Graphic Mundi, the graphic novel imprint of Penn State University Press, has announced four new graphic novels they’ll publish later this year.
The line-up includes a third Hakim’s Odyssey book from Fabien Toulmé (who was nominated for an Eisner earlier today), plus new works by Catherine Pioli, Kathleen Founds and Maureen Burdock.
The Graphic Mundi imprint, which was announced at the end of 2020, spun out of PSU Press’s Graphic Medicine line. But it’s featuring graphic novels on a broader set of topics, including health and human rights, politics, the environment, science and technology. And despite only being around for a short time, they’ve already picked up two Eisner nominations.
Here’s a rundown of the four new books:
Hakim’s Odyssey Book 3: From Macedonia to France
by Fabien Toulmé and translated by Hannah Chute (October)
The end of a journey, the beginning of a new life.
—I’m Syrian, and I got here from Turkey.
—Whoaaa! That’s a hell of a trip!
—You could say that . . . I left home almost three years ago.
After being rescued from the Mediterranean, Hakim and his son reach European soil, full of hope. But before they can get to France, they face a new series of challenges: overcrowded detention centers, run-ins with border police, and a persistent xenophobia that seems to follow them almost everywhere they go. Will Hakim’s determination and the kindness of strangers be enough to carry him to the end of his journey and reunite his family?
By turns heart-warming and heart-wrenching, this final installment in the Hakim’s Odyssey trilogy follows Hakim and his son as they make their way from Macedonia to the south of France. Based on true events, it lays bare the tremendous effects that the policies of wealthy countries and the attitudes of their people have on the lives of the displaced and dispossessed.
Queen of Snails: A Graphic Memoir
by Maureen Burdock (November)
Uprooted from her childhood in Germany and set adrift in the American Midwest, Maureen was raised by a kind but neglectful mother who loved Jesus more than her own child and a stern, disinterested grandmother who waxed nostalgic about Nazi Germany. Growing up queer and isolated, Maureen often felt unmoored and unloved.
Years later, Maureen reflects upon her complicated past. Queen of Snails follows Maureen through time and memory in her quest to untangle the trauma passed down to her over three generations of women. Part memoir and part family history, Queen of Snails is a beautifully drawn, powerful story that examines and transmutes the emotional baggage of violence, abandonment, and displacement.
Bipolar Bear and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Health Insurance
by Kathleen Founds (November)
Theodore is a bear with wild mood swings. When he is up, he carves epic poetry into tree trunks. When he is down, he paints sad faces on rocks and turtle shells. In search of prescription medications that will bring stability to his life, Theodore finds a job with health insurance benefits. He gets the meds, but when he can’t pay the psychiatrist’s bill, he becomes lost in the Labyrinth of Health Insurance Claims.
This witty and colorful tale follows the comical exploits of Theodore, a loveable and relatable bear, as he copes with bipolar disorder, navigates the inequities of capitalist society, founds a commune, and becomes an activist, all the while accompanied by a memorable cast of characters—fat-cat insurance CEOs, a wrongfully convicted snake, raccoons with tommy guns, and an unemployed old dog who cannot learn new tricks.
Entertaining, whimsical, and bitingly satirical, Bipolar Bear is a fable for grownups that manages the delicate balance of addressing society’s ills while simultaneously presenting a hopeful vision for the world.
Down to the Bone: A Leukemia Story
by Catherine Pioli and translated by J.T. Mahany (December)
When Catherine is diagnosed with acute leukemia, a deadly form of cancer that attacks the immune system, her life is turned upside down. Young and previously healthy, she now finds herself catapulted into the world of the seriously ill—constantly testing and waiting for results, undergoing endless medical treatments, learning to accept a changing body, communicating with a medical team, and relying on the support of her partner, family, and friends.
A professional illustrator, Catherine decides to tell the story of her disease in this graphic novel, and she does so with great sincerity, humor, and rare lucidity. We accompany her through the waiting, the doubts, the fears, and the tears—but also the laughter, the love, and the strong will to live.
Rich in emotion, lighthearted, and profound, Down to the Bone is a powerful book.