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Revealed: SelfMadeHero’s Autumn Releases

A graphic history of Tetris; fiction from Rob Davis, Aimée de Jongh, and Deborah Levy and Andrzej Klimowski; biographies of Salvador Dalí and Roger Casement; adaptations of ghost stories by M.R. James; and the latest addition to the One Year Wiser series: this autumn we bring you a collection of graphic novels and visual narratives to inspire, inform and entertain.

Our autumn lineup kicks off with the release of a graphic biography by Fionnuala Doran, The Trial of Roger Casement. Doran, who won the British Library’s “Comics Unmasked” competition in 2014, has chosen as the subject of her debut graphic novel the extraordinary life of Roger Casement. In 1911, Casement was knighted for his humanitarian work; five years later, he was hanged for treason. The Trial of Roger Casement traces the astonishing downfall of an Irishman once feted for his compassion but later condemned both as a revolutionary and as a homosexual.

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Mike Medaglia follows his bestselling collection of illustrated meditations with One Year Wiser: A Gratitude Journal. Filled with uplifting quotes and guidance, this beautifully produced journal will help you keep a lasting record of the small moments that reflect the richness and variety of life. Keep it on your bedside table – and start living the grateful life.

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Originally slated for June this year, Stardust Nation by Deborah Levy and Andrzej Klimowski will now hit the shelves in September – and it’s worth the wait. Adapted from one of the centrepieces of Levy’s short story collection Black VodkaStardust Nation follows the story of Nikos Gazidis, a man suffering from a strange psychiatric condition: he seems to have unwittingly crashed into the consciousness of his boss. Written by the Booker-shortlisted author of Swimming HomeStardust Nation is an absurdly funny, unsettling and unforgettable graphic novel about memory, empathy and how we are, all of us, connected.

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In October, the latest addition to our Art Masters series: Dalí by Edmond Baudoin. The veteran French comics artist asks, who was Salvador Dalí? A madman? A genius? An exhibitionist? There is no shortage of labels for the Surrealist painter, who was as well known for his acts of public bravado as for his extraordinary work. Commissioned by the Pompidou Centre, Dalí is a rigorously researched and absorbing portrait of a singular artist and an enigmatic man.

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We celebrate Halloween with the release of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Vol. 1., which collects graphic retellings of four spine-chilling tales by the renowned medievalist and writer M.R. James. Adapted by Leah Moore and John Reppion, and illustrated by four outstanding comics artists, Ghost Stories gives a new lease of life to some of James’s best-known works: ”Canon Alberic’s Scrap-book” (illus. Aneke), “Lost Hearts” (illus. Kit Buss),  ”The Mezzotint” (illus. Fouad Mezher) and ”The Ash-tree” (illus. Alisdair Wood). Vanishing children, spectral works of art, vengeance from beyond the grave: these tales have it all.

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Return of the Honey Buzzard by Aimée de Jongh (October) tells the story of Simon, the third-generation owner of the struggling Antoinisse Book Shop. When he witnesses a suicide, old memories intrude, guilt bubbles up and his grip on reality loosens. Haunted by the past, Simon struggles to face the future. It is only in the tender, ethereal presence of Regina that he is able to open up – and, finally, to look ahead. Powerful, perceptive and beautifully drawn, The Return of the Honey Buzzard is a compelling graphic novel about grief, love, our actions and their consequences.

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As previously announced, October also sees the release of Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown. This hotly anticipated – and, we can confirm, brilliant - graphic novel is a dramatic and surprising history of the most ubiquitous and addictive video game of all time. I follows the story of Tetris’s Russian creator Alexey Pajitnov, who created the game in his spare time, and spotlights the innumerable businessmen who were desperate to monetise it. Box Brown untangles Tetris’s complex history – the bidding wars, clandestine trips to Moscow, backroom deals and miscommunications – and while doing so delves deep into the role games play in art, culture and commerce.

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Finally, November brings us a brand new graphic novel from Rob Davis. In his British Comic Award-winning The Motherless Oven, Scarper Lee asked: “Who the hell is Vera Pike?” The Can Opener’s Daughter gives us a chance to find out. Charting Vera’s unsettling childhood, the book takes us from her home in Parliament to suicide school, and from the Bear Park to the black woods that lie beyond. In the present day, Vera and Castro Smith are determined to see their friend Scarper again – but is he still alive? And if so, can they save him? Can anyone outlive their deathday? Both a sequel and a darkly inventive standalone graphic novel, The Can Opener’s Daughter answers many of the questions posed in The Motherless Oven, while asking plenty more of its own.

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So, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now, there are things to look forward to, a couple of them European.

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The East London Comics & Arts Festival 2016

This weekend, 10th-12th June, ELCAF celebrates its 5th birthday – and it promises to be the best show yet. Richard McGuire? Check. Adrian Tomine? Check. Fabulous tote bags? Check. What’s more, we’ll be installed in Hackney’s beautiful Round Chapel throughout the weekend (Fri: 12-7; Sat & Sun: 11-7).

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As well as touting our selection of graphic masterpieces at better-than-Amazon discounts, we’ll be joined by guest Mike Medaglia, who’ll be signing and sketching copies of his bestselling One Year Wiser books on Sunday.

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We’ll have with us all of our spring releases: Irmina by Barbara Yelin, An Olympic Dream by Reinhard Kleist, Agatha  by Anne Martinetti, Guillaume Lebeau and Alexandre Franc and the Observer‘s Graphic Novel of the Month for May, Munch by Steffen Kverneland.

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The Round Chapel is easily accessible via the London Overground (nearest stations: Hackney Downs and Hackney Central). Full details of the ELCAF programme can be found on the festival’s website.

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TCAF 2016: Barbara Yelin, Edward Ross and Mike Medaglia join SelfMadeHero in Toronto

It’s our favourite time of year. We’ll soon be packing up our bags and heading to Toronto for Canada’s foremost comic book extravaganza. TCAF takes place on 13th, 14th and 15th May, with exhibitors laying out their wares in the Toronto Reference Library on the Saturday and Sunday.

Joining us at the festival this year will be Barbara Yelin (Irmina), Edward Ross (Filmish) and Mike Medaglia (One Year Wiser). They’ll be signing on SelfMadeHero’s stand throughout the weekend, as well as taking part in events (of which more next week).

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Set for the most part in the Berlin of Hitler’s Germany, Barbara Yelin’s award-winning graphic novel Irmina is a troubling drama based on the life of the author’s grandmother. Conjuring the oppressive atmosphere of Nazi Germany, Irmina explores the tension between integrity and social advancement, reflecting with compassion and intelligence on the complicity that results from the choice, conscious or otherwise, to look away.

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Barbara Yelin is a Munich-based comics artist. She received the Bavarian Art Award for Literature for Irmina, which also won the Best German Graphic Novel prize at the PENG Awards. She’s also the author of Gift (with Peter Meter) and Riekes Notizen.

On Thursday evening, Yelin will speak alongside Balak, Manuele Fior, Francisco Sousa Lobo and Bastien Vivès at the Alliance Française Toronto (“Comics Around the World”, 19:00-21:00).

On Friday, she leads a workshop as part of TCAF’s creator-focussed “Word Balloon Academy” (“Drawing as Exploring”, 11:30-13:00, Mariott Bloor-Yorkville)

And on Saturday, Yelin again joins Manuele Fior for a free-to-attend festival event (“Lost Loves”, 14:45-15:45, Marriott Bloor-Yorkville).

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In Filmish, Edward Ross takes us on an exhilarating ride through the history of cinema, using comics to uncover the magic and mechanics behind our favourite movies. Exploring everything from censorship to set design, he spotlights the films and film-makers that embody this provocative and inventive medium, from the pioneers of early cinema to the innovators shaping the movies of today, from A Trip to the Moon to Inception and beyond. For further info, preview material and more, visit www.filmish.co.uk.

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Edward Ross will be discussing Filmish with Nathalie Atkinson on Saturday morning (“Spotlight: Edward Ross”, 10:00-11:00, 11:30-13:00, Mariott Bloor-Yorkville).

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Mike Medaglia is the creator of oneyearwiser.com, where he posts regular illustrated meditations. A practicing Zen Buddhist, Medaglia also tackles subjects from presentness to self-doubt in a Meditation Comic for The Huffington Post and a weekly strip, “The Mindful Life”, for The Elephant Journal.

One Year Wiser collects 365 of Medaglia’s illustrated meditations, bringing the wisdom of the world’s great thinkers to life through beautiful hand-drawn illustrations. From Rumi to Roosevelt, the Buddha to Martin Luther King Jr., the meditations that fill this book will help you beat stress, be positive and appreciate the moment. Plus, for readers who like a more hands-on experience, there’s One Year Wiser: The Coloring Book.

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Mike Medaglia will lead a hands-on workshop on Saturday afternoon (“Draw Your Favourite Quote”, 12:00-13:30, Toronto Reference Library), which is free to attend.

As if that weren’t enough, Steffen Kverneland’s Munch and Anne Martinetti, Guillaume Lebeau and Alexadre Franc’s Agatha will make their Canadian debuts at the festival. What’s more, we’ll be giving away signed, limited-edition prints with a bunch of new titles and backlist favourites, including Frederik Peeters’ Aama, Reinhard Kleist’s An Olympic Dream, Rob Davis’s The Motherless Oven.

So, stop by early and get your hands on some fabulous printed goods, some of them cheap, some of them free, and all of them beautiful.

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The Real Life of Agatha Christie: An Evening with Anne Martinetti and Guillaume Lebeau

To celebrate the release of Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie, co-authors Anne Martinetti and Guillaume Lebeau visit the Institut Français in London to discuss their lively and surprising graphic biography of the Queen of Crime. The event takes place at 7pm on Wednesday 11th May. Tickets are available here (£8, conc. £6).

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Crime fiction experts Anne Martinetti and Guillaume Lebeau worked alongside artist Alexandre Franc to create Agatha, which uses the novelist’s enigmatic disappearance in 1926 as a gateway to explore her life and character.

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Taking in her childhood in Torquay and her early attempts at writing, the authors chart Christie’s development into a free-spirited and thoroughly modern woman who, among other things, enjoyed flying, travel and surfing.

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Anne Martinetti has  been an Editor at French crime publisher Éditions du Masque for more than ten years. She is the author of an Agatha Christie-inspired cookbook – the fabulously titled Creams and Punishments - among many other books.

Guillaume Lebeau is the author of more than fifteen books, novels and graphic novels, among them a biography of Stieg Larsson. Together, Martinetti and Lebeau have created a cookbook inspired by Scandinavian crime fiction, Crimes on Ice, and the encyclopedia Agatha Christie from A to Z.

Join both authors at the Institut Français, where they’ll uncover the real Agatha Christie – funny, fallible and full of life.

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SelfMadeHero to publish Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown

Big news: in October, we’ll be bringing Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown to UK readers. This hotly anticipated – and, we can confirm, brilliant - graphic novel is a dramatic and surprising history of the most ubiquitous and addictive video game of all time. We bagged UK & Commonwealth rights from our friends at First Second, who’ll be publishing the book in the States.

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So, what’s it all about? Here’s the blurb:

It is, perhaps, the perfect video game. Simple yet addictive, Tetris delivers an irresistible, unending puzzle that has players hooked. Play it long enough and you’ll see those brightly coloured geometric shapes everywhere. You’ll see them in your dreams.

Alexey Pajitnov had big ideas about games. In 1984, he created Tetris in his spare time while developing software for the Soviet government. Once this alarmingly addictive game emerged from behind the Iron Curtain, it was an instant hit. Nintendo, Atari, Sega – game developers big and small all wanted Tetris. A bidding war was sparked, followed by clandestine trips to Moscow, backroom deals, innumerable miscommunications and outright theft.

New York Times bestselling author Box Brown untangles this complex history and delves deep into the role games play in art, culture and commerce. For the first time and in unparalleled detail, Tetris: The Games People Play tells the true story of the world’s most popular video game.

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Of course, you’ll know Box Brown as the creator of Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, which tells the story of another pop culture icon. He’s also the founder of the fabulous alt-comics publisher Retrofit Comics.

Tetris_blog_3Be the first to hear what we’ll be doing to celebrate the release of Tetris by signing up to our newsletter. It’s going to be a fun autumn!

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Revealed: SelfMadeHero’s MoCCA Arts Festival Debuts

We’ll soon be making our annual pilgrimage to the MoCCA Arts Festival, where the first three books on our spring list make their US debuts. The event takes place on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd April (11am-6pm) at Metropolitan West, 639 W 46th St, NY 10036.

We’ll be joined by Reinhard Kleist, who’ll be signing copies of An Olympic Dream. Find him sketching and scribbling on the SelfMadeHero stand (G237-238) throughout the weekend. Kleist will arrive fresh from a live drawing event at the Goethe-Institut on Friday evening, of which more here.

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Two more graphic novels make their debuts at the show: Irmina by Barbara Yelin and Munch by Steffen Kverneland.

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Irmina is an award-winning wartime drama based on the life of the author’s grandmother. Conjuring the oppressive atmosphere of Nazi Germany, Yelin’s graphic novel explores the tension between integrity and social advancement, reflecting with compassion and intelligence on the complicity that results from the choice, conscious or otherwise, to look away. Read the Library Journal‘s review of the book here.

Munch_cover for blog

Steffen Kverneland’s extraordinary and inventive graphic biography explores the relationships and obsessions that drove the artist behind ‘The Scream’. Using text drawn from the writings of Edvard Munch and his contemporaries, this extensively researched and beautifully drawn graphic novel debunks the familiar myth of the half-mad expressionist painter – anguished, starving and ill-treated – to reveal the artist’s neglected sense of humour and optimism. The Comics Journal has said of the book, “Munch is a dazzling use of sequential storytelling… Rarely have I read a more entertaining biography.”

If you’re lucky enough to be in New York City, we look forward to seeing you there!

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Reinhard Kleist: Live in New York City!

On Friday 1st April Reinhard Kleist will draw live to music at the Goethe-Institut New York (30 Irving Place, NY 10003). The event, which includes an author Q&A, starts at 7pm and admission is free.

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Kleist’s appearance at the Goethe-Institut coincides with the release of his latest graphic novel, An Olympic Dreamwhich tells the remarkable true story of Somali Olympian Samia Yusuf Omar. In 2008, the 17-year-old Yusuf Omar overcame conflict, poverty and discrimination to run in the 200m at the Beijing Olympics; this moving and politically charged graphic novel is an account of her ill-fated attempt to compete at London Games in 2012.

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Publishers Weekly said of the book, “Kleist’s treatment of [Yusuf Omar's] quest is heartbreaking and inspirational, putting a human face to Europe’s current migration question.”

An Olympic Dream debuts at the MoCCA Arts Festival, which takes place on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd April (11am-6pm) at Metropolitan West, 639 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036. Reinhard Kleist will be signing on SelfMadeHero’s tables throughout the weekend.

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Comix Creatrix: Catherine Anyango, Barbara Yelin and Hannah Berry in Conversation

This Saturday, 5th March, we’ll be at the House of Illustration in King’s Cross for an event featuring three creators whose work is on display in the gallery’s brilliant exhibition Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics. Catherine Anyango (Heart of Darkness), Barbara Yelin (Irmina) and Hannah Berry (Adamtine) join co-curator Paul Gravett to discuss their work, ideas and influences. The event starts at 3pm and is completely free (just rsvp to rsvp@houseofillustration.org.uk).

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Catherine Anyango is an artist and graphic novelist. Her acclaimed graphic adaptation of Heart of Darkness was published by SelfMadeHero in 2010. Anyango’s artwork has been exhibited at Art Basel Miami Beach, the National Film Theatre, The British Library and the V&A. She is currently a Tutor in Visual Research at the Royal College of Art.

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Barbara Yelin is a Munich-based comics artist. She received the Bavarian Art Award for Literature for her graphic novel Irmina, which also won the Best German Graphic Novel prize at the PENG Awards. Irmina is published in English by SelfMadeHero in March 2016. Yelin is also the author of Gift (with Peter Meter) and Riekes Notizen.

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Hannah Berry is a graphic novelist, writer and illustrator. She is the author of two graphic novels, Britten and Brülightly and Adamtine, both published by Jonathan Cape. She is currently working on a third, Livestock, which will be published in 2017. Her artwork has been exhibited in solo and collective exhibitions in the UK and around the world.

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Paul Gravett is a London-based journalist, curator, writer and broadcaster who has worked in comics publishing and promotion for over 20 years. He is the author of Comics Art, Graphic Novels: Everything You Need To Know and Manga: 60 Years Of Japanese Comics, and co-curator of Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics with Olivia Ahmad.

Comix Creatrix displays original artwork by 100 female comic creators working across genres and generations, from the 1800s to the present day. Read The Guardian‘s thoughts on the exhibition, with quotes from co-curator Olivia Ahmad and comics artist Una, here.

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Event: Barbara Yelin and Reinhard Kleist to Speak at London’s Goethe-Institut on 3rd March

Our spring season kicks off with the launch of two brilliant German graphic novels in translation: Irmina by Barbara Yelin and An Olympic Dream by Reinhard Kleist.

On Thursday 3rd March we’re celebrating the release of both books with a free event at the Goethe-Institut in London (50 Princes Gate, Exhibition Road, SW7 2PH; tube: South Kensington). Barbara Yelin and Reinhard Kleist will discuss their work with the journalist Rosie Goldsmith. The event, which starts at 7pm, is free to attend – all you need to do is rsvp to info@london.goethe.org.

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Set for the most part in the Berlin of Hitler’s Germany, Barbara Yelin’s award-winning Irmina is a troubling drama based on the life of the author’s grandmother. Conjuring the oppressive atmosphere of Nazi Germany, Irmina explores the tension between integrity and social advancement, reflecting with compassion and intelligence on the complicity that results from the choice, conscious or otherwise, to look away. You can read more about the book here and you’ll find a preview of the artwork on the Forbidden Planet International Blog.

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You’ll already know Reinhard Kleist as the author of Castro, Johnny Cash: I See A Darkness and The Boxer. His latest prize-winning graphic biography tells the remarkable true story of Somali Olympian Samia Yusuf Omar. In 2008, 17-year-old Yusuf Omar stood alongside some of the fastest women in the world on the start line of the Olympic 200m. Four years later, she boarded a refugee boat to Europe, risking her life on the waters of the Mediterranean. 

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An Olympic Dream tells the remarkable story of Yusuf Omar’s attempt to compete at the London Games in 2012. Picturing her life in Mogadishu, a city ravaged by conflict, Reinhard Kleist reveals the challenges she faced both as a sportsperson and as a woman. In doing so, he shows why Omar, like so many others, would choose to flee. Following her journey through Ethiopia, Sudan and Libya to its tragic conclusion, An Olympic Dream is both a forceful statement on Europe’s response to the refugee crisis and a moving biography of an incredible woman. Read more about it here.

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The event takes place at the Goethe-Institut, 50 Princes Gate, Exhibition Road, SW7 2PH on Thursday 3rd March, from 7pm. We hope to see you there.

Can’t make it because you live in the South West? Fear not: both Reinhard and Barbara will be speaking at the Independent Bath Literature Festival the following evening, Friday 4th March, from 8-9pm. Info here.

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Revealed: SelfMadeHero’s Spring Releases

Winter may have come, but already there are five green shoots on the horizon…

That’s right, folks: we can now announce our releases for the first half of 2016 – and my, what a fine bunch of graphic novels they are. Taking in everything from the Berlin of Hitler’s Germany to the deserts of Sudan, Agatha Christie to Edvard Munch, our spring titles are at times tragic, at times inspirational, but always brilliantly crafted and compelling.

March sees the release of the award-winning Irmina by Barbara Yelin. Based on the life of Yelin’s grandmother, Irmina follows the eponymous young German who, in the mid-1930s, moves to London. At a cocktail party, she meets Howard Green, one of the first black students at Oxford, who, like Irmina, longs for an independent existence. However, their relationship comes to an abrupt end when Irmina, constrained by the political situation in Hitler’s Germany, is forced to return home. As war approaches and her contact with Howard is broken, it becomes clear to her that prosperity will only be possible through the betrayal of her ideals. Conjuring perfectly the oppressive atmosphere of wartime Germany, Barbara Yelin presents a troubling drama about the tension between integrity and social advancement, reflecting with compassion and intelligence on the complicity that results from the choice, conscious or otherwise, to look away.

Irmina_cover for blog

March also sees the release of another award-winning German graphic novel in translation: An Olympic Dream by Reinhard Kleist. Following Castro, Johnny Cash: I See A Darkness and The Boxer, Kleist’s latest graphic biography tells the incredible true story of Somali Olympian Samia Yusuf Omar. In 2008, 17-year-old Yusuf Omar stood alongside some of the fastest women in the world on the start line of the Olympic 200m. Four years later, she boarded a refugee boat to Europe, risking her life on the waters of the Mediterranean. An Olympic Dream tells the remarkable story of Yusuf Omar’s attempt to compete at the London Games in 2012. Picturing her life in Mogadishu, a city ravaged by conflict, Reinhard Kleist reveals the challenges she faced both as a sportsperson and as a woman. In doing so, he shows why Omar, like so many others, would choose to flee. Following her journey through Ethiopia, Sudan and Libya to its tragic conclusion, An Olympic Dream is a forceful statement on Europe’s response to the refugee crisis. But it is also a moving account of a remarkable life, best remembered for a single moment: when an unlikely Olympian, dressed in knee-length leggings and a baggy t-shirt, finished in last place – and the Bird’s Nest stadium erupted.

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In May, another graphic biography: Agatha by Anne Martinetti and Guillaume Lebeau, illustrated by Alexandre Franc. Spanning marriages and wars by way of archaeology and infidelities, Agatha is an entertaining and dramatic portrait of the 20th century’s best-loved crime writer. In December 1926, Agatha Christie vanished, sending shockwaves through British society. As the authorities scoured the country for her, theories and suspicions abounded: it was murder, a hoax, suicide, a publicity stunt, revenge. When she was finally located – ten days later, living under an assumed name in a hotel in Harrogate – she returned to normal life, refusing to explain what had happened. Despite Christie’s reputation for final act revelations, this episode of her life would be forever shrouded in mystery. Agatha uses Christie’s enigmatic disappearance as a gateway to explore the life and character of the Queen of Whodunit. Taking in her childhood in Torquay and her early attempts at writing, this landmark graphic biography charts Christie’s development into a free-spirited and thoroughly modern woman who, among other things, enjoyed flying, travel and surfing.

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Also in May, our Art Masters series continues with Munch by Steffen Kverneland, an extraordinary and inventive graphic biography of the great Norwegian expressionist. Munch explores the relationships and obsessions that drove the artist behind ‘The Scream’. Using text drawn from the writings of Edvard Munch and his contemporaries, this extensively researched and beautifully drawn graphic novel debunks the familiar myth of the half-mad expressionist painter – anguished, starving and ill-treated – to reveal the artist’s neglected sense of humour and optimism. Born out of a life-long fascination with all things Munch, Kverneland’s award-winning seven-year project is the funniest and most entertaining portrait yet of a complex man and a pioneering artist.

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And finally, in June: Stardust Nation by Deborah Levy and Andrzej Klimowski. You will, of course, know Deborah Levy as the Booker-shortlisted author of Swimming Home and Andrzej Klimowski as the co-creator of a number of classic adaptations (The Master and Margarita, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robot) and, more recently, the collaborative autobiography Behind the Curtain (with Danusia Schejbal). Adapted from one of the centrepieces of Levy’s short story collection Black VodkaStardust Nation follows the story of Nikos Gazidis, a man suffering from a strange psychiatric condition: he seems to have unwittingly crashed into the consciousness of his boss. Committed to an institution for the rich and unstable, Nikos is afflicted by the disturbing memories and violent emotions of a man who suffered from an abusive father and a neglectful mother. That man, Tom, feels nothing. But when Nikos’s sister begins preventing Tom from sharing his memories with his colleague, things begin to change… Stardust Nation is an absurdly funny, unsettling and unforgettable graphic novel about memory, empathy and how we are, all of us, connected.

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In short, 2016 is shaping up to be a good year!

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