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.

Panel Mania: ‘Glenn Ganges in: The River at Night’

Kevin Huizenga’s new graphic novel, The River at Night, is a return to the loopy hall of mirrors inside the head of Glenn Ganges, the author’s irresistibly ordinary fictional dude and guide to the cerebral wonders of the drifting human mind.
As Ganges and his wife Wendy (a perpetually overworked freelance illustrator) go about their daily lives, Ganges’s ambient mind and goofy-smart interests combine to take readers on elaborate journeys through human consciousness in stories that delight in pushing the formal visual structures of the comics medium.
In this 12-page excerpt, Ganges, unable to sleep, rummages through his bookshelves looking for a book about a deep intellectual topic with unreadable text that will put him to sleep.
Glenn Ganges in: The River at Night by Kevin Huizenga will be published by Drawn and Quarterly in October.

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

Panel Mania: ‘Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass’

Eisner Award- and Caldecott Honor-winning comics writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Steve Pugh collaborate on Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, a new graphic novel about the teen years of Harleen Quinzel—better known as Harley Quinn—as she wanders the hallways of Gotham City High School.
In this 12-page excerpt, Harleen arrives in Gotham, broke, on a bus from a small town, and is taken in by a welcoming community of drag queens. Eventually she meets two people—teenage activist Poison Ivy and later, of course, the violent and anarchic young Joker—who will contribute to her transformation into the complex superhero she is destined to become.
Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass is available now from DC.

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

Panel Mania: ‘Pittsburgh’ by Frank Santoro

Frank Santoro’s Pittsburgh is an imaginatively rendered graphic memoir that memorializes the lives of the author’s parents and their marriage in 1960s Pittsburgh in an effort to make sense of their breakup.
Beautifully illustrated in a style all its own, Pittsburgh is an irresistible, almost ethereal, family epic, and a vivid tribute to the city and its people and neighborhoods.
In this 12-page excerpt, Santoro introduces the reader to his parents and his grandparents in a segment of the book set in Pittsburgh in 1968.
Pittsburgh is available now from New York Review Comics.

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