November 15, 2015 Booklist 35 www.booklistonline.com
lar but clearly from other realms. Something
in the universe is terribly wrong, potentially
fatally so, and Dream must prevent it from
destroying everything. While that’s a classic
plot, in Gaiman’s hands, it becomes expansive
and atmospheric, jammed
with brainy, contempla-
tive moments and dry
humor. Luckily, Gaiman’s
vivid, wild imagination is
grounded in Williams’ and
Stewart’s beautiful, cap-
tivating artwork, which
features everything from
classic comic-book illustration to milky,
swirling paintings in velvety hues. Williams’
panel layouts are unmatched in contempo-
rary comics—he seamlessly shifts styles, and
though the disparate elements jostle uneasily,
the organic lines of the borders, arcing like
swirling smoke, hold them solidly together
in a coherent narrative. This will be largely
meaningless, though inarguably beautiful, for
readers unfamiliar with the original series, but
Sandman fans will surely be elated not only
by the return to the story but also by the stun-
ning, gorgeous artwork, which outshines the
original. —Sarah Hunter
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A Gaiman
comic alone would make this noteworthy, but
the return to the Sandman universe makes
Showa 1953–1989: A History of Japan.
By Shigeru Mizuki. Illus. by the author.
2015. 552p. Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95
In this, the final volume of master manga-maker Mizuki’s history of Japan’s Showa period,
the author examines Japan in the modern era.
The book begins as the Allied occupation of
Japan ends and the country furiously starts to
rebuild after the devastation left in the wake of
WWII. Mizuki, too, is struggling to rebuild
after the collapse of the Kamishibai trade. Following Japan’s trajectory from war-torn ruin
to economic powerhouse, Mizuki’s luck turns
when he is introduced to a manga publisher,
and he slowly ascends from abject poverty to
best-selling manga creator. There is more interweaving of Mizuki’s life and ruminations in
this volume than in the previous three, enriching a historic time line full of political scandals
and pop-culture fads and emphasizing Mizuki’s
study of the yokai, or monsters. Closing out
the series are glorious full-color illustrations reprinted from the original Japanese editions that
both remind readers of important details from
previous volumes and illustrate why Mizuki is
recognized in Japan as a “Person of Cultural
Merit.” —Eva Volin
By Derf Backderf. Illus. by the author.
Nov. 2015. 256p. Abrams ComicArts, $24.95
(9781419714535); paper, $18.95 (9781419714542).
“We don’t exist. Trash disappears . . . like
magic,” says the garbageman protagonist of
this behind-the-scenes account of the most
soul-deadening of all crap jobs. Informed by
Backderf’s brief stint working on a garbage
truck in his twenties, the story follows J. B.
and his crew as they dispose of everything
from dead pets and diapers to engine blocks
and the dreaded “foreclosure piles” outside
repossessed homes while contending with
complaining townspeople, malicious kids, bad
weather, and petty small-town bureaucrats.
Along the way, Backderf offers informative
digressions on the history of garbage through
the ages, the mechanics of garbage trucks, the
problems with landfills, and what actually
happens to recyclables. It’s all far more enter-
taining than it sounds, thanks to the likability
of J. B. and his at-loose-ends roommates; the
colorful cast of oft-eccentric village service
workers; and Backderf’s slightly off-kilter,
pleasantly ungainly drawings. Among the nug-
gets of info Backderf discloses is the fact that
garbage collectors have the country’s sixth-
highest on-the-job fatality rate—something
to ponder the next time you take your trash
out. —Gordon Flagg
Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in
By Özge Samanci. Illus. by the author.
Nov. 2015. 200p. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, paper, $16.99
(9780374316983). 741.5. Gr. 8–11.
Growing up, Özge knew what she should
do: study hard, get into a good high school,
and become an engineer or a doctor. That was
the only way her father believed she would
have a good life, where she wouldn’t have to
worry about money or stability. Özge’s sister,
Pelin, believed that, too, but when Özge tried
to follow Pelin down that steady, predictable path, she met failure, time and again.
Özge recalls her earliest memories of happily
watching Pelin at school through binoculars
from the balcony of her building and works
her way through the turbulence of Turkey in
the late twentieth century as she struggles to
please both herself and her family. Her art is
an intriguing mix of doodle-like line drawings and mixed-media compositions made
of paper, rocks, stamps, and more to build a
picture of a world where the politics might
seem unfamiliar but the family dynamics and
personal relationships are universally recognizable. The rather abrupt ending will leave
budding artists and rebels hoping for a sequel.
Howard the Duck: What the Duck.
By Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones. Illus.
by Joe Quinones.
2015. 112p. Marvel, $16.99 (9780785197720). 741.5.
Howard the Duck, an alien subject of many
odd comics and one terrible movie, has now
seemingly found his place as a private eye.
On the hunt for a mysterious necklace of
Information Now: A Graphic Guide to
admittedly minimal power, Howard teams
up with classic superheroes to battle against
aliens, criminals, and old people. Although
some jokes initially fall flat and are heavily
reliant on fowl puns, once world-weary How-
ard finds his bearings, he provides a hilarious
commentary on Marvel and comic books in
general. The “Amazing” Spider-Man seen here
is more of a broken child, crying for his dead
uncle Ben, while the all-powerful Dr. Strange
is a cold, uncaring weirdo. In one particularly
cutting scene, Howard bluntly berates two
out-of-work superhero impersonators who
are angry that their characters, Thor and Cap-
tain America, have recently been replaced by
a woman and African American, respectively.
Quinones’ candy-colored pop-art style is a
comical match for the sardonic bird detective.
For fans of Deadpool and other absurd comics,
Howard’s out-of-touch, outsider-looking-in
style of comic commentary will be a hit. It’s
quacking good. —Peter Blenski
By Matt Upson and C. Michael Hall. Illus.
by Kevin Cannon.
2015. 128p. Univ. of Chicago, paper, $17
(9780226095691). 741.5. Gr. 9–12.
This graphic compendium of tips and
guidelines for research and Internet literacy
aims to help students sort through the deluge
of available information and ease the way into
good research habits with a friendly, light tone
and lots of jokes. A pair of cartoonish librarians lead readers through the steps, starting
from picking a narrow research topic. Along
the way, they encourage critical thinking and
healthy skepticism regarding popular sources
on the Internet; address the proper way to use
Google and Wikipedia (as starting points, not
citable sources); introduce Boolean terms and
metadata; and explain how to use discovery
tools and databases. Occasionally, the panels are so packed with text that the graphic
components get lost in the background, but
there is, after all, a lot of ground to cover, and
although Cannon’s artwork is often amusing,
the most salient information comes from the
sentences. Still, the nontraditional format will
likely draw in both high-school and college
students, and the accessible information will
set them well on their way toward becoming
expert library users. —Sarah Hunter
Last Man, v.3: The Chase.
By Bastien Vives and others. Illus. by
Bastien Vives. Tr. by Alexis Siegel.
2015. 208p. First Second, paper, $9.99
(9781626720480). 741.5. Gr. 8–11.
The story of young Adrian Velba and mysterious Richard Aldana’s team-up to win a
martial arts competition veers sharply into
new territory, as the boy and his mother,
Marianne, pursue the fleeing fighter into
a much larger fantasy realm. After tearing
through desert wastes on a motorcycle, the
pair wind up in Nillipolis, one giant red-light
district of a city, filled with brothels, scheming
merchants, and corrupt cops. Arrested, they