Staff Picks – Week of 16/03/2016

Cheech Wizard’s Book of Me
Vaugh Bodé
Fantagraphics Books

Thomas says: I think it’s been a good decade or so since anything of Bodé’s work was in print which is a crying shame. As one of the original underground artists of the sixties and seventies his work was a huge inspiration, especially for Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards and The Lord of the Rings and has been a mainstay in the ouvre of many a graffiti artist of the past forty plus years. Bodé’s work was subtley (and not so subtley) dangerous, pushing boundaries in a pleasant and beautiful way as opposed to his contemporaries who favoured a more aggressive and harsher style/attiude in their rebellion. Cheech Wizard was created by Bodé when he was a teen but didn’t see print until the mid-sixties appearing in various magazines including National Lampoon and yet it still feels fresh and new today even though it’s nearly fifty years old, it stands out like a beacon in a sea of turgid like-a-looks. This volume has been out for a couple of weeks now and I’m sorry that it’s taken me this long to get to it but if just one person picks it up I will have done my job because there is no way that they won’t fall in love with this book.

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2

Liz says: Having binge-watched my way through Season 2 of the Netflix Daredevil series, the only thing to do now is read (or reread) some of the amazing stories from which it was inspired. This season introduced two of my favorite Marvel characters, the Punisher and Elektra, both of whom were flawlessly cast and written into the series. The obvious place to start with the Punisher would be with the work of Garth Ennis. Ennis wrote two very different Punisher books, both excellent in their own ways. The twelve issue maxi-series Welcome Back, Frank, written by Ennis and drawn by Steve Dillon, recalls the vibe of their hilarious, gloriously bloody Preacher series, and a very famous scene between the Punisher and Daredevil is lifted from it and brought to life in Season 2 of the show. However, the most influential body of Ennis’ work is his sixty-issue Punisher Max series, a gritty and brutal affair that is, for my money, the ultimate run on the character (capped off years later with a magnificent finish by Jason Aaron). As for Elektra, Frank Miller’s Daredevil run is still the best introductory point, and the prime source from which the show is channeling. Also worth mentioning is Ann Nocenti’s A Touch of Typhoid (a classic Daredevil story with brilliant Punisher/Daredevil interactions) and Brian Michael Bendis’ Daredevil run (the Daredevil/Jessica Jones links form here). For a more in-depth look at the Punisher, listen to the Orbiting Pod’s Punisher Special, available here.

The Complete Crepax: Dracula, Frankenstein, and Other Horror Stories
Guido Crepax; Manuel Espírito Santo (ed.)

Chris says: I’ve been looking forward to this book for a long time! The first in a complete series of Crepax’s work, this volume is split neatly between his early Valentina stories and adaptations of the classic Dracula & Frankenstein. Very little of this material has been available in English before, and I’m deeply grateful to Fantagraphics for making it happen. Until now all my Crepax volumes have been in French, which is wonderful when it comes to appreciating the art and design, but sadly lacking when it comes to fully comprehending it all (my French still needs a lot of work). It may come as no surprise that Guido Crepas (soon to be Crepax) was born in Milan, Italy … After all, there’s a rich element of fashion design and illustration to his work, in which the garments (no matter how sparse) are just as important as the human form – and Crepax was a master of both. This book provides an attractive showcase for the master’s work – accompanied by extensive interviews, essays and background material (compiled by series editor Manuel Espírito Santo) to add context and give further explanation. I cannot recommend this collection highly enough … We sold four copies to staff alone, and I look forward to selling more to a legion of new fans who may be discovering Crepax for the first time.

A&A: The Adventures of Archer and Armstrong #1
Rafer Roberts (w), David LaFuente (a)

Ryan says: I’ve never been so excited to read a Valiant comic, and I’m starting to realize what a sin that is. Roberts and LaFuente aren’t reinventing anything on this title, but they’re definitely bringing a fun and punchy energy to it, full of laughs, action, and the occasional touching moment. If Valiant comics have been THIS good for all this time, I definitely need to go back and read some of the graphic novels they’ve put out! In any case, this is a great #1 to get invested in and I’d gladly recommend it to anyone looking to try something a little different from the standard superhero comic. “Archer and Armstrong” follows a former teen-assassin, who befriends a 6000-year-old immortal strongman, and follows him into a Mary-Poppins-esque bottomless satchel when he goes missing. The ensuing hijinks are packed full of fantastic environments and brawls as Archer tries to get to the bottom of why Armstrong went missing in the first place. Pick it up, read it, get hooked, and join me in eager anticipation for issue two!

Superman: The Golden Age vol. 1
Jerry Siegel (w), Joe Shuster (a)
DC Comics

Adam says: Collecting the very first Superman stories from 1938-39 by his original creators Siegel and Shuster, this new printing is a positively gorgeous tome. This first Golden Age volume presents all the Supeman features from Action Comics #1-19 back when it was an old-fashioned anthology magasine, as well as Superman’s own title #1-3 and the World’s Fair one-shot. As a reprint collection, it’s great value, with DC’s superior colour presentation (unlike cf. the garish Marvel Masterworks) and a lush new cover from Michael Cho.

Suite Française
Emmanuel Moynot (w/a)
Arsenal Pulp Press

Camila says: France, June 1940. The German Invasion. The events in Suite Française are far from pleasant, but the book itself, adapted from Irene Nemirovsky’s novel, is a wonderful read, beautifully complemented Moynot’s art.