First Trade: Comic Reviews for Booksellers - June 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.


Ice Cream Man Volume 1: Rainbow Sprinkles
CONTRIBUTORS: W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo, Chris O’Halloran
PUBLISHER: Image
ISBN: 9781534306752
ON SALE: 6/26/18
GENRE/SUBJECT: Linked Short Stories, Small Creepy Town, Horror, 16+

The Ice Cream Man is a series of vignettes that all take place in a small town, giving the arc an X-files in Mayberry vibe. The vignettes each have a distinct tone but every narrator gives the impression of, “I couldn’t believe it now I do and I’m crazy because of it.”

The stories range from a harrowing junky love story told in run-on sentences to the story of Bud Hickey, a one hit wonder who goes on a psychedelic day trip to process his own mediocrity and wail at the passing of time. There are also creepy kids and spiders.  

All of the stories feature cultural commentary, but they also all have the creepy character that the series is named for: The Ice Cream Man, who always seems to be rolling past when strange things happen. Is he just the goofy scary host of the ghoulish festivities like the cryptkeeper or svengoolie or is something more sinister at work in the back of that ice cream truck?         

For Fans of: The Twilight Zone, X-files, and Nailbiter especially. This place feels like it could exist in the same universe as Preacher.  

Art: Dare I say a sherbet color scheme? Slightly small facial features and often gapped teeth give the characters an eerie look of exhaustion, either at the strangeness of their surroundings or a strangeness within.

Sell it: To anyone looking for stories that are disturbing but humorous.


No. 1 With A Bullet
CONTRIBUTORS: Jacob Semahn, Jorge Corona
PUBLISHER: Image
ISBN: 9781534306714
ON SALE: 6/12/18
GENRE/SUBJECT: Pop Culture, Social Media, Mystery, Gender-based Power Dynamics, Speculative Fiction, Tech-based Horror, 16+  

This story is a massive call out to the thick slush of slut shaming that women have to wade through at work, online, socially, and within themselves. It’s a dissection of the toxic structure of power in “show business,” the ways in which it fosters sexual harassment and abuse, both speculating the future and commenting on the past. A towering theme is social media fame and its paradoxes, showcasing the results of ignorant sexists having access to people: they fetishize, utilize the digital wall between them and the subject of their attention, and throw archaic objectification stones over. All while doing their best to simultaneously claim ownership of and endear themselves to the subject.

One of the most disorienting things about sexism (and most of the other ‘isms) is that it's always existed, but the version we see is shaped by the time we live in. So until fairly recently, that stuff was just the culture. The channels and filters and mediums are different now, but the structures remain.   

“Iris Shutter Contacts” augment reality, but also records the surroundings of the wearer with the blink of an eye. This fact when they are released glosses right over Nash Huang. She goes on building her social media presence, appears in a few segments on the show she interns for. She has a loving girlfriend and a seemingly cool if superficial life in the near future.  

Then, BAM! A sextape, recorded without her consent using the IRIS shutter contacts, is leaked for the trolls to gnaw on and pontificate about. Humiliating, yes, but it poses the question: who is the hacker? Nash has terrifying theory that it’s the stalker that has been gradually escalating the invasive nature of their DMs, and when bodies start to pile up it looks like she’s right.  

At the end of the day though, it’s a guessing-til-the-last-second whodunnit.

For Fans of: Snotgirl, Glitterbomb, Chew.

Art: When I first saw a thumbnail of the cover my Hewlett alarm went off, which as tank girl fanatic was exciting, but Corona is his own thing The distortion of faces very much encapsulates how distorted the truth is throughout the story.

Sell it: There’s a lot of angles to take with this one: the good mystery, the commentary on gender and power, lesbian relationship drama, the creepy future of technology. Pick one, or use ‘em all!

BOOK TRAILER


Swing
CONTRIBUTORS: Matt Hawkins, Jenni Cheung, Linda Sejic (artist)
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
ISBN: 9781534305168
ON SALE: 6/5/18
GENRE/SUBJECT: Sexuality, Romance, 18+

In this book, read the intro. It’s a description of a couple’s first “full swap.”  It’s detailed, mechanically and emotionally, and includes a vocabulary chart. Consent is covered as well as physical safety and it’s stressed that “the lifestyle” (defined as “the swinger ethos”) isn’t the solution to a crappy relationship, but an option for healthy ones.

The main narrator of the tale is Amanda, a Chinese American student who meets and falls in love with her T.A., Dan Lincoln. Heavy manga influence visually in this book - Dan is absolutely that kind of dreamboat (the hair, the stare) - and it suits the story’s purpose well. Amanda and Dan fall in love, have lots of ravenous happy college sex, get the reluctant parental blessing, get pregnant, and get married. Fast forward eight years, she pursues her career in advertising, he teaches high school and stays home with the kids.

After a bout of unfortunate sex (not having it, fighting about it, having it but it’s mediocre) Amanda, trying to google her way to a spiced up marriage, stumbles on a website for swingers. The notion of it alone brings back some fire, and they decide to look into it.

The split narration used in the comic is a helpful part of the story. The day after swinging is brought up is filled with hesitant questions and nagging insecurities, meaning that someone reading the comic in order to learn and possibly integrate “the lifestyle” into their relationship can see that they’re not the only ones with reservations. A lot of the conversations in the story excellent templates for what could be scary conversations.

Swing exemplifies one my favorite things that comics can do. To show someone that whatever it is, it happens, people talk about it, and there’s a way to go about it. Validation of that kind is both endlessly helpful and harder to find than it should be.

For fans of: Bingo Love, Sex Criminals - there is a frankness that they share, that the information in the story is as valuable as the narrative.

Art: An absolute celebration of sex and sexiness in rosey colors. Manga inspired design and layout, all but the reading to the left and it works.  

Sell it: Curious couples (or singles!) looking for a guide of sorts and anyone else who loves to learn/look at very well crafted sequences of sex happening.


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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: http://www.booktable.net/biancas-picks or catch her on the interwebs @beewaltz. 

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