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Ten Books You Should Buy: September 2007 (Part 2)

Picking up where yesterday’s article left off, these are five more books from the “back of the catalog”-titles not published by Dark Horse, DC, Image, or Marvel-that you may otherwise have missed. Check them out!

SCHOLASTIC INC.

THE ARRIVAL  coverTHE ARRIVAL GN
by Shaun Tan
In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He’s embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life – he’s leaving home to build a better future for his family. In this wordless graphic novel Shaun Tan captures the immigrant experience through clear, mesmerizing images allowing the reader to experience the main character’s linguistic isolation and his ultimate joy. Enter the world that Jeff Smith, author of Bone, calls “Shockingly imaginative… One of the best graphic novels of the year!”
128pgs, B&W, $19.99

I first heard about The Arrival through Eddie Campbell’s blog. Campbell was raving about Tan’s storytelling, so much that I went over to Shaun Tan’s website to find out a little more. Saying that I was blown away was an understatement; his soft, gentle art is nothing short of outstanding. It’s a combination of inventiveness and sheer wonder that greets you with each illustration. The wordless aspect of the book makes perfect sense to me as well; if the immigrant main character doesn’t know the local language and doesn’t understand what anyone is saying, then it’s a very effective way to bring that sort of isolation across to the reader. And ultimately, if Eddie Campbell, Jeff Smith, and Craig Thompson are all pushing a book, I know I’m going to have to take a look for myself.

ONI PRESS INC.

QUEEN & COUNTRY VOLUME 8 – OPERATION: RED PANDA
by Greg Rucka & Chris Samnee
Operation: Red Panda has the Minders being deployed to the war-torn streets of Iraq to investigate and potentially “terminate” an Iraqi bureaucrat who is suspected of giving allied secrets to local insurgents. As the old saying goes, all plans goes out the window once the first bullet is fired. And when things go from bad to worse for Tara, years of trauma and abuse come violently forward. Available in Softcover and Hardcover editions!
120pgs, B&W, $11.95 (hardcover $25.00)

Greg Rucka writes all sorts of comics for a wide variety of publishers, but the one series above all else that I will always come back to for re-reading is Queen & Country. His series about British spies is one of those books where no characters are ever “safe” and the stakes feel amazingly high. Why we aren’t seeing Queen & Country movies is beyond me (optioning it seems to be a no-brainer). Maybe after the Whiteout movie is a huge success (please please please let it be great), we’ll get lots of Q&C films? Anyway, this is the latest collection, although I really recommend that you run out and buy the other seven volumes (plus the three “Declassified” prequels as well); not because you have to in order to enjoy the series (Rucka is good about making it understandable for new readers), but because I know you’ll enjoy it that much. Spies! Terrorists! Tension! Unpredictable twists! Really people, what are you waiting for?

THE COMIC.COM

KING LEAR GN
by Gareth Hinds & William Shakespeare
One of the greatest tragedies of English literature is now a full-color graphic novel by the creator of Beowulf and Bearskin. An old king seeks to set aside his crown and divide his realm among his three daughters. But treachery and madness lie ahead for King Lear.
128pgs, color, $15.95

I thought Gareth Hinds’s adaptation of Beowulf was fantastic, lots of lush, painted pages that brought the ancient poem to life. Based on that alone, I’d plan on buying another Hinds project, but the fact that it’s King Lear is a bonus. If you’re not familiar with Shakespeare’s play, then all I shall say is that it’s one of his tragedies and one of his most gripping creations. You see? Education can be fun.

VERTICAL INC

TEZUKA'S MW coverTEZUKA’S MW GN
by Osamu Tezuka
Yuki is a young bank employee, charismatic but devoid of morality. Garai is the guilt-ridden priest who atones for Yuki’s sins. Fifteen years ago they witnessed and survived the chemical decimation of a seaside village rumored to have been the hiding place of an experimental psychotic drug, called MW, used by American soldiers. The Japanese and American governments are jointly covering up all knowledge of the drug, leaving Yuki and Garai with no one to turn to. Driven by nothing but his desire to inflict evil upon the world, Yuki’s salvation can only come from Garai’s negotiation of the guilt-ridden torment of their forbidden love, and his responsibility to stop the vicious killer the MW chemical created. This is Osamu Tezuka’s controversial testament to the art of character, one that redefines both sin and salvation.
600pgs, B&W, $24.95

Ok, first off the bat? This sucker is 600 pages long and in hardcover to boot. That is one heck of a lot of bang for your buck. Add in that it’s Osamu Tezuka, the grandfather of all Japanese comics, and that Vertical has in the past been picking some amazing stories by Tezuka to publish like Buddha and Ode to Kirihito and, well, this becomes a must-buy. As influential as artists like Jack Kirby were to today’s comic creators? Tezuka probably has influenced even more people. If you’ve never checked out the other “king” of comics, I suspect this is a great place to start.

VIZ MEDIA LLC

UZUMAKI VOLUME 1 (2ND EDITION) GN
by Junji Ito
Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the town is haunted not by a person or being but a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral – the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people’s bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi’s father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear.
208pgs, B&W, $9.99

If you are looking for a creepy comic to read this Halloween, look no further than Junji Ito’s Uzumaki. I know, the description at first doesn’t sound terribly thrilling. A town haunted by a spiral? Ito takes this to its logical conclusion, though, as the possessions get more and more terrifying. It’s one thing if your hair begins to change shape. But what if your body starts turning into a snail shell? Or hurricanes begin to get attracted to the town? Or entire streets begin to shift and warp? This is one of the strangest books out there, but its three volumes get progressively creepier with each page. Out of print for a couple of years now, I’m delighted it’s coming back. (Just please don’t possess my town next, spirals!)

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