First off, Greg Rucka's Stumptown is now in a beautiful hardbound graphic novel (there's that phrase again) format which collects the Oni Press 4-issue mini-series into one great-looking book. With art by Matthew Southworth that is very much in the vein of Michael Lark, Stumptown chronicles the story of Dex Parios, a private investigator operating in rainy Portland, Oregon. This story features her search for a missing girl with ties to both the local Indian casino and a crime lord. Rucka is at his best when he mixes his trademark female characters (Rene Montoya in Gotham Central, Carrie Stetko in Whiteout, Tara Chace in Queen & Country) with noir, and Portland provides the perfect setting for a damp, mysterious tale. The coloring adds a nice murky level to the story, too, and the production on this collection makes it a little objet d'art itself.
Daniel Clowes is back with his second book in two years (with a third on the way in the Fall) with Mister Wonderful, a collection of his strips from the New York Times Magazine, with new material added. This oblong little gem from Pantheon Books is a rare love story from the usually cynical--one might say bitter, but he's mellowing--Mr. Clowes. It tells the tale of Marshall and Natalie, an older pair who meet on a blind date. Both of them are a little crazy, but that doesn't stop Marshall from being immediately smitten. Mister Wonderful is a bit of a departure for Clowes, but it's nonetheless well...wonderful.
Finally, the Peanuts gang is back--not that they ever really left us--in a brand-new graphic novel published by BOOM! Studios via their Kaboom! imprint. Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown is an adaptation of the recent DVD movie and the first graphic novel to feature the characters of Charles M. Schulz. It's written by comic strip creator Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) and Schulz son Craig Schulz, with art direction by Paige Braddock and Andy Beall, and art by Bob and Vicki Scott. That art is utterly charming, too, perfectly capturing that mid-60s era of Schulz's Peanuts that is the Charlie Brown I first discovered as a kid. The story itself reads like a Peanuts "greatest hits" compilation, hitting all the proper Schulz moments, but tells its own tale of Linus's repeated efforts to get back his blanket. It's been over a decade since we've seen any real new Peanuts comics stuff and this is a welcome--and respectful--addition.