Pen and ink lives. Despite the proliferation of Vine videos and Instagram, the hand-drawn image has lasted into the digital age, giving rise to that flower of the comic art world: the graphic book.
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Top Shelf publications
In addition to “Blankets,” some of Top Shelf’s biggest titles include graphic novel master Alan Moore’s “From Hell,” a Jack the Ripper tale made into a movie starring Johnny Depp, and a volume of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” a Victorian sci-fi romp. Another best-seller is “Goodbye, Chunky Rice,” by Craig Thompson. This year’s crop of books includes:
“A Matter of Life,” by Jeffrey Brown. A gentle, autobiographical meditation on Brown’s relationship with his minister father and toddler son. (Brown, a Chicago resident, is also reponsible for the hilarious “Darth Vader and Son” and “Vader’s Little Princess,” for Chronicle Books.) Brown praises the increasingly serious topics that graphic novels approach, such as Eddie Campbell’s “The Lovely Horrible Stuff,” a personalized history of money that Top Shelf put out last year. “It’s almost like a New Yorker essay in the form of a comic book, in terms of the tone and the information you’re getting,” said Brown.
“God is Disappointed in You,” written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Shannon Wheeler. An irreverent take on the Bible in which each book is condensed to a page or two. Russell of Portland, Ore., grew up Pentecostal, but says writing the book was a revelation: “I didn’t realize how deep and weird and much more fulfilling the Bible is than it was taught to me.” The leatherette cover, rounded corners and red bookmark complete the package. Sample line: Paul begins his letter to the Galatians upbraiding them for straying from his instructions, saying “I can’t believe my freakin’ ears. I leave you alone for one minute and already you’ve abandoned everything I’ve taught you…”
“March,” written by U.S. Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell. The story of Lewis’ experiences in the civil rights movement. “John Lewis is the genuine article, he’s the real deal,” said Powell.
For information, go to www.topshelfcomix.com.
AJC DECATUR BOOK FESTIVAL EVENTS
John Lewis delivers the AJC Decatur Book Festival keynote address 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, at Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts at Emory University. Joining him will be co-author Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell. Tickets are sold out, but the speech will be live streamed on www.ajc.com. Lewis, Aydin and Powell will sign copies of “March: One” at 1 p.m. Aug. 31 at the AJC tent. Pavilion. Nate Powell will appear on the “Sans Comic: Using the Graphic Genre to Recount History” panel at 4:15 p.m., Aug. 31, City Hall Stage. 404-471-5769, decaturbookfestival .com