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Spotlight: Revival

Do you remember the first time you picked up a comic book? The feel of it in your hands, the excitement of having a new story to delve into? The details of the artwork that sprang off the page, waiting to be devoured by an eager mind? Now, when was the last time you felt that excitement?

Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash, GI Joe) and Mike Norton (Battlepug, Queen + Country) have succeeded in bringing us back to our beginnings. A new story, a new twist, a new feel. All that wonder you first felt when you turned the page of that comic book? It’s back. And in a big way.

Welcome to Wausau, Wisconsin, home of snow, cows and a small community of the living dead. They’re not zombies or walkers or anything like that though. They’re simply alive again, back to their jobs and everyday lives. What could possibly cause this you ask? We have no idea. But the local police have organized a special team to figure that out. We follow this team, a reporter and a CDC liaison, as they search to find out why people are “reviving” and if they really are themselves. What could possibly go wrong?

Seeley’s writing succeeds in bringing us a new spin on the horror/mystery genre. With elements of action, mystery, investigation, horror, family, supernatural and drama, Revival is a truly well-rounded tale. Many horror tales have become formulaic and predictable over the years. This book is not one of those stories. With twists and turns and spins, you’ll be glued to the pages, wondering what could possibly happen next to this small, rural town? Jeff Lemire writes in the introduction of the first volume, “It’s equally chilling and fascinating stuff…”

Norton’s art goes hand in hand with Seeley’s writing seamlessly. Each detailed panel gives us another piece to the bigger picture. With realistic characters that have imperfections, and beautiful snowy landscapes, Norton gives us the sense of being in Wisconsin, in the thick of it. Heads above the rest of  though is Norton’s hauntingly beautiful character design of one of the more moving, mysterious characters in the book. To say any more would only spoil it.

With sold out multiple printings and rave reviews, I’d follow Jeff Lemire’s advice: “…sit back and enjoy. You can only discover your favorite new comic once, so savor it. I know I did.”

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Spotlight: Jonathan Hickman

Eisner and Harvey Award Nominated writer Jonathan Hickman is a key player in the Marvel NOW! Universe. Why, you ask? The former Fantastic Four writer is now penning Avengers, a cornerstone in Marvel’s stable. Do yourself a favor and pick up Avengers #1. Hickman has brought his unique style to the fan-favorite book and he does not disappoint.  “You owe it to yourself to find a comfy chair and get to know his work.” (Robert Kirkman) When it comes to Hickman, we’ve got you covered!

secret-warriors-vol-1-nick-fury-agent-nothing-brian-michael-bendis-paperback-cover-artSecret Warriors (Marvel)

“The greater sin is doing nothing when you could be giving everything…of dreaming too small. I will be the ONE MAN.” So says the back of the first volume of this amazing series spinning out of Secret Invasion. We follow Nick Fury’s secretly assembled teams tasked with doing what they can no longer trust others to accomplish. Equal parts inspiring, thought provoking and entertaining, Secret Warriors is an excellent addition to any Marvel library.

manhattan-projects-volume-1-hickman-pitarra-coverManhattan Projects (Image)

What if the Manhattan Project was just a cover for more covert government projects? Oppenheimer, Truman, Einstein, Feynman, FDR, and some aliens! What could possibly go wrong? This is currently an ongoing series published by Image with art by Nick Pitarra and I highly recommend it if you like a little weird with your comics.

pax-romana-jonathan-hickman-paperback-cover-artPax Romana (Image)

The Vatican discovers time travel in the near future. What do they do with this? Send a group to destroy the past in order to save the future. With gorgeous, modern artwork, this book is essential to reading Hickman. Matt Fraction says he felt “stunned, surprised and delighted” when he read “this little miracle of a book.”


Top Shelf Productions October Sale

 

 

Top Shelf Productions publishes some of the most interesting and visually engaging alternative comics and graphic novels in the industry right now. Working with talents such as Alan Moore, Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, Nate Powell, Craig Thompson, and many other award-winning creators, they continue to deliver unique, quality stories year after year.

Since 1997 Top Shelf has published more than 250 award winning comics and graphic novels. Their most recent accomplishment? The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire reached the New York Times Bestseller List in August of this year. For a publisher that started out as a single anthology showcasing up-and-comers, they’ve come a long way.

 

To celebrate our love for Top Shelf and their support of emerging talent, ALL TOP SHELF graphic novels are  25% off during the month of October!

If you’re looking for a gift for an alternative/independent reader we recommend starting with our Top Shelf section. Here are a few favorites:

  • Andy Runton: Owly (all ages, wordless)
  • Jeff Lemire: Underwater Welder, Essex County
  • Craig Thompson: Blankets (available in soft or hardcover)
  • James Kochalka: American Elf, Dragon Puncher, Johnny Boo (all ages)
  • Harvey Pekar: Cleveland
  • Jeffery Brown: Incredible Change-Bots, Clumsy, Undeleted Scenes
  • Alan Moore: League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century
  • Nate Powell: Swallow Me Whole, Any Empire

 


Dual Spotlight: Blankets and Sailor Twain

Every once in awhile, there comes along a graphic novel that grabs your attention and refuses to let go. I was lucky enough to read two of those back to back this past week.

    Blankets is very much what the title suggests.  A handmade quilt. A thick cover of snow. It’s a soft and comfortable story that takes you on an emotional journey through the eyes of a young man coming of age.

Meet Craig: a teenager with a passion for art who is raised in a very Christian environment. At Bible Camp one summer, Craig meets Raina, a kindred spirit who succeeds in bringing him out of his shell a bit. This is a story of falling in love for the first time that succeeds where many others fail: it’s honest.  Craig Thompson has a rare gift for storytelling. He makes it seem as if he’s speaking directly to you.

This book is a perfect blend of personal narrative and visual storytelling with beautiful, expressive black and white art. Highly recommended for  both males and females, as well as new readers.

 

   Sailor Twain is the opposite of Blankets in that it’s not quite what the title would suggest. This is not a biography of Mark Twain. This is a story about a man falling in love…with a mermaid.

Aboard a steamboat on the Hudson, there are two men: Sailor Twain (a married man with a love for the water) and Lafayette (a shipowner with a love for women). Twain’s life changes when he rescues an injured mermaid from a watery death and hides her in his quarters on-board. But where did she come from? How was she hurt? Perhaps this new book that Lafayette’s talking about will answer his questions. What happens when he’s not the only one asking questions?

Mark Siegel has created a sexy, mysterious trip along the Hudson with his emotional pencil illustrations and perfectly timed narration.


Spotlight: Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Books. They’re one of the most influential mediums in the world, reaching almost every corner of the world. Classics and major franchises like Harry Potter have reached billions of people and continue to gain new readers every day. There’s a vast influence that the written word has over the human mind. The right words can inspire, destroy, create, anger, and shape the thoughts and ideals of those that read them. Now, what if those words had a tangible power behind them? Something mysterious that could bring Frankenstein’s monster into being and make a magic wand work? What if you could enter those stories and walk the streets in Dickens’ London or the Hundred Acre Wood? Welcome to the world of Unwritten.

With equal parts mystery, action, adventure, and drama, Unwritten is the story about a man, Tom Taylor. Tom was the inspiration for his father’s international bestselling Tommy Taylor novels. Raised with a deep knowledge of the literary world he is now worshipped as ‘the word made flesh,’ as if he’s the real Tommy Taylor fully grown. But that can’t be possible, of course. Soon, his life begins to take strange turns, crossing paths with dangerous people that are most definitely not what they seem. There’s an underworld to fiction, one that Tom is quickly introduced to while he searches for the truth about his father and childhood. As he tumbles through story after story, literally, what will he learn? The real question though is, will truth be stranger than fiction when he finally finds the answers?

Wired called Mike Carrey’s ongoing series, “Fascinating..One of the most interesting comics of the year.” They weren’t wrong. In a sea of superheroes and zombies, spies and mercenaries, Unwritten is a splash of cold water for any reader. Not only does this book draw you in and not let you put it down, it makes you think. How do comics and books as mediums influence the world around us? At what point do people’s thoughts about a book matter more than the actual book itself? What in the world today stands alone as real? Could we all just be characters, acting out a plot, at the mercy of a writer?

Do yourself a favor and catch up with this series. It won’t disappoint.

Unwritten vol. 6 by Mike Carey and Peter Gross comes out October 17, 2012.


Artist Spotlight: Jeff Lemire

UPDATE!

This wednesday, Jeff Lemire came out with three separate books of varying tastes!

Underwater Welder

An original graphic novel about fatherhood, life and dealing with the past.

National Comics #1

Part murder mystery, part supernatural, Lemire brings realistic characters and comic relief to one of DC’s newest books.

Justice League Dark #11

John Constantine discovers the location of one of the DC Universe’s most secret artifacts!

Jeff Lemire, Canadian writer/artist most known for his series Sweet Tooth, has a very distinct style in a sea of generic super-hero art. With expressive faces, thick brush strokes, and a quirky view of the world, Lemire has made a splash with titles published by Top Shelf and Vertigo. His latest work, The Underwater Welder, due to hit shelves next week, scroll down for a tour of his best pieces!

Lost Dogs.

The back cover describes this tale as “bold, brutal and emotionally raw” and it certainly isn’t wrong. Both dark and heart-wrenching this is the story of a man who’s been left with nothing he holds dear and the events that follow. With splashes of red in just the right places, this art is sure to stir something in each of us.

Sweet Tooth.

A new breed is being born. Children with the features of animals, endangered by hunters who want their heads. This is the story of Gus, nickname Sweet Tooth, a boy with the features of a deer. With inventive art, the story is told in a way only a comic book could deliver. Pick up the first trade and find out why Geoff Johns calls this “The new MUST READ book.”

Essex County.

They say write what you know. Lemire takes that advice and brings us an imaginary version of Essex County, Ontario. This trilogy of graphic novels is the story of a community throughout the years, in beautiful black and white. The artist has a striking style, using both light and dark to make his pages bold and interesting. This book puts you into the world of his creativity; where you can almost see these characters living and mingling around you. Nominated for both Eisner and Harvey awards.


Artist Spotlight: Jeff Lemire

Jeff Lemire, Canadian writer/artist most known for his series Sweet Tooth, has a very distinct style in a sea of generic super-hero art. With expressive faces, thick brush strokes, and a quirky view of the world, Lemire has made a splash with titles published by Top Shelf and Vertigo. His latest work, The Underwater Welder, due to hit shelves next week, scroll down for a tour of his best pieces!

Lost Dogs.

The back cover describes this tale as “bold, brutal and emotionally raw” and it certainly isn’t wrong. Both dark and heart-wrenching this is the story of a man who’s been left with nothing he holds dear and the events that follow. With splashes of red in just the right places, this art is sure to stir something in each of us.

Sweet Tooth.

A new breed is being born. Children with the features of animals, endangered by hunters who want their heads. This is the story of Gus, nickname Sweet Tooth, a boy with the features of a deer. With inventive art, the story is told in a way only a comic book could deliver. Pick up the first trade and find out why Geoff Johns calls this “The new MUST READ book.”

Essex County.

They say write what you know. Lemire takes that advice and brings us an imaginary version of Essex County, Ontario. This trilogy of graphic novels is the story of a community throughout the years, in beautiful black and white. The artist has a striking style, using both light and dark to make his pages bold and interesting. This book puts you into the world of his creativity; where you can almost see these characters living and mingling around you. Nominated for both Eisner and Harvey awards.