ONWARD TOWARDS OUR NOBLE DEATHS and PAYING FOR IT named some of the summer's hottest graphic novels

“Hottest Graphic Novels - Summe 2011” / Graphic Novel Reporter / Graphic Novel Reporter / June 2, 2011

Shigeru Mizuki is the preeminent figure of Gekiga manga and one of the most famous working cartoonists in Japan today--a true living legend. Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths is his first book to be translated into English and is a semiautobiographical account of the desperate final weeks of a Japanese infantry unit at the end of World War II. The soldiers are told that they must go into battle and die for the honor of their country, with certain execution facing them if they return alive. Mizuki was a soldier himself (he was severely injured and lost an arm) and uses his experiences to convey the devastating consequences and moral depravity of the war.

Chester Brown has never shied away from tackling controversial subjects in his work. In his 1992 book, The Playboy, he explored his personal history with pornography. His bestselling 2003 graphic novel, Louis Riel, was a biographical examination of an extreme political figure. The book won wide acclaim and cemented Brown's reputation as a true innovator. Paying for It is a natural progression for Brown as it combines the personal and sexual aspects of his autobiographical work with the polemical drive of Louis Riel. Brown calmly lays out the facts of how he became not only a willing participant in but a vocal proponent of one of the world's most hot-button topics--prostitution. While this may appear overly sensational and just plain implausible to some, Brown's story stands for itself. Paying for It offers an entirely contemporary exploration of sex work--from the timid john who rides his bike to his escorts, wonders how to tip so as not to offend, and reads Dan Savage for advice, to the modern-day transactions complete with online reviews, seemingly willing participants, and clean apartments devoid of cliched street corners, drugs, or pimps.

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