A 2005 Special from the editors of KIRKUS REVIEWS

Kirkus Reviews    |    Kirkus Staff    |    September 8, 2005

A Canadian native and inhabitant of France for the last decade, graphic novelist Guy Delisle has just published his first work in English, the story of the two months he spent working on an animation series in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kirkus called it “brilliant, passionately rendered reportage” with “no ideological axe to grind,” a pretty tough feat, given the grimly surreal Orwellian nightmare that Delisle encountered. Delisle’s knack for highlighting the peculiar details of everyday life in the somnolent capital city—the extravagant impracticality of the luxurious subway stations, cities without nighttime lights, the empty restaurants serving nothing, Kim Jong Il’s childlike visage beaming down from every possible surface—is balanced by a warm affection for his Korean guides and coworkers. Delisle renders the brutal realities of living (even temporarily) under this repressive dictatorship with a keen sense of humor, which, as comics journalist
Sean T. Collins points out, means the reader “can’t help but be moved that he’s one of the few people in the country who has the luxury of laughing.”

War’s End: Profiles From Bosnia
1995-96 by Joe Sacco
June 2005 / ISBN: 1896597920

While other writers were redefining the genre by exploring interior landscapes or bringing new soul to old action archetypes, Sacco was practically creating the sub-genre of graphic journalism with his paradigm-busting nonfiction warzone books Safe Area Gorazde and Palestine. Drawn & Quarterly publisher Chris Oliveros says that not only is Sacco the only person “doing this kind of work in graphic form,” but he also “brings an intimacy to the subjects that may otherwise be lacking in other mediums.” In War’s End, Sacco adapts a pair of stories from his reporting on the Bosnian conflict that didn’t fit into Gorazde and uses them as an extended coda to that sad and vicious work. In “Soba,” Sacco is led through the post-apocalyptic party that is Sarajevo after the war by a veteran soldier turned underground rock god, while “Christmas with Karadzic” follows Sacco and two other journalists racing to cover the infamous war criminal going to church, expecting a meeting with the devil himself and finding only anti-climatic banality. As Kirkus noted, “This is not a book about war, but rather about how people live with themselves in what passes for the peace that follows.”

The Push Man and Other
Stories by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Edited, designed, and with an introduction by Adrian Tomine
September 2005
ISBN: 1896597858

After suffering more than four decades of obscurity among North American audiences, Tatsumi is destined to become one of the better-known icons of alternative comics on this side of the Pacific. The Push Man, edited and designed by acclaimed American cartoonist Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve), is the first of a promised series of annual volumes that will chronicle the sometimes-sinister, sometimes-teamy, sometimes-comical work of one of Japan’s underground comics pioneers. This first volume, featuring stories originally published in 1969, reveals Tatsumi doing what he does best: examining what Tomine describes as “faces in a crowd, seemingly plucked at random and then examined down to their darkest, most private moments.” Readers might be surprised to find elements of manga enmeshed in Tatsumi’s noir sensibility. “Manga has been written off as trite ’tween reading,” says Logan Bay, of Quimby’s Comic Emporium in Chicago. “This is the kind of comic that will bring Japanese graphic novels out of the fan boy slums.” According to Drawn & Quarterly publicist Peggy Burns, “The Push
Man presents Japanese cartooning on an adult, literary level alongside North American masters such as the Hernandez Brothers, Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware.”

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