With the end of the year approaching, book publishers are sending out their preview catalogs to book buyers and the media. One of those publishers, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, just happens to represent the Canadian comics company Drawn & Quarterly, which means we can get a sneak peek of sorts at their plans for the spring and summer months. Most of these titles won't be too surprising to those who follow the company's output, but there are a few books of note that readers may not be expecting. Click on the link to find out what they are.
Big Questions by Anders Nilsen, 658 pages, $44.95 paperback, $69.95 hardcover. Having just wrapped up (the final issue was for sale at the Brooklyn show and should be in stores soon) his serialized story of birds, snakes, dogs and wounded human beings facing existential angst in a minimalist landscape, D&Q is wasting no time in turning the collected version out in stores and is apparently releasing hardcover and paperback versions of the book at the same time, a move I find interesting for reasons I can't immediately articulate. My above description of the book makes it sound like an intellectual chore, but let me assure you that Big Questions is anything but. it's a probing, moving work that I expect to see on a lot of "best of" lists come December 2011.
Reunion by Pascal Girard, 152 pages, $19.95. Girard must be D&Q's favorite author of the moment -- this is the third book of his they've released in what seems to be a relatively short window of time. At any rate, this semiautobiographical tale follows the author's attempts to lose weight in time for his ten-year high school reunion, where he hopes to meet the woman he lusted hopelessly after all those years ago, a fact he desperately tries to keep hidden from his current girlfriend.
Paying for It by Chester Brown, 272 pages, $24.95. Surely one of the most hotly anticipated books of 2011, Paying for It is Brown's first published comics work since 2003's Louis Riel. In the spirit of such astoundingly confessional epics as I Never Liked You and The Playboy, Paying finds Brown discussing in depth how he started frequenting prostitutes and his experiences as a "John." Brown has proven time and again to be one of the most fascinating and stellar cartoonists around, and the subject matter seems to ensure that, if nothing else, the book will generate a good deal of discussion.
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki, 368 pages, $24.95. Lionized in his home country of Japan for works like Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro, Mizuki is more or less an nonentity on these shores -- I don't think any of his work has been translated or published in North America up till now. Hopefully this memoir, about his experiences as an infantryman during World War II, will fix that oversight. Certainly the subject matter should be enough to engage readers outside of comics and manga circles.
The Klondike by Zach Worton, 320 pages, $24.95. This is apparently the first book, or at least the first major work, from Worton, and it offers a dramatized version of the gold rush that occurred in the Yukon during the late 19th century.
Moomin Book Six by Lars Jansson, 88 pages, $19.95. This is the first book featuring Moomin creator Tove Jansson's younger brother Lars, who took over both the writing and drawing of the strip after Tove became disenchanted with the daily production grind. I think D&Q's original plan was to stop the series at this point, but it must be doing well for them to continue publishing the strip after Tove's departure. Either that or Lars did a really fabulous job with the work. Maybe both.
Constructive Abandonment by Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber, 64 pages, $15.95. I'm guessing that this is another entry in the company's Petite Livres series, which tends to focus more on art than comics. This is a "series of small paintings featuring surreal vignettes with animals and children weighed down by the pressures of life," according to the pr copy. You now know as much as I do about this book.
Nogoodniks by Adrian Norvid, 80 pages, $19.95. Another Petit Livre book, this time focusing on Norvid's cartoonish, humorous and occasionally crude images, most of which parody commercial products.