THE LOXLEYS AND THE WAR OF 1812 from Renegade Arts Entertainment. Written by Alan Grant, pencils and inks by Claude St. Aubin, colours by Lovern Kindzierski, edited by Alexander Finbow, letters by Todd Klein. Celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 with this 175 page, beautifully colored, hardback graphic novel features a 101 page historically accurate comic strip about a Canadian family caught up in the war and a 64 page summary of the war and itʼs implications for Canada and America written by acclaimed Canadian military historian Mark Zuehlke, includes maps and illustrations. $19.99 Age 10 and Up.
ED THE HAPPY CLOWN by Chester Brown. In the late 1980s, the idiosyncratic Chester Brown (author of the much-lauded Paying For It and Louis Riel) began writing the cult classic comic book series Yummy Fur. Within its pages, he serialized the groundbreaking Ed the Happy Clown, revealing a macabre universe of parallel dimensions. Thanks to its wholly original yet disturbing story lines, Ed set the stage for Chester Brown to become a world-renowned cartoonist. Ed the Happy Clown is a hallucinatory tale that functions simultaneously as a dark roller-coaster ride of criminal activity and a scathing condemnation of religious and political charlatanism. As the world around him devolves into madness, the eponymous Ed escapes variously from a jealous boyfriend, sewer monsters, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and a janitor with a Jesus complex. Brown leaves us wondering, with every twist of the plot, just how Ed will get out of this scrape. The intimate, tangled world of Ed the Happy Clown is definitively presented here, repackaged with a new foreword by the author and an extensive notes section, and, as with every Brown book, astonishingly perceptive about the zeitgeist of its time. Hardcover, B/W, 240 pages.$24.95
BACK ALLEYS AND URBAN LANDSCAPES by Michael Cho. Drawn and Quarterly. Michael Cho began creating drawings of the back alleys near his Toronto home in 2008. With this book, he has amassed a collection that speaks to the beauty of the urban landscape: sometimes grittily citified, sometimes unexpectedly pastoral, and always bewitching. Cho is a skilled draftsman, and Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes shines with lovingly rendered details, from expletive-filled graffiti splayed across backyard fences to the graceful twists of power lines over a bend in the road. Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes meanders through the city, functioning as a sort of caught on-paper psychogeographical Jane’s Walk. With each season’s change, different color schemes become dominant, and a whole range of moods and moments are articulated. Cho lets the reader visit his city as a virtual flaneur, lingering equally over dilapidated sheds and well-groomed gardens in a dazzling tribute to the urban environs. Paperback, 9.75 X 7.5, full colour, 80 pages. $19.95.
PRINCE VALIANT VOL. 5: 1945-46 by Hal Foster. Fantagraphics Books. Fully half of this latest volume of Hal Foster’s epic masterpiece — again scanned from superb syndicate proofs — is devoted to the remaining chapters of “The Winning of Aleta,” a 20-month (!) epic in which Valiant obsessively pursues his bride to be. Not surprisingly this is followed by a sequence called “Matrimony,” which ends with a newly wed queen adjusting to the luxurious, exciting court life at Camelot. But Val’s marriage does not signal an end to his adventures, quite the contrary. In “War in the Forest” Val is sent out to spy on encroaching Saxons — unknowingly aided by Aleta, who, disguised as a small knight (and dubbed “Sir Puny”) helps prevent disaster. But the 1946 strips end with Val and Aleta unable to return to Camelot and the displaced couple journeying to Thule… Half the strips in this volume also include the delightful “The Medieval Castle,” Foster’s chronicle of two young boys growing up during the time of the First Crusade — but by the end of the 1945 strips this series has ended and the Valiant portion resume its full-page glory. This volume also features a Foreword by P. Craig Russell, a gallery of Hal Foster’s commercial illustration work and an essay titled “Aleta: Water Nymph of the Misty Isles” by Brian M. Kane. With stunning art reproduced directly from pristine printer’s proofs, Fantagraphics has introduced a new generation to Foster’s masterpiece, while providing long-time fans with the ultimate, definitive version of the strip. Hardcover, 112 pages, full colour. $29.99