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Revealed: SelfMadeHero’s Spring Releases

2016, eh? It was nothing if not eventful.

Well, if you’re worried about fake news, Donald Trump and the price of Marmite, SelfMadeHero is here to help. This spring we’re offering bibliotherapy in the form of six enlightening, emotive and inspiring graphic novels. Our spring list takes in the extraordinary lives and glorious times of Josephine Baker and David Bowie; the troubled existence of the outcast painter Paul Gauguin; and offbeat stories of cruciverbalists, street performers and human beings transformed. So, pick up your gratitude journal and behold six reasons to be cheerful.

In February we publish Néjib’s graphic biography Haddon Hall: When David Invented Bowie. At the twilight of the Swinging Sixties and the dawn of the decadent Seventies, an old villa in the suburbs of London was the sole witness to a major event in the history of pop music: David Bowie’s invention of himself. 

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Part commune, part creative hub, Haddon Hall became home to a community of artists and hippies and hangers-on – a place where egos clashed and parties got out of hand, but also one that allowed David Bowie’s creativity to flourish.

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Published in March, Fabrizio Dori’s Gauguin: The Other World captures the astonishing life of a man who was by turns a globetrotting sailor, a brilliant stockbroker and an outcast painter.

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In the latest addition to our Art Masters series Fabrizio Dori paints a balanced and absorbing portrait of a fearless artist and flawed human being whose all-consuming passion – for art, for women and for himself – destroyed everything in its path. Gauguin’s primitivist paintings won him few admirers in his own lifetime, but his radical break from Impressionism would pave the way for a new generation of artists, among them Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Henri Matisse.

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In April, another intoxicating graphic biography: Josephine Baker by Catel & Bocquet. The creative duo behind the backlist favourite Kiki de Montparnasse tell the incredible story of the pioneering dancer and ’20s icon.

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Josephine Baker was twenty years old when she found herself in Paris for the first time in 1925. Overnight, the young American dancer became the idol of the Roaring Twenties, captivating Picasso, Cocteau, Le Corbusier and Simenon. In the liberating atmosphere of the 1930s, Baker rose to fame as the first black star on the world stage, from Buenos Aires to Vienna and Alexandria to London. After World War II and her time in the French Resistance, she decided to devote herself to the struggle against racial segregation, the humiliation of which she was all too familiar with. She led by example, and over the course of the 1950s adopted twelve orphans of different ethnic backgrounds: a veritable Rainbow Tribe. Josephine would be a victim of racist abuse throughout her life, but she would sing of love and liberty until her final breath.

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April also sees the release of Paolo Bacilieri’s breathtakingly inventive, brilliantly playful FUN.

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Professor Pippo Quester – respected novelist and public intellectual – is writing a history of the crossword puzzle. Together with his protege, the Disney Comics writer Zeno Porno, he unearths stories of pioneering editors, genius cruciverbalists and eminent compilers, among them Margaret Farrar, the so-called “first lady of crosswords”, and the literary giants Georges Perec and Vladimir Nabokov.

As Professor Quester and Zeno Porno explore the crossed destinies of comics and crosswords, the story sweeps from New York in the 1920s, through wartime Britain and mid-century Milan, to 1970s Paris. But the sudden appearance of Mafalda, an enigmatic former student carrying a heavy grudge and a handmade pistol, returns Quester sharply to the present, and the two writers become entangled in a puzzle of their own.

At once an impeccably researched history and a playful literary crime story, FUN is an inventive graphic novel that explores the intersection between high and low culture, the borderline between coincidence and cryptic communication, and the strange power of one of the world’s most popular pastimes.

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May sees the release of a debut graphic novel by the Toronto-based comics artist and illustrator Chris W. Kim. Herman by Trade is a captivating and beautifully drawn story about art, identity and making room for self-expression.

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Herman is an introverted and unambitious street cleaner, his life as predictable as it is dull. Or so it seems to those he works with on the city’s waterfront. In fact, Herman is creative, curious and complex. What’s more, he has a remarkable hidden talent: the ability to transform his appearance at will. An open casting call sees the city swept up into a frenzy of creative ambition. As a queue forms along the waterfront, Herman is emboldened to perform. But his decision to enter the audition room brings his creative and professional lives into conflict, and the consequences are irreversible.

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Finally, also in May, another outstanding work of fiction: Outburst by Pieter Coudyzer. An award-winning animator, Coudyzer has turned his extraordinary talent and unique imagination to comics, and the result is a darkly compelling modern fairy tale.

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Outburst tells the story of an introvert named Tom. Bullied at school, at home he 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. Centring on a disturbing metamorphosis, Coudyzer’s debut graphic novel is a compelling coming of age story and a masterpiece of magical realism.

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See, 2017 promises to be momentous for all the right reasons!

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Launching at Gosh! Comics: The Can Opener’s Daughter by Rob Davis

On Thursday 8th December The Can Opener’s Daughter by Rob Davis launches at Gosh! Comics in London. Join us from 7pm to raise a glass to the second book in the trilogy that began with the British Comic Award-winning The Motherless Oven. As ever, there’ll be free booze, fine company and a chance to get your copy signed.

In The Motherless Oven, Scarper Lee asked: “Who the hell is Vera Pike?” In the follow-up, we get a chance to find out.

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Vera lives in the cruel world of Grave Acre. Her mother is the Weather Clock, the megalomaniacal Prime Minister of Chance. Her father is a can opener. Charting Vera’s childhood, The Can Opener’s Daughter takes us from her home in Parliament to suicide school, and from the Bear Park to the black woods that lie beyond.

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In the present day, Vera and Castro Smith are determined to see their friend Scarper again – but is he even still alive? Can anyone outlive their deathday? A darkly inventive sequel, 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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The launch takes place on Thursday 8th December at Gosh! Comics, 1 Berwick Street, London W1F 0DR, 7-9pm. Sold? Join the event on Facebook and let everyone know!

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London: The Tetris Block Party, with Box Brown

On Thursday 3rd November Box Brown, author of Tetris: The Games People Play, is the special guest at SelfMadeHero’s Tetris Block Party, which takes place at London’s premiere gaming bar, Scenario (97 Stoke Newington Rd, N16 8BX; nearest station: Dalston Kingsland). Everyone’s welcome and attendance is free – just RSVP through Facebook or by email to sam@selfmadehero.com.

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Expect an evening of retro gaming and cutting edge comics: there’ll be Tetris on the consoles, game-themed cocktails behind the bar and a pop-up graphic novel stall provided by Soho’s finest, Gosh! Comics. Go head-to-head with friends, compete for the Grand Prize or just drink, relax and play.

tetris-for-blog-2Box Brown will be on hand to answer questions and to sign copies of Tetris, which untangles the complex and intriguing history of one of the world’s most popular videogames, while delving deep into the role games play in art, culture and commerce. 

The Guardian has said of the book, “it reads like a thriller… It’s a blockbuster in every sense of the word.” Come equipped with good spirits, nimble thumbs and terrible Tetris puns.

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Thought Bubble 2016: Box Brown, Aimée de Jongh, Leah Moore and John Reppion

The British comic book community shares a peculiar quirk: we actually look forward to November. Why? Two words: Thought Bubble.

On Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th November, we’ll be laying out our wares in New Dock Hall (tables 90-92). There you’ll find signed books, exclusive prints and discounts flying in the face of Brexit, as well as four very special guests.

Box Brown visits Thought Bubble to celebrate the release of his brand new graphic novel, Tetris. As well as signing copies of the book throughout the weekend, he’ll discuss the game’s complex and intriguing history with Paul Gravett at a free event on the Saturday (“Tetris: The Games People Play”, News Room, 12.10-13.00).

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Flying in from the Netherlands, Aimée de Jongh: considered one of the brightest talents on the Dutch comics scene, de Jongh’s trip to Thought Bubble coincides with the release of her debut graphic novel, The Return of the Honey Buzzard. Winner of the Prix Saint-Michel, de Jongh’s book is a masterfully crafted story about grief, love, our actions and their consequences. Here’s what Starburst had to say about it in their ten-star review.honey-buzzard_blog

Last but not least, John Reppion and Leah Moore join the SelfMadeHero contingent, signing copies of their latest graphic novel, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Vol. 1, which collects four adaptations of stories by M.R. James: “Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook” (illustrated by Aneke), “Lost Hearts” (illustrated by Kit Buss), “The Mezzotint” (illustrated by Fouad Mezher) and “The Ash-Tree” (illustrated by Alisdair Wood). Expect spine-chilling tales of spectral artworks and vanishing children.

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Thought Bubble takes place on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th November at the Leeds Dock and Royal Armouries (10:00-17:00 both days). You’ll find SelfMadeHero on tables 90-92 in New Dock Hall. For more information, check out the full festival programme.

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Leah Moore and John Reppion: Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Vol. 1

Admired by writers from H.P. Lovecraft to Ruth Rendell, M.R. James is the acknowledged master of the English ghost story. Disdaining gore in favour of atmosphere and suggestion, his enduring tales of are masterpieces of understated horror.Ghost stories_cover for blog

Writers Leah Moore and John Reppion have crafted adaptations of four stories from James’s first collection, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary: “Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook” (illustrated by Aneke), “Lost Hearts” (illustrated by Kit Buss), “The Mezzotint” (illustrated by Fouad Mezher) and “The Ash-Tree” (illustrated by Alisdair Wood).

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To mark the release of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Vol. 1, Leah Moore and John Reppion will be giving away a bundle of M.R. James goodies to one lucky winner every Friday of this month. Head over to their website or Twitter feeds (@johnreppion & @leahmoore) to find out how you can win not only a copy of the graphic novel but original artwork, an audiobook, a limited-edition poster and more.

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Debuting at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival this month, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Vol. 1 comprises graphic tales that are at once true to their source and powerfully reimagined for a visual medium. Lovecraft called M.R. James “a literary weird fictionist of the very first rank”. Leah Moore and John Reppion’s latest collection joins our Lovecraft anthologies among the ranks of a growing canon of disturbing, unputdownable graphic adaptations.

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October: Mike Medaglia brings gratitude to the Mind Body Soul Experience

Fresh from his appearance at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Mike Medaglia returns to the Mind Body Soul Experience in London. The event takes place from 21st-23rd October inside the beautiful Alexandra Palace.

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You’ll find Medaglia at our dedicated One Year Wiser stand (table 81). He’ll be signing copies of the latest addition to the series, One Year Wiser: A Gratitude Journal, as well as offering up other beautiful printed goods: prints, greetings cards, calendars – not to mention his bestselling gift and colouring books.

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But that’s not all: he’ll also be leading a workshop, “Illustrate Your Mantra”, both on the Friday (11:30-12:30) and on the Sunday (11:00-12:00). Join him to find out how to bring an inspirational quote to life through illustration.

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We look forward to seeing you in the Palace! In the meantime, you might like to read Medaglia’s latest Huffington Post blog, which looks at the power of gratitude and the art of living gratefully.

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SelfMadeHero at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2016

Forty years ago French comics veteran Edmond Baudoin abandoned a career in accountancy to devote himself to bandes dessinées. In October he makes another wise move by travelling to Kendal for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, which takes place from 14th-16th October. He’ll be joined by guests including Craig Thompson, Bryan Lee O’Malley and Martin Rowson.

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Baudoin’s UK visit coincides with the release of his graphic biography, Dalí. Commissioned by the Pompidou Centre, this compelling, original and expressive graphic novel is the latest addition to our Art Masters series.

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There is no shortage of labels for the great Surrealist painter. Was he a madman? A genius? An exhibitionist? Baudoin paints an inimitable portrait of an artist as well known for his acts of public bravado as for his extraordinary work. What emerges from his quest to discover the man behind the myth is a heartfelt and original account of two artistic worlds, each possessed of its own rare intensity, meeting for the first time.

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Baudoin will share a stage with Craig Thompson on Saturday 15th October (“Motion and Emotion”, Brewery Arts Centre, 1-2pm). The two artists will be doing what they do best – draw! – while also taking the time to discuss their work with Paul Gravett.

But that’s not all. You may have seen Leah Moore and John Reppion on the festival’s guest list ; you may also be looking forward to their discussion of graphic adaptations at the Brewery Arts Centre (“The Write Stuff”, Sunday 16th, 11-12pm). Well, on the SelfMadeHero stand in the Comics Clocktower (tables 30-31) we’ll be debuting the first volume of their incredible adaptation of M.R. James’ Ghost Stories of an Antiquary.

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Together with artists Aneke, Kit Buss, Fouad Mezher and Alisdair Wood, Leah Moore and John Reppion have crafted adaptations of four masterpieces of understated horror: “Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook”, “Lost Hearts”, “The Mezzotint” and “The Ash-tree”. Expect your spine to be chilled by vanishing children, spectral artworks and vengeance from beyond the grave.

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But after darkness, there must come light… Mike Medaglia’s One Year Wiser: A Gratitude Journal, released in September, helps us keep a lasting record of richness and variety of the here and now. It encourages us to reflect and inspires us to act. It prompts us to harness the power of gratitude to become more positive, calm and confident.

Together with Lisa Woynarski and Farokh Soltani, Mike Medaglia has channeled his trademark positivity into an exhibition, “Five Bridges: Stories of the Flood”, which runs from 12th October-19th November in Kendal Museum.

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In December 2015, flooding hit Cumbria when a year’s worth of rain fell in a single day.The River Kent breached its banks in Kendal, closing the town’s five bridges and flooding many local homes. Comics and audio work together in “Five Bridges” to bring five human stories to life.

Another Lakes Festival debut: The Return of the Honey Buzzard by Aimée de Jongh will also be available for the first time in Kendal. This is a stunning book, a compelling story and a thoughtful meditation on grief, love, our actions and their consequences.

It bears repeating that Bryan Lee O’Malley also visits Kendal for the first time. Bryan Lee O’Malley! The creator of Seconds and Scott Pilgrim will be promoting his brilliant new Image series Snotgirl (with art by Leslie Hung). We look forward to joining you all in the queue.

 

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Aimée de Jongh joins SelfMadeHero at the Small Press Expo

This weekend we’re escaping the muggy confines of SelfMadeTowers and jetting off to Bethesda, MD for the Small Press Expo, the USA’s premiere small press convention.

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At tables W20-W21 you’ll find the full SelfMadeHero spread: new releases, limited edition prints, discounted masterpieces from the backlist… Plus, we’ll be joined by Aimée de Jongh, the Dutch creator of The Return of the Honey Buzzard, which will be available for the first time at SPX.

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Officially published next month, The Return of the Honey Buzzard tells the story of Simon, the third-generation owner of the Antonisse Book Shop. With the doors about to swing shut on his family business, Simon is facing some tough decisions. But when he witnesses a suicide, old memories intrude, guilt bubbles up, and his grip on reality loosens.

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A chance encounter with a young student, Regina, prompts Simon to open up about the past that haunts him. But will their budding friendship last long enough for him to come to terms with the present? 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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You’ll find Aimée de Jongh signing copies of the book on our table throughout the weekend. Plus, she’ll be discussing it as part of a panel on Sunday morning.

You Can’t Not Make Comics
2:30-3:30pm, White Flint Auditorium
What is it about comics that makes us fall in love with them? Whatever elusive quality it is, these artists have made room in their incredibly creative and diverse lives for making comics that make us feel things. Aimée de Jongh, Cathy G. Johnson and Eleanor Davis speak to building lives and careers while answering the call of comics creation, with Ron Wimberly moderating the discussion.

The Small Press Expo takes place on Saturday 17th (11am-7pm) & Sunday 18th (noon-6pm) September at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel. See you there, I hope!

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Introducing One Year Wiser: A Gratitude Journal

This month, we’re delighted to be publishing One Year Wiser: A Gratitude Journal by Mike Medaglia. The latest book in his beloved One Year Wiser series is the perfect resource for anyone looking to enjoy the physical and psychological benefits of living gratefully.

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As we reflect on the past and make plans for the future, it is easy to overlook the richness and variety of the here and now.

One Year Wiser: A Gratitude Journal helps us keep a lasting record of the small moments that bring joy to our lives, be it a cool breeze on a summer’s day or the heart-warming sound of laughter.

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Filled with uplifting quotes and guidance, this keepsake journal will accompany you through a year of living gratefully. By recording and revisiting the beautiful details of your everyday experiences, you’ll take a step towards a more positive, calm and confident approach to life.

On his blog, Medaglia says of his subject, “Gratitude is a wonderful way to remind ourselves of the bounty of our lives. It is a way to turn all our experiences, good or bad, into reminders of how precious our limited time in this life is.”

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One Year Wiser: A Gratitude Journal is released on 27th September in North America and 15th September in the UK and everywhere else.

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Launch: Stardust Nation by Deborah Levy and Andrzej Klimowski

In July, Deborah Levy’s latest novel Hot Milk was longlisted for the Booker Prize. This week, we release her first graphic novel, Stardust Nation. Illustrated by Andrzej Klimowski and adapted from one of the centrepieces of Levy’s collection Black VodkaStardust Nation is a Freudian tale about memory, empathy and human connection.

To celebrate, we’re hosting a launch event this Friday, 9th September, at the Freud Museum in London. Join us from 6pm for fine company, palatable wine and an exclusive chance to get your hands on a signed copy. But first, RSVP to sam@selfmadehero.com.

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Want to know more about the book? Here’s the blurb:

For the high-flying, heavy drinking advertising boss Tom Banbury, the art of persuasion relies on an infiltration of the consumer’s mind. In the case of his colleague and confidante Nikos Gazidis, the overdeveloped sense of empathy that suits him to the business has given rise to a strange psychiatric condition. Nick has unwittingly crashed into the consciousness of his boss. 

While Tom drinks to forget the troubles of his earthly life, Nick is forced to confront a past that is not his own: a childhood scarred by the small wars waged by an abusive father – and by the events that brought them to a close. When Nick enters the panicked silence of the Abbey, a fortress for the rich and unstable, his sister guards him from the visiting Tom Bradbury. But can this peculiar bond be broken or has Nikos Gazidis taken an empathetic leap too far?

stardust_cover for blogThe book, which is published in the UK, Europe and Australia, can now be ordered from Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles and independent book shops across the land. It will be published in North America in 2017.

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