Friday, December 17, 2010

Our Favorite Arty Comics

If you're still looking for that perfectly unique gift this holiday season, let us guide you into what may seem like uncharted territory: the ever-expanding shelves of the Arty Comics/Graphic Novel section. What was once a niche market is quickly becoming the place for breakout authors and illustrators exploring every subject and genre. There are adaptations of well-known works (Allen Ginsberg's Howl, a graphic biography of Anne Frank, R. Crumb's Book of Genesis), and a multitude of intriguing new books. It seems like every week I see a fresh batch of graphic novels with covers so curious and beautiful I have to pause in my shelving to take a look. Here are some recent favorites:

Laurie Sandell
Laurie Sandell grew up worshiping her charismatic but mercurial father. However, a startling revelation forces Sandell to confront the ugly truths about both her father and herself. Strongly recommended for fans of Alison Bechtel's Fun Home.

Robert Kirkman
If the only reason you can think of not to browse though this book is that you aren't really into zombies, then you're in luck. Robert Kirkman has crafted a book with zombies that ultimately has little to do with zombies. Think of George Romero's films. The director once said that zombies were just a prop used for social commentary. Kirkman takes a similar posture, as the real problems during the zombie apocalypse are those that arise between the living. Distrust, extra-marital affairs, questions of social responsibility, they're all here. Give the gift of zombies this year.

Kolbeinn Karlsson
Weird, psychedelic, dark and totally original, this lovely book is truly beyond compare. Swedish author Kolbeinn Karlsson deftly walks the line between cute and grotesque with his amazing artwork and creates an abstract, delightfully absurd narrative. A great gift for the eccentric art lover in your life, or for yourself when you feel the urge to get lost in a postmodern fairy tale.


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I was still struggling with one more Christmas gift yet to buy and no ideas, and an artsy comic book would be perfect for this person! Thanks!

  2. Anonymous11:32 AM

    Troll King is so great, Seija! And one of the weirdest graphic novels I've ever looked at. Who knew there WAS a line right between cute and grotesque?

  3. I think I could probably do a whole post around the theme "Cute/Grotesque." There are so many craft books, humor books, Asian art, pop art (hello, Mark Ryden!) and I think that aesthetic is even starting to bleed into fiction, though don't ask me to prove it. There's something about the current obsession with cute animal books/websites and the ever-popular horror/sci-fi genre that finally spawned its own strange lovechild... that's my theory, anyway.


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