story. Each vignette is told my a real survivor in terms that inform and enlighten. The layout is inviting. The characters are engaging. The stories are revealing as with any good reportage. These are stories of the displacement and survival of Jewish children and young people amid the backdrop of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party’s persecution of millions of Jews across Europe between 1933 and 1945.

A growing international crisis.

Because these are stories told by individuals, you get very specific points of view. For example, the reader is there with Ruth as her family manages to escape from Germany to England and she hears the official start to the war on the railroad intercom. Or, another example is Martin and his family, along with other Jewish families, who are rounded up by the Nazis. In order to avoid crossing into Poland and triggering an international conflict, the Nazis force Jewish families to walk along the railroad tracks that separate the borders. That strategy works, at least for a while. Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children is an essential book for young readers interested in better understanding one of the most tragic events in modern history. For more details, and how to purchase, visit Sourcebooks right here.

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Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, March 12-15, 2020

Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment at Emerald City Comic Con

Emerald City Comic Con is the premier comic book and pop culture convention in the Pacific Northwest. ECCC is the place to be in Seattle, held at the Washington State Convention Center, March 12-15, 2020. Tickets are available here. ECCC presents a top ten list highlighting reasons to attend:

ECCC tickets are available here.

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Sketchnotes: Senate Trial 23 Jan 2020: Donald Trump vs. Val Demings

A split-screen of Demings and Trump.

A highlight from today: presentation by house manager, and retired law enforcement officer, Rep. Val Demings. She focused on the machinations of Rudy Giuliani as he worked to pressure Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelensky to announce Biden investigations. At one point during the NBC News broadcast coverage, there was a split-screen of Demings and Trump arriving in Miami for one of his rallies. What is particularly interesting about this moment is that there is talk of Demings as the vice presidential running mate for the Democratic ticket in 2020. Demings, by the way, is from Florida, a most consequential state come election time. Ironically, Trump was heading to Miami during the Demings presentation.

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Review: SPRING RAIN by Andy Warner

SPRING RAIN

Spring Rain by Andy Warner. St. Martin’s Press. 2020. 202 pages. $19.99.

The Arab Spring began nearly a decade ago. Graphic artist Andy Warner recalls the predawn of revolution, Lebanon in 2005, in his new graphic memoir. In the span of little over a season, about five months, Warner seems to live a lifetime of experiences during his brief study abroad in Beirut at the age of 21. In his book, Warner sheds away any inhibitions and provides the reader with a confessional tale. This is Warner’s coming-of-age story amid a surreal worn-torn landscape. Anything goes. Sex. Drugs. Anything. To his credit, Warner navigates through all the rough terrain with compelling results.

As much as we might think we know about the Middle East, it’s clear that we don’t know enough. Warner is sensitive to this fact and carefully lays out people, places, and events. Simply for the sake of gaining insight into the region, this book is essential for any age. Through Warner’s adventures, including a mix of backgrounds (students, LGBTQ, foreigners and Lebanese), the reader becomes acquainted with a vibrant and multicultural Beirut. The reader gets a firsthand account of the dynamics at play in the aftermath of the assassination of a Lebanese icon, the tycoon, Rafik Hariri. He swindled billions and created luxury estates. But he also created schools, hospitals, and, perhaps most important, he provided a symbol of hope. Legends, just like memory itself, can be complicated and messy.

Page excerpt from SPRING RAIN

Warner shares as much as he can about his own memories and struggles with mental health, particularly during those intense months in Beirut filled with protests, bombings, and self-discovery. If you read only one graphic novel this year, you would do well to pick this one up. Warner proves to be a reliable and trustworthy narrator and guides the reader on many levels, including the often daunting creative process. Warner’s artwork is an appealing combination of semi-realism and cartoony. It is cartoonists like Andy Warner who rise to the occasion and live up to the potential of the comics medium. In doing so, Warner and other great cartoonists contribute to greater understanding of, and empathy for, the world at large.

Spring Rain is available as of January 28, 2020.

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