April 22, 2015 | 7:00 a.m.
Magic, a Medieval fighting tournament and a mysterious stranger set the stage for the “Last Man” graphic novel series, by French comics creators Bastien Vivès, Michael Sanlaville and Balak. “Last Man,” which won the Prix de la Serie at the Angoulême International Comics Festival earlier this year, is available in English for the first time from publisher First Second. The six-issue story follows Adrian Velba, a young fighting school pupil preparing to enter his kingdom’s gladiatorial contest. When his partner falls ill the day of the tournament, Adrian’s luck appears to improve with the arrival of Richard Aldana — a stranger who fights without magic and has little knowledge of the local customs — and the pair team up to take on the kingdom’s most legendary fighters. The tale’s first installment, “The Stranger,” was released in English in March to critical praise. “The Royal Cup,” the second issue, […]
Feb. 03, 2015 | 3:31 p.m.
If you could trade decades of your life for the chance to achieve your dreams, would you? It’s the deal that Death offers a young artist named David in Scott McCloud’s new graphic novel, “The Sculptor” — 200 days to live in exchange for unfettered creative ability. David is granted the power to sculpt with his bare hands “at the speed of thought,” McCloud explains, and the intensely focused protagonist races against his death countdown to create something lasting and important. But when he struck the bargain to end his life, he didn’t expect to fall in love. In “The Sculptor,” which is out today from First Second, McCloud inks a heartbreaking tale of the meaning of life, the impact of art and the transformative influence of love in gorgeous black, white and blue. The Eisner and Harvey Award-winning author […]
Jan. 08, 2015 | 6:00 a.m.
“Little Robot,” an upcoming graphic novel from Ben Hatke, is the tale of an unlikely friendship between a lost, childlike robot and the little girl who helps him explore the world. The all-ages graphic novel is due out Sept. 1 from First Second, and Hero Complex readers get a first look at the book’s cover, which features the diminutive heroes. Hatke is best known for his bestselling “Zita the Spacegirl” graphic novel series, which introduced a galaxy-trotting superheroine on a mission to save her best friend from an intergalactic doomsday cult. Hatke has also contributed to the “Flight” anthology series and is the author of the children’s book “Julia’s House for Lost Creatures.” In “Little Robot,” which began as a series of watercolor cartoon strips Hatke published on his website, a curious robot befriends a shy girl who’s handy with […]
Oct. 31, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.
Neil Gaiman, author of the “The Graveyard Book,” didn’t have to think twice before choosing an artist to adapt the sweet and spooky coming-of-age tale into a graphic novel. “It wasn’t like I had a shortlist,” Gaiman said. “I went to [P.] Craig Russell and said, ‘Craig, how would you like to do this?’ And he did. … The reason I love working with Craig is Craig knows what he’s doing and is so brilliant.” Russell, the Ohio-based illustrator and graphic novelist (“The Ring of the Nibelung,” “Night Music,” “Elric”), and bestselling fantasy author Gaiman (“American Gods,” “Stardust”) have collaborated on half a dozen projects, beginning with the 50th issue of Gaiman’s “Sandman” comic (“Ramadan”) more than 20 years ago, and including “Coraline” and several short stories. “The Graveyard Book: Volume 2,” out this month from HarperCollins in time for Halloween, […]
Oct. 14, 2014 | 4:28 p.m.
Cory Doctorow’s short story, “Anda’s Game,” was released in 2004, but it’s only become more relevant in the past decade. Exploring the concept of “gold farming” in video games — the practice of amassing virtual wealth that is then sold to less patient players for real-world currency — Doctorow’s tale offers a fascinating look at video game economies through the lens of a young female gamer. “Anda’s Game” has gained greater gravity as economic and gender dynamics shift in the video game community, making now the ideal time for First Second to release “In Real Life,” a graphic novel adaptation of the story. “I think science fiction’s signature move is predicting the present,” says Doctorow. “If you take stuff that’s already latent and clearly important in the world around us and write about it as though it were something that […]
April 09, 2014 | 1:43 p.m.
In 1978, twentysomething artist Mimi Pond dropped out of art school and worked in an Oakland greasy spoon, serving punk rockers, hippies and the occasional prostitute. She never forgot her time there: “I knew from the moment I stepped through the door that it was a story.” Fast-forward several years, in which Pond racked up experience writing for “The Simpsons” (she penned the debut episode), “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and “Designing Women,” all while drawing cartoons for the Los Angeles Times and Seventeen magazine (not to mention raising two kids with her husband, the artist Wayne White). Finally, some 25 years later, she turned her attention to writing about Mama’s Royal, still a pit stop for Bay Area artists to this day. This month, the resulting fictionalized memoir, “Over Easy,” hits the shelves from Drawn & Quarterly. For lovers of tawdry tales from the ’70s, told […]
April 03, 2014 | 3:47 p.m.
The Chinese tradition of ghost marriages — weddings performed for deceased bachelors — serves as the inspiration for “The Undertaking of Lily Chen,” the latest graphic novel from author Danica Novgorodoff. The ancient practice sought to partner recently deceased singletons for their journeys into the afterlife, but a modern resurgence of the macabre tradition in contemporary China has led to grave-robbings and even killings — setting the stage for Novgorodoff’s tale. “Lily Chen,” from First Second Books, follows a young man named Deshi whose elder (and more favored) brother dies in an accident. Deshi’s parents hold him responsible and send him on a quest to find a corpse bride so his brother won’t have to enter the afterlife alone. When he meets the eponymous Lily Chen, a sharp-tongued and impulsive young woman trying to escape an arranged marriage, he sees […]
March 20, 2014 | 4:28 p.m.
“Enormous” tells the tale of the aftermath of a huge ecological shift that spawns giant, Godzilla-like insect creatures. Mankind is endangered and hunted, but Ellen Grace is still out there trying to help her fellow man by leading a search and rescue team. The graphic novel, written by Tim Daniel and drawn by Mehdi Cheggour, went live-action today as a short film/pilot was released by Machinima. Director BenDavid Grabinski, writer Andre Ovredal and producer Adrian Askarieh bring the graphic novel to life with an almost 10-minute project introducing us to the world of “Enormous.” The film picks up years after E Day, when the massive monsters attacked (watch it below). Hero Complex caught up with Grabinski to get the low-down on how the project came to be. Toward the end of our chat, we were joined by the project’s star, […]
Feb. 12, 2014 | 12:52 p.m.
Don’t let the whimsically water-colored fairy world in “Beautiful Darkness” fool you; this graphic novel, out today from Drawn and Quarterly, is not a happily-ever-after sort of story. In “Beautiful Darkness,” French comics writer Fabien Vehlmann (“Isle of 100,000 Graves”) and husband-and-wife cartooning team Kerascoët (“Miss Don’t Touch Me”) present the story of Aurora, a cheery and resourceful heroine whose tea party with a prince is interrupted by a deluge of what appears to be blood. Aurora escapes, emerging from the skull of a dead girl, along with dozens of other tiny people. In the coming days and months, they try to survive in the face of hunger, woodland animals and, most terrifyingly, their own capacity for cruelty. It’s a twisted tale that draws from the likes of “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Borrowers,” only “Beautiful Darkness” presents a much […]
Feb. 12, 2014 | 11:08 a.m.
If you find yourself among the lovelorn this Valentine’s Day, Liz Prince’s graphic novel “Alone Forever: The Singles Collection” might prove a perfect remedy. “Alone Forever,” out this month from Top Shelf Productions, collects 104 pages of Prince’s autobiographical comic strip — a self-deprecating look at relationships, love and the lack thereof. The Boston-based comics creator chronicles her experiences with online dating, awkward first encounters and (questionably) flirty interactions with bearded strangers, not to mention tender moments with her constant true loves — her cats and her punk rock music. Prince, whose previous titles include the Ignatz Award-winning “Will You Still Love Me If I Wet The Bed?” and “Delayed Replays,” will be in the Los Angeles area on Sunday for L.A. Zine Fest at Helms Bakery in Culver City. Hero Complex: How did this project come about? I understand […]