February 15, 2016 Booklist 43 www.booklistonline.com
this to breathtaking art, adding a richly colored, retro-futurist flare to every costume
and backdrop. With stunning artwork,
propulsive sequential-art storytelling, and a
thought-provoking premise, this is truly one
of a kind. —Peter Blenski
By Tom Manning. Illus. by the author.
2015. 450p. One Peace, paper, $24.95 (9781935548966).
Welcome to the town of Range. There’s a
crazed vampire on the loose that kills indiscriminately. Ghosts are visible everywhere,
and the animals can talk to humans. And no
one is allowed to leave. In this mordant comic, Manning creates a bizarre yet fascinating
mystery, pitting a sleepy town against itself,
exposing its secrets and testing its values. But
what makes the book truly interesting is the
brash and unapologetic addition of dark humor throughout the piece. The jokes, often
told through a newspaper comic style of both
simple illustration and blocky, four-panel
design, are jarring set against the often grim
background of a town desperate for answers.
Much like the townspeople, the reader will be
left searching for meaning in these events. It’s
a raw artistic experiment; some will find Manning’s approach off-putting and confusing;
others will find it fascinating and disturbingly
hilarious. By its end, Runoff combines the desperation and black humor of Daniel Clowes’
Ghost World (1997) with the mystery and surrealist influences of Charles Burns’ Black Hole
(2005). —Peter Blenski
Strange Sports Stories.
By Brian Azzarello. Illus. by Paul Pope.
2015. 144p. Vertigo, paper, $14.99 (9781401258641).
DC revives one of the Bronze Age’s nuttiest concepts under their Vertigo imprint with
these collected stories by a variety of high- and
low-profile creators. Essentially an array of
sports-themed Twilight Zone vignettes (only
much, much bloodier), it offers takes on everything from baseball, football, and hockey
through sumo, fisticuffs, skateboarding, and
fishing, not to mention a few games Earth has
yet to see. Stories range also in tone and content, from relationship drama to comedy to
horror to postapocalyptic sci-fi, with a touch
of social commentary here and there. The stories are at their strongest, though, when using
sports to tap into the truly strange, as with
Hernandez’s “Martian Trade” and Loughridge
and Dragotta’s “Skate Cynic,” or when looking more deeply at some of the idiosyncrasies
of sport and fan culture, as in Punk and MacDonald’s hilarious “The Most Cursed.” Given
the dearth of adult-friendly sports-related titles in American comics (unlike manga), this
could tempt an audience seldom interested in
the format. Fans of the weird, meanwhile, will
find something to enjoy as well. —Jesse Karp
YA: Including an age- and culture-spanning array of physical contests, this
could lure in teen sports fans, too JK.
Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic
By Paul Levitz. Illus. by Will Eisner.
2015. 224p. Abrams ComicArts, $40 (9781419714986).
Eisner was already high in the pantheon of
comics greats for his creation of the Spirit,
the most artistically inventive of 1940s
costumed-hero strips, when, three decades
later, he embarked upon a series of personal,
book-length works that pioneered the modern graphic novel. This second act, which
began in 1978 with A Contract with God and
continued with more than a dozen books
exploring subjects ranging from Jewish tenement life in New York City to the Vietnam
War to extraterrestrial contact, continued
right up to Eisner’s death in 2005 at age 87.
Levitz, who worked with Eisner as an executive at DC Comics, traces the artist’s lengthy
career, highlighting not only his artistic innovation but his business acumen, a rare trait
among comics creators. But Eisner’s story is
best told, and the book dominated, by the
generous reproductions of his artwork, many
shot from the original drawings. From the
start, Eisner sought legitimacy for his widely
disparaged chosen medium. He lived just
long enough to see the graphic novel (a label
he popularized) achieve mainstream acceptance. —Gordon Flagg
Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling.
By Tony Cliff. Illus. by the author.
Mar. 2016. 272p. First Second, paper, $17.99
(9781626721555). 741.5. Gr. 6–12.
Delilah Dirk and Mister Selim have had a
lot of adventures over the two years they’ve
traveled together. But when Delilah is accused of being a spy and has to return to
England to clear her name, they’ll face their
greatest challenge: her mother. As in volume
one, Cliff shows readers the wonders and
dangers of traveling with Delilah through
the eyes of the gentle and reserved Selim.
But he also broadens his focus a bit to allow readers to understand the frustration
Delilah feels over the inequality of women,
the imbalance between rich and poor, and
the expectations of society. Anyone, teen or
adult, who has ever chafed at the strictures
of a loving but unaware parent will identify with Delilah’s desire to avoid her family
home for as long as possible. Cliff includes
plenty of humor and action to keep the tale
from becoming too weighted, and the result,
when combined with his lively artwork, is a
breathless romp that will appeal to a broad
range of readers. —Snow Wildsmith
By K. C. Green. Illus. by the author.
Mar. 2016. 192p. Oni, paper, $19.99 (9781620102893).
741.5. Gr. 10–12.
A forlorn, grave-digging skeleton stars in
this macabre adventure, originally published
in Green’s webcomic, Gunshow. Life in the
graveyard isn’t great for the gravedigger: it’s
lonely, for one thing, and his father’s angry
ghost is still hanging around to criticize his
work and his habit of talking to his moth-
er’s bones, which he keeps in a living-room
cabinet. When he wakes to find the bones
missing one day, he is certain his father is
to blame, so the gravedigger embarks on a
journey to hell (with the help of a charm-
ing mole) to find them. While this all might
sound grim and gory, Green keeps it light
with silly jokes, cartoonish figures, and some
great slapstick comedy, particularly when
the gravedigger inadvertently mucks up just
about every situation he steps in. For all its
comedy, however, the gravedigger’s quest,
which is ultimately about reconciliation, is
a heartening one. While the madcap antics,
mild violence, and grim laughs mark this for
older teens, some of the more mature emo-
tional turns might give it some adult appeal
as well. —Sarah Hunter
Last Man, v.4: The Show.
By Bastien Vivès and others. Illus. by the
authors. Tr. by Alexis Siegel.
Feb. 2016. 208p. First Second, paper, $9.99
(9781626720497). 741.5. Gr. 8–11.
Finally catching up with mysterious fighter, lover, and father figure Richard Aldana,
mother and son Marianne and Adrian Velba
find themselves at the mercy of this future
world’s entertainment industry. Aldana is
plunged back into the televised fight world
he ran from in disgrace, and Marianne talks
her way into the big show, lining herself and
her son up for a potential beating. Though,
except for a few brief and satisfying scenes
of little Adrian wiping up the floor with
gargantuan opponents, there’s little in the
way of action here, the previous volume’s
shift in tone continues to deepen the story,
offering elements of intrigue, romance, a
crime thriller, and a scalding satire of enter-tainment-obsessed culture. The relationship
between battle-ready mother and son offers
not only a rare gender connection (usually,
it’s fathers and sons who do the fighting)
but also enriches the tale with accessible,
poignant emotion. The artwork, so dynamic
for earlier volumes’ combat, also captures
extremes of satire and subtleties of emotion
with a loose line and distinctive character
work. —Jesse Karp
The Manga Guide to Physiology.
By Etsuro Tanaka. Illus. by Keiko
Koyama. Tr. by Arnie Rusoff.
2015. 256p. No Starch, paper, $19.95 (9781593274405).
741.5. Gr. 9–12.
Kumiko has just flunked her physiology
exam and must pass a makeup test if she
wants to compete in the campus marathon.
Meanwhile, new professor Kaisei needs to
test his physiology lectures on a live audience, so the two team up to help each other.
The following 10 chapters break down the
systems into manageable bites. First up, the