• Trusty Henchman

Upcoming Comics Spotlight: Drama

This batch features an exploration of the disenchantment of love, a journey to Venice, a tribute to a departed grandmother, a story of mental health and perseverance, and the long-awaited graphic novel masterpiece from acclaimed cartoonist Jordan Crane.

 

ASPHALT BLUES

2032. It's been thirteen years since Nina and Mick split up. Both have since rebuilt their lives, but at what cost? Nina lives with a powerful man who is jealous of her attraction to others, while Mick's wife suffers from severe depression. The two former lovers don't know it, but their daily lives remain intertwined-each moment intersecting with another, driving towards cataclysmic actions on both grand and personal scales, culminating in a deeply poetic and sensual exploration of the disenchantment of love.

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Why this caught my eye:

Salaun's preview pages look pretty great, and I like that the futuristic/cyperpunk element looks like background dressing as the solicit barely touches on anything but the character arcs.

 

VENICE

(W) Jiro Taniguchi (A) Jiro Taniguchi


After his mother dies aged 78, the author discovers a beautifully lacquered box which contains what appear to be old hand-drawn postcards and photos of Venice. One photo of Piazza San Marco particularly catches his eye. It is of a Japanese couple feeding a multitude of pigeons in the square dressed in what looked like 1930's style. Who were they? What relevance did they have for his mother?


Armed with the contents of the lacquered box he travels to Venice to track down the places and events in the images and to discover the identity of the young couple in the old photograph.


With very few but well-chosen words and his artist's eye for detail, Taniguchi portrays the Venice of today in a most deserving light.

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Why this caught my eye:

I missed picking this up a few years back so glad to see it offered again.

 

HEADLAND

Following a stroke, 95-year-old Ruth wakes up in a cold, unfamiliar hospital. To escape her grim surroundings, she retreats into a wilderness within her mind. In this interior world she befriends a tortoise who accompanies her on a journey into the unknown. As the days pass, Ruth's hold on the material world wanes and she moves deeper into her own landscape.


In Headland, artist Kate Schneider pays tribute to her departed grandmother, presenting with deeply felt empathy a perspective little represented in popular literature. Drawn with soft pencils and lush colors, this graphic novel explores the tensions between safety and autonomy, language and silence, holding on and letting go.

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Why this caught my eye:

This sounds soul crushing, and that is a favorite genre of mine so this is probably a must have book then.

 

VERTICAL SEA HC

(W) Brian Freschi (A/CA) Ilaria Urbinati


With a good job as an elementary school teacher and a love for her partner, India's life seems okay at face value. However, with a chronic mental illness that causes her to have panic attacks regularly, each day can be a struggle. With the threat of having her class taken from her, the pressure is building, and India needs to face her problems head on and take action.


This wonderful story of perseverance is beautifully and meticulously illustrated by Ilaria Urbinati, and wonderfully written by Brian Freschi, allowing India to be connectable to all audiences. o Presented in English for the first time.

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Why this caught my eye:

I'm really loving the look of Urbinati's style and the story sounds engaging.

 

KEEPING TWO HC

(W) Jordan Crane


20 years in the making, the long-awaited graphic novel masterpiece from acclaimed cartoonist Jordan Crane.


A young couple is stuck in traffic, reading a book aloud to each other to pass the time. The relationship is already strained, but between the encroaching road rage, and a novel that hits way too close to home, tensions are running especially high by the time they arrive back at their apartment. When one of them leaves to get takeout and a movie, each of the young lovers is individually forced to confront loss, grief, fear, and insecurities in unexpected and shocking ways.


Crane's formal use of the comics medium - threading several timelines and the interior and exterior lives of its protagonists together to create an increasing, almost Hitchcockian sense of dread and paranoia - is masterful. But as the title hints, there are dualities at its core that make it one of the most exciting works of graphic literary fiction in recent memory, a brilliant adult drama that showcases a deep empathy and compassion for its characters as well as a visually arresting showcase of Crane's considerable talents. Keeping Two is ostensibly a story about loss, but by the end, it just might also be about finding something along the way - something that had seemed irredeemable up to that point. In that way, it's also a deeply romantic book.


Cartoonist Jordan Crane has been one of the most quietly influential comics-makers of the past quarter-century - in multiple senses of the word: as a cartoonist, a designer, an editor, a publisher, a printmaker, an advocate, an archivist, and more. But Keeping Two is his biggest project in close to two decades and will be one of the most anticipated graphic novels of 2022.

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Why this caught my eye:

I am woefully behind on Jordan Crane books but what I have read I greatly enjoyed (The Last Lonely Saturday was always a favorite).

 

That's it for this batch, we'll hit up some manga on the next round!

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