Staff Picks – Week of 08/11/2017

Fiction House: From Pulps to Panels, From Jungles to Space
Mitch Maglio (editorial), Various (comics)
YOE Books / IDW Publishing

Adam says: This hefty tome from YOE Books is divided into a short publishing history of some fifty pages, before roughly two-hundred pages of reprints, focusing on the pioneering Golden Age comics and pulps publisher, Fiction House. One of the key targets of Fredric Wertham’s censorship crusade in the late ’40s and early ’50s, Fiction House put out such titles as ‘Planet Comics’, ‘Jungle Comics’, and ‘Fight Comics’. Their books boasted work by Will Eisner, Fletcher Hanks, Lily Renée and Matt Baker, to name just a few.
I learned of Fiction House in the course of my PhD research, through one of Trina Robbins’s great herstory books, ‘Pretty in Ink’, and the publisher is notable for having employed women in significant numbers during and indeed after the Second World War. Many are profiled here, including Ruth Atkinson (co-creator of Patsy Walker) and Audrey Blum (who holds the distinction of having used the largest number of different pen names in comics). The critical, subversive talents of these women creators actually manage, unsurprisingly, to help these sci-fi and adventure comics steer just a little clearer of the common racist and sexist hallmarks of other books of the 1940s. [And on that note, please don’t bother with Roy Thomas’s short introduction!]

Pierre Paquet (w), Jesus Alonso (a)
Lion Forge

Liz says: Pierre Paquet, an Eisner-nominated writer who founded the renowned European publishing house Paquet Editions, writes about his experience as a fledgling upstart in the comic industry, and about the relationships he formed or finished as a result. Pierre’s ambitions to chase his dreams ultimately fractured many of his friendships and were prioritized ahead of romantic relationships. But one bond that always endured, which meant more to him than any other, was the companionship he shared with his dog, Sonny.

POS is a beautiful story in every sense. The story flits around between time-lines, in such a way as to feel like memories swirling around in your own subconscious. The artwork by Jesus Alonso is just stunning, so evocative of emotion that even if this story had not been translated to English, it would be possible to feel out the story just from his mastery of facial expressions, body language and visual characterization.

I fell down the rabbit-hole with this book, intending to just flip through it and then devouring the whole 250-page story in one sitting. I highly recommend doing so yourself.

The Little Book of The Avengers / Captain America / Fantastic Four / Spider-Man
Roy Thomas

Ryan says: It’s easy to let collecting get out of control, and when it comes to comic art history books I’m certainly guilty of that (just ask my wife!). So it’s just as well that the wonderful folks at Taschen have been able to collect their hefty hardcovers into easy-to-carry digest paperbacks. If you’ve been through our doors before, you’ll have no doubt seen their DC trilogy of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman – now we’re proud to stock Roy Thomas’ first four “Little Book” titles in the Marvel universe. They’re great fun, fit neatly in your pocket for reading on the go, and make for the perfect geeky stocking filler for the upcoming holiday season. With each page full of silver-age goodness it’s easy to fall in love with them, and at just £6.50 each they’re also some of Taschen’s most affordable works!