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Out now: The Smell of Starving Boys by Loo Hui Phang and Frederik Peeters

Over the last few years, comics artist Frederik Peeters has proved that he can turn his remarkable talent to any subject whatsoever, from autobiography (Blue Pills), through surrealism (Sandcastle, Pachyderme), to high science fiction (Aama). Now, in a collaboration with the writer Loo Hui Phang, he reinvents another genre: the Western.

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Phang is an experienced comics writer whose own wide-ranging career has seen her produce plays, films, performances and installations, and collaborate with illustrators from Blexbolex to Ludovic Debeurme.

In The Smell of Starving Boys, Phang crafts an intense and philosophical Western that explores the clash between two worlds: one defined by rationality and technology, the other by shamanism and nature.

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Set in post-Civil War America, the book follows an expedition led by the geologist Stingley, who is looking to capitalise on “unclaimed” land to the west of the Mississippi. As they enter the native Comanches’ last bastion of resistance, the boundaries between the “civilised” and the natural worlds begin to blur, social conventions dissolve and an ambiguous relationship burgeons between Stingley’s travelling companions, the photographer Oscar Forrest and the young assistant Milton.

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Intrigued? An extract from the book can be read courtesy of Broken Frontier.

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: An Art Book by Reinhard Kleist

In his graphic biography Nick Cave: Mercy on Me, Reinhard Kleist paints an enthralling portrait of the musician, novelist, poet and actor. It is, according to Nick Cave himself, “a complex, chilling and completely bizarre journey into Cave World”. Now, available exclusively from nickcave.com, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: An Art Book brings together Kleist’s moody and expressive portraits of the musician and his band, spanning thirty years of writing, recording and live performance.

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Filled with visual delights, this LP-sized art book also returns readers to Nick Cave’s imaginative world with comic book reimaginings of “Deanna”, “The Good Son” and “Stagger Lee”.

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But that’s not all: every copy ordered through nickcave.com will be accompanied by an exclusive A5 print.

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So, if there’s a Cave lover in your life, or if you just want to enhance the look of your coffee table, head here and make them – or you – deliriously happy.

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Magritte: This is Not a Biography

Our Art Masters series has already brought the lives of painters including Rembrandt and Van Gogh to graphic novel form. Now, courtesy of writer Vincent Zabus and artist Thomas Campi, it’s the turn of the great Surrealist René Magritte.
Magritte Blog 1In Magritte: This is Not a Biography, Zabus and Campi employ a playfulness and wit reminiscent of their subject.

The Surrealist’s life story is told through the character of Charles Singulier, who one day makes the fanciful – and, as we’ll learn, fateful – decision to buy a bowler hat. It soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary chapeau melon: this one once belonged to René Magritte, and by donning it Charles has unwittingly entered the artist’s unbridled, off-kilter world.

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Charles is given a clear choice: uncover the secrets of Magritte’s life and work – or be doomed to wear the hat forever.

What follows is a remarkable exploration of Magritte’s imaginative landscape. Zabus and Campi examine the ideas and penetrate the mysteries of a paradoxical figure: a painter who didn’t like to paint; an instinctive anarchist who lived a suburban, petty bourgeois existence; a lonely, melancholy soul never far from his friends and collaborators.

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You can read an extract from Magritte: This is not a Biography at Bookanista.com.

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Thought Bubble 2017: ghost stories, ice skating, Jeremy Corbyn – we’ve got it all covered

Thought Bubble is upon us already – two months early! This weekend, 23rd and 24th September, we’ll be laying out our wares in the Millennium Square Marquee in Leeds Town Centre. You’ll find us at tables 221-223.

The festival that has for the last few years marked the finale of our autumn season has instead become its opening ceremony – and that means lots of hot-off-the-press books.

Leah Moore and John Reppion, whose Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Vol. 1, debuted at last year’s festival, are back this year to launch the second volume: four stories about watchful guardians, architectural puzzles and ill-advised academic exploration, including the classic “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”, are brought to life with artwork from Al Davison, Abigail Larson, George Kambadais and Meghan Hetrick. Moore and Reppion will be signing on SelfMadeHero’s stand (tables 221-223 in the Millennium Square Marquee) throughout the weekend.

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I.N.J. Culbard will be signing copies of the pulpy, pocket-sized reissues of The Hound of the BaskervillesA Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four and The Valley of Fear (adapted from Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes stories by Ian Edginton).

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Ahead of its official release in October, Mike Medaglia‘s One Year Wiser: An Illustrated Guide to Mindfulness will be available for the first time at Thought Bubble. The latest book in his bestselling One Year Wiser series explores how mindfulness can be used to transform negative energy into feelings of love, compassion and positivity. Medaglia will be signing the book at table 47 in the Millennium Square Marquee.

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What’s more, we’ll be giving away signed prints with every copy of Tillie Walden‘s graphic memoir Spinning, also out this month. Walden’s autobiographical graphic novel captures what it’s like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know. Earlier this week she spoke to The Guardian about her life as a competitive ice skater, her work rituals and how her emotions affect her art.

Oh, (and then there’s) Jeremy Corbyn! The Corbyn Comic Book, officially released on Monday, will also be available for the first time at Thought Bubble. This revolutionary anthology features comics on the subject of the Labour leader from Guardian cartoonists Steve Bell, Martin Rowson and Stephen Collins; graphic novelists Kate Evans, Karrie Fransman and Hannah Berry; and many more established and up-and-coming creators from across the globe. Comrades, this one is not to be missed.

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A panel event, “SelfMadeHero: A Decade of Comics”, takes place on Sunday at 10:30 in the Carriageworks Studio Theatre (Fifth Floor). To mark our tenth anniversary, I.N.J. CulbardJohn Reppion, Ian Edginton and Leah Moore join SelfMadeHero’s Sam Humphrey to discuss the evolution of the company’s list, which has expanded from manga adaptations of Shakespeare to encompass everything from fiction to film criticism, sci-fi to biography. There could be no finer hangover cure.

Any questions? Tweet us @selfmadehero.

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Call for Submissions: The Corbyn Comic Book

Writers, artists, comrades: this autumn, SelfMadeHero will publish an anthology of comics about the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. But first, we need some comics – and for this we need you.

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Here’s your summer challenge: make a comic on the subject of Jeremy Corbyn and submit it to SelfMadeHero by Wednesday 9th August 2017.

Successful entrants will have their comic published alongside work by Guardian cartoonists Steve Bell, Martin Rowson and Stephen Collins, and comics artists Karrie Fransman, Kate Evans and Steven Appleby, among others. They will also receive a share of royalties.

Here are the submissions guidelines:

  • The comic can be a minimum of one panel and a maximum of three pages long
  • It can be created in black-and-white or in colour
  • Page dimensions are 170mm x 240mm in size
  • Submissions are welcomed from published and unpublished creators of all nationalities
  • Submissions must be sent to submissions@selfmadehero.com (using the subject heading “The Corbyn Comic Book”) no later than Wednesday 9th August 2017.

The anthology will be produced as a handsome, staple-bound comic book and launched at the Labour Party’s Annual Conference in September 2017.

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SelfMadeHero Heads to the West Coast for The Vancouver Comic Arts Festival

On Saturday May 20 and Sunday May 21, we’ll be on Canada’s west coast for the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival. Now organised in partnership with TCAF, which takes place (with these SelfMadeHero-related activities) the weekend before, the festival has a stellar guest list that includes Faith Erin Hicks, Chip Zdarsky and many more.

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We’ll be laying out our wares – new releases, backlist favourites and limited-edition prints – at The Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews, V6Z 2W3) from 10am-5pm on both days. So, if you’re in Vancouver, come say hi!

For more information about the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival, including the full exhibitor list, visit www.vancaf.com.

 

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Aimée de Jongh, Chris W. Kim and Paolo Bacilieri join SelfMadeHero at TCAF

This weekend, we jet off to Canada for one of the highlights of our year: the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. With guests including Jillian Tamaki, Pénélope Bagieu and Dave McKean, this year’s show looks like it’ll be as good as ever. What’s more, there’ll be three very special SelfMadeHero creators in attendance: Paolo Bacilieri (FUN), Aimée de Jongh (The Return of the Honey Buzzard) and Chris W. Kim (Herman by Trade). They’ll be signing books on SelfMadeHero’s booth in the Toronto Reference Library throughout the weekend, as well as taking part in some intriguing, star-studded events.

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Paolo Bacilieri kicks things off with two pre-festival events:

On Thursday 11 May, he’ll speak alongside Marcelino Truong and Martina Schradi at the Alliance Française (24 Spadina Road, Toronto). The panel, organised in partnership with EUNIC, kicks off at 19:30 and is free to attend. The discussion will be moderated by Lars von Toerne, a journalist for Der Tagesspiegel. Full details are available here.

On Friday 12 May, an exhibition of Bacilieri’s work opens around the corner, at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura (496 Huron Street, Toronto). The exhibition comprises 30 original illustrations from FUN, as well as 20 more from his previous graphic novels La Magnifica Desolazione and Sweet Salgari. This is not to be missed. Details here.

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On Saturday 13 May, Aimée de Jongh joins Emma Ríos, Christine Wong, David White and Akihide Yanagi for a discussion of what it takes to build a comics community (“Making a Scene”, 11:00-­12:00, The Pilot, 22 Cumberland Street).

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And shortly after that, as part of the festival’s Canadian Reading Series, Chris W. Kim joins comics giant Seth and Pope Hats author Ethan Rilly as they read from their latest comics masterpieces (“Alt Canada”, 12:15-13:15, Hinton Learning Theatre, Toronto Reference Library).

And, finally, on Sunday 14 May, Paolo Bacilieri is back in action, talking alongside Box Brown, Pénélope Bagieu and Joe Ollmann on a panel focussing on the joys, pitfalls and frustrations of telling real-life stories (“Telling Other People’s Stories”, 13:30-14:30, Learning Centre, Toronto Reference Library).

What more could you want? Well, actually, there’s quite a lot more: check out the full TCAF programme here.

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Irmina by Barbara Yelin Scoops an Eisner Nomination

Nominees have been announced for this year’s Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, and it’s good news for Barbara Yelin. Her extraordinary wartime drama, Irmina, has been included in the “Best U.S. Edition of International Material” category.

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Set for the most part in the Berlin of Hitler’s Germany, Yelin’s award-winning graphic novel 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.

Chosen as one of The Observer‘s Best Graphic Books of 2016Irmina has been praised by PopMatters and The Quietus, among many other outlets.

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The Eisner Award winners will be announced at the San Diego Comic Con, which takes place from 20-23 July 2017. You can see the full list of nominees here.

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New Release: Outburst by Pieter Coudyzer

Pieter Coudyzer is well known for his animation work, including the short films Tree and My Heart is not Here. Now, he’s turned his considerable talent to comics – and the results are astonishing. Outburst, released this month, is a disturbing, atmospheric and utterly absorbing debut graphic novel, part coming of age story, part contemporary fairy tale.

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Tom is the bespectacled class nerd: introspective, clumsy and myopic. When he leaves his lunchbox unguarded, Tom returns to find it inhabited by ants. When he gazes at the cute girl in class, she responds by sticking out her tongue. And when it is time to partner up on a canoeing trip, he is left to paddle on the river alone…

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At home, Tom finds solace in recordings of nature and the wild spaces of his imagination. But when he falls prey to a particularly cruel trick, this imaginative wilderness becomes rampant. It wants out. A moment of crisis marks the flashpoint of a slow-burning metamorphosis.

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Outburst is released on 18th May and can be pre-ordered from Amazon, WaterstonesFoyles and, with the help of Hive, local book shops across the land.

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Fabrizio Dori on Gauguin: The Other World

Italian artist Fabrizio Dori was reading comics at an early age, but like many readers for whom superheroes never really appealed, he lost interest as a teen. Dori, whose graphic biography Gauguin: The Other World is out now, rediscovered the medium in his thirties. It was only then, after studying at Milan’s Brera Academy of Art, that he felt the desire to start making them.

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“It’s a strange medium,” he says. “It balances two things [fine art and literature] that are really quite different from one another – things that, in theory, shouldn’t work together. But in practice, they do, and they do well.”

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According to Dori, it’s an exciting time to be working in this hybrid form. “Comics is quite a young medium, and it’s going through a transitional phase similar, more or less, to that which transformed the visual arts in the 8th and 9th centuries. During that period, artists were freed from the constraints of their traditional role within society and forged (with some difficulty) a place for themselves in the modern world. Making comics today is challenging, but it’s a special moment, full of opportunities.”

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Dori’s biography, the latest book in our Art Masters series, follows the extraordinary life of a man who was by turns a globe-trotting sailor, a brilliant stockbroker and an outcast painter. But it was something else about Paul Gauguin’s life that made him appealing as a subject. “I’m attracted to stories with a mythical and archetypical dimension. This element of Gauguin’s life was the spark that brought the book to life. We’re talking about the story of a man who’s looking for a lost paradise; who finds it; and who, after a hubristic downfall, loses it again.”

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Dori developed his ideas in writing before working on the architecture of the story. “I prepare an outline like a musical score; on this I arrange the individual scenes and define the style and the rhythm of the tale. This is a critical phase: if the foundations are not strong, the entire narrative will be unstable.

“The storyboard and script are worked on simultaneously. I imagine and realise the details of each scene at the storyboarding stage. Once that’s complete, I begin work on the final pages.”

The results of this process can be found in the beautiful Gauguin: The Other World, which is available now from all good book shops.

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