Five Recent Releases of Note: Books by Eid, Miville-Deschênes, Beaton, Seth and Foster

Over the last few weeks I managed to snag five high profile releases by Canadian creators. I’m not going to give detailed reviews, but I do want to draw some attention to them:

Le Fond du Trou (The Bottom of the Hole) by Jean-Paul Eid, published by La Pasteque. OUT NOW (In French)

Aside from it’s striking red cover, the book is unique in that there is a looney-sized hole through the centre of the book itself. Eid crafts every page around this vacuum, making it a fun and experimental comic adventure as the investigation into to the what and why of the hold begins. It’s also the first adventure featuring Eid’s Jerome Bigras character in over 16 years. The cartooning reminds me of that of the great Mad magazine cartoonist Jack Davis, with a dash of his compatriot Sergio Aragones to lighten the atmosphere. I suspect that we’ll see Eid’s name on the list of nominees for the 2012 awards. It’s both creative, unique, but most of all a fun read.

Reconquêtes (Winbacks), written by S. Runberg art and colours by François Miville-Deschênes, published by Editions Le Lombard (France) OUT NOW (In French)

Miville-Deschênes is one of those stars of the BD community that should be getting a lot more recognition on the world stage – European fans already know him for illustrating the popular Millenium series of graphic albums. Note that the BD publishers seem to be taking notes from the American publishers and produced two versions of the book with (stunning) covers for the first volume in this new historical adventure series set in the middle east. There’s a lot of nudity and violence here, so be forewarned that is not a children’s book. I will be shocked if he is not selected to be a finalist for the Artist category for this book. Miville-Deschênes, Jacques Lamontagne and Djief are redefining action/adventure comics for the BDQ community and their work is well worth looking into.

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton, published by Drawn & Quarterly. OUT NOW

Collecting a number of black and white webcomic strips by popular cartoonist Kate Beaton, the Hark! A Vagrant hardcover is well worth getting if you are into witty strips about historical fiction. Some of the strips are misses, but there are enough hits to get a chuckle out of even the most jaded critic. The format itself doesn’t require a lot of commitment from the reader, as nearly every page is complete unto itself you can put it down and pick it up at leisure, and it’s nice to have a print copy to refer. The Aquaman and Wonder Woman parodies are standouts. Beaton is a three time webcomics award nominee and has won a Doug Wright Award for her last collection of webcomics.

The G.N.B. Double C (aka the Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists) by Seth, also published by Drawn & Quarterly. TO BE RELEASED

I loved Wimbledon Green, a fun look at the obsessiveness of collecting, but the GNBCC is a love letter to something that should be and never was. Like many of Seth’s recent works, the artists featured and their creations are fictional or allegorical, but he’s peppered in enough reality (Doug Wright, Chester Brown) to make you look into the authenticity of some of the creators mentioned. Seth’s cartooning has settled into a consistent style, it’s good but like George Sprott it’s so backwards-looking and mournful in it’s approach and tone that it can be… well, kind of dull. It’s about looking back on the glory days of an art form that hasn’t evolved with the times and it’s been neglected and nearly forgotten as have the artists themselves. I say if you like Seth’s other books you will find something you like here, especially if you are fond of his other “from the sketchbooks of” book Wimbledon Green. As far as Canadian graphic novels go, I’d say that we’ve seen some stronger ones this year, but I won’t be surprised to see this on the top of some people’s best of 2011 lists.

Prince Valiant by Hal Foster Vol.4: 1943-1944 published by Fantagraphics

Hal Foster is the greatest comics illustrator that this country has ever produced, and in this fourth volume he is still at the top of his game in the early 1940’s. This is the most beautiful book I’ve purchased this year and I can’t help but think that Foster’s contributions to the artform are neglected by our community. You can definitely see Foster’s influence in books like Reconquetes, mentioned earlier in this article. Superhero and adventure comics are often as much about the details as they are about action – and Foster’s images are indelible and almost fanatically factual.


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