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Stephen Weiner's seminal Rise of the Graphic Novel has had a second edition. Rise builds on Weiner's influential work in cataloging and charting a course through the field of graphic novels for librarians around America and the world, spinning out a compact, fascinating narrative of the history of graphic novels, from the Yellow Kid to the modern explosion of Pulitzer-winning, "respectable," multi-media, highly lucrative graphic novels of today. For such a short book -- 70 pages -- Rise covers a huge amount of ground, from The Spirit to R Crumb, from indie comix to Cavalier and Clay, from Death Note to Understanding Comics and Sandman. Even Boing Boing's own Elfquest gets a chapter.

This is a perfect book for anyone trying to wrap her or his head around the field of comics, a quick and smart overview of the field that spans both decades and genres. Whether you're developing a syllabus, improving your library's collection, or just trying to get a better sense of the field and the good stuff you might have missed, Rise is well worth a read, and worth keeping around afterwards for reference.

Plus: there's a dandy introduction by Will Eisner himself!

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Rise of Graphic Novel (Second Edition)

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How Do You Draw Hitler Without A Moustache?

The secret to drawing Hitler without a moustache is to draw Hitler with a moustache and erase the moustache afterwards. Honestly, it's the only way. Otherwise you're just drawing a bloke with an emo haircut.

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Lavie Tidhar writes, "Adolf Hitler's I Dream of Ants is World Fantasy Award winner Lavie Tidhar's graphic novel collaboration with British artist Neil Struthers. Originally serialised in the pages of now-defunct magazine Murky Depths, it is the story of a man named Adolf Hitler who becomes obsessed with the ants 'infesting' his suburban home."

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[Video Link] Filmmaker Casimir Nozkowski, whose work we regularly feature on the Boing Boing in-flight TV channel on Virgin America, tells Boing Boing:

I just made a new short movie about me trying to sell ALL of my childhood comics... IN AN EPIC STOOP SALE.

Here are some of the emotional states I went thru while making this movie: nostalgia, liberation, catharsis, melancholy, confusion, elation, regret, enthusiasm, depression, somewhat dazed...

And finally confirmation that at 35 it's good to get rid of childhood things and not bad to feel a little sad doing it.

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King City collects Brandon Graham's magnificent Tokyo Pop comic serial in one mammoth, $11 (cheap!) trade paperback edition, and man, is that a deal.

Take the sprawling, weird, perverse cityscape of Transmetropolitan, mix in the goofy, punny humor of Tank Girl, add ultraviolent gang warfare, the impending resurrection of a death-god, and a secret society of cat-masters whose feline familiars can serve as super-weapons and tactical material, and you're getting in the neighbourhood of King City.

Graham's black-and-white line drawings have the detail of a two-page spread in MAD Magazine and a little bit of Sergio Argones in their style, if Argones was more interested in drawing the battle-scarred veterans of a Korean xombie war who consume each others' powdered bones to drive away the madness.

Despite the fact that this is a very, very funny story, it manages to be more than a comedy. Joe the cat-master's lost love, Pete the bagman's moral crisis, and Max the veteran's trauma are all real enough to tug at your heart-strings, even as you read the goofy puns off the fine-print labels on the fetishistically detailed illustrations showing King City and its weird and wonderful inhabitants.

JWZ wrote "It's the best comic-book-type thing I've read in quite some time. The trade is a huge phonebook-sized thing and it's awesome." He's right.

King City

(via JWZ)

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St Colin and the Dragon is a perfectly great 27-page kids' comic about a dragon that hatches in a faraway kingdom and the dumb things that the residents of the kingdom try to get rid of it. They give it an endless parade of sheep to eat, in the hopes that it will mature, grow wings and fly away. But no such thing happens. So Colin, the king's disgraced ex-squire, decides to join the knights who ride out to challenge it. All the big, tough guys are defeated, but Colin figures out what the dragon really wants and saves the kingdom. And then things get weird. In a good way.

St Colin was created by Philippa Rice, whose long-running My Cardboard Life comic (more aimed at grownups) uses the same torn-paper style that makes St Colin such a treat.

I read St Colin to my four-and-a-half-year-old at bedtime earlier this week, and it's had two re-reruns since, because she loves it. There's also plenty of grown up fun in the humorous and sometimes wry dialogue.

You can buy St Colin on its own for £6.50, or together with the massive, perfect-bound My Cardboard Life book for £15.00, should you want one book for the kid(s) and another for the grownup(s). I certainly recommend both to you.

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Saigon-Hanoi

There’s something really special about the European graphic novel Saigon-Hanoi.

Originally released in 1999 by the author Cosey — using a one-name monicker in the world of bandes-dessinées is quite normal — it tells a strangely intimate tale that takes place on New Year’s Eve, as a Vietnam vet receives a random phone call from a young 11-year-old (she’s randomly calling people, to chat with while her mother is away). They end up having a long conversation, with the drawn imagery tying into a documentary about the Vietnam War — a documentary in which the man participated — that is airing on TV.

What I loved the most about it is how the parallel narratives — the phone conversation between the man and the girl, the imagery of the war from the documentary — combine to form a whole that if taken apart, would barely have any link to each other. 

I couldn’t recommend it enough, and although only availabe in French, you can buy or rent it digitally from Izneo (or if you prefer a print edition, there’s always Amazon France).

Now time to try and dig up more work by Cosey.

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Jonathan Fetter-Vorm's Trinity is a nonfiction book-length comic for adults about the birth of nuclear weapons. It covers the wartime events that spawned the idea of a nuclear weapons program, the intense period of wrangling that gave rise to the Manhattan Project, the strange scientific town in the New Mexico desert that created the A-bomb, the tactical and political decision-making process that led to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the unspeakable horror experienced by the people in those cities and the existential crises the Nuclear Age triggered for scientists, politicians, and the world at large. Though this is primarily a history book, Trinity is also a pretty good nuclear physics primer, making good use of the graphic novel form to literally illustrate the violence of atoms tearing themselves apart, and the weird, ingenious, improvised mechanisms for triggering and controlling that violence.

I think Trinity is a very good book. It manages to be short and straightforward without being crude or lacking nuance. Fetter-Vorm does a great job of bringing the personalities involved in the bomb's creation to life, and to show the way that human relationships -- as much as physics -- resulted in the bomb's invention and use. He walks a fine, non-partisan line on the need to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, opting instead to lay out the facts in a (to my eye) fair and neutral way that neither argues that the bombing was a necessity, nor that it was a callous whim from a military apparatus that wanted to test out its latest gadget.

More than anything, though, Trinity is unflinching in counting the human cost of the bomb. The pages given over to the aftermath in the bombed cities are, if anything, understated. No gross-outs here. But they manage to convey so much horror that I had to stop reading so I could finish my lunch. Also wrenching, in its own way, is the section on the impact that the news from Japan had on the Trinity scientists and their families. Fetter-Vorm does a credible (and disturbing) job of putting you in the shoes of people who wanted to "end the war," but who found no respite in the war's end, as they struggled with the feeling of blood on their hands.

Trinity illuminates a turning-point in human history, and does so with admirable pace, grace, and skill.

Trinity

(Excerpted from TRINITY: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb, by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm, to be published by Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC in June 2012. Text copyright © 2012 by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm and Michael Gallagher. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm. All rights reserved.)

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The Cussing Channel has produced a Dark Knight Joker supercut, featuring all the on-camera Heath Ledger scenes. It rather stopped me in my tracks -- Ledger really put in an astounding performance, something that is underlined three times in red by ten straight minutes of Ledger doing his thing.

Rules: Just The Joker, just the on-camera dialogue. Now, there are many shots in this film over the Joker's shoulder, with the focus on the character he's talking to... those lines didn't make it... only the clips where the Joker is the focus of the shot (otherwise this becomes a 30-minute affair).

The Dark Knight - Just The Joker

(Thanks, Phillip!)

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Here's a one-hour BBC documentary on Moebius, the French comics artist whose passing we lamented this weekend. The doc, "Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures," includes interviews with Stan Lee and Jodorowsky.

Moebius – a life in pictures

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