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Entertainment Weekly

Books

Top Shelf previews its 2018 graphic novel slate

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Top Shelf Productions (5)

19 titles to look forward to

A new year brings the promise of great new graphic novels, and Top Shelf has a slate of books we’re particularly excited about. The offerings include a major solo graphic novel from National Book Award winner Nate Powell, the first collection of memoir comics by an out transgender cartoonist, and Book Two of the ferociously popular “social justice superhero” webcomic Strong Female Protagonist. Read on for more, with commentary provided by Top Shelf editor-in-chief Chris Staros and marketing director Leigh Walton.
Top Shelf Productions

 I Am a Number, by Rian Hughes

“One of the most acclaimed visual thinkers to work in the comics industry (he’s designed logos for Batman, Captain America, The Invisibles, The Spirit, Bitch Planet, Forbidden Planet, Valiant, and a thousand more clients large and small), Rian Hughes has been doing brilliant work for decades — but this is actually his first ever solo book of comics! A gorgeous, witty, and charming collection of short silent strips poking fun at our obsession with status and rankings.” (Order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

The Three Rooms in Valerie’s Head, by David Gaffney and Dan Berry

“David is one of the stars of the U.K. ‘microfiction’ writing scene, and Dan is a super-expressive cartoonist who also hosts the podcast Make It Then Tell Everybody. Together they present Valerie, a quirky young woman who’s trying to understand her string of failed relationships with flawed men — by dragging out their imaginary dead bodies for a chat. It’s bizarre, hilarious, painfully insightful, and very, very Top Shelf.” (Order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Cat ’n’ Bat, by Sashko Danylenko

“Another collection of wordless comedy strips, this time from a debut cartoonist from Ukraine. It stars two iconic idiots who watch television and get inspired to go on all sorts of ill-advised adventures. Shannon Wheeler (Too Much Coffee Man, Sh*t My President Says) put it best in his cover blurb: ‘Cat and Bat are full of bad ideas, but buying this book is a good one.’” (Pre-order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Ward’s Valley, by Bobby Curnow and Brenda Hickey

“This is a terrific fantasy for younger readers as well as those of us old enough to remember ElfQuest, Redwall, or David the Gnome. Ward just wants his gossipy animal neighbors to leave him alone — but when invading humans and muck-trolls are threatening the whole valley, can he learn to face his fears and become a leader? There’s great dialogue, lovable characters, and a real edge-of-your-seat adventure, while Brenda Hickey’s lively artwork really makes it sing.” (Pre-order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Mechaboys, by James Kochalka

“Award-winning indie superstar Kochalka has been doing anarchic kids comics like Johnny Boo and Glorkian Warrior for the last few years, so I’m thrilled for this new direction. Mechaboys is a high school comedy for a new age, in which dirtbag teens are more ‘woke’ than ever before, but still as awkward, horny, and hilarious as teens have always been, as is their right and sacred duty. But did I mention these guys have a mecha suit? It’s Superbad meets Iron Man, and you won’t believe the ending.” (Pre-order here.) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Gumballs, by Erin Nations

“We actually launched Gumballs as a comic book series (very unusual for Top Shelf), and it’s racked up glowing reviews and word-of-mouth love for its unpretentious, wide-ranging take on humanity. A lot of Erin’s comics are autobiographical — he’s not only transgender, he’s part of a set of triplets — so readers will love his firsthand take on issues like single-gender bathrooms and childhood birthday presents. But they’re also interspersed with whimsical character studies and workaday observations, forming a well-rounded portrait of a fascinating creative mind.” (Pre-order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Cloud Hotel, by Julian Hanshaw

“Julian’s early work racked up hefty acclaim in his native U.K., and his last book, Tim Ginger, was an L.A. Times Book Prize finalist. Like other Top Shelf authors such as Jeff Lemire and Nate Powell, he creates quiet, complex characters and then slowly takes them apart until we truly see, and know, and love the humanity inside. Cloud Hotel is a haunting, dreamlike graphic novel about crossing over to a better place — and crossing back. You might call it Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Beetlejuice, or Twin Peaks if David Lynch were a British UFO hunter.” (Pre-order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

The Jekyll Island Chronicles (Book 2): A Devil’s Reach, written by Steve Nedvidek, Ed Crowell, and Jack Lowe; drawn by Moses Nester; colored by S. J. Miller

“In their first volume, the Jekyll Island Chronicles team spun a fascinating alternate history, as real-life captains of industry and invention (Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford) have joined President Woodrow Wilson in recruiting a team of technologically advanced heroes to battle an anarchist cult. In Book 2, they’ll need all the help they can get to stop Nikola Tesla’s deadliest weapon from falling into the wrong hands.” (Pre-order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Coin-Op Comics Anthology, by Peter and Maria Hoey

“Brother-sister duo Peter and Maria Hoey are visual geniuses, and their micro-press Coin-Op series has always featured jaw-dropping work — called by critics ‘the most wonderful new comic series you haven’t heard about yet.’ Now, we’re grateful for the opportunity to gather their two decades of innovation into a single giant hardcover, tastefully retro and relentlessly futuristic.” (Pre-order here.) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Johnny Boo (Book 8): Johnny Boo and the Ice Cream Computer, by James Kochalka

“Kochalka’s brain is one of our great national treasures — it’s like he was bitten by a radioactive kindergartener and gained all the powers of a 5-year-old combined with a mature cartoonist. The Johnny Boo series is the perfect venue for his limitless imagination and wonder-filled worldview. As always, Johnny Boo (the best little ghost in the world) and Squiggle (his pet ghost) are horsing around in the backyard — but by the end of the story there’s computers, clones, ice cream, and the return of an old antagonist … unless the whole thing was a dream?” (Pre-order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Vol III): Century (softcover edition), by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

“One of the milestones in Top Shelf history was our relaunch of the League, following their first few adventures at DC Comics with a head-spinning journey through the 20th century that won awards, landed on the New York Times best-seller list, and had critics reconsidering LOEG as ‘one of the greatest comics of all time.’ Now that saga — as Dracula survivor Mina Murray, big-game hunter Allan Quatermain, genderfluid immortal Orlando, and the rest pursue an apocalyptic conspiracy from 1910 to 1969 and 2009 — comes to paperback, just in time for our next entry …” — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Vol IV): The Tempest #1, by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

“We were as stunned as anyone when Alan and Kevin told us this would be their last project in comics — but we’re honored to see them out with a bang. These extraordinary creators are picking up right where Century left off and pulling together all the threads laid down in past volumes to weave a new tapestry. I’m pleased to report that this six-issue miniseries is packed with accessible charm for new readers, while hardcore fans will find endlessly rewarding connections. Keep an eye out for U.K. superteam the Seven Stars (which may bring back memories of Watchmen and Miracleman) and subtle reflections on the role of the deathless 1960s in our postmodern pop landscape.” — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Look Back and Laugh, by Liz Prince

“You may remember Liz Prince from her debut couples comedy Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? or her young-adult memoir Tomboy; now she returns with her biggest book yet. It’s a full year of autobiographical comics, capturing the most intense year of her life: getting married, buying a house, moving across state lines, and much more. Good thing there are plenty of cat hijinks to keep her sane!” (Pre-order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Strong Female Protagonist (Book Two), by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag

SFP has had a rabid following for years, as one of the smartest webcomics on the internet — their fans launched two Kickstarter book projects to massive success, and we’re very pleased to help Brennan and Molly bring their work to wide distribution. Their main character, former-superhero-turned-college-student Alison Green, just gets more interesting with each chapter, as the world around her poses more and more complicated questions of justice, power, and heroism. Molly Ostertag’s recent graphic novel The Witch Boy has been a smash hit, and we can’t wait for her new fans to discover SFP as well.” (Pre-order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Come Again, by Nate Powell

“After breaking every record with the mega-award-winning, mega-best-selling civil rights trilogy March (with John Lewis and Andrew Aydin), Nate Powell returns to the spooky, unforgettable character studies that made his initial reputation with books like Swallow Me Whole and Any Empire. This one’s not for kids — it goes to some pretty dark places — but it’s dripping with passion and I can’t wait to see how it will resonate with readers. Nate has created a new sort of folk tale set in the Arkansas mountains, about youthful dreams, adult realities, parenthood, secrets, and the struggle to shake a community out of apathy.” (Pre-order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Lost Girls (expanded edition), by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie

Lost Girls is a genuine landmark in the history of comics — the most ambitious XXX graphic novel ever made, the equivalent of Watchmen for erotic literature, and a New York Times best-seller to boot. As Wendy (Peter Pan), Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz), and Alice (Alice in Wonderland) meet in adulthood and get to know each other intimately, Lost Girls is a powerful celebration of telling your own story, reclaiming past traumas, and choosing love over fear. For this new edition, the authors have added a 32-page bonus section!” — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

His Dream of the Skyland: The Walled City Trilogy (Book One), by Anne Opotowsky and Aya Morton

“A huge, sprawling graphic novel — and I don’t just mean physically (at 8x10 inches and more than 300 pages, it’s a lot of book). The plot follows three teenage friends as they set out, each in their own way, to seek their fortune in the bewildering international metropolis of 1920s Hong Kong. Morton’s expressively colorful artwork will leave your head spinning and your heart aching, while Emmy-winning writer Opotowsky juggles a multilayered epic plot with memorable characters and real historical roots.” (Pre-order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Bodycount, by Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley

“Two of the baddest dudes to ever appear in comics, drawn by two of the baddest dudes to ever MAKE comics! TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman and wild man Simon Bisley (Lobo, Judge Dredd) originally sent Raphael and Casey Jones on this over-the-top buddy-thriller back in the 1990s, but it’s been long out of print. Now, a dozen years later, they revisit their dark and explosive team-up, complete with a brand-new painted cover.” (Pre-order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions

Girl Town, by Carolyn Nowak

“In the last few years, Carolyn Nowak has emerged as one of the brightest rising stars of the indie/literary comics scene, winning back-to-back Ignatz Awards for her short comics ‘Radishes’ and ‘Diana’s Electric Tongue.’ Both of those brilliant, heartbreaking stories are collected here, along with several other pieces old and new — featuring all kinds of young women battling to define themselves and to find connection with others. Carolyn, who has drawn several Lumberjanes story arcs, is also creating a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics/prose book as well, so get ready to say you knew her when. After reading Girl Town, you’ll probably agree that she knows you too.” (Pre-order here) — Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
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