July has been a pretty good month here at Graphic Novel Universe. While I read fewer overall titles compared to June, there’s still plenty of good stuff, hopefully something that will spark your interest. Here’s the first part of what I’ve read this month. More to come!
(All works with a + are part of the ongoing SXSW 2014 Starter Pack review series.)
+ Deadhorse, Book 1: Dead Birds (2013) Eric S. Grissom, Phil Sloan, David Halverson (Frankenstein’s Daughter)
Collects Deadhorse: Dead Birds #1-6 and includes character sketches, pinups, deleted pages, and more. William Pike is a reclusive shut-in who comes into possession of a powerful key and becomes the target of an evil industrialist. When Pike learns the key may help solve the mystery behind his father's death, he embarks on a journey into the farthest reaches of Alaska while being pursued by a man in a plastic ape mask. (ComiXology)
I’m not quite sure why Deadhorse works, but I was intrigued by the mystery of Pike’s father and thought the humor worked well. The book tries to do a lot: mystery, adventure, suspense, action and comedy, and most of the time succeeds. I wouldn’t mind having this in book form and will certainly seek out more collections as they become available.
This One Summer (2014) Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki (First Second)
Your level of enjoyment of This One Summer will largely depend upon your age and expectations. This is labeled (in our library, at least) as a YA book. I think a small segment of the YA audience might enjoy it and relate to it, but it's greatest appeal seems to be for adults. This is a very quiet, reflective book that will likely resonate with adult readers, while many YA readers might react with "Nothing much really happens." If for no other reason, you should pick up this title for the wonderful art, filled with shades of blue and purple, which complement the story perfectly.
Dalen and Gole: Scandal in Port Angus (J 2011) Mike Deas (Orca)
Dalen and Gole: Scandal in Port Angus is a fun, silly, goofy graphic novel about aliens discovering tunnel that leads to Earth, where they discover an interplanetary scandal. An entertaining book that works best for very young readers.
Ant Colony (2014) Michael DeForge (Drawn & Quarterly)
Ant Colony is an amazingly weird book that somehow becomes less weird the more you read it. DeForge is a Canadian artist responsible for many of the designs for the animated TV show Adventure Time, which makes a lot of sense after seeing his work in Ant Colony. If you think of Ant Colony as sort of an Adventure Time for adults - except a lot darker with ants and spiders - you’ll probably enjoy it. I know I did.
Rust: Secrets of the Cell (J 2012) Royden Lepp (Archaia)
The second book in the Rust series proves that Royden Lepp is onto something. The first book in the series, Rust: Visitor in the Field introduced us to the Taylors and their struggle to keep a farm going after a devastating war, a war which included robot fighters. Oswald - the youngest of the three Taylor siblings trying to run the farm after the death of their parents - becomes highly suspicious of a mysterious boy named Jet, who comes to work on the farm.
While not a lot of questions from the first book are answered here, we do get deeper into the story and things start becoming clearer. The artwork in this series is simply astounding. Lepp uses beautiful sepia tones and an absence of sound effects for a unique reading experience. Volume 3 (the penultimate volume) is available now and a Rust film project is in the works.
Mind MGMT, Vol. 3: The Home Maker (2014) Matt Kindt (Dark Horse)
I wish I could describe just how good Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT is... I discussed the first two volumes at The Comics Alternative last year, so feel free to read that review if you want to get the gist of the series. This third volume is a bit of a departure, a collection of interconnected one-shot stories that answers several questions while asking several more. Buying the collected editions is easy - they’re nice, hardcover editions in full color for under 20 bucks. But you might want to buy the individual monthly issues, since those include some nifty extras that aren’t collected in the hardcover volumes. Dive in. This is really good stuff.
So - tell me what you read in July...