Dave McKean, Jim Woodring among L.A. Times Book Prize finalists

April 02, 2012 | 1:23 p.m.

Aboriginal sci-fi, madcap cartoon realms, a sexualized dreamscape and a garden of geometric surrealism – these are the unexpected ideas and fascinating settings presented by the nominees in the graphic novel category for the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.

This is the 32nd presentation of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes but just the third year that the graphic novel category has been included. The winners in all categories will be announced at a ceremony at USC on April 20, right before the start of the 17th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the largest book festival in the United States.

dave mckean crop Dave McKean, Jim Woodring among L.A. Times Book Prize finalists

Dave McKean (Stephen Osman/Los Angeles Times)

Here’s a look at the nominees in the graphic novel field:

Joseph Lambert, “I Will Bite You! And Other Stories” (Secret Acres): Lambert’s dazzling debut effort, “I Will Bite You!” is a collection of short works (it includes some of Lambert’s self-published mini-comics and work done during his time at the Center for Cartoon Studies) and shows influences such as Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman and Terry Gilliam. The Comics Journal praised Lambert for his ability to “flip between nuanced naturalism and crazed, cartoony expressionism with great ease — sometimes in the space of the same panel.”

Dave McKean, “Celluloid” (Fantagraphics): McKean is well-known for his many collaborations with Neil Gaiman (“Coraline,” “Arkham Asylum” and the extraordinary covers for “The Sandman” among them), but with this solo project he has delivered “a coital masterwork…a treasure of technical finesse and sensual mystique,” as Paste Magazine put it. The tale begins with a woman’s discovery of a film projector and a mysterious reel that leads to a sexual dream-world. The British comics creator said he aspired to make porn that, paradoxically, leaves something to the imagination. “Pornography is usually bland, repetitive and ugly, and, at most, ‘does the job,’” McKean said. “I always wanted to make a book that is pornographic, but is also, I hope, beautiful, and mysterious, and engages the mind.”

Jim Woodring, “Congress of the Animals” (Fantagraphics): Woodring was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for 2010’s “Weathercraft,” and now he’s the category’s first two-time nominee thanks to the sequel, “Congress of the Animals.” The book again follows his purple-furred and forever silent character, Frank, as he leaves the grotesque and giddy world known as The Unifactor. Read About Comics called Woodring’s work “amazing, disturbing, wonderful creations” and said with “Congress of the Animals” the artist “has made a huge, fundamental change to the world of Frank, and … it still feels like an old familiar friend.”

finder Dave McKean, Jim Woodring among L.A. Times Book Prize finalists

"Finder: Voice" by Carla Speed McNeil. (Dark Horse)

Carla Speed McNeil, “Finder: Voice” (Dark Horse): Carla Speed McNeil has been chronicling the world of “Finder” since 1996. Set in the far future, life inside domed city-states is defined by clans, castes and corporations, but beyond the dome it’s the hunter-gatherer existence – the weave is a sort of “aboriginal science fiction,” as the Louisiana native calls her work. “Voice” is crafted as an entry point for new readers and follows Rachel Grosvenor as she begins clan conformation to ensure security for her mother and sister. Online magazine Strange Horizons called it “bar none, the best SF comic being published today.”

Yuichi Yokoyama, “Garden” (Picturebox): Japanese artist Yokoyama‘s art is angular and black-and-white, but the story is a dream-logic meander through a garden of machines, massive landmarks and Dada geometry. Known for sparse dialogue (he calls his work “neo-manga”), Yokoyama studied oil painting before delving into comics. New York Magazine described “Garden” as an “architectural fantasia … [that] looks like a geometry textbook from an alternate, 6-D universe.”

David Mazzucchelli’s “Asterios Polyp” won the prize in the first year of the graphic novel category, and then Adam Hines and his “Duncan the Wonder Dog” took home the award last year. Tickets for the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes ceremony in USC’s Bovard Auditorium are now on sale for $10 – but Hero Complex readers can enter a promo code to get a 50% discount: Click “enter promotional code”and type BPHERO before starting your ticket order.

– Emily Rome and Geoff Boucher


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One Response to Dave McKean, Jim Woodring among L.A. Times Book Prize finalists

  1. Brett Williams says:

    It's good to see such a variety of works being nominated and these amazing creators being recognized!

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