First Trade: Comic Reviews for Booksellers - July 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.

Sleepless Volume 1
CONTRIBUTORSSarah Vaughn, Leila del Duca, Alissa Sallah
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
ON SALE7/17/18

The opening panels are of a knight in a room full of skulls, dark circles under his eyes. He is Cyrenic, and he is Sleepless, meaning he is always awake to stand guard. The vow he took was to Pyppenia, the daughter of the recently deceased king and it shortened his life considerably, as when the Sleepless finally do rest they stay in a coma for years until their death. A new king is crowned and attempts on Pyppenia’s life begin immediately. The source of the danger is a mystery, and Vaughn weaves a tapestry of political intrigue and magic around the constant threat.       

For Fans of: Game of Thrones and Tudors shows (but if those are rated R, this is more PG-13) Vaughn wrote an excellent limited series for DC’s Deadman with a similar old fashioned but woke mystery structure.     

Art: Character design is impressive, the period dress doesn’t hinder the reader’s ability to distinguish characters and the combat is quite knightly.  

Sell it: To those looking for pretty but thrilling escapism.

Skin & Earth
PUBLISHERDynamite Entertainment
ON SALE7/17/18

Musician and artist Lights has crafted dystopian fantasy Skin + Earth and tied it to her new album of the same name.The story follows En, a student from the desolate ruins of a city known as the “Red Zone” and she crosses a Berlin Wall-type border every day to go to school in the privileged, futuristic “Pink Zone.” The story starts of looking like slice-of-life/relationship drama but descends into a nightmare within a nightmare. Her first effort with the medium, Lights’ dialogue is charmingly realistic, her characters complicated and often dubious.

For fans of: The Ember in the Ashes/Hunger Games

Art: Without giving away too much, Lights can make a really godly monster.

Sell it: To fans of Lights, of course, but this would do well with most Young Adult readers. Each chapter is marked with a QR code to a song on her album.

Days of Hate Act One
CONTRIBUTORSAles Kot, Danijel Zezelj, Jordie Bellaire
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
ON SALE7/24/18
GENRE/SUBJECTSpeculative Fiction

Writer Ales Kot (Generation Gone, Change) has worked up a piece so plausible it feels probable, wielding a shard of dystopian mirror his commentary has the precision of a scalpel and the heft of a broadsword. It’s 2022, the U.S. has blossomed into full tilt madness featuring a guerilla war between white supremacists and anti-fascists.

Amanda Parker has been orchestrating anti-fascist operations that have gotten her face on the radar of Peter Freeman, an investigator tasked with hunting “Enemies of the State” who carries that Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds vibe but updated to have a Richard Spencer undercut. As she lays out her next big move with her partner Arvid, Freeman interrogates Huian Xing, Amanda’s ex wife.

For Fans of: Atomic Blonde, originally released as The Coldest City by Antony Johnson. Kot and Bellaire are sort of a dream team for me, as I loved Generation Gone and Redlands, both released this year. Both were perfect 2018 brain food and this effort is the fever pitch of that timeliness.

Art: Ziztel and Bellaire (Redlands) anchor the heavy atmosphere, visual queues linking the story to our current realities with subtlety and accuracy, giving the book a cumulative immersion feeling. The two plots are distinguished by color palette, expressing Parker and Xing’s dynamic. This is also used for other characters and flashbacks, helping the reader identify what angle they’re looking at without extra words.  

Sell it: There are a lot of other elements at play, but this is noir for sure, the war/espionage kind.


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.