Last Tuesday, the US Book Show presented a cavalcade of upcoming books in 2023, and we at Comic Watch have listed out some of the most exciting books based on, or inspired by events in the real world. From memoirs to dream journals, there is no shortage of fresh stories entering the market during the second half of this year for people of all age groups.
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I Must Be Dreaming
“Ancient Greeks, modern seers, Freud, Jung, neurologists, poets, artists, shamans-humanity has never ceased trying to decipher one of the strangest unexplained phenomena we all experience: dreaming. Now, in her new book, Roz Chast illustrates her own dream world, a place that is sometimes creepy but always hilarious, accompanied by an illustrated tour through “Dream-Theory Land” guided by insights from poets, philosophers, and psychoanalysts alike. Illuminating, surprising, funny, and often profound, I Must Be Dreaming explores Roz Chast’s newest subject of fascination-and promises to make it yours, too.”
#1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast’s new graphic narrative, exploring the surreal nighttime world inside her mind-and untangling one of our most enduring human mysteries: dreams. Releases on Ocotber 24th.
Worm: A Cuban American Odyssey
“Hailed for his iconic art on the cover of Time and on jumbotrons around the world, Edel Rodriguez is among the most prominent political artists of our age. Now for the first time, he draws his own life, revisiting his childhood in Cuba and his family’s passage on the infamous Mariel boatlift.
When Edel was nine, Fidel Castro announced his surprising decision to let 125,000 traitors of the revolution, or “worms,” leave the country. The faltering economy and Edel’s family’s vocal discomfort with government surveillance had made their daily lives on a farm outside Havana precarious, and they secretly planned to leave. But before that happened, a dozen soldiers confiscated their home and property and imprisoned them in a detention center near the port of Mariel, where they were held with dissidents and criminals before being marched to a flotilla that miraculously deposited them, overnight, in Florida.
Through vivid, stirring art, Worm tells a story of a boyhood in the midst of the Cold War, a family’s displacement in exile, and their tenacious longing for those they left behind. It also recounts the coming-of-age of an artist and activist, who, witnessing American’s turn from democracy to extremism, struggles to differentiate his adoptive country from the dictatorship he fled. Confronting questions of patriotism and the liminal nature of belonging, Edel Rodriguez ultimately celebrates the immigrants, maligned and overlooked, who guard and invigorate American freedom.”
From “America’s illustrator in chief” (Fast Company), a stunning graphic memoir of a childhood in Cuba, coming to America on the Mariel boatlift, and a defense of democracy, here and there. Releases on November 7th.
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“When the Hale-Bopp soared across the sky in 1997, Amy Rose thought it was the start of an amazing new future. Instead, it brought news of a horrible tragedy at the Heaven’s Gate compound just down the road. Amy had always known there was something off about the community she grew up in. She had been forbidden from going to school, or visiting the library because the leader told her that there was no use learning about a world that was about to end. But it was not until the news of the deaths at Heaven’s Gate invaded the temple walls that she heard a new word that explained everything…cult.
She must risk everything to indulge in secret trips to an abandoned, off-limits library that teaches her everything she was not meant to know. That Gandhi was not a space alien. That Star Trek wasn’t real. That her community was built on a lie. And most importantly, the banned books give her all the information that she needs to escape.”
Occulted is another shocking true-life graphic memoir about the power of literary freedom from the people who brought you the Eisner and Ringo-nominated, Freeman Award-winning Banned Book Club. Ryan Estrada (co-author of Banned Book Club) has teamed up with real life cult survivor Amy Rose (co-author of Star Trek: Connected to the Truth) to bring you the story. With gorgeous art by Jeongmin Lee, Occulted is a haunting, inspiring tale of bravery and rebellion that illustrates how to recognize and fight against those who try to control you. Releases on June 6th.
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STEWdio: The Naphic Grovel ARTrilogy of Chuck D
Legendary hip-hop artist and social activist Chuck D has used every opportunity in his groundbreaking career to stand up for civil rights. His rap group Public Enemy is widely regarded as a revolutionary act both in terms of its impact on hip-hop and its use of music to impart a message of race and class equality. The band emerged from the late 1970s/early ‘80s coalescence of rap, punk, and street art into hip-hop music culture on the East Coast. At the time, Chuck D had completed his BFA in graphic design, and while his music career exploded, his passion for visual art never left his heart.
In February 2020, he turned his gaze once again to the page, and began to fill three 5 x 8 journals with his written and drawn reflections of a world beginning to unravel. STEWdio: The Naphic Grovel ARTrilogy of Chuck D recreates format of his original art, combining three full-color paperback bound books into a beautiful box set. The box set is the inaugural offering from Enemy Books, the new Akashic Books imprinted curated by Chuck D.
Spanning the onset of COVID-19 through the first year of the Joe “Bye-Don” administration, Chuck D lends his powerful artistic voice to one of the most tumultuous periods in American history, and puts it in a capsule. Like the neo-expressionist graffiti art of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Chuck D’s energetic “Naphic Grovels” marry text with drawings, commenting on contemporary events with the same activist instinct that propelled Public Enemy’s “music-with-a-message” reputation. His inventive, Amiri Baraka–esque language and accompanying art is also occasionally used as a tool for introspection, providing unparalleled insight into one of the most important cultural figures of our time.
Each journal follows a distinct period in Chuck D’s (and America’s) life; There’s a Poison Goin On chronicles the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, from February–April 2020; 45 Daze of REaD Octobot follow the days leading up to and the aftermath of the historic 2020 election; and Datamber Mindpaper, which focuses on the early days of the Biden administration.
No song may be more reflective of 1980s America than Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power;” no document may come to capture our COVID era like Chuck D’s STEWdio.
Chuck D (Public Enemy, Prophets of Rage, etc.) brings his personal insights and social critiques to the page in fierce, passionate, and evocative visual art and prose in this limited edition box set. Releases on June 6th.
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Courage to Dream: Tales of Hope in the Holocaust
National Book Award winner Neal Shusterman presents a graphic novel exploring the Holocaust through surreal visions and a textured canvas of heroism and hope. Releases on October 31st.
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ICYMI: The Most Exciting Graphic Memoirs & Historical Graphic Novels Showcased at The US Book Show 2023!
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