Thestar.com highlights Charles Burns and Adrian Tomine's new works as "graphic novel standouts"

“The Hive and New York Drawings among October’s graphic novel standouts” / The Star / Laura Kane / November 4, 2012

The Hive and New York Drawings among October’s graphic novel standouts
Published on Sunday November 04, 2012

October was a fantastic month for comic book fans, and a reminder that the authors we celebrate have strange, boundless imaginations. From a mutant-filled underworld called “the hive,” to quiet reflections on New York City, to literally star-crossed alien lovers, this month’s standout graphic novels explore a whole universe of possibility.

Charles Burns, The Hive

($25.95, Pantheon Books)

The celebrated Black Hole author returns with another surreal, nightmarish trip down the rabbit hole in The Hive, the second book of a trilogy that began with 2010’s X’ed Out.

We follow Doug, an aspiring performance artist with a head injury, through several flowing, disorienting narratives. In one narrative, he recalls his relationship with ex-girlfriend Sarah, hinting at a traumatic incident; in another, he lives in an eerie netherworld populated by mutants. There, he delivers comic books to female “breeders” in a facility called “the hive.”

Burns references Tintin with his drawing style, but while Hergé’s books were innocent and plot-driven, The Hive is dark, puzzling and deeply unsettling. With this engrossing graphic novel, Burns proves he is the master of creating a terrible sense of dread while not quite letting readers in on any secrets.

Adrian Tomine, New York Drawings

($29.95, Drawn and Quarterly)

Adrian Tomine opens New York Drawings with a three-page comic about his first time hobnobbing at a New Yorker party. Overwhelmed by sightings of Steve Martin and Philip Roth, he avoids making small talk by asking guests for directions to the coat check.

His awkward interactions belie his incredible ability to capture humans on the page. This book is primarily a collection of his funny, evocative, character-driven art for theNew Yorker from 1999 to 2012, but it reads like a love letter to the Big Apple. Interesting odds and ends are thrown in, including his 2004 “New York Sketches,” when he spent much of his early days in New York drawing strangers sitting on the D train or standing on street corners.

New York Drawings is a worthy read for fans of Tomine’s work or anyone who just wants to marvel at the power of a simple pen and ink.

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