1. Blacksad: Silent Hell, Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (July 2012)
Finally arriving on American shores this week, Silent Hell is the long-awaited fourth installment in the Blacksad series. (The first three graphic novels were published in one collection by Dark Horse in 2010.) A gorgeously illustrated noir series following the private detective John Blacksad, Silent Hell sees our hero immersed in the criminal underworld of 1950s New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Oh, by the way, he’s also a cat — a trenchcoat-wearing, gun-toting, chain-smoking cat. You’ve gotta see it to believe it.
2. A Wrinkle in Time, Hope Larson (October 2012)
While those unfamiliar with Hope Larson may take initial exception to the mere thought of an adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s legendary young adult novel, just give them a minute. It shouldn’t take more than a few pages of Larson’s heroic adaptation for them to understand what those of us who have seen Chiggers (Larson’s touching study in YA summer friendship) already know: this lady means business. Bringing to bear an affection for the story that’s unquestionable, Larson’s adaptation won’t be lacking in reverence, but it’s her chops that’ll keep us flipping each time-traveling page.
3. Building Stories, Chris Ware (October 2012)
If there’s one release this year that people will be asking you about, odds are it’ll be this one. “The New Chris Ware Comic” is always its own beast, a formerly annual escapade that now arrives, like love, in its own due time, and Building Stories looks to get us thinking about how we talk about what comics can be, what they should do. With Building Stories, Ware’s asking more of us than he has before, releasing a box of books — some as large as four feet wide, others measuring in inches — with no specific reading order, no explicit beginning, no defined end. The plot, such as it is, follows the inhabitants of an apartment building, some of whom have been seen before in Ware’s Acme Novelty Library. There’s no way to get ready for Ware beyond clearing one’s calendar, so yes: it’s time to start calling babysitters.
4. Goddamn This War!, Jacques Tardi (November 2012)
Although it’s only been a few weeks since the release of Tardi’s absolutely brilliant Manhattan-focused short story collection New York Mon Amour, I can’t help but look to the future, in anticipation of his follow up to It Was the War of the Trenches. Trenches was a masterpiece of the form, a perfectly executed explosion of World War I myth-making that might just be one of the angriest comics anyone will ever produce. It’s hard not to stoke the fires of anticipation on this one, harder still to imagine that anticipation won’t be rewarded.
5. Prison Pit 4, Johnny Ryan (October 2012)
The annual installment of Johnny Ryan’s hyper-offensive and hysterically funny fight comic will, if history tells us nothing else, be hyper offensive and hysterically funny. It will also have fighting, most likely between characters who will have names you couldn’t even spell in polite company.
6. The Carter Family, Frank Young and Dave Lasky (October 2012)
A beautifully drawn graphic novel detailing the true story of one of country music’s most successful and influential groups, The Carter Family is the sort of work that comics can often excel at producing — a unique idea, brought forth by a creator working to appease a deeply felt need. In a year that’s already seen one of the best biographical graphic novels in recent memory (My Friend Dahmer), it’s possible Abrams may have another classic on the way.
7. Abelard, Renaud Dillies and Regis Hautiere (November 2012)
Bubbles & Gondola, the last work by Renaud Dillies to see American shores, set the dial firmly between sentiment and whimsy, and Abelard — the story of a baby chick with a banjo and a magic hat who travels the world for love and then meets a pessimistic bear — looks like it’s aiming for that sweet spot again. Whether it hits it or not, you can rest assured that the experience is going to be really, really adorable, and there’s always a need for that. I like that Shiba Inu puppy cam as much as the next guy, but it doesn’t exactly have a plot, you know?
8. The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln, Noah Van Sciver (October 2012)
The graphic novel debut from longtime indie favorite Noah Van Sciver sees the cartoonist going straight into one of American history’s most popular subjects, Abraham Lincoln, and for his focus, he’s picked the same period that obsessed filmmaker John Ford — the president’s youth. Unlike Ford, Van Sciver’s interest is in Lincoln’s periods of depression, dark times that arguably forged for later triumphs. This is the comic you didn’t know you were waiting for.
9. Love and Rockets New Stories Volume 5 (September 2012)
Although Fantagraphics is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Love and Rockets with various publications and events, the Hernandez Brothers are celebrating it exactly how you would expect: by publishing their annual installment of comics and treating it like any other year. There hasn’t been a single misstep in the last two volumes of Love and Rockets, and while that kind of consistency might make some take these two for granted, that, honestly, is a fantastic problem to have.
10. The Batman/Judge Dredd Collection, John Wagner, Alan Grant, Simon Bisley, and others (October 2012)
Let’s be upfront: there isn’t a story in this collection that you’ll need by your bedside, but there are definitely some potential wants being met in this (completely undeserved) hardcover collection of the various Batman/Judge Dredd crossover stories published in the last few decades. Arriving just in time to see another attempt at making a celluloid Dredd financially viable, these stories are ridiculously entertaining, though not always by design; they’re the end result of an American/British screaming match over who’s tougher between the Bat and the Judge. This is fascism versus fascism, and the only prize is bragging rights. Keep your ear to the ground. You can just barely hear the ’90s!