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23 January 2023

“I like Caravaggio, you like Basquiat. We both like Frida Kahlo, and Warhol leaves us cold. Art thrives with such spirited sparring.” Here at SelfMadeHero we’ve always agreed with those words of Bob Dylan’s – or at least felt free to disagree. Our own spirited Spring 2023 list accordingly celebrates the long tradition of groundbreaking artistic dissent, and includes a brilliantly vivid biography of Frida Kahlo herself.

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Released in March, Francisco de la Mora’s Frida Kahlo: Her Life, Her Work, Her Home explores the public and private faces of this iconic artist, whose transformation of personal pain and political vision into unforgettable art has made her one of the most inspiring personalities of the 20th century. This latest addition to our ART MASTERS series depicts and defines the astonishing context against which her paintings struggled to be seen, her emergence from the shadow cast by her on-off life-partner Diego Rivera, and the beautiful home she created in Mexico City.

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In May we celebrate another reluctant muse and feminist champion. Armed with Madness: The Surreal Leonora Carrington, from the acclaimed team of Mary M. Talbot and Bryan Talbot, tells the astonishing story of another hidden genius. Only ten years younger than Frida Kahlo, the no less troubled life and art of Leonora Carrington – painter, writer, activist – tracked and traced the surreal turmoil of the 20th century. Born to the purple of an English elite, Leonora came to keep company with Paris’s 1930s avant-garde, escaped the brutalities of Nazi Occupation and psychiatric confinement, and found contented exile in (where else but?) Mexico City…

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… AKA “Suffragette City”? David Bowie famously visited the Frida Kahlo Museum in 1997, and it was one of Leonora Carrington’s short stories that inspired his final single, “Lazarus”, in 2016. But that was long after the appearance of his most original chameleon creation – now the subject of the multi-award-winning Reinhard Kleist’s stunning new graphic novel, launching this April. Starman: Bowie’s Stardust Years relates the genius of that slow genesis, and the enduring impact it made on cultural history – as well as the toll its performance took on Bowie himself.

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And talking of visionary South Londoners, we are proud to confirm the publication in June of Thomas Girtin: The Forgotten Painter – the long-awaited new work by veteran graphic novelist Oscar Zarate. A friend and rival of the great J.M.W. Turner, by the time of his early death in 1802, Girtin had already transformed the humble art of watercolour into a transcendent medium. Interweaving historical narrative with modern fiction, Zarate’s own masterpiece pays unique homage to this neglected pioneer.

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STOP PRESS! Ahead of our new King’s coronation in May, we are proud to be publishing The Comical Eye’s British Monarchy: From Alfred the Great to Charles III, Teresa Robertson and Leo Schulz’s quirky chronicle of the Royal Family. From Anglo-Saxon and medieval times, when princely brothers violently squabbled and ambitious stepmothers were suspected of plots, to these our more enlightened times, this unique booklet unfolds our thousand-year history into a double-sided, single-sheet poster – an alternative strip-cartoon Bayeux Tapestry for the 21st-century.

We like Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, Thomas Girtin, and David Bowie… and we hope you agree.


29 July 2022

Contemplating the global events of 2022, we might remember the words of the old song: “We’re living in a changing world, my dear” – but also realise that everyone always has; and that, whatever happens, “New dreams are dreamed, new dawns appear”. So what better time to celebrate the bright and vital things of life? Like human solidarity; artistic creativity and freedom; political equality; beauty… SelfMadeHero’s philosophy in a nutshell!

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Following on from the success of their Eisner-nominated graphic novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, the Rickard sisters are back with another sumptuously faithful adaptation, this time of Constance Maud’s pioneering novel from 1911, No Surrender. Maud once stood tall at the heart of the British campaign for Votes For Women, and her book at once explained, reflected, and crucially advanced the Suffragist cause. Now brilliantly realized as a graphic novel, this stunning new release embodies both elements of that rallying call that has echoed down the years: “Deeds Not Words!”

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SelfMadeHero’s own rallying cry to promote the heroines of history also comes in the form of acclaimed graphic artist Barbara Stok’s new book The Philosopher, the Dog and the Wedding, which tells the true story of Hipparchia, one of the earliest known female philosophers. The enlightened teachings and contrarian ideas of this brave 4th-century BC devotee of the so-called ‘Cynical’ movement in Ancient Greece, rejecting established hierarchies of patriarchal wealth or social position, continue to resonate in the 230 centuries since her death.

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Philosophy is, literally, the love (philo-) of wisdom (sophia) – which is where the heroine of Jostein Gaarder’s cult 1990s novel Sophie’s World gets her name. Receiving an anonymous letter one day, asking simply “Who are you?”, her search for an answer takes her – and us – on a voyage of discovery.  We are proud to announce Sophie’s World: A Graphic Novel About the History of Philosophy. With this first volume, From Socrates to Galileo, French creative duo Vincent Zabus and Nicoby’s adaptation of this classic translate the quest for fundamental meaning into a whole new medium.

Welcome to SelfMadeHero’s exciting Autumn list, where, as always, “New songs are sung… new stars appear”.


21 January 2022

Spring is traditionally a time of change and hope, of birth and re-birth, of new beginnings – and this has perhaps never been truer than for Spring 2022. With the world emerging from the darkness of COVID-19, and looking for lasting change after COP 26, our own Spring releases offer thoughtful inspiration and genuine hope.

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With the climate crisis so urgently on our minds, Days of Sand by Dutch creator Aimée de Jongh, could hardly be more timely. Set during the Dust Bowl eco-disaster of 1930s America, it examines the psychological and environmental effects of this calamity through the eyes of a photo‑journalist. This rigorously researched and dramatised true story combines actual photography from the era with de Jongh’s vibrant comics panels to remind us of the continually vital role and ethical duties of journalism in the face of a manmade disaster.

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After months of Winter darkness, Georgia O’Keeffe brings us out of hibernation into colourful Spring with the glorious blooming of her giant flowers. The origins and creation of these wonderful paintings – and much else – are vividly illustrated by Spanish creator María Herreros in her graphic biography of the American artist, the latest in our acclaimed Art Masters series. O’Keeffe’s love of nature and travel permeated her entire career, and this biography draws heavily on her original letters to bring the “mother of American modernism” to new life – and to new attention.


Talking of artistic originals, we also celebrate the work of a long-neglected female pioneer in Alice Guy: First Lady of Film. Alice presided over an entire new art form – “the seventh art” of cinema. Her extraordinary career, which included directing one of the first films ever made and building one of the earliest studios in pre-Hollywood America, is the inspirational subject for Catel and Bocquet, the award-winning biographers of Alice Prin and Josephine Baker.

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With new beginnings on our minds, the much-anticipated Call Me Nathan, by creative duo Catherine Castro and Quentin Zuttion, continues the all-important theme of re-birth, re-invention, and hope. Based on a true story, the narrative follows Nathan on his journey of transition, issuing a moving call for understanding at a time when society continues to wrestle with the meaning of identity.

So in this world of change, let us leave Winter behind us, put our clocks forward and embrace springtime.


Spring 2021 Crazy Times… Crazy Books

14 January 2021

Crazy Times… Crazy Books

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

No, we’re not about to release a graphic novel of the 1976 film Network in which Peter Finch, as the news anchor Howard Beale, gets mad – and goes madder – live on air, but the sentiment of his famous rant is a theme that runs through almost all of our Spring 2021 releases. So if you’re feeling as mad as a March hare during this pandemic, why not let our own crazy offerings reassure you that you’re not alone? Let’s start with love…

“In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love” – but this April Fool’s Day, how about exploring its seamier, darker, twisted underbelly? I Feel Love, the brainchild (if not the love child) of Julian Hanshaw and Krent Able, offers a much-needed antidote to everything that is sweet, cloying, and conventional.

Also in April, prepare to get suitably surreal. Salvador Dalí may have once announced, “I am surrealism,” but let’s not forget he arrived slightly late at the party, and that some of his most memorable work for the movement was done in close collaboration with the filmmaker Luis Buñuel. Buñuel: In the Labyrinth of the Turtles by Fermín Solís, zooms in on a period in Buñuel’s life when he gravitated from surrealism towards a more socially responsible form of cinema.

From the surreal to the truly bizarre, The Dancing Plague by Gareth Brookes tells the true story of the hundreds of inhabitants of 16th-century Strasbourg who were suddenly seized by “choreomania” – in other words the strange and unstoppable compulsion to dance. Or perhaps after so many months of lockdown, such a need doesn’t sound too fantastic…

Publishing in May, what could be timelier in our age of state intervention and “tracker-systems” than a biography of the great novelist and political essayist George Orwell, whose vision of Big Brother in 1984 pre-dates our own by over 70 years. In Orwell, Pierre Christin and Sébastian Verdier explore the life of a prophet of oppression – and champion of freedom.

If you’re not already on the psychoanalyst’s couch, then try reading Frink and Freud by Pierre Péju and Lionel Richerand. Two divorces, three deaths, and the ménage à quatre that came close to destroying Freud’s reputation might be enough to have you shouting “I’m mad as hell!”…

But let’s lead and leave on the front foot. Our June release is Knock Out! by Reinhard Kleist. This biography tells the true story of American welterweight boxer Emile Griffith, who, from delivery boy to hat designer to middleweight champion, gained notoriety in 1962 after a knock-out blow to his opponent, Benny Paret. A powerful, emotive portrait of a bisexual Black athlete who, battling racism and homophobia in 1960s America, became one of the most iconic boxing champions of all time.

Seconds out… And that’s it for now, folks…
We miss you like crazy and wish you well in these mad times.

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A Little Bit More...

9 December 2020

“What if Christmas doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more?” The Grinch has repeated this to kids around the world every year since 1957, but no-one really listens, given that Christmas comes from a warehouse for most. This December, we wanted to show “a little bit more” still exists for all of us book-lovers, as long as we focus our energy and skills on what matters.


We have had an amazing few weeks with our hugely successful social media campaign. Launched on 18 November 2020, #DrawYourBookshop was a call-out to all artists and book-lovers to support their bookshops during lockdown with a quick sketch, drawing, or masterpiece of their favourite local shop. Hear all about it on BBC Radio London (from 2:30:29 until the end). The response was overwhelming, and we look forward to continuing our campaign next year. If you haven’t already participated, then get drawing your local bookshop, or share the campaign, and help indies during these crazy times!

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To wrap up the year, we couldn't be happier to find Olivier Bocquet and Jean-Marc Rochette's Altitude on The Guardian Best Comics and Graphic Novels of 2020 round-up! James Smart writes “Propelled by bravado and undercut by the very real risk of death, Jean-Marc’s story carries serious emotional clout, while its colourful panels capture the stark geometry of cliff faces and dangling ropes.” Released in April during the first lockdown, we think it is very much the perfect book for those desperately ice-cold months of winter.

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Our books faced various challenges this year (a pandemic, to say the least), and in case you missed any of our brilliant authors and artists and want to get interested in what we do – the books we publish, the craft we promote and the activities we engage in – our 2020 Samplers are available here, and you can follow our story on social media.

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Finally, we can’t wait to get back to face-to-face time in 2021. A year that will start with a whole lot of LOVE ❤️

Looking forward to it,
and happy holidays!


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