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  • Writer's pictureTrusty Henchman

Upcoming Comics Spotlight: Drama

This batch of drama spotlights feature the odyssey if a Syrian refugee, the struggles of a young Korean family, an empathic plea from animals around the world, a vineyard worker who gets stuck in a sacred barrel, and one of the most critically lauded graphic novel debuts in the medium's history!



(W) Fabien Toulme, Hannah Chute

"What does it mean to be a "refugee"? It is easy for those who live in relative freedom to ignore or even to villainize people who have been forced to flee their homes. After all, it can be hard to identify with others' experiences when you haven't been in their shoes. In Hakim's Odyssey, we see firsthand how war can make anyone a refugee. Hakim, a successful young Syrian who had his whole life ahead of him, tells his story: how war forced him to leave everything behind, including his family, his friends, his home, and his business. After the Syrian uprising in 2011, Hakim was arrested and tortured, his town was bombed, his business was seized by the army, and members of his family were arrested or disappeared.

This first leg of his odyssey follows Hakim as he travels from Syria to Lebanon, Lebanon to Jordan, and Jordan to Turkey, where he struggles to earn a living and dreams of one day returning to his home.


Why this caught my eye:

More books that help spread empathy towards refugees please, we simply don't have enough of that type of material and with the way the world is right now we can definitely use it.



(W) Keum Suk Gendry-Kim (A/CA) Keum Suk Gendry-Kim

The Waiting is the fictional story of Gwija, told by her novelist daughter Jina. When Gwija was 17 years old, after hearing that the Japanese were seizing unmarried girls, her family married her in a hurry to a man she didn't know. Japan fell, Korea gained its independence, and the couple started a family. But peace didn't come. The young family fled south. On the road, while breastfeeding and changing her daughter, Gwija was separated from her husband and son.


Why this caught my eye:

Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass from 2019 was a groundbreaking piece of work, and this looks to put a focus on elements of the Korean War that may be lesser know to western audiences.



(W) Frederic Brremaud, Allain Dubourg (A/CA) Giovanni Rigano

We share this planet with millions of animals, and sometimes we forget that they have lives, too. This book gives animated voices to many of them so that they can plead their case for the right to live alongside us.


Why this caught my eye:

I am a sucker for animal books and Rigano's artwork looks pretty fantastic.



(W) Nicolas Andre (A/CA) Nicolas Andre

The life of young Ivanhoe Backus is marked by his work in the vineyard, which his father, Gaspard, religiously continues in the tradition of his ancestors. To do this sacred work, Gaspard Backus has one precious possession: a magnificent oak barrel bequeathed to him by his elders. This year, a new custom takes place - Ivanhoe is now old enough to help his father. Tradition demands that the son of the winemaker must enter the barrel to clean it from top to bottom. Unfortunately, nothing goes as planned and Ivanhoe becomes trapped inside. Will the distraught Gaspard break his precious barrel, forsaking the Backus legacy, to free his son?


Why this caught my eye:

What preview art that I've been able to find has a bit of a fairy tale quality to it, and other solicits make the dad sound like a jerk, so now I feel invested in knowing what happens to Ivanhoe.



(W) R. Kikuo Johnson (A/CA) R. Kikuo Johnson

Two Maui high school students, Loren and Shane, get mixed up in a petty crime, and their friendship is put to the test. One of the most critically lauded graphic novel debuts in the medium's history is now in hardcover for the first time!

First-rate prep school, SUV, and a dream house in the heights - an island paradise was handed to Loren Foster when he moved to Hawaii with his father six years ago. Now, with the end of high school just around the corner, his best friend, Shane, has grown distant. Rumors abound. Loren suspects that Shane has left him behind for a new group of friends. Their friendship is put to the test when they get mixed up in a petty crime.

Johnson has a naturalistic ease in exploring these relationships, which sets this drama apart. This graphic novel debut is at once an unsentimental portrait of that most awkward period between adolescence and young adulthood and that rarest of things - a mature depiction of immature lives. His lush-yet-unsentimental-depiction of Maui creates an immersive, visceral sense of place.

In 2006, critics heralded R. Kikuo Johnson's Night Fisher as one of the most exciting debuts in the medium's history. Johnson won the prestigious Russ Manning Newcomer Award at the 2006 Eisner Awards, the Harvey Award for Best New Talent, and a Harvey Award nomination for Best Graphic Novel. On its 15th anniversary, Fantagraphics is proud to publish this new edition of Night Fisher in hardcover for the first time.


Why this caught my eye:

I love/hate it when I spot books like this because, hey, it's great that there's just so much stuff out there that I can discover something from 2006 and it feels fresh. But on the other hand, this went right past me over the past 15 years so I most certainly was not paying attention when I should have been. At least this means I can check out a nice new anniversary edition though.


That's it for this batch, we'll hit manga!

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