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.

‘A Children’s Bible’: Featured Fiction from Lydia Millet

In our latest edition of featured fiction—curated by our own Carolyn Quimby—we’re excited to present an excerpt from A Children’s Bible by Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet, out today from Norton.

Kirkus called the novel—about a group of friends and their reunion gone wrong at a summer house—”A bleak and righteously angry tale determined to challenge our rationalizations about climate change.” And The New York Times Book Review hailed the title, saying, “This superb novel begins as a generational comedy…and turns steadily darker, as climate collapse and societal breakdown encroach. But Millet’s light touch never falters; in this time of great upheaval, she implies, our foundational myths take on new meaning and hope.”

Days passed slowly. It was a season of no storms and little rain. By the calendar it wasn’t fall yet, but somehow it wasn’t summer anymore either. Summer had been another time, when we had a great house to go back to, a shining lake, and the blue ocean.

In the mornings we took care of the donkeys and goats and helped Mattie in the vegetable garden. We made lunch in rotation. As afternoon wore on, we washed dirty clothes in the cottage sink and hung them out to dry. We scrubbed ourselves down with cold water, shared toothbrushes until they fell apart, and used small dabs of toothpaste. Those of us with periods had to cut a single sponge into pieces. We boiled the pieces on the stove to sterilize them.

The angels refueled the generator with gas from the silo. They liked to patrol the woods. We took turns cooking dinner with Darla and the angel named John, who’d been a sous-​chef once. After dinner Sukey would take the baby to her mother’s grave and give her a bottle and rock her to sleep. She was building a cairn at the grave with rocks from the stream, a couple more every day.

We mostly kept the lights off in the cottage, to save power and maintain a low profile. A few nights Rafe made fires outside, but we rationed them for safety. We’d gather close around the fire while the angels tried to teach us their hippie songs.

Darla said singing was good for your health.

“It’s like smiling,” she said. “The more you do it, the more you want to!”

Juicy spat.

They taught us a famous, sad song that went “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again,” and a cheerful one called “Spirit in the Sky” that Jack liked because it talked about Jesus, his imaginary friend. The rest of us were OK with it because the angels said it was ironic. Written by a Jew from Massachusetts.

“Never been a sinner, I never sinned,” we sang, off-​key as the karaoke version played on our puck-​shaped speaker. “I got a friend in Jee-​sus.”

Sometimes we yelled it, almost defiantly: “Never been a sinner! I never sinned!”

A photo came by text, onto Rafe’s phone from David’s. A view of the library in the great house. Chairs and tables and sofas had been pushed to the sides of the room, against the tall bookshelves, and a row of mattresses had replaced them.

On the mattresses lay parents, and beside them David and Dee and Low. Zooming in, we could see thin red lines running between the arms of young and old. Graceful loops of tubing.

It reminded me of a news story I’d read, with photos, about a pharma­ceutical lab. In it were hundreds of horseshoe crabs whose blood was being harvested for medical testing. The machines siphoned off enough blood that the crabs didn’t die but lived to be harvested again and again.

The company called it blood farming.

Beside me, Jack stared at the image as I zoomed. In the back, small and blurry, was the fireplace, and above it a painting of hunters with their hounds.

He touched the tip of his finger to the screen, moved it along a red loop of tube from David to David’s mother. Tracing the swoops.

“He’s going back where he came from,” he said.

Jack and Shel were at a crucial moment in their “childhood journey,” according to Darla. The time away from school and other kids their age could be “inhibiting their social and educational development.”

She had an idea. “Our very own prairie school!” she cried, clapping her hands in delight. We cringed.

They could take classes: biology taught by Mattie, history taught by John, and poetry taught by her.

“The angels don’t have enough to do,” said Terry, when we conferred about it. “Could get antsy. Even destructive.”

“Idle hands do the devil’s work,” said Rafe.

So we said yes. They could “teach” the little boys, if they wanted. We thanked them for their interest.

Sometimes I’d sit in a parked car, motionless. I’d remember factories. I’d seen them onscreen in a hundred variations and always had the sense of them out there, churning, whirring, infinite moving pieces. Making the stuff we used.

Now I wondered if they were still busy, manufacturing. Or were shuttered and dark. Were other factories in other places doing the work they used to do? Or were certain components no longer made at all?

I let my eyes rest on a dashboard, its vinyl surfaces, the dust on the curves. I wondered what was behind the plastic and what parts of it were already obsolete.

My phone had ceased to interest me since the news started repeating, bringing a wash of grimness whenever I looked. I solved the problem by ignoring it.

The others abandoned theirs too—​days would pass between updates. Rafe and David texted a check-​in at night, just: OK? out. And OK back.

For a while that was it.

Before the storm we’d caught sight of the parents’ screens sometimes, snagged their devices when we needed a quick fix. Gotten flashes of TV through a doorway. But these days we mostly had what was in front of us, the cottage and barn and long grass in the fields. Long and short, tussocks and bare patches. Topography. We had the wood of the walls and fences, the metal of the parked cars with their near-​empty gas tanks.

We had the corners of buildings and the slope of the hills, the line of the treetops. The more time passed, the more any flat image began to seem odd and less than real. Uncanny delicate surfaces. Had we always had them?

We’d had so many pictures. Pictures just everywhere, every hour, minute, or second.

But now they were foreign. Now we saw everything in three dimensions.

From A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet (W.W. Norton, 2020). Copyright © 2020 by Lydia Millet. Published with permission of W.W. Norton. All rights reserved.

Bonus Links from Our Archive:
A Year in Reading 2014: Lydia Millet
A Year in Reading 2012: Lydia Millet
A Year in Reading 2007: Lydia Millet

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.

‘Starling Days’: Featured Fiction from Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

In today’s edition of featured fiction—curated by our own Carolyn Quimby—we present an excerpt from Starling Days by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, out today from The Overlook Press.

Publishers Weekly called the book a “bleak and eloquent novel,” adding that “Readers willing to brave the darkness will find a worthy, nuanced portrait of a woman’s struggle for self-determination amid mental illness.” And, in its starred review, Kirkus called the novel “Poetic and understated…Complex and resonant.”

Chapter 1


She wasn’t expecting the bridge to shudder. It was too big for trembling. Cars hissed from New York to New Jersey over its wide back. That August had been hot, 96° Fahrenheit hot. Heat softened the dollar bills and clung to the quarters and dimes that passed from sticky hand to sticky hand.

It was night and the air had cooled but humidity still hung in a red fog in Mina’s lungs. Wind galloped over the Hudson, pummeling the city with airy hooves. The bridge shifted, the pylons swayed, and Mina closed her eyes to better feel her bones judder. Even her teeth shook. The day’s sweat shivered between her bare shoulder blades. The tank top felt too thin, and the down on her arms rose. She took a step forward along the bridge. The tender spots between her big and index toes were sore from too many days in flip-flops. She took the sandals off. They swung from her fingers as she walked. Under her feet, the rough cement was warm. She wondered about the people driving their shadowy cars. Were they leaving over-air-conditioned offices, or bars cooled by the thwack of ceiling fans? Were they going home to empty condos, or daughters tucked under dinosaur quilts?

The bridge was decked out in blue lights, like a Christmas tree, like those monochrome ones shopping malls put up. Still, it was beautiful. Mina readied her phone to take a picture. She watched the granulated night appear onscreen. Perhaps her hands wobbled, because the photo was a blur. It was nothing she could send Oscar. But she wasn’t sure it was a good idea to send him pictures. Not tonight.

She stopped in the middle of the bridge. Hello, Manhattan. Downriver, apartment blocks spiked upwards. She couldn’t see Queens and the walk-up apartment building she’d grown up inside. Nor could she see the Park Slope apartment, in which Oscar was working late. He’d have a mug on his desk, the coffee gone cold hours ago. The photo of her would be propped up behind his computer. The sparkly stress ball she’d bought him years ago as a joke gift would rest at his wrist. Every hour or so he’d roll it between his palms. When he was working, he didn’t notice time. She was sure he wouldn’t yet be worried. She’d said she was meeting some friends after the tutoring gig. He didn’t know she’d texted the group that she was feeling unwell and would miss movie night. He wouldn’t expect her for at least two hours. No one was expecting her. She was unwitnessed. She lifted her face to the breeze.

The river was as dark as poured tarmac. They said that when a body fell onto water from this height, it was like hitting the sidewalk. The Golden Gate had nets to stop jumpers. She imagined the feeling of a rope cutting into arms and legs. Your body would flop, like a fish. How long did they have to lie there before someone scooped them out? There was nothing like that here. People said that drowning was a good death, that the tiny alveoli of the lungs filled like a thousand water balloons.

She lifted one purple flip-flop and dropped it over the water. She didn’t hear it hit. The shape simply vanished into the black shadow.

That was when the lights got brighter and the voice, male and certain, lobbed into her ears. 

“Ma’am, step away from the rail.”

The police car’s lights flashed blue and white and red. Once she’d had an ice-pop those colors and the sugary water had pooled behind her teeth.

“Ma’am, step away from the rail.”

“Good evening, Officer. Have I done something wrong?” Mina asked.

“Please get into the car,” he said. There were two of them. The other was younger and he was speaking into a radio. It was hard to make out his words over the wind and traffic. Was he talking about her?

“This is a public walkway,” Mina said. “It was open. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“Ma’am, get into the car.”

“I don’t want to get into the car. Look, I was just getting some air. I was thinking. I’ll go home now.”

“Ma’am, don’t make me come over there.”

Mina had never been in a police car. She’d read once that the back doors only open from the outside. Who knew what would happen if she got into the car?

The window was rolled down and the cop stuck his head out.

There was a lump on his upper lip, a pimple perhaps. “Where are your shoes?”

“It’s hot out,” she said. “Where are your shoes?”

“I don’t want to tell you about my shoes,” she said. “I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m an American citizen.”

“Ma’am, where are your shoes?”

She lifted up the single flip-flop she had left. “The other one broke,” she said.

Behind him, other cars continued into the night. Did they even notice her standing in the dark, a small woman with bare legs and feet? She was aware of the bluing bruise she’d caught banging her knee on the subway door. In the shower that morning, she’d skipped shaving her legs. In the beam of his headlamps, could he see hairs standing up in splinters?

“Ma’am, I really need you to get into the car. I can’t leave you here. What if something happened to you?” In his voice, she heard the insinuation that normal women, innocent women, didn’t walk alone on bridges at night.

“I’m fine,” she said.

Mina knew her stubby ponytail was frizzy. Bleaching black to Marilyn Monroe–blonde had taken four rounds of peroxide. Now it stood up in breaking strands. If she’d conditioned it, would this cop think she was sane? If she’d blow-dried it, would he have let her go home? And, of course, there were the tattoos twining up her arms.

“We can talk about it in the car,” he said. His shadowed friend was bent over the radio, lips to the black box.

Mina was tired. It was the heat, or perhaps the wind. So she got into the car. The seat was smooth. Someone must’ve chosen the fabric specially. This must be wipeable and disinfectable. People probably spat on this seat. They probably pissed on purpose and by mistake. Between the front and back seats was a grille. She would not be able to reach out to touch the curve of the cop’s ear or straighten his blue collar. The flip-flop lay across her knees.

The cops wanted to know her name, address, phone number and Social Security. She gave them.

“We’re taking you to Mount Sinai,” said the cop.

“I was just going for a walk, clearing my head. I don’t need to be in a hospital. I was just clearing my head.”

Damn. Repeating yourself was a habit of the guilty. Mina tried to slow her breath.

“See it from my point of view,” he said. “You’re walking alone on the bridge at night. I can’t let you out. I don’t know what would happen.”

Only then did she understand that they must do this every night, drive back and forth across the bridge looking for people like her.

“I have to go to work tomorrow,” she said. “My husband will want to know where I am. Please, please, just let me go to the subway.”

“We can’t do that, ma’am.”

The car left the bridge and fell back into Manhattan. She kept telling them she wasn’t trying to cause trouble. She said it so many times that the word “trouble” began to sound like “burble” or “bubble.” Heat rose in her eyes. She pushed the water off her face.

Finally, they agreed that she could call her husband, and they would go to the paramedics parked near the bridge. If the paramedics said she was okay, she could go home.

“Oscar,” she said. “Oscar, I need you to come get me. They won’t let me leave until you come get me.”

Published April 2020 by The Overlook Press/ABRAMS. Copyright © 2020 Rowan Hisayo Buchanan. All rights reserved.

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.

‘Too Much’: Featured Nonfiction from Rachel Vorona Cote

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In our latest installment of featured nonfiction—also curated by our own Carolyn Quimby—we present an excerpt from Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today by Rachel Vorona Cote.

Cote looks at how the “unspoken rules” that govern the expression of women’s emotional and physical desires date back to the 19th century, in a book Publishers Weekly called “vigorous” and “wide-ranging.”
Feminine youth, as it is conventionally understood—blushing adolescence through one’s early twenties—is a potent and tenacious fetish. I am happier now than I’ve ever been, and yet, when I am confronted with various incarnations of early adulthood, whether in a film, or in the image of a musician, or in a television show’s rosily stilted manifestation of it, my reaction is a fickle one, a mélange of relief and covetousness. I’m grateful to have dispensed with years of agitated uncertainty and the eager willingness to rearrange myself according to others’ predilections. Ultimately, I have benefited from the toil and tangle of living with myself. And yet, I’m susceptible to depictions of young adulthood that place exhilaration and beauty alongside the angst. I try, in spite of myself, to recollect juvenile missteps: perhaps euphoria, or even the unremarkable lull of contentment might have been possible had I behaved with more abandon and not dodged the risks. Maybe—probably—I was too ensconced in my own head.

According to a common lament, we can only discern the best parts of ourselves long after we’ve shed that skin. The most marvelous exploits glisten brightest once they’ve plunged into the cache of our personal histories. But moments cannot be so intoxicating and delicious if we are aware of them, if we appoint ourselves as characters in narratives of our own devising: either we retread these shimmering spaces by the grace of memory or they flee to a vast, unknowable archive littered with relics of time. Despite the reliable intensity of my feelings, I was pinned by an urgent impulse to editorialize every moment, not because I was especially profound, although I fancied myself so, but because I was terrified. If I had been more self-sure, I might have received murky obscurity as possibility. Instead, I tasked myself with rooting out meaning in every catalogued experience, as if dogged interpretation could harness my prodigious fear and pave a path to a life that suited me. These were the consequences of being young and Too Much: upon self-diagnosis, I looked at the world and saw peril at every turn, in romance and in creative aspirations and in my every small and colossal hope. If I was going to survive in this inhospitable place, I required discipline.

Now, at thirty-four—not aged, surely, but not especially young—I consider my Too Much youth with a flickering melancholy. In fearing myself, what did I miss? At my most vulnerable, I whip up recuperative fantasies: I imagine myself eighteen, unbound by the belief that I owe the world a more muted and stoic version of myself. I consider my future not with the timorous sense that I am unfit, but instead with exhilaration at my good fortune. I appreciate and honor both my body and my face rather than scowling at them with self-loathing. I come out as queer decades earlier. I have more sex. I spin this tale of an idealized and evolved girlhood because, in the thick of it, I’m fretting—about being too old and, still, Too Much.

Enduringly, I am tantalized by the talismanic power of a good story, the notion that everything is solvable and salvageable if I plot it out, even in retrospect. A good story led me to marry the wrong man, to deny my sexuality, to wound others and myself. To seek out a good story as both an organizing principle and an emotional bridle is, at best, a red herring, and at worst, a powder keg. Nowadays, I resist the impulse of contemplating more pleasing origin stories, with  the recognition that they hardly soothe, but rather reinforce the great falsehood lobbed at us by a culture dazzled by youth: that with every passing year, a slice of something quintessential and cherished is, necessarily, lost.
On June 21, 1887, Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee; she had reigned for fifty years on Great Britain’s throne. She was glad, mostly. At sixty-eight years old, twenty-five years after the death of her beloved Prince Albert, she remained staunchly in mourning—on this occasion,  as always, she donned a simple black dress—determined to glorify the husband she had lost and who, by then, many of her subjects had never known. The previous day, she had commemorated the occasion by documenting it in her diary. Her words are bald and forlorn: “The day has come and I am alone.” She had, by then, also outlived two children and five grandchildren, as well as John Brown, her dear and devoted companion.

And yet she found satisfaction in the day. Over fifty years, she had cultivated a sensational legacy as monarch of the world’s most august empire. But despite Britain’s grandiosity, Victoria dressed with a plainness that evoked middle-class English domesticity. She was avid in her efforts to oversee the kingdom, but positioned herself foremost as wife, mother, and then a bonnet-clad widow. This maternal iconography was pervasive. At the time of her Jubilee, the queen was hailed as the “Grandmother of Europe”: numbered among her passel of descendants are the odious Wilhelm II, the German emperor who would declare war on England, and Princess Alix of Hesse, who would marry Czar Nicholas of Russia and, later, be killed in the Russian Revolution (she is perhaps best remembered as mother to Princess Anastasia). Among Britons, the queen was worshipped as a motherly goddess. “You go it, old girl! You done it well! You done it well!” applauded a crowd of working-class men as they met Victoria’s carriage. She acknowledged them with a customary nod, but laughed too, and her eyes welled.

If a woman must grow old, she might as well be the queen of an imperialist juggernaut. To be sure, status did not safeguard Victoria from woe and travails, but as she aged, she attained the luster of immortality (indeed, some thought she would be queen forever). From the British public’s vantage point, the queen could never be Too Much; she was, after all, larger than life.

But Victoria, I suspect, did not share this opinion. While Albert lived, she was assiduous in her efforts not to puncture his ego, even when this meant diminishing herself. She knew her husband could not abide a power imbalance—in fact, he did not believe in women ruling kingdoms on their own—and so even attempted, unsuccessfully, to bestow him with the title King Consort (he was styled as Prince Consort). Although women seeking the right to vote would later point to Victoria as an argument for universal suffrage—had she not ruled wisely?—the queen did not support it. When, during the Boer War, women sailed to South Africa to care for the beleaguered troops as well as prisoners suffering in British concentration camps, the elderly Victoria voiced her disapproval, remarking that these “hysterical” women would only be a bother. While she was known for being racially progressive, at least compared to many of her contemporaries, the queen never indicated concern for the indigenous women of India, China, Canada, Argentina, and the inhabitants of many other lands, millions of whom suffered brutalities in her name.

When, on January 22, 1901, Queen Victoria’s long life at last expired, the era that is her namesake came to a formal, if not ideological, close. Over eight decades, women in Great Britain had seen considerable social advancements. Victorian men might still demand an “angel in the house,” the docile and chastely helpmeet, but women had begun to buck this expectation. Some chose not to marry, living alone, or together with other single women. A husband could no longer assume his wife’s wealth; finally, she existed as an individual in the eyes of the law. The 1891 case Regina vs. Jackson, wherein a Mr. Jackson kidnapped his wife, enlisted guards to hold her prisoner at home, and took her to court for “restitution of conjugal rights,” ruled, blessedly, in favor of the wife. Neither the ghoulish Mr. Jackson, nor any man, could claim legal proprietorship of his wife’s body; this was unquestionably a landmark court decision. These are marks of trenchant but circumscribed progress—the British colonies were not afforded the aforementioned liberties—and, because progress fundamentally suggests a process of evolution, it was also, without question, not enough. (For instance, it was 1991 before either England or Wales recognized “marital rape,” and just two years before Regina vs. Jackson a judge ruled that a man afflicted with gonorrhea  could rape his wife.) But  then it  would be altogether oxymoronic, the concept of enough progress.

On her deathbed, it’s unlikely that Victoria was dwelling on the legal and socioeconomic achievements of her female subjects. The monarch was no protofeminist, and she had always, even in widowhood, conceived of herself as Albert’s wife with strident adhesion. However, as she prepared for their reunion beyond the grave, she did, it seems, muse upon herself. Inscribed in her funeral instructions was the following note to her children: “I die in peace with all fully aware of my many faults.” She was at peace. She was not enough—or she was too much: who is to say?

Excerpted from Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today. Copyright © 2020 by Rachel Vorona Cote. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

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.