city. As winter rolls in and money runs out,
Hong is forced to come to terms with the ex-
pectations he placed on himself as an artist, as a
husband, and as a man. The illustrations mirror
Hong’s emotional state: the car he dreams of
owning, the food he eats, and especially the na-
ture surrounding him are all drawn with loving
detail, each more realistic than the next. But he
and his wife are drawn in a loose, cartoonish
style, their exaggerated expressions emphasiz-
ing her satisfaction with her new life and his
increasingly deteriorating sense of self-worth.
It’s easy for almost anyone to find something
to identify with in this story, and when Hong’s
epiphany comes, it’s as beautiful as the moun-
tainside in spring. —Eva Volin
By Eric Haven. Illus. by the author.
July 2017. 64p. Fantagraphics, $16.99 (9781683960324).
Vague as to whys and wherefores, Haven’s
story cycle ends where it begins. A big blond
in a red shirt and blue pants stands in a living
room, scowling. Turn the page for “Psylicon”
and a guy made of broken mirrors atop a pillar
of rock, thinking so hard his head explodes.
Turn the page for “Ruin,” in which a skeletal
wraith in black is revealed as a spirit-inhaling
aeronaut; the last panel shows her quadriplane
swooping up along a rock face a tiny figure
is scaling. Turn the page for “Pulsar,” wherein
the figure reaches the top and battles a pale-
green guy with fish-fin ears; in the last panel,
a cloud resembling the wraith looms in the
distance. Turn the page for the grand finale,
“Sorceress,” a third longer than the previous
stories altogether, in which the whole cast
meets to battle one another until the world
explodes, which isn’t the end. Clunky, pug-
nacious, and colorful as golden age comics
stalwart Fletcher Hanks (an acknowledged
influence), droll as single-panel virtuoso Glen
Baxter, Haven is a comics parodist of the high-
est order. —Ray Olson
Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of
By Alex Alice. Illus. by the author. Tr. by
Anne Smith and Owen Smith.
Sept. 2017. 64p. First Second, $19.99 (9781626724938).
741.5. Gr. 5–8.
What do you get when you mix steampunk,
historic scientific theories, Jules Verne–style
adventure, and King Ludwig II of Bavaria? A
rollicking good time, that’s what. In 1869, a
year after Seraphin’s mother disappeared in her
hot air balloon while in search of the mysteri-
ous energy source called Aether, an unsigned
letter arrives in which the writer claims to have
found her logbook. On their way to Bavaria to
claim it, Seraphin and his father become en-
tangled with Prussian spies who are also on the
hunt for the logbook, hoping that the secret of
Aether will help them overthrow King Ludwig
II and take over the world. The romantic set-
ting of the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle is the
perfect backdrop for this steampunk adventure
story, and the author and artists use both in-
terior and exterior views to good advantage.
Done in soft watercolors, the illustrations are
gorgeously detailed and alive with color and
motion, giving the whole book a cinematic
feel. This series starter ends on an extreme cliff-
hanger, so readers will be eager for the sequel.
Dreams in Thin Air.
By Michael Magnus Nybrandt. Illus. by
Thomas Engelbrecht Mikkelsen. Tr. by
Sept. 2017. 180p. Conundrum, $25 (9781772620108).
741.5. Gr. 9–12.
Nybrandt, a Danish traveler and football
fanatic, was cycling from Lhasa to Katmandu
when a chance encounter with a young monk
carrying a soccer ball gave him the idea of a
lifetime. Determined to educate the world
about the Chinese government’s occupation
of Tibet and persecution of the Tibetan people, he worked tirelessly with organizations
worldwide to create a Tibetan football team
and host an international match in Greenland
where the team could compete. This inspir-
Continued on p. 44