Just leave it.

Abandoned Wrecks by Chris McNab. Amber Books Ltd, 2017. 9781782745204. 224pp.

Gene: This is a book that [our friend] Dawn had at the last WASHYARG meeting, and I asked her not to tell you about it. I had to get it from the library system where you work because Seattle didn’t have a copy.
Sarah: Abandoned Wrecks!
G: Already, it’s the book for you.
S: Yeah!
G: Ships first. I don’t care much about the boats that are underwater, that are becoming reefs. It’s the boats that are at least 1/3 gone —
S: Half in, half out of the water.
G: This is one of my favorites. It’s in Montenegro, it’s a small fishing boat that’s lost it’s entire back end. What’s that called? The stern?
S: Stern!
G: It’s a fishing boat wreck that’s been abandoned there on the shore. There are a few details about each one. Look at this.
S: That’s great! Like a tall ship.
G: It’s moving to look at — a tall sailboat with three masts on ice. It’s on Lake Ontario in Canada.
S: From 1914. That’s later than I thought they would be building that kind of boat.
G: This is a replica of a ship used by Jacques Cartier in the 16th century. This was repurposed — there was a restaurant on it at one point — but now it’s abandoned. It was even a Halloween party ship at one point. I’d have gone to one of those parties in a heartbeat.
S: Yes.
G: I bet there are still unsanctioned parties there.
S: Get your tetanus shot and come to my party.
G: These wrecks are reminders about how temporary we are — there are some bits about that in the book. What do you call them? Words.
(flipping the page) But nothing is more of a reminder of how temporary we are than a ship in a desert. This is a rusted hulk in Uzbekistan where there used to be a sea. But thanks to the USSR rerouting some rivers, there’s no sea there now. How great is that?

Like the worst 1/16th of an amazing photo from the book.

S: And some guy named Kevin went there and wrote his name on the hull.
G: I don’t think that’s an Uzbek name. I hope that guy never sees this photo.
And then it goes to trains. And I have to tell you, I don’t care about abandoned trains. I like old timey trains that move, but not these.
S: They’re interesting, but they’re not a destination.
G: I’ve seen so many trains just sitting next to highways my entire life, when we’ve driven east of the Cascade Mountains.
S: We’re familiar with it.
G: But this super old steam engine in Zimbabwe —
S: Looks like a tractor.
G: It’s from the late 19th or early 20th century. That thing rode the rails! And it’s not really decaying.
Then on to military vehicles — this is Kuwait in 1991, burned-out Iraqi military vehicles. And the next page are civilian vehicles on a different highway in Kuwait, same time frame, which I think is more striking because you saw the image on the previous page.
Here’s a Russian tank buried in some rubble, in front of a building, in Syria.
Then abandoned cars. Road vehicles. I’ve seen a lot of these in my life, whole neighborhoods near where I grew up could have had their front yards photographed for this book, so meh. Even cars rotting in the desert —
S: — RVs, busses —
G: Not my thing.

In case you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest and have never seen moss on a car.

But this, four moss covered cars in a forest in Sweden, wow. Even in the Pacific Northwest I haven’t seen a lot of cars covered with moss.
S: If you park too long, you’ll get some, but not covered.
G: I see this and think, oh, yeah, we’re all doomed.
And then my favorite section because of my fear of flying, Aircraft. A B-25 that looks very whole, that crashed in New Guinea. Military graveyards where they scrap old planes. An amazing crashed P-38 Lightning in Wales, half out of the water — the sand that’s burying the back end kind of looks like smoke coming out of the back.
Then here’s the freakiest and closest to us, the engine of a B-26 bomber that crashed in British Columbia in 1950, a bit buried in the landscape. They had to jettison their nuclear bomb after three of the engines caught fire. February 13, 1950.
S: Woah. There’s got to be a book about that. (There is: Lost Nuke: The Last Flight of Bomber 075. There’s also a movie.)

Unruly Assassins for the Exceptional Assassin Trainer

Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth (1987) by Rick Remender and Wes Craig. Image, 2015. 9781632150035. Contains Deadly Class #1 – #6. Publisher’s Rating M / Mature.

I hadn’t read this series by Remender, and when I saw the Syfy network will soon air a show based on it, I wanted to read at least a bit of it before it aired. Based on the first collection, I’m going to give the TV series a try (but first I’m going to read the other collections — including the 7th, which comes out this August).

San Francisco, 1987. Marcus is living on the streets after the Sunset Boys Home was closed down. It’s rough, but he prefers it, and when begging isn’t enough to get by he turns to petty crime. And he’s being watched.

During a Day of the Dead celebration, he runs afoul of a police sting, and a beautiful girl helps him escape the cops (though she also helps abduct him). It’s all good, though, because a dapper bald guy with a serious mustache wants to make him an offer: attend Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts and train to become one of the world’s greatest assassins. The girl is already a student there so, really, in what world would he say no?

Marcus enters the school with a dangerous rep (it’s not clear why for a while), and gets a lot of the wrong kind of attention from different cliques. The cops are after him, breaking the school’s rules can have serious consequences, and there’s a disfigured redneck straight out of Preacher hunting him, too. But Marcus wants to succeed because he wants revenge. He plans to kill the man he blames for his parents’ deaths: Ronald Reagan.

Death and Catses

The Family Trade written by Justin Jordon & Nikki Ryan, art by Morgan Beem. Image, 2018. 9781534305113. 144pp. Contains issues #1 – #5 of the comic book. Publisher’s Rating T / Teen

In the Atlantic Ocean there’s an artificial island called The Float, aka the Free Republic of Thessalia, a center for commerce and democracy in a world like ours but with a little more magic. Jenn Wynn’s family has always secretly done whatever was needed to keep the Float above water, including stealing and killing. At the start of the story she’s out to assassinate a corrupt politician out to seize power for himself by getting people to believe his half truths. Things don’t go well, but she’ll try again. Luckily she can pretend to be a sweet, innocent girl if needed, and she’s also got an army of “talking” cats on her side.

Beem’s illustrations are really fun, and her watercolors bring my favorite of Richard Scala’s color comics to my mind. You can see some of Beem’s comics and illustrations here

All Of Tillie Walden’s Comics Are Worth Reading

Gene: These are small press comics or graphic novels or I’m not quite sure what to call thems by Tillie Walden, who wrote Spinning last year, which I totally loved.
Sarah: I still haven’t read it.
G: For shame!
S: It’s on my list!
G: Spinning was my favorite book of 2017, and I can’t believe it wasn’t in the Top Ten of ALA’s graphic novel list, it didn’t get a Stonewall Award, it didn’t win the Printz. I can’t believe it didn’t win anything. Maybe it was that book committee members thought, well, everyone else is going to give it an award so let’s not worry about it. But I’m pissed on behalf of Tillie Walden. I think it deserved to be featured on all of those lists and more. As soon as I read it I ordered everything else she’d ever written. These were published by a press in the UK I’d never heard of called Avery Hill Publishing.
S: Is Walden British?
G: No, she’s American. And she’s quite young, in her early 20s I think, and I was told that she works so fast she did all the preliminary drawings for Spinning in like 3 months. Apparently she doesn’t pencil anything — she just draws it in ink. So she works incredibly fast. I think this is the order in which these were created. And you’re going to love them so much you’re going to go read Spinning.

I Love This Part by Tillie Walden.  Avery Hill, 2015. 9781910395172. 68pp.

This has one drawing per page, with word balloons, and it’s the story of two young teenage girls in love. The first image is them, and they’re giants in the landscape, totally out of proportion, because, I think, that’s how their love for each other makes them feel. And one of the girls is already talking about way back when she was dumb kid and used to rate everything five stars. They’re already looking at the world like they’re older, smarter, bigger.
S: They’re leaning over buildings, towering over the Grand Canyon…
G: It could be that they’re not that big. Sometimes they just look close, like they’re in the foreground. And they’re figuring out their relationship. It’s just moments in a basic layout. And it’s heartbreaking. “Can we ever tell anybody?” “Probably not.”
S: It’s gorgeous and sad.
G: Purples and blacks. Outstanding.
S: It looks great.

The End of Summer by Tillie Walden.  Avery Hill, 2016 edition. 9781910395264. 108pp.

G: This book has a note in an intro by James Sturm, who is a cartoonist and the Director of the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. This is a big oversized trade paperback. He says that in the spring of 2015, Walden was a student there. “She produced a stunning and wistful comic, an impressive achievement for anyone let alone someone so young.” And the he learned she was also doing this at the same time. (I wonder if that project was I Love This Part.) Sturm: “Cartooning is a language, and Tillie speaks it beautifully. As long as she cares to talk I’ll be listening.”
S: Nice.
G: It seems like cartooning is her language. She just writes comics, it feels like she doesn’t have to think about it or figure out the word / image balance or the flow. She makes it seem natural. Maybe this is where we are now.
S: Comics natives.
G: Right. You’ve been brought up in the golden age of kids and YA comics, and now you’re going to start making them. This is dedicated to her twin brother. It’s the story of a family. It’s science fiction. Winter is coming, and will last for three years. A family is being sealed up in a giant mansion. The narrator is Lars, who is 11, and he’s dying. He has a weak heart.
S: Look how intricate those pictures are.
G: Amazing, black and white, it looks like the best manga landscapes I’ve ever seen. So detailed.
S: You couldn’t shrink this down. It would look terrible.
G: You could but it would be a crime.
Lars has a giant cat named Nero. Like the size of a truck. And he rides the cat around. He doesn’t want his siblings to know that he’s dying. He knows he won’t see the end of winter.
Here’s a great page where he introduces his siblings. Per, his cruel brother, scrapes his teeth on his fork as he watches Lars. His sister Maja, his twin I think. There’s some abuse going on in the house. I think teens would love this — it has that quality of looking at your life as a teen. There’s so much space in the house. Per is awful. The parents seem conservative, and the family doesn’t talk about their feelings, but the kids kind of rely on each other. Maja is very pissed off. The focus shifts, but it all works.
S: It reminds me of Moebius a bit.
G: In the grand scale a bit, yeah.
This is her third book, which came out in 2016.

A City Inside by Tillie Walden. Avery Hill, 2016. 9781910395202. 56pp.

This one is about a young woman going for some therapy session, and then building a reality inside her head as somebody talks to her about where she grew up in the South and where she grew up and why she left. It’s hallucinatory because she’s living in the sky. And she meets someone, she was beautiful, she comes back to earth.
S: A really different use of space!
G: I Love This Part has more of this, you see these two people together so you love them. In this one, she goes from the narrator’s point of view to show the woman she loves. It’s more skillful than showing images of love at a remove. It’s harder to show the person the narrator loves, through her eyes, and getting readers to feel it. It’s sad, but it ends on a tremendously hopeful note.
S: That’s great. It’s so exciting when you find someone like this, and you know they’re going to get better and better.
G: Read Spinning for goodness sake. And here, borrow these from me. [ed: Gene was right, I loved Spinning.]

Bonus:
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. First Second, 2018. 534pp.  
 
This book doesn’t come out until October, but I just read my galley, and Wow! This is a long, quiet science fiction science fiction tale about two girls who fall in love at boarding school. After her love must return to her closed society, the girl tries to find her place in the universe. But she can’t forget the love of her life and so, years later, with the help of a crew that travels space restoring ruins, she undertakes the perilous journey to find her.  
 
Vague, I know. Sorry. It’s a wonderfully slow story full of fish-like spaceships and buildings in the sky featuring the best kind of family, all without a single person who uses masculine pronouns (at least as far as I remember), and it feels like over describing it all would ruin it. Set aside a single afternoon to read it this fall and you won’t be sorry.  
And, hey, this was originally a webcomic, and you can still read it here. Be quick!

Ba ba da dum!

Body Music by Julie Maroh. Translated by David Homel. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2017. 9781551526928. 300pp.  
“The daily dance of standards and stereotypes reminds us just how political the body is. The same is true of our love affairs…Bow-legged, chubby, ethnic, androgynous, trans, pierced, scarred, ill, disabled, old, hairy, outside all the usual aesthetic criteria…Queers, dykes, trans, freaks, the non-monogamous, flighty, and spiny hearts…We are not a minority; we are the alternatives. There are as many love stories as there are imaginations.”
— Julie Maroh (from her introduction)
Maroh’s book of romantic vignettes and thoughts, and the comics that illustrate them, set out to prove that. I can’t imagine a person who wouldn’t find themselves in one of these based on who they are and how their love lives have gone. (Even cisgendered, white, heterosexual old male me saw myself in several.) The stories are entertaining, and the art has a wonderful smudginess that suggests or contains subtle colors — I’ll be looking at this book again and again. (And while I like the paper version, my ebook review copy’s pages glow, and I recommend that experience.) Bonus: the drawings take me back to one of my favorite cities, Montreal. 
Maroh previously wrote and drew the beautiful Blue is the Warmest Color, the basis for the film of the same name. Both graphic novels have explicit sex, so you’ll probably end up putting this in your adult section or shelving it far above your picture books at home. 

Big Man Japan

My Love Story Volume 1 by Kazune Kawahara (story) and Aruko (art). Translated by JN Productions. English adaptation by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane. 9781421571447. Publisher’s Rating: T for Teen.

I don’t think Chris at Seattle’s Comics Dungeon has ever recommended a manga to me before, but based on his amazing booktalk he’s clearly been hand selling this series for a while. But anytime a comics guy in his 30s recommends a teen shojo title to me, I take notice — I’d probably have bought it without such a good pitch.

Takeo is one of those thick, older looking dudes in high school manga. He’s got a square head, big shoulders, and he looks intimidating. His friend Sunakawa is classically good looking (at least in a shojo manga, Korean boy band kinda way). Sunakawa always makes girls cry, but they love him. Takeo is the best guy, but they don’t ever fall for him. One day Takeo helps out a young woman, Rinko Yamato, who is being groped on a train, and he falls for her. Takeo assumes she’s fallen for Sunakawa, but she’s wrong. It’s the start of an innocent, adorable romance.

I’m reading the next few volumes as soon as I can. My local library system has 13 volumes as I write this, and I hear the anime is awesome, too.

My Little Browns Fan

Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth by by Joshua Hale Fialkov (Author), Tony Fleecs  (Illustrator), Luigi Anderson (Illustrator). One Press, 2017. 9781620104316. 176 pp.
Gene: Fialkov wrote The Life After — the book that takes place in Heaven, but it’s kind of virtual reality. I thought you liked it?
Sarah: I don’t remember it.
G: Well he’s written a bunch of stuff. Tony Fleecs used to draw My Little Pony, and David Luigi Anderson, the colorist, this is from his bio: “Luigi ran away to the heathen metropolis of Atlanta when he heard there was a way to get paid coloring inside the lines for a living. Upon his magical quest to find the cushiest job in the world he met a strange man with a large red beard who spoke to him of a comic book that featured a guy chosen to save the universe because he took a really tremendous dump.”
S: Ha!
G: That’s the pitch.
It opens up, there’s a loser, Jeff Steinberg. There’s some kind of bet that involves him, there’s a pool. We don’t know what it is. He lives with two people. He works at a video store (still). Everyone is waiting for this thing to happen. He goes to work. Then it’s time and he runs home.  He runs into the bathroom which has a sign on it: Reserved Parking Browns Fans Only.
Close on Steinberg: “Alright, asshole, lets do this.”
While he’s in there, aliens invade. Earth is going to be judged by the Intergalactic Council on Planetary Relations. If we pass we enter the brotherhood of planets, if we fail, we all die. And the aliens have a champion picker, a program that runs on WindowsME. Jeff is still in the bathroom. And then the aliens choose our champion based on the most powerful force in the universe, willpower. “Not unlike your excellent Green Lantern movie featuring Ryan Reynolds.”  From all the people all over the world it picks the person with the most willpower who happens to be Jeff, because he’s trying to force out a really difficult poo. He ends up on every TV.  (A flashback then shows why it took him 18 days, 16 hours, and 14 minutes and 30 second to have a bowel movement.)
S: Oh no! (laughing, groaning)
G: And look!
(cue gasping)
And then he’s transported to an alien ship without his pants on.
“That guy with the tiny dick has doomed us all!”
His terrible girlfriend is having an affair. A hot alien is going to teach him how to fight using a giant robot. And there’s a funny Barak Obama cameo.  This one has it all. It’s an adult book teens will love.