The webcomics blog about webcomics

More Amazing Books, Some As Soon As Now

I mean, assuming you have a local bookstore or comics shop that doesn’t rely on Diamond, who are objectively bad at their jobs; my shop is having much better luck with alternate distributors of graphic novels, but old orders in Diamond may show up at literally any time and they’ll demand payment despite being a year or more late¹ and I don’t want to subject my shop to that.

Where was I? Oh, yes, some more books that are about to drop as part of Fleen’s Awesome Books Coming Out Soon Week. Let’s dive in.

  • To be fair, I can’t blame Diamond for the year-plus delay in Carla Speed McNeil’s latest Finder volume, Chase The Lady; that was (largely) COVID that pushed back release by a few months, then multiple years, before settling in on the next couple of weeks. It started as part of the Dark Horse’s Dark Horse Presents anthology series, 8 or so pages at a time; then DHP folded about a year and a half later, and McNeil had to finish it on her own, in between paying projects on account of what should have been a reprint collection suddenly became a more than 50% original graphic novel.

    Comics is complicated, y’all. But what’s not complicated are the facts that a) McNeil’s work reads even better in big chunks, and b) she remains one of the best depicters of the human form, in all its variety. You can read entire character histories in her wordless panels, just from body posture and especially facial expression. She has this one trick where the space around the eyes becomes tight that makes me want to find something to hide behind, because shit is about to go down². Chase The Lady hits comic shops on Wednesday next week (that would be 26 May) and the book trade two weeks later (8 June). It’s going to be great.

  • Know who really thinks about the worlds that he creates? Evan Dahm. It’s not enough to have various people of various species interacting, he’s got to think about their language, their alphabet, their religion, their societal mores, their history, their ethics, and their motivations for empire. The literally thousands of pages of Overside stories will make that apparent in a hot minute, but if you’re looking for a place to jump on? A place without all of that interconnection? A place that you could share with a younger reader? 2019’s Island Book is a terrific primer.

    And, starting today, Island Book: The Infinite Land returns us to that world of ocean, of distinct cultures, and opens everything a bit wider. I compared Island Book to The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz in my review, and from the description of the second story, I think the comparison is even more apt: into this world of islands he’s dropped a continent. A land, vast and possibly unlimited, calling out to peoples that have only known small specks of dry land and seemingly endless water.

    The followup books to TWWOO were about all those other corners of Oz and other fairy-lands, each one upending the previous established order and at times setting friends at cross purposes. Sola and her friends made their lands safe from the Monster in their first journey onto the oceans, but can their friendship survive the gift of an infinite land, ripe for the taking by whoever gets their first and can keep it?

    There’s a way through that will be true to the characters and their motivations that isn’t too terrible, and many that will end in disaster; I can’t wait to see how Dahm weaves his way to that one (likely only mostly) happy outcome.

  • Received in the mail today: the latest keepsake game from Shing Yin Khor, A Mending, of which we have spoken previously. I suspect I will share as little of my playthrough here as I did of Khor’s previous keepsake game with Jeeyon Shim, Field Guide To Memory, as I expect it will take me to similarly personal-reflective places and (occasional evidence to the contrary) there are some things I just keep to myself.

    And to be received on 15 June (if fortune favors us): Khor’s latest graphic novel, The Legend Of Auntie Po. There are some things you need to know about Khor, if you haven’t noted the pieces that have run here over the years: they have thought a great deal about their Chinese ancestry and the immigrant experience, and they love giant prefab statues in the middle of nowhere like nobody’s business. Many of these statues are of Muffler Men.

    The Muffler Men statues are, of course, derived from Paul Bunyan statues, and thus Khor is also deeply invested in the legends and folklore about the giant lumberjack and his enormous blue ox. Those legends and other parts of Americana were invented in work camps — lumber camps, railway camps, mining camps; a great deal of immigrants worked them, from the Scandinavians and Cornishmen of the Upper Midwest, to the African diaspora and Hispanic earlycomers across the prairie and deserts, to the Chinese everywhere accessible from the Pacific.

    And thus: Paul Bunyan reimagined by a 13 year old girl named Mei (already a nonperson in this land, thanks to the first immigration laws America would ever pass, designed specifically to extract labor from Asians and then discard them) in a Nevada logging camp. Po Pan Yan — Auntie Po — is a Chinese matriarch, an adaptation of young American myth, made familiar by casting it in the mold of the much older Chinese myths, and an example of maybe the only part of the story Americans tell themselves that could be true: come here and carve out your place. You’ll make America yours, we’ll (grudgingly, more often than not) make you part of us³.

    The meaning of America is myth, and anybody can adapt myths to find their way. Give it a few decades for The Legend Of Auntie Po to become a much-loved classic and looking back, we’ll decide that Auntie Po always was there in the lumber camps and railway camps and mining camps. We tell ourselves myths to make sense of reality, but often as not the myth becomes the basis of the reality we build.

Spam of the day:

STOP SENDING ME YOUR NUDES! Hi, plz stop messaging me in whatsapp ! why you sending me your photosf

Like I’d send nudes via Whatsapp. First of all, it’s Facebook-owned and I don’t have anything to do with Facebook. Secondly, I wouldn’t send you photos. I’d commission original artwork from a variety of my cartoonist friends and provide those in a tasteful frame. Nice try, scammer, but you really missed the mark on this one.

¹ I wish I were kidding.

² She also does smug, insufferable teens that will make you want to build a machine that allows you to slap a fictional character. Find a copy of the No Mercy trades (Alex de Campi, words, Jenn Manley Lee, colors) if you don’t believe me.

³ Most likely starting with food, although we’ll probably never stop trying to Whitesplain it back to you.

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