ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Ross Murray

ComicFest is back for 2019! On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 to 4 of May at the National Library there will be panels, talks and workshops all day long for comic-lovers of all ages. You can also pick up a free comic from us on May the 4th and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! For full programme click here and follow our updates on our Facebook event.

First up on the blog we have an interview with Ross Murray, an illustrator and comics maker from the Bay of Plenty. His comics ‘Strange Tales From Summer Bay’ and ’Star Wars 90210’ have appeared in VICE and his first graphic novel, ‘Rufus Marigold’, was published in 2019. See more of his work at www.rossmurray.com
Ross Murray appears at ComicFest with the support of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive

 

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: Growing up in rural New Zealand in the 1980s, the number of comics that were widely available was very small. Of those, Asterix made the biggest impression. There was something simple and utopian about that small Gaulish village that I still dream of today. I was also an avid reader of the Woman’s Weekly and for awhile they excerpted Star Wars comics within. They had a pink border and I still remember the crushing disappointment I felt when they stopped printing them.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I arrive at my studio at about 9am after dropping my kids at school. Usually I’ll start with any emailing I need to do, then waste some time on the internet before I start work. To ensure the aforementioned children don’t starve, this will usually involve some form of commercial project – stuff for advertising, publishing, packaging, whatever. In between these jobs or during them when I’m waiting to hear back from clients is when I make comics and personal work. I usually work until 4:30-5pmish but I often end up doing a little more after everyone else has gone to bed, squinting at my laptop until late in the evening and making valuable ground on my path to complete blindness.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: This year saw the launch of the collected and extended edition of ‘Rufus Marigold’, published by Earth’s End. ‘Rufus’ was originally a webcomic I made in 2016 but I received a grant from Creative New Zealand last year to expand it into a book. The launch in February doubled as an opening for an exhibition of book-related artwork so I spent time over summer working on material for that which included drawings, paintings and screenprints. It was a lot of work but a really fun experience. I even came close to breaking even which feels like an epic victory.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I usually start with choosing something to listen to while I work. Depending on the task at hand, it’ll either be some kind of music or a podcast. I’m helplessly addicted to American political podcasts. The age of Trump is so distressing and I find some comfort in listening to reports on the resistance and to the sound of the gears of justice grinding ever closer to everyone responsible for that big orange stain. But often it just makes me feel even more depressed. I make myself a plunger of coffee at 10:30am on the dot. I’ll take some kind of break at about 1pm and either walk up Mauao (Mount Maunganui) or go for a swim. Sometimes both. But never at once.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: Other artists telling deeply personal stories. Those who use their art to share something vital about themselves. David Foster Wallace, David Bowie, David Lynch. Basically, people named David.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: There are way too many to name but here are a few: Karl Wills, Dylan Horrocks, Sarah Laing, Ant Sang, Mat Tait, Alex Cara, Zoë Colling, Theo McDonald, the late great Barry Linton, Anthony Ellison, Toby Morris, Rachel Smythe, Jem Yoshioka, Ned Wenlock, Ralphi, the awesome Team 3000 Press. Aotearoa has so many wonderful creators.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: Perhaps a one-man anthology? Something with extremely wide parameters and space for experimentation across different genres and different types of storytelling. Artistically I like to work across a range of styles too so something like this seems like it would be fun.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I guess I’m excited about sharing ‘Rufus Marigold’. In the book, Rufus feels conflicting impulses about sharing his own art and I do too! But every creator knows the thrill of showing something you’ve made to others so I’m hoping that thrill will prevail over wanting to hide in a corner!

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Rusty Brown.

You can find Ross online in the following places:
Instagram: @rossmurrayillustration
Blog/Website: www.rossmurray.com

Talent filled graphic novels

The graphic novels collection has some great new and classic reprints appearing on the shelves. The complete collection of the cyberpunk manga classic Battle Angel Alita contrasts the gritty Japanese world of Tado Tsuge in Slum WolfYoung warriors also feature in Wood and Chater’s Sword daughter, where brutality brings a father and daughter to gritty resolve.  

More translated work features the talented French graphic novelist Edmond Baudoin’s childhood, in his visually eclectic memoir named for his brother, Piero. Also translated from French is Watersnakes by Tony Sandoval. This beautifully illustrated tale is a dark fantasy of female warriors magically residing in the teeth of a beautiful ghost who bewitches a young bored holiday maker, it gets weirder, with dream battles with skeletal wolves and an ancient octopus king. But beautiful! So beautiful!

A twist on Fables, the emotional journey in Wolf, and all the back story you could wish for in the first installation of Dirk Gently’s the Salmon of doubt round off this selection of our new adult comics.

Slum wolf / Tsuge, Tadao
“A gritty collection of graphic short stories by a Japanese manga master depicting life on the streets among punks, gangsters, and vagrants. Though virtually unknown in the United States, Tadao Tsuge is one of the original masters of alternative manga, and one of the world’s great artists of the down-and-out. Never before available in English, this new selection of his stories from the late sixties and the seventies depicts the lives of punks, vagrants, gangsters, and other lost souls with gritty lyricism. It is a raucous, exhilarating vision of street brawls and dive bars, shantytowns and brothels, and an unsettling portrait of postwar Japan” (Catalogue)

Sword Daughter. Volume 1, She brightly burns / Wood, Brian
“A father and daughter seek revenge against the ruthless Vikings that destroyed their lives, discovering that their fierce purpose can mend the bonds of family. One thousand years ago, a murderous clan known as the Forty Swords burned a village to the ground, leaving just two people alive: a shattered father and his teenage daughter. Setting off on a revenge quest that will span the width of Viking Age Europe, they find the key to repairing their damaged relationship lies in the swords they carry. Sword Daughter is a visually stunning, emotionally poignant story of parental guilt and acceptance of loss.” (Catalogue)

Piero / Baudoin, Edmond
“This English translation of Edmond Baudoin’s most intimate and inviting book, his graphic memoir of growing up with his beloved brother, Piero.  They confront Martians, battle octopuses, stage epic battles between medieval castles, and fly high over the earth. Inevitably, they begin to grow apart, and their shared artistic life is replaced by schoolwork, romance, dances, motorcycles, and the struggle to decide what sort of people they want to be.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Battle Angel Alita. Deluxe edition, volume 1 / Kishiro, Yukito
In a dump in the lawless settlement of Scrapyard, far beneath the mysterious space city of Zalem, disgraced cyber-doctor Daisuke Ido makes a strange find: the detached head of a cyborg woman who has lost all her memories. He names her Alita and equips her with a powerful new body, the Berserker. While Alita remembers no details of her former life, a moment of desperation reawakens in her nerves the legendary school of martial arts known as Panzer Kunst. (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Fables [13] : the great Fables crossover / Willingham, Bill
The Great Fables Crossover features appearances from Fables favorites such as Snow White, Bigby Wolf, Rose Red, Jack Frost, Beauty and The Beast. All nine issues of the long awaited crossover between Vertigo’s two popular series Fables and Jack of Fables are collected here.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Watersnakes / Sandoval, Tony
Three-time Eisner Award-nominated writer/artist Tony Sandoval presents a wondrous world of secret places and dreamlike magic hidden in the everyday corners of our sleeping imagination. Mila is a solitary teenager ready to put another boring summer vacation behind her until she meets Agnes, an adventurous girl who turns out to be a ghost. And not just a regular ghost, but one carrying the essence of an ancient fallen king and a mouth full of teeth that used to be his guardian warriors.” (Catalogue)

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency : the salmon of doubt. Volume 1 / David, Arvind Ethan
“Dirk Gently, created by Douglas Adams and currently the star of his own television series from BBC America returns to comics in The Salmon of Doubt, brought to you by executive producers of the show Arvind Ethan David and Max Landis with artist Ilias Kyriazis. Plagued by nightmares about a childhood he never had, Dirk returns to Cambridge University to seek the advice of his former tutor, the time-traveling Professor Reg Chronotis. There he discovers that an holistic detective can have more than one past, and his adventures have only just begun!” (Catalogue)

Wolf / Ball, Rachael
“Hugo, the youngest child of three, is walking with his father in the woods. There, he comes face-to-face with a wolf–and from that moment on, his life will never be the same again. Soon after, a tragic accident leaves Hugo desolate and disoriented. The family, now grieving and incomplete, moves to a new home. Among Hugo’s new neighbors is the Wolf Man, a dangerous recluse, according to the boy next door. Spellbound by the movie The Time Machine and desperate to return to the days before the accident, Hugo draws up plans to build a contraption that will turn back time. But only the Wolf Man has the parts Hugo needs to complete his machine, and that will mean entering his sinister neighbor’s house. Beautifully illustrated in pencil, Wolf is a captivating and poignant graphic novel about confronting childhood grief and overcoming the loss of a loved one.” (Catalogue)

Contemporary graphic novel genius at your library

Drawn to Berlin book cover

There is such a range of titles in the newly acquired comic collection.  The story writers, artists, pencillers and inkers that toil away on their own creations or contributions to others have produced a myriad of styles, stories and content. The latest batch includes material from diverse sources, refugee shelters in Europe through to the Lovecraftian Cthulhu mythos referencing Sherlock Holmes in Neil Gaiman’s,  A study in emerald. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverCollecting sticks / Joe Decie.
“Observer Graphic Novel of the Month Collecting Sticks is a graphic novel about a family glamping trip. (It’s like camping, but much more expensive). Loosely based on actual events, but sometimes veering unexpectedly into fantasy, the story plays with the challenges nature presents to city folk as they forage for berries, get stuck up a tree, make perilous encounters with stinging wildlife, compete to build the best fire and discover the importance of finding good sticks. Also, it rains. It’s about the human desire to get back to nature. Or to return to childhood and hit things with sticks. Funny, moving, beautifully drawn, Collecting Sticks can stand beside Joff Winterhart’s classic graphic novel of family life, Days of the Bagnold Summer.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEverything is flammable / Gabrielle Bell.
“In Gabrielle Bell’s much anticipated graphic memoir, she returns from New York to her childhood town in rural Northern California after her mother’s home is destroyed by a fire. Acknowledging her issues with anxiety, financial hardships, memories of a semi-feral childhood, and a tenuous relationship with her mother, Bell helps her mother put together a new home on top of the ashes. A powerful, sometimes uncomfortable, examination of a mother-daughter relationship and one’s connection to place and sense of self. Spanning a single year, Everything is Flammable unfolds with humor and brutal honesty. Bell’s sharp, digressive style is inimitable.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDrawn to Berlin : comic workshops in refugee shelters and other stories from a new Europe / Ali Fitzgerald.
“Ali Fitzgerald, an American cartoonist living and working in Berlin, began teaching comics-making to refugees in an emergency shelter. People who are fleeing their homes, now war-zones, arrive at a shelter and draw images of tragic violence and careful optimism. Now in a stunning graphic memoir, compassionate and unflinchingly intimate, Fitzgerald recounts her incredible experience, of the highs of the creatively hopeful, along with the deep depression of the disillusioned, entwining her story with complex themes of political and personal displacement.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA study in emerald / story and words, Neil Gaiman ; art and adaptation script, Rafael Albuquerque ; adaptation script, Rafael Scavone.
“This supernatural mystery set in the world of Sherlock Holmes and Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos features a brilliant detective and his partner as they try to solve a horrific murder.The complex investigation takes the Baker Street investigators from the slums of Whitechapel all the way to the Queen’s Palace as they attempt to find the answers to this bizarre murder of cosmic horror!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverManifest destiny. Volume 6, Fortis & invisibilia / Chris Dingess, writer ; Matthew Roberts, penciller & inker ; Tony Akins, inker.
“Meriwether Lewis has slayed monsters in the pursuit of taming the wilds of America. Now, if he ever hopes to reach the Pacific coast, he must learn an important lesson: Don’t listen to the voices in your head.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGirl town / Carolyn Nowak.
Bold, infatuated, wounded, or lost, Nowak’s girls shine with life and longing. Their stories — depicted with remarkable charm and insight — capture the spirit of our time. Diana got hurt a lot, and she’s decided to deal with this fact by purchasing a life-sized robot boyfriend. Mary and La-La host a podcast about a movie no one’s ever seen. Kelly has dragged her friend Beth out of her comfort zone and into a day at the fantasy market that neither of them will forget. Carolyn Nowak’s Girl Town collects the Ignatz Award-winning stories Radishes and Diana’s Electric Tongue together with several other tales of young adulthood and the search for connection.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBizarre romance / stories by Audrey Niffenegger ; illustrated by Eddie Campbell.
“Internationally bestselling author Audrey Niffenegger and her husband, graphic artist Eddie Campbell, collaborate on this quirky, irreverent collection that celebrates and satirises love of all kinds. With thirteen different vignettes about love, loss, fairies, misbehaviour, regret, wanton wrongheadedness, cats, supernatural exterminators, spies, ghosts, more cats, more fairies, and a handful of ex-boyfriends, Bizarre Romance runs the gamut when it comes to relationships.” (Syndetics summary)

Divertingly different November’s Graphic Novel selection

November brings an influx of series and some unusual comics that bring words to life. Poets and musicians from Rimbaud to the Smiths have inspired creators to produce a rich experience in a diverse range of styles. Nick Hayes uses Rimbaud’s own words to wash through the entire graphic novel, The Drunken Sailor taking the reader on a journey through the poet’s life. The Tales of the Smiths was a daily strip now bound in a single volume documenting the early years of Morrissey and forming the band The Smiths. Con Chrisoulis has illustrated the lives of David Bowie and is now focusing on Jack ‘King’ Kirby, an architect of Marvel and DC comics who’s iconic graphic style formed the way we see superheroes.

All of these and more are available from your library. Lucky ain’t we?

Syndetics book coverThe drunken sailor : the life of the poet Arthur Rimbaud in his own words / by Nick Hayes.
The Drunken Sailor traces the life of Arthur Rimbaud- poet, surrealist, libertine and gun runner. In dazzling artwork, Nick Hayes follows Rimbaud from his youth in Ardennes to the poetry salons of Paris, from the absinthe-glazed passion of his relationship with Verlaine to his flight into the jungles of Indonesia and the deserts of Yemen and Egypt. Told entirely in Rimbaud’s own words, The Drunken Sailor confirms Nick Hayes’ place as one of the most talented graphic novelists at work today.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTales of The Smiths : a graphic biography / Con Chrisoulis.
Tales of The Smiths is a comic book retelling of the band members’ teenage years, before the group was famous, and includes fascinating digressions about their influences (the New York Dolls, Nico, Sex Pistols, NY punk, Patti Smith, etc) and the times in which they were growing up. The story reaches its climax with the meeting of Morrissey and Marr, the formation of the band in 1982 and their first gig as The Smiths.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Hchom book / by Marian Churchland.
“If you were a goblin, what would your treasure hoard contain? Gems and minerals, biscuits and pastries, fine-tailored jackets, or perhaps all of the above. This mischievous collection of particular delights gathers posts from Churchland’s sketch blog, Hchom, wherein she envisions herself as a wry-eyed goblin and counts her possessions, real and desired, as her “hoard”. The volume is divided into four chapters on larder, closet, hoard, and house, each representing a key element of her cozy, nerdy, bookish lifestyle.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPassing for human : a graphic memoir / Liana Finck.
Part magical odyssey, part feminist creation myth, Passing for Human is most of all an extraordinary, moving meditation on what it means to be an artist and a woman. On a quest for self-understanding and self-acceptance, along the way, she seeks to answer some eternal questions- What makes us whole? What parts of ourselves do we hide or ignore or chase away – because they’re embarrassing, or inconvenient – and at what cost?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMysteries of the quantum universe / by Thibault Damour & Mathieu Burniat ; translated by Sarah-Louise Raillard.
“Famous explorer Bob and his dog Rick have been around the world and even to the Moon, but their travels through the quantum universe show them the greatest wonders they’ve ever seen. As they follow their tour guide, the giddy letter h (also known as the Planck constant), Bob and Rick have crepes with Max Planck, talk to Einstein about atoms, visit Louis de Broglie in his castle, and hang out with Heisenberg on Heligoland. On the way, we find out that a dog – much like a cat – can be both dead and alive, the gaze of a mouse can change the universe, and a comic book can actually make quantum physics fun, easy to understand and downright enchanting.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTokyo Ghoul : re. Volume 1 / story and art by Sui Ishida ; translation, Joe Yamazaki.
“The Commission of Counter Ghoul is the only organization fighting the Ghoul menace, and they will use every tool at their disposal to protect humanity from its ultimate predator. Their newest weapon in this hidden war is an experimental procedure that implants human investigators with a Ghoul’s Kagune, giving them Ghoul powers and abilities. But both the procedure and the newly formed Qs Squad are untested. Will they become heroes…or monsters?!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInvincible : ultimate collection, Volume 1 / Robert Kirkman, writer ; Cory Walker, penciler, inker ; Ryan Ottley, penciler, inker ; created by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker.
“Get in on the ground floor! This massive hardcover collects the first 13 issues of Robert Kirkman’s Eisner-Nominated super-hero, along with all the extras from the first three trade paperback volumes and even more on top of that! Invincible: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 1 is a can’t-miss for anyone who’s wanted to start reading Invincible , but needed an easier way to start from the beginning.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOur story : a memoir of love and life in China / Rao Pingru ; translated from the Chinese by Nicky Harman.Our Story: A Memoir of Love and Life in China
“A graphic memoir like no other- the true story of a marriage in China that spanned the twentieth century, told in vibrant, original paintings and prose. Rao Pingru was a twenty-six-year-old soldier when he first saw the beautiful Mao Meitang. One glimpse of her through a window as she put on lipstick was enough to capture Pingru’s heart. It was a moment that sparked a union that would last almost sixty years. But when Meitang passed away in 2008, Pingru realised that their marriage and all the small moments and memories of a life together, would be lost to history. And so at the age of eighty-eight, in an outpouring of love and grief, Pingru began to paint.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMonstress. Volume three, Haven / Marjorie Liu, writer ; Sana Takeda, artist.
“Maika Halfwolf has begun to unlock the mysteries of her past – but the challenges of the present are only growing. Maika’s journey takes her to the neutral city of Pontus, where she hopes to find temporary refuge from her pursuers. Unfortunately, Pontus may not be as safe as Maika and her allies had hoped. As the impending war between humans and Arcanics creeps ever closer, and powerful players fight for the chance to control her future, Maika finds she must work with Zinn, the Monstrum that lives inside her, in order to ensure their mutual survival. But even that alliance might not be enough to prepare Maika for the horrors to come.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKick-Ass : the new girl. Book one / Mark Millar, writer ; John Romita Jr., pencils.
“Kick-Ass is back–ready to wipe out the city’s criminal low lives, destroy its gangs, and save its communities from decay. But there’s a new face beneath the old mask, a new figure wearing that famous green and yellow spandex. Who is this new vigilante superhero? Who can fill Dave Lizewski’s shoes? Who is the new Kick-Ass? Find out in the first collection of Kick-Ass: the new girl.” (Syndetics summary)

October’s outstanding new graphic novels

Ever wonder what the inside of people’s heads look like? Graphic novels are an amazing way to peer into the imagination with a slew of styles that either make you go ‘what were they thinking?’ or ‘I totally get that’. This month’s graphic novels have a some unique stand alone titles and new chapters of worlds that expand on original themes and characters.

Lisa Hanawalt of BoJack Horseman fame (producer and production designer) has an original style. Bright watercolours reveal a a gritty character who’s rough world gets a poke in the ribs with a funny bone to keep those Western cliches clopping along. A nod to spookiness for Halloween with Idle Days Thomas Desaulniers-Brousseau’s haunting tale set in a remote cabin. And Giant Days full of gigantic living and beings of incredible size from the minds of Carlos Valderrama and John Allison. Have your heartstrings tugged with Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband, Volume 2 the concluding chapter in a family dealing with difference in Japan. Then top this off with some twisty mind-games in a Patricia Highsmith-esk Tumult from John Harris Dunning and Michael Kennedy and you have a small introduction to this month’s graphic novel collection.

Coyote Doggirl / Hanawalt, Lisa
“An homage to and a lampoon of Westerns like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Lisa Hanawalt’s Coyote Doggirl is a self-aware, playful subversion of tropes. As our fallible hero attempts to understand the culture of the wolves, we see a journey in understanding and misunderstanding, adopting and co-opting. Uncomfortable at times but nonetheless rewarding and empowering, the story of these flawed, anthropomorphized characters is nothing if not relentlessly hilarious and heartbreakingly human. Told in Hanawalt’s technicolor absurdist style, Coyote Doggirl is not just a send-up of the Western genre but a deeply personal story told by an enormously talented cartoonist.” (Catalogue)

Tumult / Dunning, John Harris
“A stylish psychological thriller set in London. Adam Whistler has it all, so why does he feel so empty? At a house party he meets the lovely Morgan. But when he encounters her a few days later she has no memory of him and introduces herself as Leila. Leila has dissociative identity disorder, or multiple personalities. People are being murdered and Leila fears that Morgan, the personality Adam first met, is the killer. He doesn’t believe that any part of her is capable of it, so he sets out to unravel the mystery of her past.” (Catalogue)

Idle days / Desaulniers-Brousseau, Thomas
“Depressed and unmoored by his father’s violent death, and drafted into the Canadian military to serve in World War II, Jerome has fled, taking refuge in a cabin his grandfather owns in a remote part of the countryside. But Jerome’s troubles are only beginning. A strange dread fills the woods, and rumors of murders and ghosts cast his refuge in a sinister light. As Jerome struggles to come to terms with his father’s death, he obsessively seeks to uncover the mystery of what, exactly, happened in his grandfather’s house.” (Catalogue)

My brother’s husband. Volume 2 / Tagame, Gengoroh
“The concluding volume in the story of Yaichi, his daughter Kana, and how their meeting Mike Flanagan changes their lives. As Mike continues his journey of discovery concerning Ryoji’s past, Yaichi gradually comes to understand that being gay is just another way of being human. And that, in many ways, remains a radical concept in Japan even today. In the meantime, the bond between Mike and young Kana grows ever stronger, and yet he is going to have to return to Canada soon. But not before more than a few revelations come to light.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Old man Hawkeye [1] : an eye for an eye / Sacks, Ethan
“The super heroes have fallen. The country has been divided into territories controlled by super villains. Among the wastelands lives Clint Barton – one of the few Avengers to survive. Trying to eke out a living any way he can, the former Hawkeye is confronted with a startling discovery: the sharpshooter is going blind. With time running short, Clint realizes there’s one last thing he wants to see: revenge for his fallen comrades-in-arms. Rising-star writer Ethan Sacks and superstar artist Marco Checchetto take you back to the Wastelands in a story set five years before the original classic Old man Logan.” (Catalogue)

The Arab of the future 3 : a graphic memoir : a childhood in the Middle East (1985-1987) / Sattouf, Riad
“In this third volume (1985-1987), Riad’s mother, fed up with the grinding reality of daily life in the village, decides she cannot take it any longer. When she resolves to move back to France, young Riad sees his father torn between his wife’s aspirations and the weight of family traditions.” (Catalogue)

Giants / Valderrama, Carlos
“Greed and ambition collide with survival and the love of family in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by giant monsters whose only goal is destruction .A cataclysm of unknown origin unleashed a race of massive creatures whose presence has driven humanity underground. There, two orphans discover that the most dangerous monster is ambition, which unchecked, will grow until it devours you. In their first work for American comics, the Valderrama Bros. have layered a modern day kaiju story with a personal tale of a friendship gone wrong, and how the decisions we make can change our world… and seal our fates” (Catalogue)

Giant days. Volume eight / Allison, John
“It’s the end of second year for best mates Susan, Daisy, and Esther, and cracks are appearing in the foundation of this unshakeable trio. Between (irritating) new loves, (secretive) old loves, (unlikely) new friendships and (terrible) old houses, they’ll be lucky to make it to third year alive!” (Catalogue)

Comic book gold! New graphic novels at WCL

The Adventure Zone book cover

Comic book titles hitting the library shelves this month feature award winners, best sellers, classics, antiheroes and more. Classics by Pearl S Buck, Octavia E Butler and Karl Marx have been transformed into visual narratives. Kindred has won awards and recognition in the form an Eisner award, and a Bram Stoker award. Maybe illustrator John Jennings’ colour samplings from bruises and blood had some influence there! This powerful adaptation is worth looking through, and if it’s the first taste you have of Octavia Butler’s work, lucky you! She is a fearless, insightful writer whose work deals with gender, race, age and class. Crime author Denise Mina, a recent Wellington visitor, is the writer for the latest John Constantine, Hellblazer.

The McElroy brothers playing Dungeons & Dragons with their dad is a different type of adaptation altogether. The Adventure Zone is a comic based on the podcast of the same name. Their fantasy characters are complete with ‘loafers of leaping and sprinting’ and proficiencies in wolf training and tea making. The graphic novel instantly became a New York Times trade paperback bestseller on release in August 2018.

Moon Knight [1] : crazy runs in the family / Bemis, Max
“Moon Knight has always been a protector from the shadows, but this new enemy is set to extinguish those shadows with blinding light and fire. Get ready for the introduction of Moon Knight’s greatest nemesis! But as the path of the Sun King brings him ever closer to Moon Knight, Marc has problems of his own: A man known as the Truth is driving people to suicide! Things get worse when Sun King and Bushman hit Marc where it hurts the most, and Jake Lockley’s dark secret is revealed! Will Moon Knight finally be eclipsed?” (Catalogue)

The good earth / Bertozzi, Nick
“Although more than eighty years have passed since Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth won the Pulitzer Prize, it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics. This indelible portrait of China in the 1920s, when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings, tells the moving story of honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-Lan. Bertozzi retraces the whole cycle of life depicted in Buck’s original novel: its terrors, its passions, its ambitions, and its rewards.” (Catalogue)

Kindred : a graphic novel adaptation / Duffy, Damian
“This searing graphic-novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction classic is a powerfully moving, unflinching look at the violent, disturbing effects of slavery on the people it chained together, both black and white – and made kindred in the deepest sense of the word. Home is a new house with a loving husband in 1970s California that is suddenly transformed into the frightening world of the antebellum South. Dana, a young black writer, can’t explain how she is transported across time and space to a plantation in Maryland.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Communist Manifesto / Rowson, Martin
“A graphic novel adaptation of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s revolutionary pamphlet on the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth, published in 1848. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s Manifesto for the Communist Party was at once a powerful critique of capitalism and a radical call to arms. Much of what it proposed continues to be at the heart of political debate into the 21st century. It is no surprise, perhaps, that The Communist Manifesto (as it was later renamed) is the second bestselling book of all time, surpassed only by the Bible.” (Catalogue)

The Adventure Zone : here there be gerblins / McElroy, Clint
“Join Taako the elf wizard, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Magnus the human warrior for an adventure they are poorly equipped to handle AT BEST, guided (“guided”) by their snarky DM, in a graphic novel that, like the smash-hit podcast it’s based on, will tickle your funny bone, tug your heartstrings, and probably pants you if you give it half a chance.” (Catalogue)

John Constantine, Hellblazer. 19, Red right hand / Mina, Denise
Constantine discovers he’s cursed with empathy for his fellow man as the multi-layered tale races forward. Seeking the origin of the Empathy curse, Constantine and Chris roll into Glasgow in search of Steve Evans, a “massively powerful magician” who is waiting for Constantine. Meanwhile John finds out that there has been a connection between himself and Chris before they even met. Written by award-winning crime novelist Denise Mina. Collects issues #216-229.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Made men : getting the gang back together / Tobin, Paul
“When Jutte Shelley and her squad are gunned down in an ambush, it looks like the end for the Detroit police officers, but Jutte comes from a very storied family… named Frankenstein. Using the secrets of her ancestors, Jutte enters the family business of resurrection, bringing her squad back from the dead. Sort of. As long as you don’t look too close. Eager for revenge, they’ve no choice but to team with the Detroit mob, using them for the resources to find the lowlifes who did them in, now that Jutte has quite literally gotten the gang back together.” (Catalogue)

The song of Aglaia / Simon, Anne
French illustrator Anne Simon, known for her biographies of Freud, Marx and Einstein, delves into whimsy and other worldliness. “Aglaia is a simple sea nymph. One day, a Merman seduces Aglaia, forever altering her life’s course. She is cast out of Oceanid by her chauvinistic father, forcing her to wander many days and nights, until one day she finds herself at the benefit of one Mr. Kite, whose traveling circus welcomes her (including the star attraction, a waltzing Horse named Henry) and once again alters her fate, sending her down many more unexpected paths.” (Catalogue)

New Graphic novels

Hasib book cover

Wellington City Libraries has a wealth of graphic novels for the edification and delight of Wellingtonians.  This month has seen some new voices added to the collection and some great compilations of seasoned artists and writers. British comic artist Shaky Kane has compiled all the Deadline strips and the Hoey siblings Coin-Op anthology has amassed twenty years of work. There are translated works, new episodes in long running series and original takes on conventional heroes as with DC’s Young Animal: Milk wars reworking Superman, Batman and Wonderwoman into a freaky Happy Days-esque version of “reality”.  The same trippy feel is echoed in Ice Cream Man: Rainbow sprinkles.

Film has a stylistic treatment in the form of Lawrence Block’s Eight million ways to die. Lawrence Block was so pleased with Snyder’s version he heaped praise on this artistic interpretation of his novel. Other artistic endeavors are explored in a translated Guardians of the Louvre. The classic Thousand and One Nights is also reprised with Hâsib and the Queen of Serpents. The sketchy world of Farel Dalrymple reveals an interlinking quest for some questionable characters in It Will All Hurt. And explore geography with Olivia Burton, as travel becomes an internal journey, beautifully laid out in her exploration of Algeria.

Delve into the newly acquired graphic novels at your library, with some choice selections below.

Hâsib & the queen of serpents : a tale of a thousand and one nights / B., David
“Heir to the wise Daniel, Hâsib is a young woodcutter promised to a great future. When his greedy companions abandon him in the middle of the forest, he meets the Queen of Serpents. She then tells her story, a fabulous adventure filled with gods and demons, princes and prophets. From Kabul to Cairo, journeys intertwine with intrigues and spiritual quests while the fabulous nights follow one another.” (Catalogue)

Redlands. Volume one, Sisters by blood / Bellaire, Jordie
“A mysterious coven of witches runs the town of Redlands, Florida–and in order to stay on top, sacrifices must be made. When possession turns into friendship, and when love evolves into spite, the witches’ reign is challenged.” (Catalogue)

Algeria is beautiful like America / Burton, Olivia
“Olivia had always heard stories about Algeria from her maternal grandmother, a Black Foot (a “Pied-Noir,” the French term for Christian and Jewish settlers of French Algeria who emigrated to France after the Algerian War of Independence). After her grandmother’s death, Olivia found some of her grandmother’s journals and letters describing her homeland. Now, ten years later, she resolves to travel to Algeria and experience the country for herself; she arrives alone, with her grandmother’s postcards and letters in tow, and a single phone number in her pocket of an Algerian, Djaffar, who will act as her guide.” (Catalogue)

Chainmail bikini : the anthology of women gamers
Chainmail Bikini is an anthology of comics by and about female gamers! Forty cartoonists have contributed comics about the games they’re passionate about — from video games to tabletop role-playing to collectible card games. The comics in Chainmail Bikini explore the real-life impact of entering a fantasy world, and how games can connect us with each other and teach us about ourselves. Alliances are forged, dice get rolled, and dragons get slain! Chainmail Bikini shows that while women are not always the target market for gaming, they are a vital and thoroughly engaged part of it, and are eager to express their personal take as players, makers, and critics of games.” (Catalogue)

It will all hurt / Dalrymple, Farel
“A weird, sad, silly, sketchy, and dreamy watercolor fantasy action quest in which Alemendra Clementine and her crew of anti-social adventurers all come together on a psych-apocalyptic world to take down an evil wizard.” (Catalogue)

Coin-Op comics anthology 1997-2017 / Hoey, Maria
“This first-ever collection by the award-winning team of siblings Peter and Maria Hoey encompasses the very best of their inventive and mysterious comics. The compilation ranges from the Hoeys’ early comics in Blab! Magazine to their groundbreaking newest series, Coin-Op. All in all, it’s more than twenty short stories and vignettes about music and film, the comic and the absurd, the past and the future all sparkling with innovative storytelling and design.” (Catalogue)

Good news bible : the complete Deadline strips of Shaky Kane. / Kane, Shaky
“This major retrospective of comics and illustration from essential British cartoonist Shaky Kane collects the entirety of his work from the classic ’90s magazine Deadline for the first time. Heavily influenced by the great Jack Kirby, Shaky produces comics that combine intensity and bombast with a psychedelic and unmistakably British cynicism.” (Catalogue)

DC/Young Animal : milk wars / Orlando, Steve
“What happens when the Doom Patrol team of misfits meets Justice League of America, or the new Gotham vigilante Mother Panic comes face to face with Batman? Will Shade the Changing Girl be able to appease Wonder Woman and will Cave Carson be able to team up with Swamp Thing to destroy the evil, interdimensional corporation called RetCo from the inside? Valid questions. Very valid. How will we ever find out the answer? Right here in DC/Young Animal: Milk Wars, of course!” (Catalogue)

Ice Cream Man. Volume one, Rainbow sprinkles / Prince, W. Maxwell
Ice Cream Man is a genre-defying comic book series, featuring disparate one-shot tales of sorrow, wonder, and redemption. Each installment features its own cast of strange characters, dealing with their own special sundae of suffering. And on the periphery of all of them, like the twinkly music of his colorful truck, is the Ice Cream Man–a weaver of stories, a purveyor of sweet treats. Friend. Foe. God. Demon. The man who with a snap of his fingers–lickety split!–can change the course of your life.” (Catalogue)

Lawrence Block’s Eight million ways to die / Snyder, John K.
“In crime-ravaged 1980s New York, a troubled ex-cop turned unlicensed detective takes on his most dangerous case, hunting down a serial killer-hitman, and ultimately coming face-to-face with his deadliest enemy, himself. The highly detailed, full-color artwork from John K. Snyder III perfectly complements the noir aesthetic of Block’s writing, making this a must have for fans of crime fiction, both in prose and graphic novel form.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Guardians of the Louvre / Taniguchi, Jirō
“After a group trip to Europe, a Japanese artist stops in Paris alone, intent on visiting the museums of the capital. But, bedridden in his hotel room with fever, he faces the absolute solitude of one suffering in a foreign land, deprived of any immediate or familiar recourse. When the fever breaks somewhat, he sets out on his visit and promptly gets lost in the crowded halls of the Louvre. Very soon, he discovers many unsuspected facets to this world in a museum in a journey oscillating between feverish hallucination and reality, actually able to speak with famous painters from various periods of history, led to crossroads between human and personal history by… the Guardians of the Louvre.” (Catalogue)

Liked Avengers: Infinity War or Marvel’s The Defenders? Try these comics!

Continuing on with our graphic novel recommendations series, we’re looking at comics and graphic novels you might like if you enjoyed the recent Avengers: Infinity War movie, or if you are a fan of Marvel’s The Defenders series. First up are four tomes you might enjoy if you liked Avengers: Infinity War.

Syndetics book coverProphet. 5, Earth war / story, Brandon Graham, Simon Roy ; art, Brandon Graham [and five others] ; colors, Joseph Bergin III [and four others] ; letters, Ed Brisson, Ariana Maher.
“THE EPIC CONCLUSION TO PROPHET! A clone general goes against his Brain-Mother overlords to gain control of an alien egg. This compendium collects Prophet: Earth War volumes 1-6.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThanos [1] : Thanos returns / Jeff Lemire, writer ; Mike Deodato, Jr., artist.
“Thanos, possibly the most diabolical individual in the Marvel Universe, is back – and he’s out for vengeance on all who would oppose him! Unfortunately for the Mad Titan, he’s also heading for an unexpected reckoning…with his family. Take an ongoing walk on the dark side of the galaxy, and follow the deadly trail of destruction left in the wake of…Thanos!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExtermination. Volume 1, The last and dreadful hour / written by Simon Spurrier ; art by Jeffrey Edwards and V. Ken Marion.
“WE LOST. THEY WON. In the wake of an apocalyptic alien invasion, the world’s greatest super-heroes and deadliest super-villains must form an alliance to prevent their own extermination. Two arch-enemies, Nox, a driven hero, and Red Reaper, a ruthless villain, form a volatile partnership for the greater good. The enemy of your enemy is your friend — but will they be able to ultimately put aside their bitter past to prevent global genocide?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExtermination. Volume 2, To vaster darkness / [written by Simon Spurrier ; art by V. Ken Marion].
“The pulse-pounding conclusion to the odd couple superhero alien invasion!
Nox, a driven hero, and Red Reaper, a ruthless villain, form a volatile partnership in the wake of an apocalyptic alien invasion. The two arch-enemies have survived the attacks of the deadly EDDA, traversed the post-apocalyptic landscape of the U.S., and formed a rag-tag alliance of former heroes and villains. Now…they plan to strike back. Heroes will die… it’s just a matter of how many…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

And here are two works you might enjoy if you like Marvel’s The Defenders.

Syndetics book coverMoon Knight : from the dead / writer, Warren Ellis ; artist, Declan Shalvey.
“Marc Spector is Moon Knight! Or is he? It’s hard to tell these days, especially when New York’s wildest vigilante protects the street with two-fisted justice and that’s right, count ’em three different personalities! But even with the force of the Egyptian moon god fueling his crusade, how does the greatest detective save a city that’s as twisted as he? Be here as Moon Knight punches ghosts, investigates a sleep experiment that’s driving its patients insane, and takes on twenty mob enforcers to save an abductee.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTop 10 / Alan Moore, writer ; Gene Ha, Zander Cannon, artists.
“The massive, multilayered city of Neopolis, built shortly after World War II, was designed as a home for the expanding population of science-heroes, heroines and villains that had ballooned into existance in the previous decade. Bringing these powered beings together solved some problems but created others – turning Neopolis into a pressure cooker that normal policing methods could never contain.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

How films can lead you to comics: Annihilation

Image from amazon.co.uk

Next in our series about films that can lead you to comics is Alex Garland’s Annihilation, adapted from the critically acclaimed novel by Jeff VanderMeer, which tells the story of a team of scientists who venture into “The Shimmer”, a strange zone in the American southwest where the laws of physics and biology are altered. Several comics share visual and thematic similarities with the film, which is acclaimed for it’s mesmerising visuals, alien environments full of eerie creatures, and an exploration of the divide between man and nature.


Saga of the Swamp Thing. Book one / Moore, Alan
“With modern-day issues explored against a backdrop of horror, SWAMP THING’s stories became commentaries on environmental, political and social issues, unflinching in their relevance. Moore takes over as writer with the story “The Anatomy Lesson,” a haunting origin story that reshapes SWAMP THING mythology with terrifying revelations that begin a journey of discovery and adventure that will take him across the stars and beyond.” (Catalogue)

Animal Man. Volume 1, The hunt / Lemire, Jeff
“Animal Man Buddy Baker has gone from “super” man to family man – but is he strong enough to hold his family together when Maxine, his young daughter, starts to manifest her own dangerous powers? As these new abilities continue to terrify Buddy and his wife Ellen, things take a turn for the worse as Buddy begins a startling transformation of his own that will lead him on a journey into the heart of The Red.” (Catalogue)

Izuna / Tenuta, Saverio
“Since the dawn of time, the Izuna wolves have been entrusted as guardians against Japan’s evil spirits. From time immemorial, the spirits of nature created the Kamigakushi, a magical veil that hid them from the impure eyes of man. But the mysterious birth of a wolf cub in the shape of a young girl threatens to upset the delicate balance between the two worlds and plunge both sides into chaos.” (Catalogue)

Sweet Tooth [1] : out of the deep woods / Lemire, Jeff
“After an apocalyptic pandemic, an ailing father lives deep in the woods with his child, a little boy with deerlike antlers. When his father expires, the boy soldiers on. One day, bounty hunters looking for mutant children beset him. A big man rescues the boy and leads him out of the forest to a refuge for kids like him, he says.” (Adapted from Booklist summary)

Trees. Volume one, In shadow / Ellis, Warren
Trees looks at a near-future world where life goes on in the shadows of the Trees: in China, where a young painter arrives in the “special cultural zone” of a city under a Tree; in Italy, where a young woman under the menacing protection of a fascist gang meets an old man who wants to teach her terrible skills; and in Svalbard, where a research team is discovering, by accident, that the Trees may not be dormant after all, and the awful threat they truly represent.” (Catalogue)

Literature as inspiration for graphic novels

There are many great original characters and stories and worlds built in the medium of graphic novels, and there are also some great adaptions that give literary explorers another dimension to classic works.  Inspired by the recent graphic novel Sabrina being longlisted for the Man Booker, we have a list of some ‘literary’ titles for you.

Beginning with The Graphic Canon 1 and 2:

The graphic canon. Volume 1, From the epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous liaisons 

The graphic canon. Volume 2, From “Kubla Khan” to the Brontë Sisters to The picture of Dorian Gray

These volumes have a wealth of content and contributors.  From folk tales to classic novels; contemporary artists to historical visionaries. Volume 2 includes William Blake with his own images and words. Such an incredible overview!

Don Quixote. Volume1 / Davis, Rob
“A mixture of reality and illusion, this is the story of the besotted Don Quixote and his down-to-earth companion, the faithful Sancho Panza, who set out to right the world’s wrongs in knightly combat. The narrative moves from philosophical speculation to broad comedy.” (Catalogue)

Herman Melville’s Moby Dick / Chabouté
“In striking black-and-white illustrations, Chaboute retells the story of the Great American Novel. Captain Ahab strikes out on a voyage, obsessively seeking revenge on the great white whale that took his leg.” (Catalogue)

The rime of the modern mariner / Hayes, Nick
“This graphic novel recasts the shimmering horror of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous story into a contemporary context. A mariner appears on a park bench and begins his tale. Cursed by an albatross he slew whilst hunting whales, the mariner and his crew find themselves stranded within the North Pacific Garbage Patch: a vast, hypoxic, slow-whirling maelstrom of plastic waste; a hidden repository for the world’s litter. Along the way, he meets various characters of our current environmental tragedy: a lady made of oil, a deserted ghost-ship drilling barge, a 2-inch salp (the human race’s oceanic ancestor), a blue whale and a hermit. (Catalogue)

The Canterbury tales / Chwast, Seymour
“Accompany a band of merry medieval pilgrims as they make their way-on motorcycles, of course-to Canterbury. Meeting at the Tabard Inn, the travelers, including a battle-worn knight, a sweetly pretentious prioress, the bawdy Wife of Bath, and an emaciated scholar-clerk, come up with a plan to pass time on the journey to Thomas a Becket’s shrine by telling stories.  Chwast’s illustrations relate tales of trust and treachery, of piety and bawdiness, in an engaging style that will appeal to those who have enjoyed The Canterbury Tales for years, and those for whom this is a first, delectable introduction.” (Catalogue)

The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, gentleman / Rowson, Martin
“A novel about writing a novel is the subject of this complex classic which has been described as the greatest shaggy dog story in the English language.” (Catalogue)

Howl : a graphic novel / Ginsberg, Allen
The original by Allen Ginsberg caused such a ruckus, there were arrests, an obscenity trial, censorship trials and seizure of material.  Now you can decide for yourself, in colour!

Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and loathing in Las Vegas : a savage journey to the heart of the American dream / Little, Troy
“Records the experiences of a free-lance writer who embarked on a zany journey into the drug culture.” (Catalogue)

…and we finish up with an author from Aotearoa New Zealand: Sarah Laing’s memoir Mansfield and Me looks at the way literature can affect and influence our lives

Mansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Laing, Sarah
“Katherine Mansfield is a literary giant in New Zealand-but she had to leave the country to become one… She was as famous for her letters and diaries as for her short stories. Sarah Laing wanted to be a real writer, too. A writer as famous as Katherine Mansfield, but not as tortured. Mansfield and Me charts her journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story, set in London, Paris, New York and New Zealand. Part memoir, part biography, part fantasy, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes. Sarah Laing’s gorgeous, playful drawings and self-deprecating humour lightly mask a complex meditation on writing, celebrity and the conscious construction of self. A very New Zealand coming-of-age story.” (adapted from catalogue)