Letting It Go. Miriam Katin. Drawn and Quarterly. 160 pages. $24.95. A Holocaust survivor, Katin lived through untold horrors. As abundantly evidenced here, her great humor, intelligence and extraordinary self-awareness must have played major roles in her survival and success as an artist, animator and later a graphic novelist, which she became in her 60s. Here, she’s struggling with complicated and ambiguous feelings toward Europe — Germany in particular, unsurprisingly — and the impending emigration and marriage of her son there. Katin’s character in this tale is strong, and her husband is clearly a costar in the drama, as they lead their delightfully mundane lives in New York and travel to the Old World with additional personal baggage beyond their luggage. The humor and passion, risible and poignant, is as true as life, and Katin’s art and storytelling are first rate.
Everybody is Stupid. Peter Bagge. Fantagraphics. 144 pages. $24.99. His other recent release, a biography of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, would cause one to assume that the veteran cartoonist is perhaps a liberal. Yet this collection of strips that originally appeared in the libertarian magazine Reason fits no particular political philosophy. Bagge’s irreverent, progressive-tinged work isn’t so much didactic as it is inquisitive, skeptical and mad-as-hell-and-not-gonna-take-it upset. Topics range from ant-war protests to neighborhood beautification to the nerdification of America and more, and he also includes an illustrated biography of literary critic and libertarian icon Isabel Mary Paterson. Bagge’s curiosity and outrage translate well to the pages of this thoughtful and hilarious collection.
Boxers. Gene Luen Yang. First Second. 336 pages. $18.99. Yang presents a story of the domestic insurrection in China against British colonialism and the imposition of Christianity on its people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (commonly known as the Boxer Rebellion) from two distinct angles, a rebel and a believer. This first of two volumes tells that tale through the eyes of a young boy who grows up to become a leader in the fight against the foreigners and the repression of his people and culture. Yang is a born storyteller, and his ground-level depiction of the clash between tradition and modernity reveals the very human terms of the historical conflict.
Saints. Gene Luen Yang. First Second. 176 pages. $15.99. The religious and spiritual aspects of the events surrounding the Boxer Rebellion are depicted here by Yang, with a young outcast woman’s story of redemption and sacrifice serving as the centerpiece of the tale. Though this and its companion volume may be read and enjoyed independently, they present a richer and more rewarding experience together. Kudos to Yang for this tour de force show of superior craft and clever innovation.
The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story. Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, Kyle Baker. Dark Horse. 144 pages. $19.99. Brian Epstein, the man who transformed The Beatles from a Liverpool club band into the most popular and influential band in the world, is the subject of this delightful and interesting graphic biography. The art is clever and functional, limning a narrative that flows nicely from a script that’s sympathetic and mostly fact-based. Additional artist Kyle Baker imparts a page or a panel amid the proceedings with great effect and impact. The result is fun for fab four fans and perhaps even those who may not have been seduced by the timeless music or the legendary era.
Happy Deluxe Edition. Grant Morrison, Darick Robertson. Image. 128 pages. $24.99. This, the first new and original project from Morrison following his epic run on Batman, is an odd, violent and profane fable about accountability and redemption. In Robertson, Morrison has a partner who’s every bit his equal, with taut and wildly imaginative art that makes the script, featuring an imaginary anthropomorphic magical feathered horse and a doomed hitman, credible and visceral — no mean feat. This “Deluxe” edition adds to the allegory, with 10 pages of new story and art.
Persia Blues Vol. 1: Going Home. Dara Naraghi, Brent Bowman. NBM. 128 pages. $12.99. This first part of an ambitious trilogy jumps around in time as it follows the protagonist, a young Iranian woman struggling with her father and the constraints of their country’s oppressive theocratic regime. Another tale, told in parallel, is set in ancient Persia, fraught with battles and mysticism, presenting an allegorical reflection of the modern action. Naraghi’s script is heartfelt and imaginative and well served by Bowman’s naturalistic graphic storytelling.
Red Light Properties. Dan Goldman. IDW. 200 pages. $19.99. The popular webcomic set on Miami Beach featuring the real estate company that deals with haunted properties has been recolored, reconfigured, expanded and enlarged for its dead-trees debut with new and recolored pages. Goldman’s rollicking story, replete with photo and art mashups, is nicely executed and screamingly funny. You’ll recognize a few of the local settings, but the adventures of this exorcising group of realtors is pretty otherworldly. This is the first in a new series — and your opportunity to get in on the ground floor.
Dennis P. Eichhorn’s Real Good Stuff 1 and 2. Dennis P. Eichhorn et al. Poochie Press. 64 pages. $10. This Kickstarted double volume is a raucous and bawdy delight. Eichhorn’s adventures appeared in a variety of earlier collections, but this new one’s as good or better than the rest (some of which are posted at www.boingboing/net/denniseichhorn). It’s a treat to see new comics from the venerable Mary Fleener and Pat Moriarity as well as such upstarts as Noah Van Sciver, as they illustrate Eichhorn’s outrageous anecdotes of sex, drugs rock and roll and more.