Etelka Lehoczky

There are a lot of different ways to adapt fiction into graphic-novel form, but there may only be one way to adapt the work of H.P. Lovecraft. At least, that's how it feels after reading Gou Tanabe's take on Lovecraft's novella At the Mountains of Madness. Tanabe's approach is so spot-on, it makes every other attempt to draw Lovecraft (of which there have been no shortage over the years) seem ill-advised.

Among all the weird quirks in the world of comics publishing, one of the weirdest is the practice of crediting writers first on book covers and title pages. Why would you give top billing to wordsmiths in a medium that's defined by graphics? Not that writers aren't essential — of course they are. Usually, though, even the most innovative and evocative comics story stands or falls with its artwork.

It's always a surprise to see whom the MacArthur Foundation selects to receive its annual fellowships — the six-figure awards known as Genius Grants — but one of this year's picks was particularly exhilarating: comic artist Lynda Barry. For anyone who read alternative weeklies from the '80s through the '00s, she was the eternally wise and strange mind behind Ernie Pook's Comeek.

The most intriguing thing about Girl on Film, a comic-book memoir by someone who never set out to create comics, is that it isn't a tragedy. Told one way, it could have been a story of a would-be artist stubbornly pursuing their dream for years, only to finally give up in despair. Cecil Castellucci chronicles her decade-plus quest to become a filmmaker from the birth of her obsession, when she first saw Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark in junior high school, all the way through trying and failing to cut together her first feature in her early 20s.

So there's this pale, gawky, bald guy in mirror shades running through the desert. That's the central image of Connor Willumsen's graphic novel Bradley of Him, and it's also a kind of seed. From the image of a stubborn runner in an inhospitable landscape, Willumsen has built up a hilarious and philosophically challenging meditation on individuality, capitalism, celebrity, connection — and, under it all, absurdity.

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