Tiny Pages Made of Ashes is Comic Bulletin’s Small Press Review Column.
Now that nazis are being complimented for their taste in men’s wear and international cable news organizations are running chyrons asking whether or not Jews are people, it’s getting harder and harder to muster the energy to write about comics.
But we must find brief sparks in the darkness otherwise we will go blind. Below find books that have brought some light to my days recently.
Sorry I can’t find words to review them (all text is from the respective solicitations). Know that they are worth your time.
It being Black Friday and all, maybe consider viewing this as a holiday shopping list for the people you love who need some joy this holiday season.
TRYING NOT TO NOTICE
By Will Dinski
Published by 2d Cloud
“Will Dinski’s long-awaited return to long-form comics following 2010’s Finger Prints sees not only a dramatic shift in style, but approach to storytelling as well. Focusing on the meteoric rise of a stand-up comedian as told by the people in his orbit, Dinski’s ability to create a layered, nuanced narrative is in top form with Trying Not to Notice.”
By Wren McDonald
Published by Nobrow
“SP4RX is the story of mankind clawing for survival. Set in a future where a class system has emerged, the world is divided into four levels, with the elite ruling from the extravagant top level.
SP4RX, a young hacker who lives off grid, hacks into corporations and sells stolen data to wealthy buyers on the black market – just your average thief. Mega corporation Structus Industries introduces a welfare programme called the “Elpis Program”, which allows the working class to apply for Cybernetic implants to make workers more efficient. On the surface, it seems like a programme to empower the poor and allow them to rise to the ranks of the elite. But SP4RX soon discovers all is not as it seems… SP4RX and Structus are set on a collision course with the fate of humanity at stake in Wren McDonald’s latest sci-fi tale of survival and corruption!”
BROKEN FRONTIER SMALL PRESS YEARBOOK 2016
Published by Broken Frontier
A showcase anthology celebration of comics culture site Broken Frontier’s ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015’ spotlighting the work of Rozi Hathaway, Jess Milton, Danny Noble, Emma Raby, Alice Urbino and Adam Vian, with a guest story by Rebecca Bagley.
ROLLING BLACKOUTS: DISPATCHES FROM TURKEY, SYRIA, AND IRAQ
By Sarah Glidden
Published by Drawn and Quarterly
Cartoonist Sarah Glidden accompanies her two friends—reporters and founders of a journalism non-profit—as they research potential stories on the effects of the Iraq War on the Middle East and, specifically, the war’s refugees. Joining the trio is a childhood friend and former Marine whose past service in Iraq adds an unexpected and sometimes unwelcome viewpoint, both to the people they come across and perhaps even themselves.
As the crew works their way through Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, Glidden observes the reporters as they ask civilians, refugees, and officials, “Who are you?” Everyone has a story to tell: the Iranian blogger, the United Nations refugee administrator, a taxi driver, the Iraqi refugee deported from the US, the Iraqis seeking refuge in Syria, and even the American Marine.
Glidden (How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less) records all that she encounters with a sympathetic and searching eye. Painted in her trademark soft, muted watercolors and written with a self-effacing humor, Rolling Blackouts cements Glidden’s place as one of today’s most original nonfiction voices.
THE RETURN OF THE HONEY BUZZARD
By Aimée de Jongh
Published by SelfMadeHero
The doors are about to swing shut on the Antonisse Bookshop and Simon, its third‑generation owner, is facing some tough decisions. But when he witnesses a suicide, old memories intrude, guilt bubbles up and his grip on reality loosens. A chance encounter with a young student, Regina, prompts Simon to open up about the past that haunts him. But will their budding friendship last long enough for him to come to terms with the present? Powerful, perceptive and beautifully drawn, The Return of the Honey Buzzard is a compelling graphic novel about grief, love, our actions and their consequences.
EPILOGUE: A DIARY
By Kevin Budnik
Published by One Percent Press
Epilogue by Kevin Budnik is a collection of journal comics about daily life, routine, and struggling with mental health and body image. Written from the point of view of a 20-something adult dealing with depression, navigating the service industry, the independent comics world, the internet, and relationships.
Epilogue is a quiet exploration of life that has a somber mood, but it’s not a story of hopelessness. It’s about the ups and downs of relating to the people and the world around us.
TŌNOHARU: PART III
By Lars Martinson
Published by Pliant Press
The long awaited final volume of the critically acclaimed Tonoharu series rejoins Dan Wells several months into his tenure as an English teacher in the Japanese village of Tonoharu. As personal stresses push Dan to the breaking point, he decides to take an extended cross-country vacation to let off steam. His time away grants him a fresh perspective on his troubles, but upon his return to Tonoharu, Dan discovers that dramatic change has occurred in his absence. Will this upheaval render his new-found epiphany moot? With hundreds of beautiful, detailed illustrations that evoke 19th century line engravings, Tonoharu provides a nuanced portrayal of the joys and frustrations of living abroad.
THE SHIRLEY JACKSON PROJECT
Edited by Robert Kirby
Published by Ninth Art Press
Seventeen acclaimed alternative cartoonists explore and celebrate the work of the legendary mid-20th century author Shirley Jackson (“The Lottery,” The Haunting of Hill House, We Have Always Lived in the Castle), including Colleen Frakes, Katie Fricas, Annie Murphy, Josh Simmons, and Maggie Umber. Edited by Ignatz Award-winner Robert Kirby.
HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE NORTH
By Luke Healy
Published by Nobrow Press
How to Survive in the North is an unforgettable journey of love and loss; weaving together the true life historical expeditions of Ada Blackjack and Robert Bartlett, in 1912 and 1916, with a contemporary fictional story, How to Survive in the North is a unique and visual narrative journey that shows the strength it takes to survive in even the harshest conditions – whether that be struggling for survival in the Arctic in the 1900s or surviving a mid-life crisis in the present day