First Trade: Comic Reviews for Booksellers - May 2018

DBD introduces a new graphic novel review series by bookseller Bianca Walters. Every month, Bianca will provide reviews of three graphic novels, providing information on suitable audiences for each title, artistic comparisons, and sell-through suggestions.

Preview excerpt from Animosity Evolution #4 from AfterShock Comics

Animosity Evolution: Volume 1
CONTRIBUTORS: Marguerite Bennett   
PUBLISHER: Aftershock Comics
ISBN: 9781935002895
ON SALE: May, 29 2018
GENRE: Sci-fi, ages 13+ 

Animosity takes the speculative fiction framework and uses it in a gargantuan way - instead of a market crash or a horde of pesky robots, all animals are suddenly imbued with the logic that had, until then, been only present in the human mind. This new level of consciousness has varying results on the animals, but they are all aware of, if not consumed with rage over, their station in society and the endless degradation that their kind has suffered at the hands of humans.

The first look into this world focused on a young girl Jesse and her dog Sandor in the days after “The Wake.” The series is now in its second volume, and Matt Santori of wrote “...experience the complete horror and joy — and the joy of horror — from this new Bennett-de La Torre joint.”

With a more sprawling premise, Evolution is the beginning of animal society, starting with a leader called Wintermute. The mysterious canine is feared and respected by the animals on her swathe of the coast, and there are a few humans who have proved themselves to her. Bennett (DC Bombshells, Insexts, Batwoman) has constructed a societal fable, or layers and layers of fables intertwined. One is reminded of a war-torn Europe or Berlin before the wall came down - conspiracy in the air and a seedy, swinging underground.

For Fans of: Pride of Baghdad and/or Y: the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan, WE3 by Grant Morrison, The Power by Naomi Alderman,  the Warriors and Hunters middle grade series by Erin Hunter and - hear me out- the live action Animal Farm movie from 1999.

Art: To see animals be designed as a characters is probably my favorite part of this comic. It’s well done, and indispensable to the story.

Sell it: To speculative fiction nuts and militant vegans. Also, in the selling, feel free to use one of Bennett’s many masterful references: Wintermute of Gibson’s sci fi classic Neuromancer. Hart, Ram & Wolf Law Offices of the Buffyverse via the Angel TV show, and a slew of establishments named after writers of animal-centered literature like Milne Warehouse and Berenstain Bed and Breakfast. Customers are bound to get caught up on one.   

The Pervert
CONTRIBUTORS: Michelle Perez, Remy Boydell
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
ISBN: 9781534307414
ON SALE: May 1st, 2018
GENRE: LGBTQ+, ages 16+

The Pervert is a collection of stories about a young trans woman barely staying afloat in Seattle by doing sex work, told in anthropomorphic watercolors. The art insulates but does not shield the reader from the sexually graphic and sometimes brutal scenarios. Boydell’s use of their medium puts the anxiety and exhaustion of the protagonist’s precarious existence in stride with the mundanities that help a reader feel for and with her. 

The protagonist (whose name is a spoiler) tells stories of trauma and compassion with the same middle distance stare-off tone illustrating how one can calibrate to trauma with indiscriminate apathy.  A dark humor is ever present as the protagonist cedes her autonomy one boundary at a time in the name of a full stomach. I will read this collection again and again.

For Fans of: This feels like one of those magical ones that will have traction with both Fantagraphics high-ish brow readers and the average Image/Vertigo reader. How? It's actually really funny.

Art: Consistent 2x3 panels, watercolor and line with splash pages after certain stories.. Boydell has a knack for expressing the inexpressible with unique but effective iconography.

Sell it: To weirdos, to furries and furry sympathizers, to members and allies of the trans community, to teenagers and adults that are looking for a weird comic that will make them sad and happy and angry and peaceful, depending on what panel they choose to linger on.   

The Ghost, The Owl
CONTRIBUTORS: Franco, Sara Richard
PUBLISHER: Action Lab Comics
ISBN: 9781632293596
ON SALE: May 15th 2018
GENRE: Fairy Tales, ages 8+

Franco (Eisner winner, Tiny Titans) spins a fable starring a courageous owl that one day notices the ghost of a young girl wandering about his forest home. She can’t remember her story, and the owl decides to help her find where she belongs. The animals are realistically rendered and contrast beautifully with the spritely fantasy of the ghost’s character design. That juxtaposition grounds the story in reality, the suggestion being that any owl or crow or frog one sees could encounter such supernatural things when we aren’t looking. As the story deepens and two adult humans are introduced, their conflict and unknown relationship to the ghost deepening the mystery for The Owl, The Ghost.  

For Fans of: The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales and all the varied modern illustrations, Lorena Alvarez’s Nightlights and Coraline.       

Art: Painted, acrylics. There are no panel breaks, but the motion of each scene guides the eye skillfully through the story, moving what could be seen as a picture book firmly into the comics category. I can’t say enough how much talent is displayed by Sara Richard (Eisner nominated My Little Pony cover artist) in this book.

Sell it: To parent/kid teams that like to hang out with ghosts and folks who like their comic books to double as art books.



Bianca is a bookseller, a polite troublemaker, an eventual time traveller, and a graphic novel evangelist. She and her two cats are from Berwyn, IL and she currently works at The Book Table in Oak Park. Read more of her reviews are here: or catch her on the interwebs @beewaltz. 


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