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Favorite Graphic Literature of the Year, p.4

Pitch Perfect Anthologies: From Sweden to BobDylan to the Web,
 there’s a little something for everyone!

ISBN-13: 9781606991572
Availability: Not currently shipping from publisher – Subject to future availability
Published: Fantagraphics Books, 9/2009

Andrei Molotiu says it perfectly in his introduction to ABSTRACT COMICS (Fantagraphics, $39.99). This book chronicles ways in which artists, including cartoonists, have “played with the possibility of sequential art [. . . ,] whose panels contain little to no representational imagery, or [. . . tell] no stories other than those resulting from the transformation and interaction of shapes across a comic page.” That’s the adventure really. For me, it’s hard to slow down sometimes. So often graphic storytelling is such a combination of narrative and art that it’s easy to fall into reading mode—scanning left to right, left to right. It becomes a treat to take a page of art - or a simple panel - and consider how the shapes, texture, depth, and color interact with one another; to reflect on how, when one takes the time, the enjoyment one ordinarily finds in reading a purely textually-oriented, narrative-driven written story can - with the graphic form - be translated into something completely different. Adam Waterreus

Bob Dylan Revisited (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780393076172
Availability: Not currently in the store – Usually ships in 1-5 days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company, 11/2009

BOB DYLAN REVISITED (W.W. Norton, $24.95) is a wonderful sampler of 13 of the best European comics artists, each with his take on a Dylan song. Only two are widely known here: Lorenzo Mattotti (cover artist for the The New Yorker) works his swirling, full-color magic on “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Dave McKean combines pen, brush, and Photoshopped collage in an epic “Desolation Row.” All of the other artists are worth further exploration, and their styles are wide-ranging. Among the many highlights: Thierry Murat’s panoramic, sepia-crayoned “Blowing in the Wind;” Graimir Smudja’s richly detailed, film-noir take on “Hurricane;” Benjamin Flao’s pen-and-ink, full-page blues history in “Blind Willie McTell;” and Bramanti’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” as sketchy, Rotoscoped western. Zep appropriately finishes the book with five chronological portraits for “Not Dark Yet.” Andras Goldinger

ISBN-13: 9781606993255
Availability: Not currently shipping from publisher – Subject to future availability
Published: Fantagraphics Books, 8/2009

FROM WONDERLAND WITH LOVE: Danish Comics in the Third Millenium (Fantagraphics, 29.99), edited by Steffen P. Maarup, is fantastic! This amazing collection just blew me away. There was not one moment when reading this book - in one sitting, slouched and unblinking on my couch, coffee going cold - that I did not completely love. HuskMitNavn’s “Newspaper Cartoons” will make you wonder and laugh. Nicoline Werdelin’s “Because I Love You So Much” is a perfect combination of humor and tragedy told in four-to-five-panel vignettes (which, alone, is worth the price of the book). This collection has an energy not often seen in comics: from a mad scientist / heavy rock badger to the glorious, funny, and epic rock musical of "Sloth" by Ib Kjeldsmark. Much of the cartooning is similar to street-art in character and pacing. Mythic and dreamlike, meditative and fantastical, this is a superb and surprising collection. Adam Waterreus

ISBN-13: 9781600105289
Availability: Not currently shipping from publisher – Subject to future availability
Published: IDW Publishing, 11/2009

THE ACT-I-VATE PRIMER (IDW, $24.99) is the first print edition of the webcomics available on, an award-winning webcomic collective. Publishing something new every day, Act-I-Vate has assembled some of the best comic creators in the industry. There’s a little of everything in the collection, from the fantasy, sword-and-sorcery dreams of “Sam and Lilah,” to the childlike fable of “Goodnight, Max,” to the incomplete undersea fantasy of “Loviathan,” Act-I-Vate Primer maintains a surprisingly high quality of uncensored creator-owned work and is a perfect window into this fast growing, unbridled community. Adam Waterreus