Readers will look forward to the next volume.

READ REVIEW

DODGE CITY

From the Dodge City series , Vol. 2

The multicultural members of the hapless Jazz Pandas dodgeball team try to win while dealing with their personal issues.

New member Tomás, who is Latinx, is looking for a place to belong, but his athletic abilities are sorely lacking. Drew, the African-American female team captain, has skills but is under stress from all the extracurricular activities she is doing for her college applications. Elsie, an athletic white teen, wants to play well but misses the romantic relationship she once shared with Drew. East Asian Judith is a fierce competitor, while Huck, who is Deaf, communicates through his phone. Amardeep is Sikh and probably their best player, but he is often missing. In addition to their losing record and internal squabbles, the team has a reputation for cheating, something that led Judith’s brother to quit. Drew decides to give up being captain, and the role falls to Tomás as they head into the championship tournament a bit banged up and about to face their rivals, the Kettle Balls—but Chase’s return gives them a boost. This is an action-packed comic with vibrant, bright, full-color drawings in a style that highlights the constant movement of the sport. Multiple relationships and the team backstory are revealed without slowing down the plot, and the variety of ethnicities and genders apparent through the drawings also add to the appeal.

Readers will look forward to the next volume. (Graphic novel. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68415-247-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

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Delightfully snarky existentialism that reads like the millennial descendant of “Love Is.” (Graphic fiction. 14-adult)

SMALL HOURS

A MRS. FROLLEIN COLLECTION

Originally a webcomic, Minelli’s vignettes ruminate on life, love, and anxiety.

Black-and-white (with the occasional color accent), this anthology collects a series of mostly four-paneled comic strips (with the occasional six- or eight-panel length bits). Populated mainly by an unnamed female character and her similarly unnamed boyfriend, this bitingly observant collection depicts the most mundane aspects of everyday life and relationships—sharing a bed with a partner, feeling anxiety in a world seemingly overwhelmed with unending horrors—through an empathetically humorous lens. Most of the sketches examine more adult problems, however many, like those focusing on self-doubt or finding joy, are universal. In the wordless piece “Thank You,” the unnamed main character sits on her bed in a dark room and cries only to be comforted by the arrival of her dog. In another, “So Cute,” the male character reflects on how adorable his girlfriend is while sleeping—until she farts on him. The foreword by Jonathan Kunz and Elizabeth Pich explains their theory of #sadbutfunny and describes how Minelli strives to impart readers with a sense of hope. With a nod toward introversion, all things comfy, and love of geek culture, expect this to resonate with fans of webcomic “Sarah Scribbles” by Sarah Andersen or Book Love by Debbie Tung (2019). Both unnamed characters are white.

Delightfully snarky existentialism that reads like the millennial descendant of “Love Is.” (Graphic fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62010-715-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

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Humanity stunningly observed—a treasure.

THE MAN WITHOUT TALENT

This first English-language edition of a work by influential Japanese comic-book artist Tsuge follows an impoverished, embittered comic-book artist whose unconventional search for riches keeps him in league with schemers at the fringes of society—much to his wife’s angst and young son’s distress.

Whether it’s selling stones he finds near his home, repairing and reselling cameras bought from a junk store, or even carrying people on his back across a shallow river, Sukezō Sukegawa will do just about anything for money—except create the comic books for which he has received critical acclaim. He pridefully resents the lack of money in comic books, though he fails to sell any stones either. Sukezō’s pursuits introduce him to shady characters, such as the alcoholic head of an “art stone” association and the man’s libidinous wife, and to outsiders such as a homeless man whose uncanny connection to birds allows him to effortlessly gather exquisite specimens for sale. Though Sukezō’s wife resents his inability to make money—and the costs associated with his offbeat vocations—Suzekō provides for the family in his own, unbalanced way, as when he combines a stone-hunting trip to the countryside with a hiking trip for wife and son. The trip is a disaster: Sukezō’s asthmatic son melts down over the train schedule, fecal matter likely slips into the family’s noodles, and the three of them lie by a river and wryly contemplate suicide. Tsuge’s raw and profound work is equal parts pathos and poetry, streaked with irony and ribaldry. His lines are beautifully clean and wonderfully expressive, the pages sometimes presenting expertly cartoonish simplicity and other times almost photorealistic detail. Tsuge has a soft spot for outsiders yet is acutely aware of how they can end up dead in a field somewhere, covered in their own filth.

Humanity stunningly observed—a treasure.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68137-443-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: New York Review Comics

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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