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3x3: OTHER GRAPHIC NOVELS TO WATCH OUT FOR

"There's been a mistake," the titular hero of Tom Gauld's Goliath (Drawn and Quarterly, 96 pages, $19.95) protests, towards the beginning of the tale. "I'm not a champion . . . I do paperwork! I'm a very good administrator."

I've loved Gauld's art for its dry humor, and that's at work throughout Goliath, which retells the biblical tale from the point of view of its nominal villain. But Goliath is, in the end, a tragedy. Its hapless hero, a decent sort, is caught up in machinations beyond his control; he knows he's being used but there's nothing he can do about it. Gauld's style is spare but richly textured, a straight-faced delivery that makes the ending, for all its inevitability, all the more crushing.

In Leela Corman's new graphic novel, Unterzakhn (Schocken, 208 pages, $24.95), the lives of her characters wind around each other, diverging and coming together in destructive or redemptive ways. In turn-of-the-century New York, two sisters grow up amid the cacophony of the tenements; a generation earlier, two young men escape the pogroms of Tzarist Russia. All of them are battered by anti-Semitism, and Esther and Fanya are each brutalized, in different ways, by the constraints of their gender. Corman (who comes to Brookline Booksmith April 4) has an ear for dialogue and a loose, curvilinear brushline which make reading her work a pleasure, though the book is haunted by a kind of despair.

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Ryan Inzana's art is both accomplished and beautiful. He has a way of depicting motion and form in a few deft brushstrokes that reminds me of a choppier R. Kikuo Johnson or early John Pham. But his newest graphic novel, Ichiro (Houghton Mifflin, 288 pages, $19.99), should have gone through a few more drafts. The pacing is odd — there's a very, very slow intro following the hero from New York to Japan that seems unnecessary, then a journey into the Japanese spirit world that goes by too quickly — and, in a few pages, the action is unclear. However, it has a lot of promise. Anyone whose interest in Japanese folk religion has been piqued by Miyazaki movies will want to give this a read.

LEELA CORMAN | Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline | April 4 | 7 pm | 617.566-6660 or brooklinebooksmith.com

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