Good Night, Hem, by Jason (Fantagraphics Books, 2021)

Three episodes in the life of Ernest Hemingway, each involving recurring Jason character Athos the Last Musketeer. Jason’s laconic, deceptively simple style is, as ever, beguiling. The reader’s given space to think, involving them completely in the narrative, in Hemingway’s life, and the effect of the stranger on him. Recommended.

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

Science Tales: Lies, Hoaxes and Scams, by Darryl Cunningham (Myriad Editions, 2019)

A brisk overview of a range of science topics, with a focus on both quackery and on denialism. Chapters explore subjects from homeopathy to arguments against the science on climate change: accessible and clear throughout, with complex ideas explained well, and attention given to understanding why easy lies are often a comfort. Recommended.

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

“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.