Markley’s Fever Brain: Around the World 2017

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

As I have written many times over the years, there is a whole world of great comics and graphic novels that are published around the world and most of them we never see in America. Fortunately, more and more of these books are being translated into English and are being published here in America. A while back I devoted a blog to some of the great French graphic novels that have come out this year. In this blog I am following up by spotlighting four recent releases from all over the world, including America. There are also two graphic novels originally published in Spain and one from Belgium. All of these books are self contained stories so you get the whole story; beginning, middle, and end. The subject matter varies from a mystery, to a love story about fate, to an adventure in the Wild West (first done in 1934), and a modern comic set in feudal Japan by a Spanish artist. All of these books are great but for different reasons. I really enjoyed all of these books and I think there is at least one for you here. There have been so many recent releases from around the world, look for a second column with more graphics novels from the four corners coming soon. Now onto today’s books.

Best Wishes

Best Wishes


Best Wishes is an original graphic novel by Mike Richardson, the publisher of Dark Horse Comics, and Paul Chadwick, the creator of Concrete. This is the American pick. This is a charming read that reminds me a lot of a classic 1940s movie. It is filled with romance, sexual tension (not that there is anything graphic in it), and a warmth and charm you rarely see in comics anymore. The basic premise it two people throw coins into a wishing well in New York’s Central Park and from there the tale unfolds. It involves Mary who is looking for her true love and Cal who wants his natural design talents to be recognized. I thought this book was a joy to read and it breezes through the ups and down of the cast of characters while building the drama that comes from working in an creative environment as well as touching on such topics as loneness and the joy of love as well as the ins and outs of relationships. There are times that the story comes across as a little predictable, as you can see some of the twists and turns coming miles away, but this does not take away from the overall enjoyment. Chadwick seems to have taken a simpler style for this work, it is not as detailed or as lush as some of his earlier work, but it really fits this story. Overall this is a great book to read in front of the fireplace in when the snow blows.

Rashomon: A Commissioner Heigo Kobayashi Case

Rashomon: A Commissioner Heigo Kobayashi Case


Another recent release from Dark Horse Comics that I really enjoyed was Rashomon: A Commissioner Heigo Kobayashi Case HC. While this may sound like a manga release, it is actually by Spanish creator Victor Santos. This is a full color detective story set in feudal Japan. The first two chapters have been released in the past in the US but the third and final chapter is collected for the first time in this hardcover, giving you the complete story. The basic story is about a body of a well known samurai that is found dead along the road in feudal Japan and the mystery begins. From here we go through a maze of suspects and adventures leading to the big reveal at the end. I really like Santo’s art as it is very stylized (as seen in his Image book, Violent Love, which I also think is great) and his use of light and space in his panel design is amazing. It strikes me that at some point he was influenced by Frank Miller in his Ronin stage, but Santos’ art is looser and more pleasing to the eye. His storytelling is a joy to look at and I particularly like how he has multiple silent fight scenes that go on for pages, yet are very cinematic and it is almost like watching a movie. I always enjoy a good crime story, and this book is probably more style than great crime tale, but it is beautiful to look at and a very enjoyable read. Be forewarned it is likely for older readers due to violence and sexual content.

Peppy in the Wild West

Peppy in the Wild West


Peppy in the Wild West is a charming book from Herge, the creator of Tintin, that predates his most famous creation. This once again is a full color hardcover book. Let me be totally honest, this book was first serialized in 1934 and was in black and white. This collection brings the entire series together with brand new coloring (which is beautiful) for the first time in almost 50 years. The story is about the bear Peppy, his wife Virginny, and their faithful steed Bluebell. After their business fails, they decided to head west, like many a man did n the late 1800s, where this story is set. While they eventually settle down, they do run into trouble with Indians, swindlers, and all sorts of not so nice people. The characters are not humanbut are anthropomorphic animals, as Peppy and his wife are bears (who ride a horse), the Indians are rabbits, etc. There is a lot of slapstick humor that reminds me of Dudley Do-Right although it predates it by 25 years. This is not the adventure and action that Herge would later use in Tintin (which everyone should read), but it is charming and a fun read. It reminds me a lot of the books that would come later in Europe, such as Lucky Luke, but with nicer art and great design. This book is published by Fantagraphics and was one of the last projects by the late and greatly missed Kim Thompson. This is a great read for any age, as it is recommended for readers 8-12, but readers at any age will like this tale. This is another book that will leave you feeling warm inside while bring a smile to your face. It is not a long book coming in at 56 pages, but each page will bring you joy.

Ghost of Gaudi

Ghost of Gaudi


Finally we have Ghost of Gaudi by El Torres and Jesus Alonzo. This is a Spanish graphic novel reprinted in English by Lion Forge. This is a full color hardcover, where the story is about a killer obsessed with the work of famed architect Antoni Gaudi. This tale takes you through the streets of Barcelona and shows much of Gaudi’s architecture exactly as it really is. This is both a lesson in modern design as well as a great mystery where the killer is not obvious till the end, and there is a strong argument made that Gaudi himself is the killer, even though he has been dead for many years. This is a beautiful book that is full color and the storytelling is like watching the best BBC mystery. The art and story weave together to create both atmosphere and suspense that is rarely seen in comics. As a bonus, there are a number of pages in the back explaining the backgrounds and architecture as well as a number of sketches. Overall, this book is a great read for the non-traditional comic fan, or the fan of a good mystery story.

This wraps it up for this time. I think all four of these books are great, even though they come from all over the world. It is a great example how much great material is being produced in comics month after month from all four corners of the planet, 99% of which readers in America have no idea exists. I would strongly suggest you take time out to try some of these non-American (and American) books. There is an amazing world of fascinating reading out there outside of superheroes. Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Did you enjoy them as much as I did? Did you hate them? Are there other non-American books out there that I am missing out on? I would like to hear from you. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. Everything I have scribbled here is my opinions and do not reflect the thoughts of Westfield Comics or their employees. As always, thank you for reading I and I look forward to hearing from you…

Thank you.

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