Every Wednesday, I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, Kickstarter, and the web. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.

1. March Book Two

By Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
Top Shelf

Well-timed for the week of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the release of the film Selma is the second of three volumes in Rep. John Lewis’ graphic novel biography and retelling of the early days of the Civil Rights Movement, March.

Picking up the story after the successful lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville, Lewis and his fellow Freedom Riders board a bus and venture into the deep south where they encounter shocking examples of lynchings, police brutality, and outright murder.

As in the first book, Lewis is joined by co-writer and policy aide Andrew Aydin as well as artist Nate Powell whose beautifully composed and dramatic ink drawings make this not just an important American history lesson, but a great piece of comics storytelling as well.

Here’s some more information and a preview at Top Shelf’s website.

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2. Fatherland

By Nina Bunjevac
Liveright Publishing Corp.

Nina Bunjevac’s memoir/biography of her father and the history of the Balkan conflict is a chilling and informative read. Growing up in Canada, her mother whisked her and her sister away to Yugoslavia to escape her father, a Serbian nationalist who had put them in danger by becoming involved in a terrorist group. However, the girls were forced to leave Nina’s older brother Peter behind and, after their father died in an explosion, the family would never be reunited. Sadness pervades the story of Nina’s family, reaching all the way back to her great-grandparents caring for their son with tuberculosis and to her childhood in 1970s Yugoslavia.

It is all accentuated by her photo-realistic, stippled and cross-hatched drawing style. She brings everything to life in starkly lit detail, from her mother’s melancholy face to the twisted darkness building behind her father’s eyes. If you’re unfamiliar with the complicated existence of the country once known as Yugoslavia and details of the conflict between its people, Bunjevac does an admirable job of explaining it all here.

Here are some preview images from the book.

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3. Eel Mansions

By Derek Van Gieson
Uncivilized Books

Probably the most Lynchian (as in filmmaker David Lynch) comic to be made since Dan Clowes’ 1993 graphic novel Like A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, Derek Van Gieson's Eel Mansions has plenty of Eraserhead’s confusing imagery but with Twin Peaks’ wry sense of humor as well. Every couple of pages bounces from one seemingly unconnected set of characters to another, slowly weaving together…something, although I don’t know what exactly. There are lizard people, secret agents, a cult that worships Eric Clapton, and the scene-stealing, boozy hipster comic book creator, Janet Planet, who is almost always drawn looking slyly to the side while delivering some epic putdowns.

Van Gieson, who got his start as a contributor to Fantagraphics’ influential comics anthology Mome, has been self-publishing Eel Mansion in comic-size installments with the whole story now collected by Uncivilized Books. His drawings are inked with a heavy hand and rough around the edges, but he pulls off a number of styles throughout, from depictions of Lovecraftian monsters and Picasso-like abstractions to Janet’s very Moomin-like children’s comic strip. This is like a love letter to the work of Lynch, Thomas Pynchon, William S. Burroughs, and early ‘80s post-punk music (which seems to come up a lot). Van Gieson does it all with a lot of laughs, even when you’re not quite sure what the hell is going on.

You can order a copy from the publisher here.

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4. Atomic Robo

By Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener
Atomic-Robo.com

Atomic Robo is a popular sci-fi comedy comic series by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener about an intelligent robot invented by Nikolas Tesla in 1938 and hired by the US military to fight Nazis. Since it began in 2007, it’s had a loyal fan following and has prided itself on its lack of superhero angst and cheesecake.

This week, Clevinger and Wegener announced a bold move for the future of the comic. They have allowed their contract with Red 5 Comics to expire and will now make all future Atomic Robo comics free as a webcomic on Atomic-Robo.com. In addition, starting today, they will begin making all 9 previous volumes of the story free online as well, starting with Volume 1 and working their way up. Print collections will now be for sale directly from the creators and digital comics will continue to be available on Comixology. Plus, there is a Patreon for fans to donate funds on a monthly basis for extra goodies.

This is a big and unusual publishing shift for a popular comic, especially as the webcomic model has seemed to give way to the digital comic model in recent years (although Clevinger and Wegener are tackling both here). A lot of other self-publishers will be keeping an eye on these guys in the coming year to see how they do.

The creators lay out all the details in this blog post.

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5. First Year Healthy

By Michael DeForge
Drawn & Quarterly

The latest graphic novel from the prolific and always surprising Michael DeForge is almost more of an illustrated novel than a traditional comic book. First Year Healthy is the story of a young woman who gets out of a hospital after what is alluded to as a very public emotional breakdown and falls into a relationship with a potentially criminal Turkish immigrant.

It is full of many of the visual eccentricities we’re used to seeing from DeForge. However, the format of this smallish, 45-page hardcover—with its full-page color illustrations paired with simple serif typeface—makes you realize how much of a way with words DeForge has when they are visually divorced from his artwork.