October 15, 2016 Booklist 35 www.booklistonline.com
By Loïc Dauvillier and Yasmina Khadra.
Illus. by Glen Chapron. Tr. by Ivanka
Oct. 2016. 152p. Firefly, $24.95 (9781770857612).
Amin Jaafari, an Arab-Israeli surgeon in Tel
Aviv, seems totally assimilated into Israeli society, but his complacency is upended when
his wife kills herself and 19 people in a suicide
bombing. Searching for answers, he travels to
Bethlehem to retrace his wife’s steps before the
bombing and seek out the imam whom he believes led her down this path. As he descends
into drink and despair, Jaafari’s quest leads him
into Palestine, where he’s forced to confront the
conditions that drove his wife to take her desperate action. Adapting a best-selling novel that
was also made into a film, The Attack starkly
depicts the political conflict, acknowledging
the issues on both sides, but is most effective
as a portrayal of a man trying to come to terms
with the fact that his marriage, as well as his
cosmopolitan existence and privileged status,
were illusory. While the story is dialogue-heavy,
the handsome and functional artwork is particularly effective at visually painting the harsh
environment of the West Bank. —Gordon Flagg
Becoming Andy Warhol.
By Nick Bertozzi. Illus. by Pierce Hargan.
Oct. 2016. 160p. Abrams ComicArts, $24.95
Bertozzi and Hargan depict the ultimate
pop artist’s breakthrough period, May 1962
to November 1964, from his first interview
with TIME magazine to opening his first
show at New York’s top-of-the-heap Leo Castelli Gallery. Determined to burst out of the
commercial art world, Warhol was creating
the repetitive series that would become his
trademark work, meeting crucial collaborators, acquiring a movie camera and a tape
recorder, moving to the Factory. Bertozzi
wisely elects to tell the story via dialogue
only, without impersonal text except for time
and place markers (e.g., “The Factory January 1964”). Hargan’s black, white, and purple
art blends the faces of mid-twentieth-century
comic strips like Blondie, Dennis the Menace,
and Dondi; the slim figures and expressive
poses of realist comics like Eddie Campbell’s;
careful rendering of architectural exteriors;
and a variety of single-tone and simply patterned backdrops in interiors and close-ups. A
smart and cool presentation of a major paradigm shift in American fine art. —Ray Olson
The Best American Comics, 2016.
Ed. by Roz Chast and Bill Kartalopoulos.
Oct. 2016. 352p. illus. Houghton/Mariner, $25
It’s been 10 years since the launch of this
annual series, and though this installment,
guest edited by New Yorker mainstay Chast,
doesn’t break any new ground in its presenta-
tion, that’s all well and good, since this solid
framework does what it does best: show-
case a rich variety of comics. Chast selects
pieces from unfamiliar and familiar names,
from both print and the web, and presents
them in no particular order. They’re all great
for different reasons, like Liana Finck’s “All
the Paintings Here Agree,” which movingly
evokes the calm of a familiar art museum in
the wake of personal turmoil, with nothing
but speech balloons and reproductions of
paintings, or John Porcellino’s sparely drawn
account of preparing for surgery, excerpted
from his book The Hospital Suite (2014).
Visually striking standouts include Drew
Freidman’s detailed, almost hyperrealistic
caricatures and Geneviève Elverum’s beau-
tiful compositions of bundled blankets in
a meditation on hospitality and home. Far
from being the final word on comics, this
series acts as a springboard, introducing
more readers to the rich variety in the field.
Brief Histories of Everyday Objects.
By Andy Warner. Illus. by the author.
Oct. 2016. 224p. Picador, $20 (9781250078650). 741.5.
Even the most commonplace items can
have a fascinating backstory that belies their
mundane familiarity. Comics journalist Warner has expanded his webcomic series into
a book-length collection that humorously
recounts the creation of dozens of products
found around the house. The book is chock-full of the sort of revelations that will reward
readers at trivia nights and in barroom betting. The first sports bra was made from two
jockstraps sewn together. Paper clips, a Norwegian invention, became a sign of resistance
during the Nazi occupation. In 1945, the
newly invented ballpoint pen drew a mob
of 5,000 to Gimbel’s, which sold its entire
stock of 10,000 pens at $12.50 a pop. Perhaps the most significant takeaway from
Warner’s research is the unheralded contributions of African Americans and women; for
instance, a black inventor patented the three-position traffic signal, and coffee filters and
paper bags were devised by women. Warner’s
brashly humorous drawings and admittedly
invented dialogue make this the most delightfully irreverent illustrated history lesson since
Larry Gonick’s Cartoon History of the Universe
(1990). —Gordon Flagg
Demon, v. 1.
By Jason Shiga. Illus. by the author.
Oct. 2016. 176p. First Second, paper, $19.99
Jimmy Yee has a rather unique problem:
he cannot die. After a botched bank robbery,
Jimmy decides to take his own life, only to
continuously find himself alive again shortly
after his death. What seems to be a terrifying
curse turns out to be a macabre superpower of
sorts, as Jimmy soon must evade government
agencies (by killing himself, of course!) to
avoid capture. The premise is as gruesome as
it is original, but those willing to stick around
will be floored by the absurdity of the concept
and lured in by the surprising, suspenseful
turn of the second half of the piece. Dark
humor abounds in Jimmy’s straightforward
thinking through his morbid problems, as his
flippant willingness to die in a variety of ways
quickly becomes comically disgusting. Shiga’s
simplistic cartoon style helps soften the blow;
with his characters’ bug eyes and rounded
structures, murder and suicide have never
looked so adorable. Like Jimmy’s new lease
on life, this is fresh, with plenty of poten-
tial, and definitely a series to watch develop.
Hole in the Heart: Bringing Up Beth.
By Henny Beaumont. Illus. by the author.
Oct. 2016. 288p. Pennsylvania State Univ., paper, $24.95
A few hours into her daughter Beth’s life,
Beaumont and her husband were shocked to
learn that their new, tiny baby was perhaps not
just like her older sisters. The upward slant of
her eyes and her lack of muscle tone suggested,
as a doctor pointed out, that she had Down’s
syndrome. Tests confirmed the diagnosis, and
Beth would also undergo surgery in infancy for
a heart defect. Beaumont’s emotive black-and-white illustrations are occasionally stark and
high-contrast, but more often they’re detailed,
smudged, and shaded, and faces are beautifully
lifelike (Beaumont is also a portrait painter).
Beaumont is hard on herself here, depicting
herself constantly in tears, first for the challenges she and her family must face and later
because of the injustices aimed at Beth because
of her differences, often by adults who are supposed to care for her. In this honest, personal,
uplifting account of raising a child with special
needs, Beaumont’s portraits of Beth display
the deep love she has for her daughter and the
beauty of her unique features. —Annie Bostrom
By Tom Gauld. Illus. by the author.
2016. 96p. Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95 (9781770462540).
Colonizing the moon once must have
seemed a good idea, but as this quietly dour
graphic novel opens, the last settlers are packing up and returning to Earth. Among the few
remaining inhabitants is the titular mooncop,
whose duties now consist of such mundane
tasks as searching for a lost (spacesuit-clad) dog
or retrieving a Neil Armstrong automaton that
wandered off from the Museum of the Moon.
Lonely and bored, he submits a transfer request
that’s denied. Suspecting depression, however,
area command sends him a defective therapy
unit that promptly breaks down. As lunar population dwindles to almost nothing, the cosmic
constable discovers an unexpected reason to