“Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done?”, by Harold Schechter & Eric Powell (Albatross Funnybooks, 2021)

An exploration of Ed Gein’s crimes and of the cultural impact of the case. Splendid monochrome graphic novel taking care to present this case history in context, drawing on court records and interviews, while being clear about its telescoping of matters to tell a story. Explains and contextualises without empathising. Recommended.

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

Factory Summers, by Guy Delisle [trans. Helge Dascher & Rob Aspinall] (Drawn & Quarterly, 2021)

A Canadian would-be illustrator spends three 1980s summers working in a paper mill. A charming autobiographical graphic novel that captures well the outsider’s perspective in working in a factory/industrial setting, on male relationships, and in chronicling a key life transition. Recommended.

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

In, by Will McPhail (Sceptre, 2021)

An illustrator struggles with communicating in the big city: then he meets someone. Wry and melancholic in places, particularly at its outset, this is nevertheless ultimately a good-looking but manipulative and slight graphic novel, its narrative coming across as forced and mechanistic. Not for me, really, then, though it may well speak to others.

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

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.