Here you go: the cream of this month's releases, in graphic novels and collected editions:
PICK OF THE MONTH: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, Faber & Faber: There's been a continued buzz around Emily Carroll's first print work ever since the book was announced, with Through the Woods finally hitting stores later this month (although many comic book shops are already receiving copies this very week). One of the most anticipated comics of the year, Carroll's collection of horror stories -including perhaps her best-known, His Face All Red- is one I expect to see on many end of the year best of lists, and a book that I can see doing well in wider bookstores- Carroll utilises a variety of open layouts that aren't traditional panel grids, opening the door for the book to be sold as an illustrated horror compendium- anything other than that scary 'comics' word. I'm being sarcastic, of course, but I really hope it does do very well; I've had the pleasure of reading it, and her eerily atmospheric tales work just as well on the printed page as they do on the screen. It's a beautifully put together production, too (I won't talk too much about the lovely thick paper, or the sheen of it), with everything from the lettering to the vivid colours and Carroll's dark fairytale leanings perfectly on song.
Monster Perfect Edition by Naoki Urasawa, Viz: I wrote a bit about this a while back, and I couldn't be more excited to finally get my hands on it. I made the choice to wait for Viz's new editions of the book which amalgamate 2 volumes into each (so the original 18 books will become 9), which is pretty unheard of for me. Monster is the story of Dr. Kenzō Tenma, a young Japanese doctor, who, after saving the life of a young boy by choosing to operate on him instead of the mayor, becomes inextricably linked to a series of murders taking place. It seems the killer is someone Dr. Tenma knows, but in order to clear his name, he must know him. If you're wondering what the fuss is about Urasawa, pick this up to see why.
Alone volume 2: The Master of Knives by Bruno Gazzotti and Fabien Vehlmann: Review of the first volume here, and couldn't be happier with how quick on the ball Cinebook are, with books 2 and 3 releasing this year. After waking up one day to find their city completely empty of all people apart from themselves, a group of young children begin to tentatively explore the phenomenon. 'In the abandoned town, the children have established a new home and organised a life for themselves. As they prepare for a trip to other cities in an attempt to determine the extent of the phenomenon that saw everyone else vanish, they encounter and learn to deal with the problems of an existence without adults. Until one day a tall, knife-wielding figure appears, and their dream of finding someone else suddenly turns into a nightmare.' Superb job by Gazzotti and Vehlman- you need to get on board with this one.
Barracuda vol 3: Duel by Jean Durfaux and Jérémy, Cinebook: The final volume of Barracuda, Durfaux and Jeremy's pirate tale of greed, love and revenge, is out this month as Emilio, Raffy and Maria learn their various fates. 'The three children left behind by the Barracuda have grown and found each other, but the dangers are many: De La Loya and his Spanish expedition; Ferrango, Maria’s cuckolded husband; Flynn’s killer; a scorned woman with a talent for poisons… And above all, a cursed diamond that carries madness and death.' Hugely enjoyable.
Pascin by Joann Sfar, Uncivilized Books: There's a 6 page first-look preview of the English edition of Sfar's portrait of the artist here, and I'll quote from there (seen as I wrote it!) 'Sfar's ciites his biography of the noted Jewish modernist painter, real name Julius Mordecai Pincas as his most personal work, identifying with both his Jewish heritage and vocation. It's a book that promises to focus more on the man, his ideas, lifestyle, and practices, and how these facets informed him as an individual and an artist, rather than looking solely to his work for answers.' This first English language edition collects all 6 French books in one hardback volume.
Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Ballantine Books: Self Made Hero will be releasing the UK edition of this a whole month later from the US and Canadian release this month, a decision I am baffled by. I suppose it's been arranged so O'Malley can tour and do signing in both locations, but I can't imagine bookshops and comic stores not ordering stock (especially as it's available online) when there's obviously going to be a big demand for the book. O'Malley's first release since he completed the Scott Pilgrim series, Seconds is about a young lady running a restaurant of the same name.
Anna and Froga: Thrills, Spills, and Gooseberries by Anouk Ricard, Drawn & Quarterly: I re-read this the other day, this time to my 4-year old nephew, and loved it even more if possible. I can't recommend this series highly enough whatever your age. I know some people maybe put off by the naive style, but these books are so lovely and funny. Anna is the little human girl and along with her best friend Froga, they pot around doing this and that- prank calling people, singing badly, eating unidentified objects from the ground. Odd, charming and refreshing in the best way. I can't imagine anyone not liking it.