LAST year the Man Booker long list, this year the British Museum. In May the country’s principal cultural institution mounts the largest ever exhibition staged outside Japan on manga, the Japanese form of comics. Taking in everything from the work of 18th-century Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai to Pokémon, cosplay and anime, it promises to be a wide-ranging look at the politics, history and aesthetics of manga, touching on everything from Hiroshima to homosexuality.
It’s also another sign of the increasing cultural reach and acceptance of comics as an art form, one that comes hard on the heels of the long listing of Nick Drsnao’s dark, disturbing graphic novel Sabrina for the Man Booker Prize in 2018.
Next month American cartoonist Peter Bagge returns with the latest in his comic book biopics of feminist pioneers. After books on African-American anthropologist and author Zola Neale Hurston and pioneer birth control activist Margaret Sanger, Bagge’s latest book Credo (Drawn & Quarterly) tells the story of Rose Wilder Lane, war correspondent, libertarian and daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie. Wilder Lane was one of her mother’s major champions. Bagge approaches her story with his trademark rubbery style and a spiky wit.
We can also expect new books from Michael Deforge (Leaving Richard’s Valley, published by Drawn & Quarterly).
Canadian cartoonist Seth has been working on his strip Clyde Fans for 20 years now with regular chapters appearing in his ongoing comic Palookaville. March finally sees them all gathered together (it is the best part of 500 pages) in a single hardback collection by Drawn & Quarterly.
The story of two brothers in the air conditioning industry in post-war Toronto, Clyde Fans is typically Sethian in its mixture of bittersweet nostalgia and his gimlet-eyed account of human dysfunction. The art, as ever, is sublime. Melancholy has never looked so beautiful.