Our take on the latest in graphic novels: a charming chronicle of romances-gone-wrong; and a gripping murder mystery revolving around a 1930s black writer who pretends to be white

Jonathan Rivera and Nick DeStefano
(Paperback; on sale now)
What do you do if you’re creative, but have had a lifetime of getting your heart stomped on? Why, exactly what writer-illustrators Rivera (The Brickston Scooter Club) and DeStefano (the Blubber Bunch series) did: You channel all that angst, pain, and humiliation into a confessional comic book. This detailed, realistically drawn work chronicles their respective exploits (such as they were) with girls — from middle school through their post-college lives — in alternating chapters. FOR FANS OF… Love & Rockets; High Fidelity. DOES IT DELIVER? There’s a voyeuristic satisfaction in witnessing how an artist really views himself, which probably explains the popularity, of late, of graphic-novel memoirs. And who can’t relate to cringe-inducing details like the pattern on the sweater worn by the first girl to relegate Nick to ”friend” status…at the moment she delivered the blow — or the all-too-common reassurances that there’s always chance for personal growth (such as Jon’s ”epiphany” that he’ll love again after a particularly devastating breakup). In reading the tales of these two scarily familiar, sympathetically geeky characters, you know it’s unlikely the guys will get — much less, keep — the girl. Still, you can’t help but hope things will break their way for once. B+ — Abby West

Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece
(Hardcover; on sale now)
Zane Pinchback is a New York-based black writer in the ’30s who can pass as white, and as such, writes about racist wrongdoings under the rather excellent pen name Incognegro. When Pinchback’s Mississippi-dwelling, non-”passing” brother is accused of murder, the journalist heads South and sets about using his unique skill set to try and find the real culprit — while the local white folks practice their noose-making skills. FOR FANS OF… Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins novels. DOES IT DELIVER? As Johnson explains in his author’s note, the writer himself, ”grew up a black boy who looked white” and that experience clearly, richly bleeds into his writing here. Just as importantly the twist-packed Incognegro adheres, more than competently, to noir conventions, with surprises aplenty right up until the very last page. Hellraiser artist Pleece’s unflashy but effective work is presented in black and white — though whether that’s appropriate or ironic we’re not quite sure. B+ — Clark Collis