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February 16, 2019

Atomic Books Comics Preview - February 16, 2019

In the weekly Atomic Books Comics Preview, Benn Ray highlights notable new comics, graphic novels, and books.

Benn Ray is the owner of Atomic Books, an independent bookstore in Baltimore. He also runs the Mutant Funnies Tumblr.

Atomic Books has been named one of BuzzFeed's Great American Bookstores, as well as one of Flavorwire's 10 greatest comic and graphic novel stores in America.

Cinema Sewer #32

Cinema Sewer #32
by Robin Bougie

As Cinema Sewer hits its 32nd issue, I couldn't help but feel amazed that Robin Bougie has not only managed to keep Cinema Sewer going in a cultural environment mistakenly predisposed to not appreciate it, but he still manages to turn out a zine that, upon opening it, compels me to read it from cover to cover. And it's with distress that the first words I read is Bougie sounding the alarm that this issue marks his zine's lowest print run in 18 years. And after reading the very next story on Dorothy Stratten, a heart-wrenching Hollywood tale that I had all but forgotten about, it just serves to underline what a tragedy it would be for fans of sleazy cinema to lose this gem of a publication. Robin's Cinema Sewer presents us with stories of actors, actresses and movies that most other "serious" film publications consider too trashy or too lowbrow to consider - but that doesn't make the stories any less important or any less compelling. This issue features articles on actress Moana Pozzi, the movie Rattlers, "Sultry Celebrity Gossip", Billy Wilder's Kiss Me Stupid, Argentinian cult actress Isabel Sarli, journalist R. Allen Leider, and a lot more. Get turned on - check out Cinema Sewer. Oh yeah, this is an "adults only" publication.

Jungle Girls

Jungle Girls
edited by Mitch Maglio / Craig Yoe

This collection of Pre-Code "Jungle Girl" comics is, by no means, easy. First, there is the obvious postcolonial problem of narratives focusing on white people ruling in the jungle (y'know, like Tarzan). Then, of course, there's the fact that these comics, created in the 1940s-1950s, were of a time when there was little regard to racial sensitivity (I'm putting it mildly here). Then, there's the sexism and objectification inherent in characters like Sheena Queen Of The Jungle (sure they could provide empowering heroic women for girls to idolize, but the reality of these publications is that scantily clad, anatomically impossible characters were being used to help sex to sell issues). But, at the same time, Sheena was the first female character to get her own comic book title and her own TV show. So do we ignore them, banishing them to the dustbin of history? Jungle Girls says, "No. That would be a mistake." And the book, while providing a good number of examples of jungle girls comics and covers, also provides about 24 pages of introduction in the form of five different essays - each adding context, history and significance to why such a collection is necessary.

Eugene V. Debs: A Graphic Biography

Eugene V. Debs: A Graphic Biography
by Paul Buhle / Steve Max / Noah Van Sciver

Buhle and Van Sciver follow up their lush and gorgeous biography of American radical Johnny Appleseed with a timely biography of Eugene V. Debs. Unlike Appleseed, who most Americans have heard of (albeit a most likely fictionalized folktale version), Debs is an important American historical figure that is intentionally excluded from our school history books. This makes Eugene V. Debs such a necessary book. Debs was a labor leader, a socialist, a war protester, and a former presidential candidate. Debs was part of a growing rise in popularity of socialism in America about 100 years ago. Given the current rise, again, of the popularity of socialism in America, Buhle's story of Eugene V. Debs adds some much needed historical context and Van Sciver's fantastic linework makes it too appealing to not read, regardless of your political persuasion.

Mister Miracle

Mister Miracle
by Tom King / Mitch Gerads

Mister Miracle is easily the best superhero comic of the year. This is one of those superhero books geared for a serious, adult audience. One of the things about DC Comics is that is has so many great 2nd and 3rd string characters that are just sitting there, waiting for a great character-defining story (Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Doctor Fate, The Spectre, etc.) - something ambitious, something grown up, something big, something important, something next level, something like what King and Gerads deliver here with Mister Miracle. This Jack Kirby-created Fourth World character is a famous escape artist struggling on Earth until he comes up with his greatest trick of all - escaping death. Meanwhile, he's also caught up in a war between New Genesis and Apokolips, his two homeworlds. And to top it all off, his adoptive father Darkseid may have just gotten his hands on the universe-ending Anti-Life Equation. King's writing is miraculous (geddit?) - adding humanity and personality to characters long in need of fleshing out, and Gerads art matches King's excellent story with an abundance of exquisite 9-panel grids occasionally interrupted - for solid narrative reasons - by variations. Mister Miracle will go into the pantheon of DC's great superhero graphic novels.

Atomic Books & Benn Ray links:

Atomic Books website
Atomic Books on Twitter
Atomic Books on Facebook
Benn Ray's blog (The Mobtown Shank)
Benn Ray's comic, Mutant Funnies

also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

other Atomic Books Comics Preview lists (weekly new comics & graphic novel highlights)

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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