Tag Archives: graphic novel

Preview: A House Divided: The Accursed Inheritance of Henrieta Achilles

Are you ready for the new graphic novel series that’s recommended for fans of RPGs and high adventure—and perfect for readers of Lumberjanes and The Adventure Zone graphic novels? Welcome to A House Divided: The Accursed Inheritance of Henrieta Achilles, the action-packed first volume of a brand new, 4-part graphic novel series created by two lifelong friends, Haiko Hörnig and Marius Pawlitza

Haiko Hörnig spent his childhood in his parents’ comic book store, Comicothek, where he developed a love for sequential art at an early age. In middle school, he quickly became friends with Marius Pawlitza. The two of them first enjoyed role-playing games together and later started to make comics. And now their cult favorite graphic novel series is making its English language debut from Lerner Books. 

A House Divided: The Accursed Inheritance of Henrieta Achilles is a magical and dynamic romp that takes its cues from the role-playing games the creators played as kids. When 15-year old Henrietta Achilles is plucked from the orphanage and taken to a mysterious town called Malrenard, she’s surprised to learn that the death of an uncle she’s never met means she’s inherited his home. But Henrietta quickly learns that this inheritance is more of a burden than a gift. The house holds a powerful, magical secret—and now it’s plagued by bandits and strange creatures intent on possessing the house and its treasures. Henrietta is quickly swept up in their antics as she is thrown headlong into an ominous but kooky adventure full of stolen quiche, talking statues, and roving pirate gangs. 

Hörnig and Pawlitza make fantastic collaborators, and their lifelong friendship and love for role-playing games imbues A House Divided with a sense of infectious fun that makes the book a delightful and entertaining read. An epic war? Check. A determined heroine? Yes! A missing treasure? An enchanted castle? Recipes in the back of each volume? Yes, yes, and yes. Get ready to discover the magical world of A House Divided.

A House Divided: The Accursed Inheritance of Henrieta Achilles will be available from Lerner Publishing Group where books are sold on April 7, 2020.

Z2 Comics Reveals the Cover Art and Tracklist for an Unreleased Grateful Dead LP as Part of the Deluxe Origins Package

Grateful Dead Origins takes an in depth and personal look at the formation of one of the most important American rock bands of all time, exploring the early days of Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Pigpen, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. The story of the band’s transformation from a bar band performing as the Warlocks to becoming the creators of their own sound and forefathers for the jamband culture is depicted in the original story written by Chris Miskiewicz and illustrated by Noah Van Sciver.

Grateful Dead Origins will be available in a strictly limited collector’s deluxe edition to be released on June 19, with a standard edition coming the following week on June 23. The standard softcover edition will feature an exclusive download of rare selections from the early years of the band. The limited-run collector’s deluxe edition will come in a hardcover, oversized, individually-numbered coffee table edition featuring exclusive prints and autographed by the comic creators, along with an exclusive vinyl LP of an unreleased recording from an August 1968 performance at the Fillmore West in San Francisco.

This previously unreleased show includes the first known West Coast live rendition of “St. Stephen,” and the first known performance of its “William Tell Bridge,” which would join “St. Stephen” to “The Eleven.” The show was recorded to 8-track analog tape, and was mastered by Grammy-winning engineer David Glasser at Airshow Mastering in Boulder, CO.

Grateful Dead Origins
Grateful Dead Origins track list

Review: In Vitro

In Vitro

In Vitro is a sweet, funny French graphic memoir by cartoonist William Roy about him and his wife’s quest to have a child via in vitro fertilization. What follows is an emotional, educational, and sometimes downright hilarious look at the IVF process. Guillaume (The protagonist) and Emma deal with all kinds of doctors with weird bedside manners, all kinds of invasive medical procedure, their friends and families, and the comic’s biggest subplot: Guillaume’s strained relationship with his biological father, Jean-Pierre.

In Vitro is rendered with a light, cartoonish touch from Roy, who has a background in documentary filmmaking, and agilely transfers this skill set to comics. This is evident in Guillaume using cinema to make sense of stressful situations like a memory of falling in love with movies when his dad took him to Empire Strikes Back when he was a child to an IVF doctor reminding him of Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry.

The cinematic influence is most seen in some of the techniques that Roy uses to tell the story like a kind of Super 8, reel to reel panel layouts to show how he fell in love with his wife Emma, and later on, to show how he lost touch with his father. The color palette is the difference is the scene with Roy choosing a more romantic palette for the love story and a dark, melodramatic one for the father/son story. The shift in panel style also signals to the reader that these sequences add important context and layers to In Vitro‘s key relationships: Guillaume and Emma and Guillaume and his father.

On the flip side, Roy is also a master of storytelling in a single image. Think New Yorker single panel cartoon, not a superhero splash page, or God forbid, Family Circus. He uses a lot of white space on these pages, which boosts the importance of the art in the scene. Sometimes, Roy even drops the dialogue out like when he draws a panel of the sterile container with his semen at the doctor’s office, hoping, that this time it will lead to a viable embryo and then a child. Other times, he uses it to emphasis a plot point, like a cliffhanger in a serial comic, like when his dad sends him an email: his first contact in 20 years.

William Roy’s sense of humor in In Vitro is what endeared me to his work and to this book. His first great gag in the comic is when Guillaume sees a doctor holding something that looks like rosary beads in spectacularly awkward scene at his and Emma’s first IVF appointment. An intern is present so Guillaume is definitely feeling uncomfortable, and that feeling is tripled when he finds out that what he thought were rosary beads is a medical device that is used to measure his testicles. Roy finds the funny, surreal in all of it, and makes quite a few masturbation jokes as Guillaume and Emma deal with rude, incompetent doctors and finally find someone good ones thanks to his surprisingly compassionate boss at the TV network where he works as a film editor. Also, he goes into full cartoon mode every time he explains the medical context of the story and even creates a silly, exasperated doctor character to deliver the exposition in an amusing way.

Speaking of the boss, William Roy, for the most part, avoids stock character types in his storytelling in In Vitro and instead revels in the idiosyncracy of human nature. One gynecologist seems sleazy, not making eye contact while he converses with while an anesthesiologist is a terse, bundle of nerves quickly asking Emma what kind of anesthesia she would like during the IVF process. To go with the cinematic elements again, Roy is a skilled cast director, picking the right character actors to people the halls, offices, and corridors of the clinics and hospitals that Guillaume and Emma find themselves at.

William Roy is vulnerable, funny, and turns in some great sequential storytelling In Vitro showing a real mastery of layout, color palette, and having symbolism tie into the story instead of just having it to make him look clever. He can do both sad (Guillaume looking at the kids with their parents on the playground.) and wacky (Guillaume as a sperm) and is a cartoonist who I would definitely want to see more of.

Story: William Roy Art: William Roy
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Humanoids/Life Drawn provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Early Review: Kill a Man

Kill a Man

I’ve been a fan of MMA for quite some time. While my enthusiasm has waned in recent years, I still enjoy turning on the tv and catching the occasional fight. The sport, much like comics, has had a rocky relationship with the “outside” world. Both have been seen as juvenile and corrupting at various times. Both have also been accepted to become drivers in entertainment (ironically, also dominated by a few brands). Kill a Man is the latest comic to bring the world of MMA to the page. Unlike previous attempts, the focus isn’t so much about the punches and grappling but the fighters themselves. It delivers depth in character we haven’t really seen up to this point.

Written by Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Kill a Man takes us through a new generation of fighter, James Bellyi, impacted by the in-ring death of his father. James is also gay and not out. In a world of machismo, sexuality is still a touchy subject and when James is outed, his world is turned upside down.

Orlando and Johnson deliver the takedowns and knee kicks but they also focus on James’ journey of being outed and the rejection it brings. Bellyi’s father was killed in the ring as payback for homophobic slurs directed at his opponent. James himself is deeply repressed. He has hidden his sexuality from those closest to him. That’s partially due to the world of MMA that he has trained for his entire life. It’s also due to the homophobic views of his mother who blames a “gay man” for killing her husband.

While I have only been able to read the first half, the two creators have delivered a fantastic graphic novel. As the story progresses they make sure to add layers to James’ character. We get a brutal tale in both the fighting but also James’ world. As his upbringing is revealed we’re given hints as to why he’s hidden his sexuality beyond what happened to his father.

Orlando and Kennedy don’t dive too much into the foreign language of holds and moves of the MMA world. There is more than enough for those who enjoy the matchups. There’s enough detail and focus on moves or even how to fighters compare that there’s an authenticity to it. It’s still accessible for that are not familiar or lacking depth. I don’t need to know what an armbar is. I might understand taking someone to the ground. That’s a difference between being for a wide audience and the MMA diehards.

The art by Al Morgan and lettering by Jim Campbell are fantastic. There’s a gritty dirtiness to it all that fits James’ brutal life. It’s not just the fighting, it’s his upbringing and the world around him. There’s the punch but there’s also the sex which is more carnal than about connection. That aspect of James’ life delivers visuals that make it feel as cold as the fights in the ring about the physical dance than a connection otherwise. There’s a rawness in the fighting and in James’ personal life that the visuals emphasize.

Kill a Man has amazing potential and I’m excited to read the second half of the graphic novel. The first is so good and follows what I liked about the flow of films like Rocky or Creed. Yes, there’s some formula to it but there’s a focus on James as a person that’s missing from so many other stories. By the end of these initial 64 pages, I understand who he was and more importantly, I wanted to see where he, and the story, are going from there.

Kill a Man is set to be released June 3, 2020 and can be pre-ordered from shops.

Story: Steve Orlando, Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art: Al Morgan Letterer: Jim Campbell

AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: House of Cards

House of Cards,” the second in the graphic novel series adaptation of Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three is set to be released April 21 by Gallery 13.

Originally published by Marvel, the series was overseen by Stephen King. The series is written by King, Robin Furth, and Peter David and features art by Piotr Kowalski and Nick Filardi.

Purchase: AmazonKindle

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three House of Cards

Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry arrives just in time for National Poetry Month

Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry

Timed to National Poetry Month in April, Plough Publishing Press is releasing Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry, an all new anthology by cartoonist Julian Peters. Over the course of 24 classic poems — from Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird” to W. B. Yeats’ “When You Are Old” — the Montreal-based artist has created stunning visual interpretations of some of the world’s most beloved poems. Each iconic poem is interpreted for the page using a different and compelling visual style, showcasing both the diversity of the source material and the storytelling possibilities of the comics artform. 

Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry features poems by Maya Angelou, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, e. e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, Tess Gallagher, Thomas Hardy, Robert Hayden, Seamus Heaney, William Ernest Henley, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Langston Hughes, John Philip Johnson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edgar Allen Poe, Christina Rossetti, Carl Sandburg, Siegfried Sassoon, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Stevie Smith, Dylan Thomas, William Wordsworth, and W. B. Yeats. 

POEMS TO SEE BY is a perfect fit not only for die-hard poetry fans and curious new readers—it’s also a fantastic teaching tool that any educator trying to get their students excited by poetry should pick up for their classroom.

Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry is in bookstores on March 31, 2020.

Get a Look at Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story

Love comes to DC this fall in the form of a new teen romance, Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story. This new young adult (YA) graphic novel is written by bestselling YA author Lauren Myracle and illustrated by Isaac Goodhart and will tell the untold love story of Victor Fries and Nora Kumar. Set many years before Victor becomes the iconic Batman villain Mr. Freeze, Victor and Nora is a heart-wrenching exploration of living life to the fullest, and how far one will go for love.

Myracle and Goodhart previously collaborated on the critically acclaimed Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale and are excited to come together in this moving story about first love and first heartbreaks.

Myracle and Goodhart’s original tale will also go in-depth into Nora’s character, something that has not yet been done in DC storytelling.

Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story will hit stores and online retailers everywhere books are sold on November 3, 2020.

Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story

DC’s Gotham High Gets a Trailer

Staying in? Looking for a new read? DC has you covered with Gotham High, a new young adult (YA) graphic novel written by Melissa de la Cruz, one of the most popular voices in YA literature, with stunning illustrations from Riverdale comics artist Thomas Pitilli. The book hits stores and online retailers everywhere books are sold on April 7, and DC has debuted the official book trailer.

In Gotham High, del la Cruz and Pitilli bring their signature style to DC to put a contemporary twist on Gotham City, following Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle, and Jack Napier, and more classic Batman characters, in high school, before they take on their iconic mantles. Complete with love triangles, epic parties, and betrayals at every turn, Gotham High is a thrilling teen drama.

Legendary Comics’ Pokémon Detective Pikachu is Out Now

The highly anticipated Pokémon Detective Pikachu graphic novel adaptation from Legendary Comics, in collaboration with The Pokémon Company International, is now available for purchase online. Last summer’s popular big-screen adventure starred Ryan Reynolds as the adorable super-sleuth Detective Pikachu and was the first-ever live action Pokémon movie. Fans are now invited to relive the adventures of Tim Goodman and his crime-solving Detective Pikachu partner in comic form.

The graphic novel is written by Brian Buccellato with art by Nelson Dániel and draws inspiration from the film that is based on the beloved Pokémon brand—one of the world’s most popular, multi-generation entertainment properties and one of the most successful media franchises of all time. Readers are invited to follow along as lead character Tim Goodman, played in the movie by Justice Smith, journeys through Ryme City searching for his missing father. With twists and turns around every corner, nothing is more twist-y than Tim’s unexpected partner: a Pikachu with a penchant for coffee and danger, and the amazing ability to speak human language. In a city where humans and Pokémon live together in harmony, unexpected dangers surround them as they try to solve a mystery.

Pokémon Detective Pikach

Preview: For Better or For Worse The Complete Library Vol. 4: 1990-1993

For Better or For Worse The Complete Library Vol. 4: 1990-1993

(W) Lynn Johnston (A/CA) Lynn Johnston
In Shops: Mar 25, 2020
SRP: $49.99

This volume includes the story that earned Lynn Johnston a Pulitzer Prize nomination. The ’90s start with a bang for the Pattersons when Elly finds out she is pregnant! Follow April Patterson as she grows from a toddler to a three-year-old, all in this single volume-but that isn’t all the excitement in the house, especially when there is a teenager around. Michael gets his first summer job, a steady girlfriend, and a driver’s license-if he passes the test. Adolescence is just as challenging for Elizabeth, who navigates middle school, learns to cope with the stigma of wearing glasses, and is peer-pressured into smoking a cigarette! Meanwhile, John succumbs to his (first) mid-life crisis when he buys his first model train.

The highlight of this collection, however, is Lawrence’s coming out story, a tender and compassionate tale of gender identity and acceptance for which Lynn was deservedly nominated for the newspaper industry’s top honor. Includes every comic strip from December 10, 1989 to April 24, 1993.

For Better or For Worse The Complete Library Vol. 4: 1990-1993
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