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Staff Picks: Shipping in September
Article by Bookshelf Comics Staff
Posted June 30, 2005

It's not easy wading through the huge Previews catalog each month. It seems that every time the publishers release their solicitations, there are more and more great graphic novels to choose from. Well, for the first time in an ongoing feature, the Bookshelf Comics staff is here to help. Below are our picks or best bets for original graphic novels and collected editions hitting the comic shop shelves in September.

Kerry Garvin's Picks
Cravan cover image My birthday falls in October, so I love looking at Diamond Previews this time of year to see all the autumn releases. This way I can let my friends know what books I might want. Far be it from me to get in the way of my friends buying me good presents. I’m just trying to be helpful. Flipping through Previews this month, two books piqued my interest, Cravan and The Quitter.

Cravan, a hardcover from Dark Horse, is by Mike Richardson and Rick Geary. It’s the true story of Arthur Cravan, a mysterious man from the early 20th Century. Cravan, a con-artist, is also known as a boxer, artist, poet, and writer. He bounces from job to job and con to con while maintaining a friendship with Leon Trotsky and a marriage to poet Mina Loy. Eventually, Cravan disappears in a veil of mystery never to be heard from again. The story sounds intensely interesting and I’m surprised there isn’t a movie about him. If just learning about him wasn’t enough, enjoying Geary’s art will also be a treat.

Quitter cover imageOnto a more serious book from Vertigo, The Quitter, by Harvey Pekar. This time, with the aid of artist Dean Haspiel, Pekar tackles his teen years and explores how and why he became a quitter. If Pekar wasn’t performing at the top of his game, he gave up. Activities he quit include the football team, the navy, and work. This frustrating feeling of quitting is something I can relate to and I’m looking forward to Pekar’s take on it. He has used his sense of humor to get through more serious matters, so I’m sure it will succeed here as well.

Cravan is slated for release on October 23 and The Quitter should be out October 5. Those would make both convenient and excellent birthday presents if you happen to be shopping for my special day.

David E. Miller's Picks
Sleeper Vol. 4 cover imageI am definitely looking forward to getting my hands on Sleeper Book Four: The Long Way Home. If you haven’t heard of this series or you have only read Season 1, then now is your chance to read through Season 2. If you enjoyed the first and are hesitant that the second half won’t measure up, rest assured, this one is just as good. These volumes go together like a chocolate and vanilla swirl soft-serve ice cream cone on a sweltering summer day. And you’ll find yourself just as anxious to finish it!

This was a fantastic limited series that hopefully will not be forgotten. The series was two seasons and twenty-four issues of pulse-pounding intrigue with multiple back-stabbings at every turn. Brubaker wrote himself into many corners and it was undeniably satisfying to see him conclude brilliantly. This series, like 100 Bullets, was enjoyable to read in single issues, but really needs to be read in trade form to be appreciated. The plot was quite dense and I know I missed a few things the first time around. I can think of few better ways to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than to go back and now be able to read all four volumes all of the way through.

Quitter cover imageI have no idea what to expect from The Quitter, but if past works are any indication, then this is going to be a really insightful and interesting read. I have read most of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor stories which were reprinted in trades. The quality of the stories were inconsistent, but the great ones were really powerful. Pekar is the closest thing to Bukowski that we are going to get in comics, and it’s a true testament to the genre that there is room for him. He is raw and honest and is somehow able to make his mundane life interesting to read. This story appears to have more noticeable aggression than his American Splendor stories and I’m interested to read about a few of the scuffles Pekar gets himself into with his fists. If you have read some of his stories, than you can probably imagine what this story is going to be like, but even if you haven’t, this is probably going to be really worthwhile read.

James W. Powell's Picks
Tarzan: The Joe Kubert Years cover imageSeptember looks to be a great but expensive month for graphic novel fans. I found it very difficult to narrow down my selections to only two. Yet even though I'm eager to see the Sleeper finale and the second arc in Ex Machina get collected (not to mention the second volume of Black Forest), I have to give the nod to a classic and a new kid on the block.

My first pick goes to the Tarzan: The Joe Kurbert Years Vol. 1 hardcover from Dark Horse. I'm a huge Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, but I'm afraid to say I've never read Tarzan in comic format. Plus, I'm excited to see these old Kubert tales reprinted by Dark Horse, a publisher who always seems to do a great job with their classic reprints. Collected in this edition are the first DC Tarzan comics after they acquired the rights from Gold Key in the early 1970s (issues 207-215). One of the stories is the "Origin of the Ape Man." Being familiar with the origin story from the Burroughs novels, I'm thrilled to get a chance to see writer and artist Will You Still Love Me cover imageKubert's rendition of the tale. But for a cover price of $49.95, I'm hoping we get more than just some reprints. Sure, the book promises an introduction by Kubert, but I'm still hoping that we get at least some character sketches. (Note that this book actually ships in October.)

My second pick goes to Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? based pretty much solely on the solicitation. I'm not familiar with Liz Prince's work, but if you do a web search you'll find plenty of her web comics. I like the frenzied, cartoony art. It reminds me of Jeffrey Brown's style. Actually, so does the autobiographical nature of the story, which features short vignettes about the ups and downs of Prince's romantic relationships. While I certainly like my share of violent or action-filled books that are prevalent on the market these days, I'm a sucker for cute romantic comedies. And for a mere $7, I don't think you can go wrong with this one.

Christopher J. Shelton's Picks
Favole cover imageI’m a sucker for great art in the graphic novels I buy, and this month’s Previews showed me I’ll have a lot to choose from in September and October.

In the spirit of that addiction to great art, my first pick is Favole: Stone Tears Book 1 , from Dark Horse Comics. Favole, beautifully illustrated by up-and-coming artist Victoria Frances, first appeared overseas in Spain on April 23rd of this year. The book, also written by Frances, has a gothic romantic fantasy feel and will hit the shelves in the United States on October 12th. The art is in the vein of illustrators like Alex Ross and Luis Royo. I’d be shocked if Marvel or DC didn’t try to snatch Frances up so she could work her magic for their books. In addition to great art, Favole also contains another thing I’m a sucker for, and that’s tales of vampires and magic. I’ve read most of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair witch stories, and I’m anxious to see Frances’ spin on the supernatural world.

The Silence cover imageThe art world is touched on in my second pick, The Silence, from Image Comics, written and illustrated by Bruce Mutard. The art in The Silence is not as beautiful as the art in Favole, but it is very good and reminded me of Pia Guerra’s art from Y: The Last Man, art which is simple but not lacking. I’ve enjoyed all of Guerra’s work and I’m sure I’ll feel the same about Mutard’s The Silence. The 112-page black-and-white graphic novel tells the story of art gallery manager, Choosy McBride and her partner Dmitri, a painter, as they track down an artist whose work contains a great power. The story sounds interesting, somewhat Twilight Zonish. The Silence comes out September 14th and will leave you thinking about art, philosophy, God, and love. I’m a sucker for all four.

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