Monday, June 04, 2018

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 6/2/18

This week, I have a whole bunch of books to list here -- coming from three directions. First, I got a box with three graphic novels for kids from Random House Books for Young Readers. Next, I got a book for my birthday. And, last, I bought a bunch of books myself last week to shore up the shelves depleted by Book-A-Day.

(I have to tell you, it's great to feel like you have to buy books to keep up a project.)

The brand-new stuff for young readers from Random House leads off:

The Cardboard Kingdom is a trade paperback from Chad Sell; it'll be available on June 5th. (That's tomorrow: hope you can wait.) It's set in suburbia, with a diverse group of kids having fun one summer. There are sixteen kids, but there seems to be just ten stories -- and each of those stories is co-written by a different author. The cover letter credits Sell as having "created, organized, and drawn" the whole thing, and gives sole writing credits to his collaborators, but the book itself only has Sell listed on the cover and title page, maybe for simplicity's sake. (Each writer is credited at the beginning of each story.) This seems to be halfway between Kids Having Fun and Serious Exploration of Personal Issues; it'll be interesting to see how it falls on that spectrum.

5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince is the second in a science-fantasy adventure series, written by Mark and Alexis Siegel and illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun. (The book doesn't say, exactly how the artists divide the work, but the style seems generally consistent, so I think they work together on the same pages.) This is a collect-the-tokens story: young Oona Lee needs to light five beacons on five planets to save them all from something that isn't specified in the cover letter. This one was published May 8th.

And then I have another middle book: Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Middle-Route Run by Ben Costa and James Parks. (According to a feature on the RHBfYR site, they co-write and Costa draws.) This looks like some kind of goofy adventure story, inspired by D&D by suitable for kids, about a skeleton-guy searching for his true identity accompanied by his best friend, a bag of goo.

My birthday present was On the Camino, a graphic memoir by the Norwegian cartoonist Jason, who is always referred to as "the Norwegian cartoonist Jason" so no one assumes his last name was left off inadvertently. Jason celebrated his 50th birthday by taking a 500-mile medieval pilgrimage in Spain (by foot) and then making a book about it -- I suspect I will celebrate my own 50th, next year, somewhat differently.

And then the rest of these books are things I bought at a recent trip to what I guess is my local comics store. (I'm there more often than anywhere else, which isn't often. But my younger son does play D&D there every Wednesday.)

Shade, the Changing Man, Vol. 1: The American Scream is the first collection of the '90s Vertigo series by Peter Milligan, Chris Bachalo, and Mark Pennington. I read this at the time, but don't know if I ever went back to re-read it. I've been re-visiting '90s and '80s comics quite a bit lately, so I thought it was time to check this out again -- I suspect it may end up being very of its time, but we'll see.

I got two more Jack Staff collections by Paul Grist: Echoes of Tomorrow, which is the third, and Rocky Realities, which is the fourth and (I think) last/most recent. I've already hit Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 in Book-a-Day this year, so I guess I'll end up reading the whole series.

I also bought two books by Jason -- remember him, above? the guy without a last name? -- since I've been looking for them for a while and have rarely seen them in person. Why Are You Doing This? is a standalone Hitchcock-esque graphic novel and Pocket Full of Rain collects some of his earliest comics stories -- a number of them so early that they're in a completely different, more realistic art style.

OK, this next one is confusing. There is a comics series called Pope Hats, self-published by a cartoonist who called himself Ethan Rilly, which is distributed by AdHouse. When it came time to collect the main story from the first few issues of Pope Hats, "Rilly" decided both to start using his real name, Hartley Lin, and to title the book after the main character, Young Frances. That all basically makes sense, but it does mean the first collection of Pope Hats by Ethan Rilly is actually Young Frances by Hartley Lin, which definitely has the potential of confusing potential readers. Anyway, I've never read Pope Hats, since I haven't bought a floppy comic in close to a decade, but I've heard good things.

And last was The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, Vol. 2 by Jacques Tardi, which collects the third and fourth adventures of that intrepid Victorian heroine. (I wrote about the first collection the last time I did Book-A-Day; I wonder if there will be a third by the next time?)

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