Tales to Astonish: Statix Press latest graphic novels are, simply, a joy to behold

Titan Comics Statix Press imprint has already published some terrific, high quality books since its inception, but this week sees the publication of two truly wonderful graphic novels, re-published in English for the very first time.

For those unaware, the imprint showcases the best comics from Europe and around the globe while introducing audiences to fresh new creators and titles. For me, one of its first delights was the Pau’s Prix Du FIBD Angoulême award-nominated anthropomorphic humour comic – Atlas & Axis, now available as a collection.

But two books have really grabbed my attention, out this week, the first being Emma G. Wildford, a distinctly adult tale from Zidrou and astonishing illustrator Edith that mixes mystery, grand adventure, and love.

Emma G. Wildford - Cover

In Emma G. Wildford, it’s been fourteen months since Emma’s fiancé, Roald Hodges, set sail for Norway, and she has had no news of him since. Before he left, Roald gave Emma a mysterious envelope to open in case something happened to him. Rejecting the very notion of Roald’s death, Emma leaves behind everything – her life, her comfort, her home, to go to Lapland in pursuit.

Along the way, Emma’s ideals and beliefs will be challenged in every way, changing this from a quest for her fiancé to a quest for her true self.

Emma G. Wildford - Sample ArtEmma G. Wildford - Sample ArtEmma G. Wildford - Sample ArtEmma G. Wildford - Sample Art

As the samples above confirm, Edith’s art on this gorgeous, one hundred plus page graphic novel is truly wonderful from start to finish, while Zidrou’s story of romance, unwanted attention and betrayal. At its heart, Emma G. Wildford is all about a truly spirited and determined adventuress who discovers as much about herself in the frozen wastes of Lapland as she does about the mysterious disappearance of her fiancé.

The art, I hope, will hold you spellbound, but the story is just as enchanting, part fable, part action adventure, all driven by that most dangerous emotion of all – love.

Belgian writer Zidrou (Benoît Drousie) started out as a teacher, but began writing books and songs for children in the early ’90s. In 1991, he met the illustrator Godi with whom he created L’Elève Ducobu (Le Lombard 1997, Ducoboo, Cinebook 2006), beginning his career as a comics writer.

Edith has collaborated with Asylum on several works with Didier Cromwell and Riff Reb. In 1990 she illustrated Basil & Victoria, written by Yann. The series was rewarded an Alph’art in 1993 and soon adapted into a cartoon.

Also out this week, and equally deserving of your attention is McCay, written by Thierry Smolderen with art by Jean-Philippe Bramanti. It’s an invented biography chronicling authentic – although only partially true – stories of the life of the future creator of Little Nemo, Winsor McCay – in which McCay’s life is enriched by an imaginary encounter with British mathematician and science fiction writer Charles Hinton.

McCay - Cover

Hinton, as a mathematician and philosopher, postulates the existence of a fourth spatial dimension – and seeks an artist capable of representing it, one with an innate sense of perspective and a limitless imagination.

In Winsor McCay, Hinton finds such a man, and when their imaginations combine, an entirely new world opens up to them both…

As with Emma G. Wildford, its the amazing art on this that will grab you first, but the story is engaging, too, and the twists and turns, blending a murder mystery with the possible origins of McCay’s career with some mind-bending exploration and discussion of the fourth dimension will hold you until the final page.

McCay - Sample ArtMcCay - Sample ArtMcCay - Sample ArtMcCay - Sample Art

Thierry Smolderen is a Belgian creator who’s been writing comics since the mid 1980s. A married father of two, Smolderen has lived in Angoulême since 1994. He teaches scriptwriting and the history of European comics at the École Européenne.

Jean-Philippe Bramanti drew his first comics at age 12. After earning a Baccalaureate, he studied at Luminy, Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Marseille, then for three years at the BD workshop of the School of Fine Arts of Angouleme.

Both Emma G. Wildford and McCay enthralled me, and I hope you’ll check them out in you local book or comic shop this week. Highly recommended!

John Freeman

Follow Statix Press on Twitter @statixpress | Titan Comics – https://titan-comics.com

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