Drawn and Quarterly’s Winter 2023 catalog includes six new graphic novels and two reprints, from such creators as Yoshiharu Tsuge, Leslie Stein, Barbara Brandon-Croft, Aisha Franz and more.
Here’s a look at what’s in stores for January through April of next year, which should make for some good reading material in those cold months:
Where I’m Coming From by Barbara Brandon-Croft
Few Black cartoonists have ever entered national syndication, and before Barbara Brandon-Croft, none of them were women. From 1989 to 2005, Brandon-Croft brought Black women’s perspectives to an international audience with her trailblazing comic strip Where I’m Coming From.
Brandon-Croft appraises popular opinion through nine distinct women in constant dialogue. From diets to daycare to debt to the dreaded microaggressions of everyday racism, no issue is off-limits. This remarkable and unapologetically funny career retrospective holds a mirror up to the ways society has changed and all the ways it hasn’t. The magic in Where I’m Coming From is its ability to impress an honest image of Black life without sacrificing Black joy, bolstered by unexpected one-liners eliciting much-needed laughter.
As the daughter of mid-century cartoonist Brumsic Brandon Jr., creator of the second nationally syndicated strip to feature a Black lead, Luther, Brandon-Croft learned from the best. With supplementary writing by the author and her peers alongside throwback ephemera, this long-overdue collection situates Brandon-Croft as an inimitable cartoonist, humorist, and social commentator, securing her place in the comics canon and allowing her work to inspire new readers at a time when it is most needed.
Nejishiki by Yoshiharu Tsuge
Nejishiki unveils the most iconic scenes from Yoshiharu Tsuge’s highly respected body of work alongside his most beloved stories. A cornerstone of Japan’s legendary 1960s counterculture that galvanized avant-garde manga and comics criticism, the title story follows an injured young man as he wanders through a village of strangers in search of emotional and physical release. Other stories in this collection follow a series of weary travelers who while away sultry nights and face menacing doppelgangers. Even banal activities like afternoon strolls uncover unsavory impulses. The emotionally and erotically charged imagery collected in this third volume remains as shocking and vivid today as it did upon its debut fifty years ago.
Tsuge’s stories push boundaries, abruptly crossing the threshold of conventional storytelling. Unassuming protagonists venture further into eerie symbolism against a shadowy, perceptibly dreamlike landscape easily mistaken for the real world. The angst that pervades postwar Japanese society threatens to devour his characters and their pastoral sensibilities as each protagonist’s wanderlust turns surreal.
Nejishiki is translated from the Japanese by Ryan Holmberg.
Brooklyn’s Last Secret by Leslie Stein
Welcome aboard the tour van of Major Threat—Brooklyn’s finest rock band yet to catch a break—as they traverse the US of A on a last-ditch summer festival tour. On drums we’ve got “band dad” Ed, the stoic drummer who keeps bumping into tech bro co-workers that he can’t quite relate to. On bass, there’s Paul, a man of mostly mystery, who drinks hard and yet manages to glide through life, intelligible to no one except energy-drink guzzling Marco, the baby of the band and newest replacement lead singer. And of course there’s the gentle and serene Lilith, a weed lollipop sucking, stuffed-animal backpack wearing guitarist healing from heartbreak.
There’s sex, drugs, and rock n roll, sure, but there’s also tender moments as the motley crew take turns behind the wheel, compiling lists of the hottest hunks and best guitar riffs to pass the miles. From tour fashion to breakdowns—mechanical and emotional—Leslie Stein holds no bars in this incredibly funny and heartfelt love-letter meets parody of life on the road.
Her first full-length fiction, Brooklyn’s Last Secret expertly showcases Stein’s trademark cocktail of charm, wit, and whimsey, leaving readers decidedly affected by their time spent in her world. With her smoothest line and most stunning watercolor washes to date, Brooklyn’s Last Secret reveals a lighter, more humorous tone from the LA Times Book Prize winning cartoonist.
Work-Life Balance by Aisha Franz
To achieve the proper work-life balance perhaps we just need the right therapist to coach us through our day-to-day. Anita, Sandra, and Dex have ambitions. Anita wants to move from making utility ceramics to fine art sculpture but her pent up dissatisfaction results in an outburst that puts her studio mate’s work at risk. Sandra juggles her practical administrative day job at a startup with her wellness influencer channel, finding both in jeopardy when a messy affair with her coworker comes to light. In another corner of the same startup, Dex’s innovative ideas are rejected, leading him to spend his days hacking and working as a bike courier. All three are disillusioned with their daily grinds. As the pressure for self-improvement builds they all end up looking to the same therapist for answers.
Soon the boundaries between work and life begin to bleed into each other and it becomes increasingly impossible to find balance. All the solace the characters expect their therapist to provide is obscured by her quirks, whims, and psycho-parlance, leading to sessions that are neglectful at best and actively inhibit growth at worst. In striking colors and trippy transformational sequences, Aisha Franz captures the comedic absurdity of contemporary work-life and wellness culture.
Work Life Balance is translated from the German by Nicholas Houde.
Harvey Knight’s Odyssey by Nick Maandag
Solarism is a religion that acknowledges there is a balance of light and dark in the Universe. But while solarists believe it is possible to achieve a state of Pure Light by exposing themselves to the rays of the sun (or tanning beds on cloudy days), the Forces of Dark conspire against them and send hooded Shadow Men to eliminate the Light. Subsequently, Solarists must kill these Shadow Men. It’s the only way. When a thief infiltrates the sacred chambers of the Solarists, Assistant-to-the-Master Harvey Knight must test the strength of his beliefs in order to restore order. Or maybe he’s plotting to overthrow the leader and make the religion his own. Either way, it’s an odyssey.
Nick Maandag has been making bone-dry and hilarious comics for years, exploring the ridiculousness of human vanity and beliefs. He approaches each comic with the understanding that we are all desperate to be seen and find the most outrageous ways to make that happen. Few cartoonists elicit belly laughs the way Nick does.
Why Don’t You Love Me? by Paul B. Rainey
Claire and Mark are in the doldrums of an unhappy marriage. She doesn’t get out of her bathrobe and chain-smokes while slumped on the couch. Mark has lost track of the days and can’t get the kids to school on time. They’ve lost interest in family and order-in pizza and chinese food every night. Mark sleeps on the couch and has trouble remembering his son’s name. He feels like a fraud at work but somehow succeeds. Claire stalks an ex-boyfriend. How could he have left her to this life?
Claire and Mark are both plagued by the idea that this is all a dream. Didn’t they have different lives? When reports of an imminent nuclear war come on the radio, the truth begins to dawn on them: this is not the life they chose.
Why Don’t You Love Me? is a pitch-black comedy about marriage, alcoholism, depression, and mourning lost opportunities. Paul B. Rainey has created a hilariously terrifying alternate reality where confusion and pain might lead people to make bad choices but also eventually freedom…maybe.
We Are On Our Own (paperback) by Miriam Katin
With the heart-rending We Are On Our Own, Miriam Katin recounts the story of her escape from Germany-occupied Hungary as a child led by her determined mother. The two fled Budapest near the end of WWII and at the age of sixty-three Katin enshrined her memory in these extraordinary pages, originally published in hardcover over fifteen years ago.
In 1944, Miriam is a toddler beloved by her dog Rexy, but when her mother is forced to give up their “Jewish dog” to the German authorities, Miriam’s world begins to unravel. The two flee to the countryside after faking their deaths and traversing lands blanketed with snow. Miriam’s fragmented childhood memories of forests, chocolate, strange men, and the noise of war are reconstituted in this beautifully told, epic journey wherein the innocence of a child is set against unthinkable violence.
Another crisis, one of faith, haunts the severed family on their path. Struggling to reunite with Miriam’s father conscripted to the Hungarian army, mother and daughter contemplate God, wondering how He could allow such destruction. Poetic words of the Torah combine with images of war as the author examines the theological dilemma plaguing both victims and survivors of the Shoah. When Miriam and her mother hide with a winemaker, they soothe their nerves with the tonic, reciting “God is red. God is in the glass.” God, they understand, is in the very human will to survive, and in that pursuit of survival, we are truly on our own.
Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki
The very first Drawn and Quarterly Kitaro collection, now back in print with a lush new cover.
Kitaro seems just like any other boy. Of course, he isn’t—what with his one eye, his jet-powered geta sandals, and the fact that he can shapeshift like a chameleon. It’s all a part of being a 350 year-old yokai, a Japanese spirit monster. Against a backdrop of photorealistic landscapes, Kitaro and his otherworldly cartoon friends plunge into the depths of the Pacific Ocean and forge the oft-unseen wilds of Japan’s countryside. The twelve stories in this special collection include more works published in the golden age of GeGeGe no Kitaro between 1967 and 1969. It is a must-have for Kitaro’s most devoted fans and features one of the earliest monster vs. giant-robot battles seen in print. In another very special episode, our titular good guy even battles vampires, werewolves, and witches alongside creepy compatriots and occasional foes.
Kitaro, as seen on TV and played in video games, is now a cultural touchstone for several generations whose importance cannot be overstated. This updated and newly released edition is a wonderful companion to the classic all-ages Kitaro series that blends the eerie with the comic. Eisner-award winner Shigeru Mizuki’s offbeat sense of humor and genius for the macabre make for a delightful, lighthearted romp where bad guys always get what’s coming to them.
Kitaro is translated from the Japanese by Jocelyne Allen.