Panel Mania: ‘Cuisine Chinoise’

A rising star in China, cartoonist Zao Dao makes her North American debut with Cuisine Chinoise: Tales of Food and Life, a delightful collection of food-themed short stories inspired by Chinese folklore and filled with monsters, demons, unusual heroes, and sumptuous dishes created with unlikely—and sometimes disgusting—magical ingredients.
Dao’s drawings offer great variety, alternating between lively comic caricatures, richly illustrated street scenes, and moody vignettes full of magic and fantasy.
In this 11-page excerpt from the story Hai Zi, a highly creative young chef—who is despondent because patrons have abandoned his restaurant’s unusual fare and because his father is gravely ill—is thrilled when two mysterious and hungry visitors arrive at his door.
Cuisine Chinoise: Tales of Food and Life will be published by Dark Horse in June.

This piece was produced in partnership with Publishers Weekly.

Panel Mania: ‘Giant’ by Mikaël

Set in 1930s Depression-era New York City, Giant by Mikaël follows the story of a massive, laconic Irish immigrant (who harbors a deep secret) as he works high above Manhattan on the construction site of Rockefeller Center.
When one of his fellow Irish steel workers falls to his death from high atop the fast-rising tower, Giant is tasked by the union with informing the victim’s wife back in Ireland of her husband’s death. Instead he writes the wife pretending to be her husband, lying to her about his life in New York and sending whatever money he can to her.
In this 10-page excerpt, Mikaël renders the vibrant rough streets, colorful characters, and desperate poverty of 1930s New York City, while Giant exchanges letters with the unsuspecting young widow as she dreams of reuniting with her husband. Giant will be published in May by NBM.

This piece was produced in partnership with Publishers Weekly.

Panel Mania: ‘Poems to See By’

Published to mark the celebration of National Poetry Month, Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters offers a series of delightful, often moving visual recreations of classic poems using a variety of visual styles.
Among the poets whose works are recreated in this book are Maya Angelou, W.H. Auden, Tess Gallagher, Langston Hughes, Carl Sandburg, W.B. Yeats, and others.
In this 10-page excerpt, Peters offers a five-page black and white version of Seamus Heaney’s “The Given Note,” and a five-page full-color version of Dylan Thomas’s “The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower.”

This piece was produced in partnership with Publishers Weekly.

Panel Mania: ‘The Oracle Code’

The Oracle Code—by bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp, with art by Manuel Preitano—updates the Batman story of Barbara Gordon, daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon, who is paralyzed after a gunshot wound.

Reimagined by Nijkamp, an autistic YA author and advocate for the people with disabilities, Babs Gordon is now a teenager using a wheelchair, struggling emotionally with her disability. But she’s also a world class hacker who turns sleuth after she realizes something’s not quite right at Gotham City’s Arkham Center for Independence.

In this 13-page excerpt, Babs slowly comes out of her shell, trains using her wheelchair, and teams with a patient whose brother is missing in an effort figure out what’s going happening at the Arkham Center for Independence.

The Oracle Code published this month by DC Graphic Novels for Young Readers.

This piece was produced in partnership with Publishers Weekly.

Panel Mania: ‘Everything Is Beautiful, and I’m Not Afraid’

Everything Is Beautiful, and I’m Not Afraid: A Baopu Collection by Yao Xiao is a delightful graphic memoir that collects comics from Baopu, Xiao’s monthly serialized webcomic, as well as new material.

An illustrator and cartoonist, Xiao was born in Tianjin, China, and has lived in the U.S. since 2006. Her comics capture her experiences as a young, queer immigrant striving to understand the complexities of her new life, while also grappling with her personal history.

In this 16-page excerpt, Xiao offers a series of thoughtful moments—sometimes comic, often poignant and inspirational—that visually distill the power of empathetic human connection. Everything Is Beautiful, and I’m Not Afraid is out now from Andrews McMeel Publishing.

This piece was produced in partnership with Publishers Weekly.

Panel Mania: ‘Banned Book Club’

Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju, and Ryan Estrada is the true story of Hyun Sook’s years as a South Korean college student under the brutal military regime of the early 1980s.
Although the campus has erupted with violent student protests against the government, Hyun Sook, an apolitical freshman enthralled with literature and books, is uninvolved and fearful of her mother who disapproves of the protests and is dubious about her being in college at all. Hyun Sook is thrilled when she meets the handsome editor of the school’s student newspaper, who invites her to join his book club. But instead of discussing Moby Dick in a cafe, Hyun Sook finds herself, and her fearless pro-democracy book club classmates, forced into hiding under threat of arrest (or worse) by a repressive government.
Hyun Sook’s irresistible memoir conveys her political and social awakening with equal measures of hilarity and terror, as her eyes are opened to the brutal nature of the military regime. In this 11-page excerpt, Hyun Sook meets the members of the Banned Book Club who will transform her life as a student and as a citizen.
Banned Book Club will be published in April by Iron Circus Comics.
This piece was produced in partnership with Publishers Weekly.

Panel Mania: ‘Big Black: Stand at Attica’

Big Black: Stand at Attica is the memoir of Frank “Big Black” Smith, a prisoner-negotiator during the Attica prison revolt, and a grim history of one of the bloodiest rebellions in the history American prisons.
More than 1,200 Attica inmates took control of the prison in September 1971, captured 42 guards as hostages, denounced the facility’s brutal conditions, and called for more humane treatment of prisoners. On Sept. 13, 1971, New York governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered hundreds of armed state troopers to retake the facility by force in a brutal invasion that resulted in the deaths of 29 prisoners and 10 guards. Over the course of the assault, state troopers killed unarmed prisoners and hostages alike, and in the immediate aftermath, prisoners, among them Frank Smith, were viciously beaten for days on end.
Although the events at Attica forced the state to change prison practices, the uprising has come to represent the legacy of mass incarceration, a scourge that has devastated communities of color.
A man of intelligence and character, Smith (who died in 2004) was respected by inmates and guards. He survived sadistic reprisals at the hands of state troopers—though he suffered the effects of his torture for years afterwards—was released, and went on to serve as an advocate and counselor for prisoners and former inmates.
What follows is a 15-page excerpt from Big Black: Stand at Attica, out this month from Archaia.

This piece was produced in partnership with Publishers Weekly.

Panel Mania: ‘The PLAIN Janes’

Originally published in 2007, The PLAIN Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg is the story of teenage misfit artist Jane Beckels, who is forced to leave fictional Metro City—a clear stand-in for New York—after a terrorist attack.

Her parents move to the suburbs for safety. Jane hates her new suburban town until she meets a group of also not-so-popular high school girls also named Jane (Theater Jane, Brain Jayne, and Polly Jane, the girl jock). They band together to create an anonymous guerrilla art collective: People Loving Art In Neighborhoods—The PLAIN Janes.

The book’s new hardcover edition combines the original two volumes with a third previously unpublished volume. In this 11-page excerpt from the new section, the girls are distracted by their imminent graduation from high school. They’ve also been forced to trade their previously exciting, unsanctioned guerrilla art attacks for nice but lackluster city-approved projects in the park. The PLAIN Janes was published this month by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.


Panel Mania: ‘The Drops of God’

First published in English in 2011, this new edition of manga The Drops of God by Tadashi Agi—a pseudonym for sibling creators Shin and Yuko Kibayashi—with artwork by Shu Okimoto, will be released digitally by Comixology Originals.
It’s the story of a rivalry between Kanzaki Shizuku, the only son of a renowned wine critic who has recently passed away, and Toomine Issei, a mysterious young wine critic, as both seek to reap the legacy of the deceased.
An international bestseller, The Drops of God is often credited with spurring wine sales in the regions it has been published. In this 12-page excerpt, Miyabi, a young sommelier who has botched the pouring of a rare and expensive wine, is rescued by Kanzaki’s dazzling skills as a sommelier.

The first 11 volumes of The Drops of God will be published this month. The pages of this excerpt are displayed in a vertical scroll—but remember: Japanese manga panels must be read from right to left.

This piece was produced in partnership with Publishers Weekly and also appeared on publishersweekly.com.

Panel Mania: ‘The Illuminati Ball’

Best known for lavish and immersive theater productions, Cynthia von Buhler also works in the comics medium, creating graphic works that explore her fascination with secret societies, sensuality, power, and the hunger for freedom.
While she’s most widely known for her paintings, illustration work, sculpture, and writing—she’s the author of children’s books, graphic novels, and plays—von Buhler’s also praised for her imaginative events; she’s the producer of The Illuminati Ball: An Immersive Excursion, slated to be held a “secret temple” in New York City on New Year’s Eve.

This 13-page excerpt from The Illuminati Ball, a graphic novel tie-in to the theater event, introduces readers to a world of lavish fantasy and to the 18th-century roots of the Illuminati Ball. The graphic novel is out now from Titan Comics.

This piece was produced in partnership with Publishers Weekly and also appeared on publishersweekly.com.