Brought to Light

“In 1989, at the very end of the Cold War, a group of four prominent mainstream and alternative comic book writers and artists created a double volume graphic novel exposing the rampant injustices, assassinations, and terrorism facilitated by the CIA and its creatures worldwide, ostensibly to fight global communism in the years following World War II. This pair of books, sold under the shared title Brought To Light, came courtesy of one of the only justice movements since the Church Committee to successfully take on the American deep state and confront the CIA’s historical criminal behavior.”

-Brought to Light is a graphic novel of two parts: Shadowplay — The Secret Team and Flashpoint — The La Penca Bombing

Shadowplay is by Alan Moore and “centers on an avatar of the CIA and American imperialism in the form of a maniacal, drunken bald eagle who ‘represent[s] the Company,’ the common sobriquet for the CIA, and who explains American intelligence interference abroad in terms of the brutality and murder necessary to protect American (business) interests.” Flashpoint provides the details of an assassination of a former Sandinista who has switched sides to join the Contras. However, he found the CIA’s involvement with the Contras troubling, and he was assassinated before he could reveal too much about the CIA and what became known as the “Iran-Contra affair” in the United States.

h/t We Are The Mutants.

The Moolah Tree

“Pluck, an irritable and featherless rooster, and his best pal, the awkwardly unsocialized but lovable teddy bear known as Fuzz, met long ago in a garbage truck. A tenuous if decidedly co-dependent friendship between Fuzz & Pluck followed, sending them on a series of not-so-heroic adventures. But now, we find them on a ramshackle barge, slowly drifting out to sea. How did they get there? How will they escape? The answer lies in the book’s title, but the true fun is in the Picaresque and often Swiftian adbsurdities that our heroes find themselves in along the way. Ted Stearn’s work is rich with pathos, wit, farce, existentialism and drama. Sometimes cruel but always funny, like a Winnie the Pooh for adults.”

The Moolah Tree published by Fantagraphics

Sold at “Winnie the Pooh for adults.”

Bookhunter by Shiga

The year is 1973. A priceless book has been stolen from the Oakland Public Library. A crack team of Bookhunters (aka. library police) have less than three days to recover the stolen item. It’s a race against the clock as our heroes use every tool in their arsenal of library equipment to find the book and the mastermind who stole it.” —Bookhunter

Free to read online, and it is available in print.

Book: Bicycle Day by Brian Blomerth

“Illustrator, musician and self-described ‘comic stripper’ Brian Blomerth has spent years combining classic underground art styles with his bitingly irreverent visual wit in zines, comics, and album covers. With Brian Blomerth’s Bicycle Day, the artist has produced his most ambitious work to date: a historical account of the events of April 19, 1943, when Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann ingested an experimental dose of a new compound known as lysergic acid diethylamide and embarked on the world’s first acid trip. Combining an extraordinary true story told in journalistic detail with the artist’s gritty, timelessly Technicolor comix style, Brian Blomerth’s Bicycle Day is a testament to mind expansion and a stunningly original visual history.”

—Description by the publisher, Anthology

Eric by Tom Manning

“When we are clear-eyed about the fact that what we think of as our individual self is really a hodgepodge of artifice, and not really our self, that can be both freeing and terrifying. Our ego constantly chases fleeting needs, which is why an identity based on that ego is fleeting, and happiness based on feeding that ego is fleeting. I think true happiness is probably only attained by the release of ego, which is ironically our ego’s greatest fear. In Eric, I try to capture the horror and freedom of what it might be like to actually erase your ego. It’s all in the book’s opening quote from the Beach Boys: ‘Hang on to your ego / hang on but I know that you’re gonna lose the fight.'”

—Tom Manning quoted in an interview with Sarah Heston, “Magical Los Angeles: An Interview with Tom Manning.” The Los Angeles Review of Books. September 29, 2018.

You can order Eric (or his other graphic novel Runoff) via the author’s website, or ask your local library to order or get it on loan.

Diaspora Boy by Eli Valley

Diaspora Boy is “the first full-scale anthology of [Eli] Valley’s art[…His] “comic strips are intricate fever dreams employing noir, horror, slapstick and science fiction to expose the outlandish hypocrisies at play in the American/Israeli relationship. Sometimes banned, often controversial and always hilarious, Valley’s work has helped to energize a generation exasperated by American complicity in an Israeli occupation now entering its fiftieth year.”

100 Best Comics And Graphic Novels : NPR

Many on this list I had never heard of. Recommended: Watchmen, Maus, Love And Rockets, Bitch Planet, Transmetropolitan, Mouse Guard, Saga, and The Sandman.

Of course, lists of this sort miss some of the delightfully weird that isn’t for everyone. For my part, I would have liked to have seen something from Jim Woodring, such as The Frank Book, The Invisibles or The Collected Sam & Max.