If you’re like some of the ComicsAlliance staff, you’re a fetishist for expensive hardcover books that are available only in absurdly limited numbers and packaged in exquisite slipcases and loaded with supplemental material and artwork. With the gift-giving season rapidly winding down, people like us are looking for those last-minute gifts that are so expensive and so impressively large that they could never actually seem like you totally forgot to get your shopping (or blogging) done in a timely and responsible manner. The best sort of gift along those lines is of course the deluxe edition comic or art book, and I’ve put together a list of some great ones that you can still find at your local comics stores and online booksellers before the clock runs out on the season.
NOTE ON PRICES: We have included the list prices for each item. Because of holiday sales, you will very likely find discounts at your local comics shops, Amazon and elsewhere.
Despite her obligations as a television host, a political pundit, and a celebrated author, Rachel Maddow still manages to find time in her schedule to catch up on the comics she loves. An avid comics consumer, Maddow has written introductions for comics (Greg Rucka and JH Williams III's Batwoman) as well as spread the word of graphic novels she loves to any member of congress who will listen. So when a book like March -- the first in a three part autobiography from civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis -- comes along, it's right in her wheelhouse, and it's no surprise she'd go to the source to talk about it.
Congressman Lewis was joined by March co-writer Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell on The Rachel Maddow Show last night to discuss their best-selling graphic novel, as well as Martin Luther King AndThe Montgomery Story, the civil rights comic produced in 1958 that taught readers the ways of non-violence and inspired Congressman Lewis to use the medium to share his story.
The comic book, animation, illustration, pinup, mashup, fan art and design communities are generating amazing artwork of myriad styles and tastes, all of which ends up on the Internet and filtered into ComicsAlliance's Best Art Ever (This Week). These images convey senses of mood and character -- not to mention artistic skill -- but comic books are specifically a medium of sequential narratives, and great sequential art has to be both beautiful (totally subjective!) and clear in its storytelling (not so subjective!). The words and the pictures need to work together to tell the story and create whatever tone, emotion and indeed world the story requires. The contributions of every person on a creative team, from the writer to the artist(s) to the letterers, are necessary to achieving a great page of sequential storytelling.
It is the special nature of comic books that we're celebrating in this all-new recurring feature: Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week).
My parents were born, poor and black, in the south in 1943. My father was two years younger than Emmet Till, and my mother was living in Alabama when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus. When I was a kid, my father would tell me about the Civil Rights movement, and the people who helped shape it. He'd tell me stories about Martin Luther King Jr. and Roy Wilkins, about Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin, about a bridge in Selma and a boycott in Montgomery. And he'd tell me stories about Congressman John Lewis.
In stores now is March, the first installment of three autobiographical graphic novels written by Congressman Lewis -- a U.S. Representative from Georgia and a Civil Rights icon -- co-written by congressional staffer Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. March tells the story of Congressman Lewis' life, from humble beginnings in Troy, Alabama during the Jim Crow era south, to being one of the 10 speakers at the March On Washington, to eventually being elected to the U.S. Congress. Congressman Lewis is one of the most significant figures in modern United States history. As such, his life story is significant, and he's decided to share it with the "children of the movement" with his new comic, published by Top Shelf.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Congressman Lewis and Aydin, to discuss the decision to tell this story through a comic, the choices the congressman has made in his life, and how they both hope this book inspires the next generation to do more.
Top Shelf has kicked off its annual massive sale. Running through Friday, September 27th, many of the publisher's celebrated titles will be available at deeply discounted prices through its website, with several titles being 50% off and more than 100 books going for $3 or less.
Autobiographical comics aren't really my thing. I realize that this is limiting and that comics are more than just superheroes, but my love of the medium is kind of inextricably tied to my love of big action, weird adventures and, like so many other things I love, dudes in tights punching each other right in the face. Unless someone's autobiographical comic is truly exceptional, like Mike Dawson's Freddie & Me from a few years back, they tend to just leave me cold.
The reason I bring all this up is so that you know what it means when I say that Jess Fink's We Can Fix It, a memoir where Fink addresses all the major regrets about her past, is hands down one of the best graphic novels of the year.
At this year's Comic-Con, a real life hero got a standing ovation. When Congressman John Lewis was introduced to a packed hall room at a panel dedicated to his upcoming autobiographical graphic novel March, every single person in the room stood and applauded. And after a lengthy ovation, Congressman Lewis -- a Civil Rights icon, the last surviving member of the group who spoke at the March on Washington and one of the most significant figures in America -- spoke to the crowd about Congress, Civil Rights, preaching to chickens, and of course, comic books.
Few creators are as strongly associated with Top Shelf Productions as Jeffrey Brown. The celebrated cartoonist has worked with the publisher for more than a decade, with Top Shelf publishing nearly all of his comics work, including Clumsy, Big Head, and I Am Going To Be Small, among others...
There's a downside to being a fictional character in heroic literature, aside from being beholden to the whims of an author or the deadly danger a character is so often subjected to. The role requires a certain remove from the rest of humanity, and warm, reciprocal relationships with others...
Time travel is an tricky adventurescape to navigate. Despite a hero or heroine's best intentions, they tend to leave a trail of bodies/fractured timelines/nearly-kissed mothers in their wake across fiction...
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