Quarantine Comix: A Memoir of Life in Lockdown, by Rachael Smith (Icon Books, 2021)

A diary of mental health and struggling to cope during the initial phase of the coronavirus, told in comic strips. An interesting personal record of the first half of 2020, with a focus on the ways that the pandemic fed into individual anxieties. Might have benefited from dates by the entries: documents like these will have value in the years to come, and it’d be useful to have that context to these responses.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Criminal, Vol. 4: Bad Night, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips, with Val Staples (Image Comics, 2015)

A cartoonist and former forger gets drawn back into crime by a femme fatale. Another high-quality yarn of dark deeds on the wrong side of midnight; another man in over his head and head over heels at the same time. Series fans won’t be disappointed, and there’s much to relish for those new to the BrubakerPhillipsVerse.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Redfork, by Alex Paknadel, Nil Vendrell & Giulia Brusco (TKO Studios, 2020)

An ex-con returns to his drugs and disease-blighted mining community: soon, other monsters lurk. Splashy blue-collar Beowulf-ish horror graphic novel (a six-issue run collected here), working similar territory to the later Grendel, Kentucky. Pacy and told with verve, this is fine stuff all the way through.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Department of Truth, Volume One: The End of the World, by James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds & Aditya Bidikar (Image Comics, 2021)

A conspiracy theory-loving FBI lecturer is inducted into an agency working to prevent collective belief from realising that conspiracy theories can become real. Fun, smart, and fast – if ever-so-slightly-preachy – this The Matrix meets JFK graphic novel (issues 1-5 collected here) is a brain-boggling and good-looking treat, and relevant as hell. Lots to recommend this.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Grendel, Kentucky, by Jeff McComsey & Tommy Lee Edwards, with Giovanna Niro and John Workman (AWA Upshot, 2021)

The leader of an all-woman biker gang returns home to avenge her father’s death. Swift, gory, fun riff on Beowulf populated by backwoods weed farmers and take-no-shit Kentuckians. The book anthologizes a four-part graphic story: there’s hell of a movie to be made of this. A straightforward thing done as well as it might be. Recommended.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Scene of the Crime, by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark & Sean Phillips (Image Comics, 1999/2021)

A young San Francisco private eye’s missing persons case turns out to be more complex than it originally appears. This fresh paperback collection of a four-part comic from 1999 preserves a smart contemporary noir-ish story that doesn’t overstay its welcome and which pleasingly plays around with genre and location-specific tropes. Well worth your time.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Red Range: A Wild Western Adventure, by Joe R Lansdale & Sam Glanzman (It’s Alive!/IDW, 2017/1999)

A masked vigilante saves a boy from the Klan: a chase ensues. Smart, fast, violent, angry, and surprising pulp graphic novel. Fast and funny while unflinching in its depiction of racism, there’s a spot-on balance of telling it as it is and jazzing things up with high adventure. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Write It In Blood, by Rory McConville & Joe Palmer, with Chris O’Halloran and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Image Comics, 2021)

Hitmen brothers are working on getting out, but matters go South, Texas-style. Very effective visually-driven neo-noir working within genre expectations to produce something that’s both distinctive and affecting. Lots to enjoy here if this is your kinda thing. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.