Tag Archives: graphic novels

Ethan Young Discusses His New Graphic Novel Nanjing: The Burning City

Nanjing The Burning CityIn August, award-winning graphic novelist Ethan Young brings bravery in the face of an overwhelming enemy to the forefront of one of the biggest mass murders of World War II.

Exploring the horrors of the Nanjing Massacre of 1937, Nanjing: The Burning City focuses on two abandoned Chinese soldiers trapped in the city as they desperately attempt to escape. Outnumbered by the invading Imperial Japanese Army, they’ll encounter the horrors and terrifying effects of war—but they’ll soon learn that no enemy can destroy the spirit of resistance and bravery.

Written and drawn by Independent Publisher Book Award winner Ethan Young, Nanjing: The Burning City delves into one of the most contentious events of World War II. Impeccably researched and drawn in Young’s critically acclaimed style, the original graphic novel brings new insight into one of World War II’s forgotten tragedies.

We discussed the graphic novel with Ethan, including the history of the massacre, its lasting repercussions, and how he went about crafting the graphic novel.

Graphic Policy: So what got you interested in this historical event, and how did the graphic novel come about?

Ethan Young: Being Chinese-American, the 2nd Sino-Japanese War is paramount to my cultural identity, even though I grew up in NYC. My mother watched a lot of Sinovision when I was a kid, and I distinctly remember seeing China’s parade of weapons (which is strange when I look back, because that’s the kind of footage we’re getting out of North Korea these days). When I inquired about it, my mother told me, in a very direct fashion, “China was hurt during the war. Now we have these weapons and no one will ever threaten us again.” That was the mentality I grew up with. In high school, I discovered how few of my non-Asian friends were aware of China’s involvement during WW2.  In my early 20s, I started learning more about the specific battles and events within the 2nd Sino-Japanese War, such as the Nanjing Massacre. After leaving college, I wanted to tackle the subject right away for my first graphic novel. Part of me felt that it was my ‘duty’ to write this story. When you learn about something horrific happening to your people, you get filled with a heavy dose of nationalism, which I think is very primitive and tribal, but also kinda natural.  After several early drafts, I wisely put the project aside when I realized that my skills were not meeting my expectations.

GP: How much research did you do before and during the creation of the graphic novel?

EY: I started by reading Iris Chang’s Rape of Nanking, which I think almost everyone familiar with the event has come across at some point. There was also The Diaries of John Rabe and the book on Minnie Vautrin.  After I wrapped up Tails and was ready to revisit NANJING, I read Forgotten Ally by Rana Mitter and The Search for Modern China by Jonathan Spence. There were several other books for photo reference and ancillary information, but those were the bulk of my historical research. But as my editor, Jim Gibbons, told me, “There’s always more research.”  Google images was also extremely helpful in pinpointing small details, like finding a clear image of the Kuomintang symbol. Another reason why this book would’ve been so much harder to finish 10 years ago.

GP: How historically accurate did you aim for the graphic novel to be?

EY: Accurate enough that a historian would be comfortable with the artistic licenses I take. If someone is completely oblivious to the events of Nanjing, I want this book to be somewhat informative, but mostly engrossing as a story, while still maintaining a healthy level of respect for the victims of the tragedy.

GP: The story focuses on two Chinese soldiers trapped in the city. Where did that perspective come from?

EY: When initially conceiving the story, my idea for the main protagonist was still fluid. At one point, I wanted to follow 3 separate narratives: a Chinese student, a group of abandoned Chinese soldiers, and a family making their escape. Eventually, the soldiers were the most suitable for the tone of the book. I used the structural narrative of a Western to build the story, so the main characters are somewhat archetypal, and there are some very recognizable tropes when you read it.

GP: With the story focusing on the two Chinese soldiers, do you worry about the graphic novel being called biased? There are some who dismiss the atrocities that took place as propaganda.

EY: To be fair, yes, I am a little biased here. However, I’m more worried that the book will be labeled ‘awful’ or ‘trash’ than being labeled biased. There are parts of the book that do address moral grey areas, so it’s not a concise Black and White, Sheep vs. Wolf story. It’s not like Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury, where EVERY Japanese character was a walking stereotype. And as for those who label the Nanjing Massacre as fabricated propaganda, I suggest they watch the documentary, Nanking, which includes recorded confessions from Japanese soldiers.

GP: How much of the brutality do you show in the graphic novel? When I read the Rape of Nanking in college I cringed at some of the acts committed. Did you have problems depicting any of it? Was there input from Dark Horse concerning that?

EY: There was definitely a lot of input from my editor, but also some self-censorship and restraint on my own part. Being a cartoonist is a very solitary profession, so you work in this vacuum, and things that seem tasteful at first might feel inappropriate when you shine it in the light of day. As for the horrific acts of sexual violence that took place, my book DOES address it, but you never see it happen, you only get glimpses of the aftermath. And even then, I aimed to be as tactful and respectful as I could. Jim and I made sure to field outside opinions on the depictions of brutality, to make sure we weren’t crossing a boundary.  When tackling a subject as sensitive as sexual assault, and more specifically, HOW to tackle it with maturity, I always point to Shawkshank Redemption. You never see Andy’s rape, it cuts away, but you know it happens, and it’s equally horrifying when you listen to Red’s stoic narration.

GP: I also remember being rather shaken while learning about it, some of the acts are so disturbing and photos from the time that graphic. How has the graphic novel impacted the team? What was the team like emotionally when working on the project?

EY: As I touched upon earlier, I was imbued with a heavy sense of nationalism when I first read The Rape of Nanking. But dig a little deeper, and you find that the Kuomintang government at the time was riddled with corruption, the city was practically surrendered to the invading army, and you realize how reductive it is to simply point your finger at Japan. Which isn’t an excuse for the atrocities of the Imperial Japanese Army – far from it – but it’s important to gain some perspective, and not allow your visceral reactions to debase an entire people.

I was a little shaken when I went through all my research notes recently. I had put some of the images out of my head for so long that it became a bit jarring to see them again. I nagged Jim until he watched Nanking, and I think that doc ruined his entire night.

GP: Some of what’s been written about the event is the psychology of the Japanese soldiers, and how things spiraled so out of hand. Do you present that at all?

EY: A bit, yes. There’s a Japanese soldier in the book who acts as the moral center for his squad, in the midst of the chaos. But Lu Chuan’s City of Life and Death thoroughly explored the disillusioned Japanese soldier, so I didn’t want to repeat and/or rip off that plot device.  Also, I didn’t want to focus too much on the outsider’s reaction the events.

GP: The event was part of the Second Sino-Japanese War which folded into World War II. Interestingly the Germans helped China, and there was a lot of involvement from foreigners, especially to protect Chinese citizens. Much of the recounting of the events is from foreigners who stayed and witnessed it too. How much of that do you show?

EY: It’s interesting that you should mention that. Without giving too much away… there is a point in the story where it would’ve been appropriate to show a Nazi flag, but Jim and I felt it simply would’ve been too confusing to people who are oblivious to the event. The International Safety Zone is an essential element in the plot, but you don’t see a lot of westerners in the book, only some.

GP: This was a massive massacre with estimates of 300,000 people killed. It’s also not really talked about in the west, but still impacts Chinese/Japanese relations today. Why do you think this isn’t as well known in the west as opposed to other events of its nature?

EY: That’s an incredibly tough question. It’s a combination so many multiple factors, first of which is simple: a lot of people don’t read. Statistics show that 33% of U.S. high school graduates don’t read a book after graduating (and 40% after college), which to me, means that the average student is getting the bulk of their historical knowledge from compulsory schooling alone, and when you condense world history into 2 years of junior high and 4 years of high school, a lot will fall through the cracks. So much of China’s involvement and contributions to the Allied effort is relegated to foot notes. I remember having only ONE high school teacher mention the 2nd Sino-Japanese War, and even then, she didn’t go too in-depth.

Second, as you mentioned before, some still write the event off as propaganda. Since it’s impossible to know the EXACT death toll of the Nanjing Massacre, with military records having been destroyed, the topic becomes ‘debatable’ and our textbooks don’t like ambiguous topics (at least from what I remember). Textbooks are very binary in their narratives as well. Slavery: BAD. Revolutionary War: GREAT! When textbooks can only accommodate a certain amount of information, certain things will be considered less digestible than others.

Third, there was a lot of western sympathy for Japan after the atomic bombs combined with American guilt for Japanese-American internment camps, both of which are terrible in their own right, so I don’t want to dismiss those 2 tragedies. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But, sadly, that sympathy didn’t exist in China after the war. Chinese students protested western aid to Japan in the late 40s.  Then, you have the Cold War, and the Republic of China became the People’s Republic of China. The US enters the Korean War, and essentially fought China during that war. US/China relations didn’t really improve until the 70s.

GP: The events of Nanjing are still a contentious issue. What’s the reaction been like to it especially from China or Japan if any?

EY: Nothing yet, really. I’ve gotten some interest from Chinese history buffs and a librarian working in Shanghai was very, very intrigued by the book, so I’ll take that as a positive. The one thing that DOES worry me is when I’ll read a very anti-Japanese comment on Facebook regarding my book. The last thing I want is to incite hatred for a current generation of Japanese people who had nothing to do with the atrocities of the Imperial Army.

GP: What other projects do you have coming up?

EY: Well, I’m hoping to wrap up my kids’ comic, A Piggy’s Tale, with my writing partner, Tod Emko. After that, pretty much promoting NANJING and being a full time dad this spring. But once everything has settled down, I’ve already pitched my next big story to Jim. It’s going to be very exciting.

Amazon and comiXology Celebrate the 42nd Angoulême International Comics Festival

angoulemeComiXology and Amazon are celebrating the 42nd Angoulême International Comics Festival with special spotlights and sales on digital comics. The Angoulême International Comics Festival takes place in Angoulême, France and runs from January 29th to February 1st. Now in its 42nd year, the festival is the premier comics show in Europe with over 200,000 attendees every year and playing host to creators, cartoonists, publishers, and fans from around the world. It’s a massive show and frankly doesn’t get enough coverage by US centered comic blogs. It’s on the long list of conventions we’d like to go to…. some day…..

This year marks comiXology’s third year attending the Angoulême International Comics Festival in France and they’ll be covering the show themselves through various social media under the “All Access Angoulême” moniker.

ComiXology will also be running a sale running today through February 1st featuring a whole host of French content available in multiple languages and rounded out with a selection of titles from creators around the world, giving fans a curated taste of the international comics scene.

Amazon, comiXology’s parent company, is also spotlight the show. They sent out an email to those subscribed to their comic/graphic novel newsletter and also have a page dedicated to some graphic novles related to the show.

Angoulême_International_Comics_Festival

 

 

 

 

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Around the Tubes

New comic book day is tomorrow! What’s everyone looking forward to? If you’re undecided, we’ll have reviews and previews of the latest releases right here!

Around the Tubes

ICv2 – Mattel CEO Resigns – Interesting….

The Beat – 8,669,000 graphic novels were sold in bookstores in 2014 – That’s a lot of graphic novels.

Spinoff Online – Ryan Reynolds Says ‘Deadpool’ Is ‘Happening the Right Way’ – Ignoring Wolverine Origins?

CBR – Fox Network Confirms Plans for An “X-Men” TV Series – Old news revisited…

CBLDF – Humble Comics Bundles: A Resounding Success! – Give people! And get comics!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Lumberjanes #10

Bleeding Cool – The Sculptor

The Outhousers – Transformers #37

Review: March Book Two

March Book Two cover (300dpi)John Lewis has been many things in his career: a civil rights activist, a featured speaker at the March on Washington, a leader of the “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, a respected member of Congress, a recipient of the Medal of Freedom, and a worldwide symbol of the power of nonviolent protest. With March, he’s also added celebrated graphic novel writer to that list. Along with co-writer Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell, March Book Two is the second in his three-part graphic novel series chronically his life, and that of the civil rights movement.

This second chapter takes us through Lewis’ time as a Freedom Rider, to the Birmingham campaign, through the March on Washington, and ending with the bombing of a church that killed four young girls. The graphic novel takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster through American history, recounted by someone who was there. His fear, his feelings of victory, his nervousness, and his doubts are all presented to us in a way that can’t help impact you on a deep emotional level. After setting it down, it still has me thinking and reflecting on the content within.

March Book Two takes everything that made the graphic novel good, and added even more, a crescendo before we see its conclusion in book three. The juxtaposition of the masses gathering to shape the civil rights movement, leading to the March on Washington, is apparent with the swearing-in of then Senator Barack Obama as President, and the crowds who also filled the National Mall. It’s a brilliant contrast of where we’ve been, and where we are. However, it I couldn’t also help but think of protests across the country now claiming “Black Lives Matter.”

Also present in this, is a warts and all telling of history. Lewis hints at the nervousness by some civil rights leaders for action and their finding of excuses to not participate in some of it. There’s the history of the nervousness on relying on a black gay man to help organize the march, and then there was the arguments over the content of Lewis’ speech during the march. This is non-sanitized truth from a person that was there.

While the first book was an emotional bunch, I found myself on a roller coast of emotion reading this second volume, fighting back tears and numerous moments, welling up with anger at others, and bewilderment and amazement throughout. Much of that is the story, but it’s enhanced by Nate Powell’s art which brings it all to “life.” Powell catches every moment in a raw powerful sense, but also brilliantly uses small visual queues, as well as expertly place panels to help create that emotional punch. This is Powell, who’s an amazing artist in everything he’s down, at the top of his game and I can’t imagine anyone else even attempting what he’s done.

When reviewing the first chapter, I said March should be required reading for every school child in America, it should be required reading for every American. It is a stark reminder of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we still have to go as a people and a nation.

Story: Cong. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin Art: Nate Powell
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Top Shelf Productions provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

March Book Two cover (300dpi)Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday. Lots of comics from IDW Publishing this made our lists!

Brett

Burning Fields #1 (BOOM! Studios) – Mixing politics with horror? Yes please! I’ve looked forward to this series that sees a detective head to Iraq to solve some murders.

The Kitchen #3 (Vertigo) – Under the radar, and awesome. The series is a 70s set crime series featuring the wives of the the mobsters.

March Book 2 (Top Shelf Productions) – My most anticipated graphic novel (and comic) of 2015 is out this week, and it’s so appropriate as it was MLK day yesterday. Expect this one to win awards at the end of the year.

Millennium #1 (IDW Publishing) – The X-Files spin-off gets its own comic series. It was an underrated television series, and I expect an awesome comic adaptation.

Zombies vs Robots #1 (IDW Publishing) – IDW’s popular book series comes to comics in an ongoing series. It’s zombies fighting robots people!

Edward

Burning Fields #1 (BOOM! Studios) – A noirish detective story, but set in the aftermath of the Iraq War.  Someone or something is killing people in a gruesome fashion on the oil fields, but a cover-up threatens the investigators from getting to the truth.  The story bills itself as Zero Dark Thirty meets The Thing and seems to be living up to it.

Dark Horse Presents #6 (Dark Horse) – This series flies a little below the radar, but channels the same creative concepts behind a lot of earlier comics (DC’s Showcase from the 1960s.)  Some of the stories are doomed to fail, but some are destined for the Dark Horse universe.  This issue has both sci-fi time travel and some undead fighting heroes.

Zombies vs. Robots #1 (IDW Publishing) – The launch of the first ongoing series which proved that the medium of comics is not tired of zombies yet, this time as the small handful of human survivors has to deal with competing post apocalypse scenarios.  And speaking of zombies…

Wonder Woman #38 (DC Comics) – It it only two issues into their run, but the Finches have been very divisive so far, both in terms of their comments to the direction of the character and in the output of the comics. Will Wonder Woman’s return to mainstream DC find firm ground or crash and burn?

Zombie Tramp #6 (Action Lab: Danger Zone) – It is still hard to know what to make of this series, but it is usually entertaining even if you owe your brain an apology in the end.

Evan

Holy F*ck #1 (Action Lab: Danger Zone) – This is a hilarious low-brow title with very well delivered religious satire. I can completely get behind this foul-mouthed stoner who’s-bisexual messiah.

The Valiant #2 (Valiant) – The art in this in issue is beautifully executed. I normally don’t like when I can’t tell which author was writing for each page but the art provided a smooth transition page to page.

George

Amazing Spider-Man #13 (Marvel Comics) – The latest story arc for Spidey is coming to a close and it’s the best one yet by Dan Slott.

Burning Fields #1 (BOOM! Comics) – Military horror mystery by Moreci, Daniel and Lorimer set in the Middle East. The story combines a dishonorably discharged military investigator with a mythic evil set in an already fragile locale. The story sounds amazing and the art looks fantastic.

Powers #1 (Marvel Comics/Icon) – Since the announcement of the TV Show this has been a much anticipated comic. Plus, Brian Michael Bendis is one of the best story-tellers out there. Powers #1 is a perfect jumping-on point for anyone interested n this Eisner Award winning tale.

Reyn #1 (Image Comics) – Kel Symons is building a fantasy world that sounds as amazing as the art by Nathan Stockman. If you’re looking for a new Comic Book to add to your pull list this is definitely one you should add and keep up with.

Rumble #2 (Image Comics) – If you haven’t already picked up, and read, Rumble #1 then do so immediately. This story has such a compelling plot that I couldn’t put it down before I read it and re-read it over and over again. We have yet to learn much of the backstory for the protagonist, but that’s a good thing.

Jesse

Borderlands: Fall of Fyrestone #6 & Borderlands TP Vol. 2 Fall of Fyrestone (IDW Publishing) – Borderlands is among my favorite games out there. I would be honored to review their comic line

Cartoon Network Super Secret Crisis War TP Vol. 1 (IDW Publishing) – These cartoons are my childhood. Seeing them come together is always good entertainment for me.

Dungeons & Dragons: Legend of Drizzt TP Vol. 1 Homeland (IDW Publishing) – After 15 years of Dungeons and Dragons experience of being both a player and Dungeon Master, DnD and (especially) anything with Drizzt would be among my top options.

Iron Man Epic Collection TP Stark Wars (Marvel) – I’m a huge Iron Man fan and would love to get my hands on some Iron Man comics to review and discuss in a large scale review.

Legendary Star-Lord #8Legendary Star-Lord TP Vol. 1 Face It I Rule, Rocket Raccoon #7 (Marvel) – A huge Marvel fan and a huge fan of the Guardians. I’d love anything from Guardians of the Galaxy, but especially them on their own.

Diamond Releases December’s Top Sales and Market Share

Diamond has released the stats for December for comics, graphic novels, toys, and games including the top 50 comics and graphic novels sold. In a rare result, Marvel held the top retail market share (how many dollars was sold), while DC held the top unit market share (how many comics).

TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

RETAIL MARKET SHARE
PUBLISHER SHARE
MARVEL COMICS 32.07%
DC COMICS 31.76%
IMAGE COMICS 9.89%
IDW PUBLISHING 6.10%
DARK HORSE COMICS 3.47%
BOOM! STUDIOS 2.66%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT 2.58%
EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS LTD 1.22%
ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS 0.88%
AVATAR PRESS INC 0.86%
OTHER NON-TOP 10 8.50%
UNIT MARKET SHARE
PUBLISHER SHARE
DC COMICS 36.17%
MARVEL COMICS 34.10%
IMAGE COMICS 10.40%
IDW PUBLISHING 4.17%
DARK HORSE COMICS 2.95%
BOOM! STUDIOS 2.82%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT 2.26%
VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT LLC 0.91%
ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS 0.91%
TITAN 0.87%
OTHER NON-TOP 10 4.43%

COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

  DOLLARS UNITS
DECEMBER 2014 VS. NOVEMBER 2014
COMICS 1.77% 0.31%
GRAPHIC NOVELS -18.50% -21.51%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -5.14% -1.64%
DECEMBER 2014 VS. DECEMBER 2013
COMICS 6.67% 4.50%
GRAPHIC NOVELS -5.41% -8.39%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 2.83% 3.46%
CALENDAR YEAR 2014 VS. CALENDAR YEAR 2013
COMICS 4.03% 0.25%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 5.18% 5.28%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 4.39% 0.64%
FOURTH QUARTER 2014 VS. THIRD QUARTER 2014
COMICS -2.90% -1.57%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 6.31% 4.02%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -0.20% -1.16%
FOURTH QUARTER 2014 VS. FOURTH QUARTER 2013
COMICS 7.89% 7.05%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 7.56% 6.13%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 7.78% 6.98%
SECOND-HALF 2014 VS. FIRST-HALF 2014
COMICS 19.34% 18.58%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 10.54% 4.26%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 16.53% 17.36%

Folks were really into Snyder and Capullo’s “Endgame” driving Batman #37 to the top spot. Surprisingly to me, Marvel’s high-profile S.H.I.E.L.D. first issue came in third.

TOP 50 COMIC BOOKS

Based on Total Unit Sales of Products Invoiced in December 2014

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 BATMAN #37 $3.99 OCT140293-M DC
2 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #11 $3.99 OCT140829-M MAR
3 SHIELD #1 $4.99 OCT140813-M MAR
4 BATMAN ANNUAL #3 $4.99 OCT140297 DC
5 THOR #3 $3.99 OCT140862-M MAR
6 JUSTICE LEAGUE #37 $3.99 OCT140223-M DC
7 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 $4.99 OCT140824-M MAR
8 AVENGERS AND X-MEN AXIS #7 $3.99 OCT140781-M MAR
9 AVENGERS AND X-MEN AXIS #9 $4.99 OCT140787-M MAR
10 AVENGERS AND X-MEN AXIS #8 $3.99 OCT140784-M MAR
11 HARLEY QUINN #13 $2.99 OCT140319-M DC
12 WALKING DEAD #135 (MR) $2.99 OCT140774 IMA
13 HARLEY QUINN HOLIDAY SPECIAL #1 $4.99 OCT140322-M DC
14 SPIDER-MAN AND X-MEN #1 $3.99 OCT140826-M MAR
15 ANGELA ASGARDS ASSASSIN #1 $3.99 OCT140809-M MAR
16 SANDMAN OVERTURE #4 (MR) [*] $3.99 AUG140350-M DC
17 ROBIN RISES ALPHA #1 $4.99 OCT140306-M DC
18 ALL NEW X-MEN #34 $3.99 SEP140899-M MAR
19 DETECTIVE COMICS #37 $3.99 OCT140314-M DC
20 BATMAN AND ROBIN #37 $2.99 OCT140304-M DC
21 UNCANNY X-MEN #29 $3.99 OCT140888-M MAR
22 GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #22 $3.99 OCT140856 MAR
23 GUARDIANS OF GALAXY ANNUAL #1 $4.99 JUN140674-M MAR
24 SUPERMAN #37 $3.99 OCT140270-M DC
25 ALL NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 $3.99 OCT140852-M MAR
26 BATMAN ETERNAL #35 $2.99 OCT140288 DC
27 BATMAN ETERNAL #36 $2.99 OCT140289 DC
28 BATMAN ETERNAL #37 $2.99 OCT140290 DC
29 BATMAN ETERNAL #38 $2.99 OCT140291 DC
30 BATMAN ETERNAL #39 $2.99 OCT140292 DC
31 MULTIVERSITY THUNDERWORLD #1 $4.99 OCT140218-M DC
32 AVENGERS #39 TRO $3.99 OCT140847 MAR
33 BATGIRL #37 $2.99 OCT140298-M DC
34 BATMAN SUPERMAN #17 $3.99 OCT140284-M DC
35 SPIDER-WOMAN #2 $3.99 OCT140836-M MAR
36 SECRET SIX #1 $2.99 OCT140215-M DC
37 ALL NEW X-MEN ANNUAL #1 $4.99 OCT140893-M MAR
38 GREEN LANTERN #37 $2.99 OCT140329-M DC
39 UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #1 $4.99 OCT140891-M MAR
40 DEADPOOL #38 $3.99 OCT140800 MAR
41 WYTCHES #3 (MR) [*] $2.99 OCT140779-M IMA
42 WONDER WOMAN #37 $2.99 OCT140266-M DC
43 GRAYSON #5 $2.99 OCT140301-M DC
44 DEADPOOL #39 $3.99 OCT140801 MAR
45 SUPERMAN WONDER WOMAN #14 $3.99 OCT140278-M DC
46 ROCKET RACCOON #6 $3.99 OCT140858 MAR
47 THANOS VS HULK #1 $3.99 OCT140875-M MAR
48 NEW AVENGERS #28 TRO $3.99 OCT140848 MAR
49 ACTION COMICS #37 $3.99 OCT140275-M DC
50 BITCH PLANET #1 (MR) [*] $3.5 OCT140578-M IMA

As far as trades and graphic novels, Saga Vol. 4 topped the chart and folks were ready for Agent Carter with a Captain America trade.

TOP 50 GRAPHIC NOVELS

Based on Total Unit Sales of Products Invoiced in December 2014

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 SAGA TP VOL 04 (MR) $14.99 OCT140644 IMA
2 CAPTAIN AMERICA PEGGY CARTER AGENT OF SHIELD #1 $7.99 OCT140823 MAR
3 JUST THE TIPS HC (MR) $12.99 SEP140590 IMA
4 MANHATTAN PROJECTS TP VOL 05 THE COLD WAR $14.99 SEP140630 IMA
5 SUNSTONE TP VOL 01 (MR) $14.99 OCT140613 IMA
6 SUPERMAN UNCHAINED DELUXE ED HC $29.99 AUG140334 DC
7 BATMAN THE JIRO KUWATA BATMANGA TP VOL 01 $14.99 SEP140283 DC
8 NEW 52 FUTURES END TP VOL 01 (N52) $39.99 SEP140303 DC
9 NIGHTWING TP VOL 05 SETTING SON (N52) $16.99 SEP140309 DC
10 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 01 DAYS GONE BYE $14.99 NOV128157 IMA
11 THANOS HC GOD UP THERE LISTENING $24.99 SEP140916 MAR
12 NARUTO GN VOL 68 $9.99 OCT141722 VIZ
13 ALL NEW X-MEN TP VOL 04 ALL DIFFERENT $19.99 SEP140934 MAR
14 NIGHTWING TP VOL 01 BLUDHAVEN $19.99 SEP140321 DC
15 BATGIRL TP VOL 04 WANTED (N52) $16.99 SEP140305 DC
16 SAGA TP VOL 01 (MR) $9.99 AUG120491 IMA
17 RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS TP VOL 05 THE BIG PICTURE (N52) $14.99 SEP140310 DC
18 BATMAN & ROBIN HC VOL 05 THE BIG BURN (N52) $24.99 JUL140240 DC
19 SHAOLIN COWBOY TP $19.99 OCT141229 BUR
20 CIVIL WAR TP $24.99 JAN072436 MAR
21 SAGA TP VOL 03 (MR) $14.99 JAN140556 IMA
22 MY LITTLE PONY ADVENTURES IN FRIENDSHIP HC VOL 01 $9.99 OCT140454 IDW
23 GREEN LANTERN LIGHTS OUT TP (N52) $16.99 SEP140306 DC
24 SWAMP THING TP VOL 05 THE KILLING FIELD (N52) $14.99 SEP140313 DC
25 RED LANTERNS TP VOL 05 ATROCITIES (N52) $19.99 SEP140311 DC
26 SAGA TP VOL 02 (MR) $14.99 APR130443 IMA
27 AVENGERS ORIGIN HC $24.99 SEP100690 MAR
28 DAREDEVIL BY MARK WAID TP VOL 07 $19.99 SEP140933 MAR
29 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 22 A NEW BEGINNING (MR) $14.99 SEP140657 IMA
30 SUPERMAN ACTION COMICS TP VOL 04 HYBRID (N52) $16.99 SEP140312 DC
31 AMAZING X-MEN TP VOL 02 WORLD WAR WENDIGO $17.99 OCT140934 MAR
32 BATMAN ARKHAM ORIGINS HC $22.99 AUG140339 DC
33 CYCLOPS TP VOL 01 STARSTRUCK $15.99 SEP140929 MAR
34 LOBSTER JOHNSON TP VOL 04 GET THE LOBSTER $19.99 AUG140094 DAR
35 BATMAN TP VOL 01 THE COURT OF OWLS (N52) $16.99 DEC120323 DC
36 NEW LONE WOLF AND CUB TP VOL 03 (MR) $13.99 AUG140124 DAR
37 ATTACK ON TITAN BEFORE THE FALL GN VOL 03 $10.99 OCT141529 RAN
38 THIEF OF THIEVES TP VOL 04 (MR) $14.99 AUG140609 IMA
39 SUPERMAN BATMAN TP VOL 02 $19.99 SEP140323 DC
40 BATGIRL HC VOL 05 DEADLINE (N52) $24.99 AUG140328 DC
41 WORLDS FINEST TP VOL 04 FIRST CONTACT (N52) $16.99 SEP140314 DC
42 MS MARVEL TP VOL 01 NO NORMAL $15.99 JUN140725 MAR
43 ANGEL & FAITH SEASON 10 TP VOL 01 RIVER MEETS SEA $18.99 AUG140091 DAR
44 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 02 MILES BEHIND US (NEW PTG) $14.99 SEP088204 IMA
45 NOVA TP VOL 04 ORIGINAL SIN $16.99 OCT140935 MAR
46 POWERS BUREAU TP VOL 02 ICONS (MR) $19.99 JAN140782 MAR
47 WICKED & DIVINE TP VOL 01 THE FAUST ACT (MR) $9.99 SEP140684 IMA
48 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 21 ALL OUT WAR PT 2 (MR) $14.99 MAY140652 IMA
49 CAPTAIN AMERICA TP VOL 03 LOOSE NUKE $19.99 SEP140935 MAR
50 MASSIVE TP VOL 04 SAHARA $19.99 AUG140073 DAR

Gischler Goes Hellbound with Dark Horse

In September 2015, Dark Horse Comics will take readers on a road trip of horrific nightmares in small-town America—kept at bay by one man in junkyard armor.

Adapted from the hit Panini series Highway to Hell, Hellbound follows the exploits of two disgraced FBI agents sent to investigate gruesome murders along the highway, but there’s much more to the case than a garden-variety serial killer.

In the tradition of True Detective and From Hell, the new graphic novel by Victor Gischler, Davide Dileo, and Riccardo Burchielli brings Highway to Hell to America, introducing a whole new level of horror to English-speaking audiences. Featuring a cover by superstar artist Lee Bermejo, Hellbound keeps the nightmares coming in one convenient package.

Hellbound

Review: Michael Jordan: Bull on Parade

Michael Jordan Bull on ParadeEveryone knows the legend of Michael Jordan: The Chicago Bulls, Nike shoes, minor league baseball. In Bull on ParadeWilfred Santiago digs in a bit and lifts the veil of the man behind the legend. The graphic novel, published by Fantagraphics, is Santiago’s follow up to 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente.

15 seasons. 1,072 games. 41,011 minutes of basketball. That alone could fill up volumes of exciting graphic novels, as Jordan rose from team reject to basketball god. Santiago has a lot to work with, and takes the man’s legendary life and condenses it into a one big theme, how Jordan went from basketball player to as much of a product as the items he later was paid to endorse.

Santiago also has no problem showing that it’s not all shine, and touches upon the more controversial aspects of Jordan’s life including his infidelity and gambling habits, things that are often overlooked at when discussing his rise. There’s also the failure of his baseball career, and retirement and return to basketball. None of it is very deep, instead touching upon key aspects of his career and life.  From his sometimes scandalous and tragic private life to Jordan’s intense battles with the “bad boy” Pistons, Clyde Drexler’s Trailblazers, and the unrelenting Utah Jazz of the late ’90s, Santiago is able to induce a sense of dynamism and awe as he takes on Jordan’s life on and off the court.

The excitement that was Jordan and his Chicago Bulls is brought to life with Santiago’s style that’s beautiful to look at. It’s a kinetic style for a kinetic personality, and the graphic novel is as entertaining to read as it is to look at.

For all those who have strapped on a pair of Air Jordans, donned the number 23, or wished they could be “like Mike,” the graphic novel is a must read. So just sit back, let your tongue hang out, and marvel at Wilfred Santiago’s mastery of the life and times of Michael Jordan in Bull on Parade.

Story and Art: Wilfred Santiago
Story: 8.25 Art: 9 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Fantagraphics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Interview: Miss Lasko-Gross Discusses Henni

HenniWith Henni, Miss Lasko-Gross has put together a graphic novel that’s both beautiful to read, and timely. In a fantastical world where old traditions and religion dominate every aspect of life, lives a girl named Henni. Unlike most in her village, Henni questions and wonders what the world is like as she comes of age. Striking out on her own, Henni goes out in search of truth, adventure, and more! Henni is a commentary on, religion, coming of age, and being yourself.

The graphic novel struck me as not afraid to dive in to discuss faith and rebellion. Gross has created a thought-provoking graphic novel with a wide appeal acting as a coming of age story, as well as one that’ll challenge your beliefs.

We got a chance to talk to her about the graphic novel, religion, and experiences as a woman in the comic industry.

Graphic Policy: How would you describe Henni?

Miss Laslow-Gross: I would say it’s primarily an adventure story but in a fractured fairy tale like Alice in Wonderland. It’s about a young girl who is too curious for her own good and is cast out of the world in exile. I should have a better elevator pitch.

GP: I have trouble really nailing what type of genre it is. It fits so many.

MLG: Some one described it as Post modern fantasy. I think you invented the genre

GP: What’s the graphic novel’s influences?

MLG: Alice in Wonderland and Maurice Sendak is what I’d compare it to. But the books and movies I read don’t really show in the product I create. Sendak, I read it when I was little, so it had an influence. I like anything that you can come back to, and that’s what I try to create. A graphic novel takes years to create, so I’d liek for that to happen.

For Henni in particular, any kind of adventure story. I grew up on Greek mythology, anything with a person on a journey and how they deal with obstacles. The idea that around a corner could be anything appealed to me. When you have a naive character, the prospect of anything is exciting.

GP: How did the graphic novel come about and get published by Z2?

MLG: It started as a side project. I was working on a dark and serious graphic novel that I was 50 pages in to about a friend that was injured in an explosion. It was heavy. I started doing a story on the side for comixology that was proto-Henni. I was making it up as I went along and amusing myself. I wanted to do something that I’d like to read. Something that wasn’t boring, I wanted ll fun, all adventure. The idea kept expanding until there was enough story for three books. I know the full journey, the full story. Then it became my main project. It became the thing that was enjoyable. Graphic novels take so long to create, so if you’re not enjoying it, it makes no sense to continue

I had been with Fantagraphics, and it was a great relationship, Z2 is a young company and a boutique publisher, and I thought it was a good fit. An exciting new adventure for an exciting new adventure.

GP: How long were you working on the graphic novel?

MLG: Because I started, and it was a different project, I had to redraw earlier parts of the book. I started it about 4 years ago, but in that 4 years, I’m done with nearly two books. So I guess a couple for the first book, and a couple for the second book.

GP: The graphic novel talks about religion and a patriarchal society, what drove you to take on those two subjects?

MLG: I think it wasn’t a conscious choice. I think it’s just, when you’re talking about the world, and making a commentary on reality, that was a natural topic of discussion. When you look at fundamentalist society, Henni is a collection of fundamentalist villages in a religion that’s unforgiving and unreasonable, you think of what that’d be like, to keep control over a group, the laws and rules would be restrictive and that usually affects women. The last thing I want this to be seen as is a didactic work, I’m not trying to teach a lesson.

GP: It also doesn’t have some simple solution or ending, and is pretty open. Was it a Sorpanos ending in you wanted the reader to interpret what happened?

MLG: I didn’t see that, I didn’t want to screw the audience, but I heard. If there is ambiguity and openness about the end, I’m not playing with anyone. She makes her choice, without spoilers, she makes a choice which isn’t the only logical choice. The reader has information she doesn’t. She makes the only correct choice for her, what will keep her alive, though she doesn’t know that. You can interpret if its right or wrong or foolhardy endeavor. I don’t think it’s so open to be aggravating, if you read the first book you won’t be cheated.

There’ll be a second volume, but it’ll be a while, and a third that’s long stretch in the future.

GP: You started making zines as a teenager, what got you into creating comics?

MLG: I think I loved to read them so much, I was always an artist, it was the next step. I wanted to create things, like the things I love. The first works I did were derivative, rip offs of things I loved, but that was part of the process. I started doing strips in elementary school. 1992-93 is when I consider I was doing professional work. I was creating comics in high school and distributing it locally and to zines, and putting work out there that I enjoyed.

GP: Where you a comics fan before hand?

MLG: I think so. I didn’t have a way of getting them regularly. I would get them from an older cousin, so I got old Fantastic Four. I’d get them on my own if I was in a shop with comics. I’d load up with a big stack that’d last a long time, and read them to they were shreds.

My local shop became Comicopia, and I’d put everything on hold when it came out, and then save up the allowance and birthday money. I always loved them. But, I don’t remember reading them in Kindergarten or first grade.

GP: What did you read?

MLG: Of superheroes, Fantastic Four, I liked the characters. Most superheroes didn’t speak to me. I had an affinity for Ben Grimm. When I got older, anything counter-culture, subversive. I read a lot of English comics, Tank Girl. There was a British humor magazine called Viz. Anything I felt I wasn’t supposed to have. Akira was a big early book. And then it was over after I read Love & Rockets. That series is perfection, still. That’s what comics are supposed to be like.

GP: When I think of comics in the 90s, I don’t really remember it being the most welcoming to women. How has that changed over the years?

MLG: Well… anecdotally… I’ve never gone into a shop and made to feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about. I found people supportive of what I was doing. I wasn’t doing samples for Marvel or DC, because I had a realistic sense of that not being an outlet, and instead focused on where I’d be receptive.

I personally don’t feel that way, but I’ve heard enough stories, to realize it’s an issue. I was lucky and always found a place that was always accepting to me. I felt very welcomed by the comic world.

Of the shows I went to, I went to SDCC in ’96 and felt it was too commercial, I started going to SPX in the 90s and always found it welcoming. SPX is about the art, not the corporate tie-in. It’s very independent level.

GP: Henni has a female lead, and there seems to be more comics with female leads hitting shelves now. What do you think is driving that?

MLG: I think it depends on the company and the publisher. If you’re talking about corporate comics, they might have just realized half the readership is female and they’re tired about the testosterone tropes. For indie, they’ve been telling the stories they have been, and it’s finally being noticed.

GP: What else do you have on tap that folks can check out?

MLG: I’d recommend folks can go to comiXology with two graphic novels and compilation book. My first two books, Fantagraphics offers digitally. Through Dyclops I put out a collection of short stories from the past 20 years. From 1994-2014. It’s not for kids though, it’s the raw, raunchy, stuff I did earlier. Definitely not all ages.

 

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