Words Without Borders’ Year-End and Year-Ahead Lists

December 21st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink


Looking ahead and looking behind, staff, board members, and contributors of the first and still flagship magazine for international literature, Words Without Borders (WWB), share their favorite works-in-translation of 2017 and the titles they’re looking forward to in 2018. Editorial Director Susan Harris names Gébé’s Letter to Survivors, forthcoming next year from New York Review Comics (NYRC). Seven years ago, WWB featured an excerpt  of that very same graphic novel in their annual February comics issue; they’ve also run prose work  by the late cartoonist and satirist, a beloved one-man institution of whimsy.

A haunting and darkly funny post-apocalyptic graphic novel that follows an unusual postal worker on his very bizarre mail route.

In the blasted ruins of what was once a picture-perfect suburb, nothing stirs—except the postman. Clad in a hazmat suit and mounted on a bicycle, he is still delivering the mail, nuclear apocalypse or no nuclear apocalypse. One family has taken refuge in an underground fallout shelter, and to them he brings—or, rather, shouts through the air vent—a series of odd, anonymous letters. They describe the family’s prosperous past life, and then begin to get stranger. . .

This pioneering graphic novel was created in 1981 by famed French cartoonist Gébé, a longtime contributor to Charlie Hebdo, and has never before been available in English. Letter to Survivors is a blackhearted delight, at once a witty metafictional game of stories within stories and a scathing, urgent send-up of consumerist excess and nuclear peril: funnier, and scarier, than ever.

I last collaborated with NYRC on 2016’s well-received Peplum by Blutch. Just as with that book, I’ll be providing a preface to contextualize Gébé for readers in this, his English debut.

OUT NOW: The Beautiful Death, Issue 4

December 20th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Beautiful Death 4

Issue #4 of Mathieu Bablet’s The Beautiful Death is now available from Titan Comics. Whether or not you think the deaths he depicts, both planetary and personal, are beautiful, there’s no doubt Bablet’s art is, drawing admiration from no less than American indie SF comics whiz Brandon Graham. Bablet brings a touch of existential despair to the postapocalypse, following a few lone survivors across a seemingly deserted urban Paris at a time of new evolutionary stirrings beneath the surface. The title derives from what the characters long for: a meaningful end in a world that  has already ended all around them.

The apocalypse has been and gone. The age of humanity is at an end. Horrifying insectile aliens from the depths of infinite space are now masters of the Earth!

What does resistance mean, when there’s nothing left to fight for?

That’s what Wayne, Jeremiah and Scham, the only survivors of the devastating invasion, struggle with day after day – Seeking a new purpose, a glimpse of a worthwhile future, to justify their futile presence in a ruined world.

Picking through the remains of human civilization, keeping out of reach of the bugs, none of them suspect that they are part of a much larger plan, one that involves another, unknown survivor…

La Belle mort was a longer, single-volume graphic novel in France, cut up into issues for English release before an eventual deluxe collected edition.  In this latest installement,

The final remnants of humanity left on Earth has lost a member, with leader Wayne unable to deal with his own actions in a world which has lost all purpose. Deprived of their anchor, Jeremiah and Soham are forced to consider their differences and found their relationship irreparable.

Soham is abandoned his only living friend and betrayed by the dark-haired girl from his past. But he knows that she has a plan, and, more importantly, that she’s keeping it from Jeremiah.

And in the darkness, something is growing…

I don’t think my name has ever been so prominently featured in a floppy (albeit encroached upon by sentient cockroaches). Titan really knows how to recognize a translator’s work! Thanks, Titan!



OUT NOW: Arthus Trivium Vol. 3, The Young Captive

December 15th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Arthus 3

The mystery deepens with a visit to Fairyland through the portal of a magical painting in this latest volume of Raule’s Renaissance-meets-X-Files series with art by Juan Luis Landa. Three agents trained by renowned sage and scholar Nostradamus travel the land, exposing hoaxes and solving occult crimes.

When Nostradamus entrusts his disciple Arthus with training his son Cesar, he believes their mission a simple one: investigate a village where a rain of blood has been reported. But upon reaching Cucuron to find all the menfolk missing, Arthus realizes the adventure is more than he bargained for. Meanwhile, in Paris searching for a young girl who’s disappeared, Angulus and Angelica come upon a mysterious canvas in the workshop of a famous painter that seems to lead Angelica to another world. The stakes rise for all three disciples as they find themselves separated, each facing their own perils.

The Young Captive continues this ongoing series, now available as a digital exclusive from EuropeComics on a number of platforms (Izneo, Kindle, Kobo, Google Play, and Comixology).

OUT NOW: Tramp Vol. 3, The Sacrificed Ship

December 14th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Tramp 3

Up for a dose of classic ligne claire and adventure comics, Euro-style? Well, look no further! Welcome to the world of Tramp: maritime noir with exotic locales, insurance intrigue, shipowner skullduggery, and the titular steamer, a rusty bucket on trade routes of the mid-20th century. Jean-Charles Kraehn’s meticulous research is backed up by Patrick Jusseaume’s art in this loving ‘90s tribute to the long-running serials from the heyday of bande-dessinée.

Fate seems to have it in for Yann Calec, unjustly sentenced and harassed by guards in a godforsaken Colombian prison camp. He is saved from execution by when Ocaña shows up, a rebel intellectual tasked with smuggling him across the country to the mysterious Professor Condé. But the harrowing, perilous journey is nothing next to what awaits: a fortuitous return to the Belle Hélène, the doomed tramp steamer Calec once captained, still bound for its fateful date with a U-boat torpedo. Will Calec manage to save the ship and his new friends with their precious archeological cargo?

Sixty pages adventure-packed pages from the latest entry in this ongoing series, The Sacrificed Ship, are now available as a digital exclusive from EuropeComics on a number of platforms (Izneo, Kindle, Kobo, Google Play, and Comixology).

Charif Majdalani makes World Literature Today’s Year-End Best List

December 13th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink


Charif Majdalani’s novel Moving the Palace, from New Vessel Press, is featured in World Literature Today’s annual list of 75 notable translations. As editor Michelle Johnson notes, it’s been a banner year for translated literature. I am truly honored to be rubbing shoulders with incredible translators and authors from all manner of presses.

This is my second year in a row making WLT’s list, with Serge Brussolo’s science fiction mindbender The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome in 2016 from Melville House. Zeina Abirached’s graphic memoir of growing up in Beirut, A Game for Swallows, makes three. Thank you, World Literature Today!

Peeters and Magritte make The Guardian’s Best Graphic Novels of 2017

December 5th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

At The Guardian, Rachel Cooke names among her best graphic novels of the year two translations by yours truly: Magritte: This Is Not a Biography by Vincent Zabus and Thomas Campi, and The Smell of Starving Boys, by Frederik Peeters and Loo Hui Phang. Congratulations to my publisher, SelfMadeHero!

Cooke says:


Too many graphic biographies are being published at the moment; the majority fail to make the most of the medium… Cleverer by far, however, is Vincent Zabus and Thomas Campi’s Magritte: This Is Not a Biography (SelfMadeHero £9.99), which comes at the surrealist painter’s life at a suitably odd tangent (when a man called Charles Singulier makes the whimsical decision to buy a bowler hat, he finds not only that he has unwittingly entered the realm of its former owner, Magritte, but that he will have to uncover all of the Belgian artist’s secrets if he’s to have any hope of getting out again).

Peeters Phang Smell

I also enjoyed The Smell of Starving Boys (SelfMadeHero £24.99) by Frederik Peeters and Loo Hui Phang, a stunning, lusciously produced western set in Texas, 1872 (with the civil war at an end, a geologist, a photographer and his assistant set out into Comanche country, where the wide open spaces induce in them a kind of horizontal vertigo that will have a dramatic impact on social convention).

Frederik Peeters makes Vulture’s December Comics List

December 3rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Peeters Phang Smell

Abraham Riesman includes The Smell of Starving Boys in his list of 8 Comics to Read in December at New York Magazine’s Vulture. He gets the roles of the writer-artist team reversed, but nobody’s perfect (and everybody’s a critic):

Against the backdrop of Loo Hui Phang’s magnificent vistas, Frederik Peeters’s story turns out to be far more than it initially seems. This queer, supernatural, deliciously sexy tome will be a delight for anyone who enjoys a little trip to the frontier.

The newfangled Western enjoys absolutely lavish production values—cloth binding and colors to make your eyes pop—from SelfMadeHero, which has been faithfully bringing a large part of Peeters’ oeuvre into English. And I’ve been lucky enough to translate it!

Laos-born Normandy native Loo Hui Phang, daughter of a Chinese father and a Vietnamese mother, penned the script for the latest work from Swiss comics star Frederik Peeters, his follow-up to his stellar, trippy SF tetralogy Aama. Peeters, for whom collaborations are rather are in his oeuvre, solicited a script from Phang; this is their first time working together. A noted writer and director, Phang has worked prolifically in comics. I appreciated her superhero take with artist Hugues Micol in Angoulême prizewinner Prestige de l’uniforme.

OUT NOW: Golden City, Vol. 7: The Lost Children

December 1st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

golden city 7

The Lost Children, Volume 7 of Golden City, an all-ages series written by Daniel Pecqueur with art by Nicolas Malfin, is  now available as a digital exclusive from Delcourt at Comixology. This book kicks off the second arc of the series with new characters and new intrigues.

Mifa and the other orphans have finally realized the dream that was impossible for them: to live in Golden City. As for Banks, he reassumes his functions as president again. But their respite is only short-term…
The leaders of the city are now demanding Banks’ resignation, are planning to move against him if he refuses, and worse still, the kidnapping of Professor Seed doesn’t bode well for the inhabitants of the floating city. All factors leading to an unprecedented event in the history of Golden City.

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