Abrams ComicArts recently announced its Spring 2020 lineup, and ICv2 spoke to editorial director Charlie Kochman to get a bit more insight into the upcoming books, which include a history of Marvel Value Stamps, the first-ever reproductions of tiny Marvel comics by Marie Severin and Stan Goldberg (which were once sold in gumball machines), plus original graphic novels about voting rights, a historic tunnel disaster, and the Kent State shootings.

Marvel Value Stamps reproduces another piece of Marvel history: special stamps that ran in issues in 1974 and 1975.  Readers who collected all 100 stamps in a special booklet could turn them in for prizes and discounts.  "It completely ruined the Silver Age comics," Kochman said, because so many readers cut them up.  The book includes the original stamps (and the letter pages they came from), booklets, and other artwork used for the program, with text by former Marvel editor Roy Thomas.  The hardcover book will be released in May with an MSRP of $24.99.

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Marvel Comics Mini-Books is the first-ever collection of the tiny Marvel comics (certified as the world’s smallest by the Guinness Book of World Records) that were sold in gumball machines in the mid-1960s.  There were six altogether, and each one was the origin story of a different character: The Amazing Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Mighty Thor, Captain America, and Sergeant Nick Fury, all by Marie Severin, and Millie the Model by Stan Goldberg.  The original comics, which were smaller than postage stamps, were scanned and then blown up to 4" x 6".  Kochman said this is the first time they have been reprinted, adding, "The problem is, most people never got to read these because if you open them up, they would crack and fall apart."  Abrams will package the six comics as a boxed set with a seventh volume by comics historian Mark Evanier.  The set is scheduled for May and will have an MSRP of $29.99.

Glass Town, by Isabel Greenberg, is described in the subtitle as "an imaginary history of the Brontes."  Greenberg’s debut graphic novel, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, was nominated for the Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album, and the followup, The One Hundred Nights of Hero, was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the top graphic novels of 2016 (see "PW’s Top Graphic Novels of 2016").  Glass Town is scheduled for March 2020 release and will have an MSRP of $24.99.

Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, by Derf Backderf, was announced at New York Comic Con last year.  The extensively researched book tells the story of the four college students who were killed at Kent State and the events that led up to the shootings.  Backderf, who was 10 years old in 1970, is an Ohio native and the author of My Friend Dahmer and Trashed.  Release is timed for April 2020, just ahead of the 50th anniversary of the shootings.  The book will be a hardcover with two-color interior with an MSRP of $24.99.

Drawing the Vote, by writer Tommy Jenkins and artist Katie Lacker, is an introduction to voting rights timed for the 2020 election year.  "It's a nonpartisan look at our voting system and how it's set up and how the laws have changed over the years," said Kochman.  Like Abrams’s 2012 graphic novel Economix, Drawing the Vote is factual and carefully sourced but drawn in a casual style that makes it appealing to readers of all ages.  The hardcover book is due out in April with an MSRP of $24.99.

I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf, by Grant Snider, is a collection of one-page comics about collecting and making books.  Snider is the creator of The Shape of Ideas, which Abrams published in 2017, and his work appears in The New York Times Book Review; he also posts his comics, including some that will be in the upcoming book, at his website, Incidental Comics.  I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf is scheduled for April and will be a hardcover with an MSRP of $16.99.

The Labyrinth, by Ben Argon, is an allegorical tale about existentialism, narrated by two mice in a maze. Kochman envisions it as a gift book, especially for new graduates: "It's a graduation present like [Dr. Seuss’s] Oh, the Places You Go, in that you're about to enter the rat race," he said.  "That's what the allegory is.  It's all about existence.  You're about to go on this thing.  What are we searching for?  What's the endgame?  What's the result?  What defines success?  What do you do when you achieve it?"  The hardcover book has a die-cut cover and will be released in April with an MSRP of $16.99.

Fire on the Water, by Scott MacGregor and Gary Dumm, is historical fiction based on a real event: It tells the story of the collapse of the tunnel under Lake Erie in 1916 from the point of view of the workers.  The graphic novel was originally published privately under the title Tunnel to Hell, and, said Kochman, "it got a shout-out as one of the best graphic novels of the year, even though it was literally a private printing."  MacGregor and Dumm are both Cleveland locals, and Dumm worked with Harvey Pekar on American Splendor.  The new edition of Fire on the Water adds a grayscale wash to the original art.  "It really made it come to life," Kochman said.  The hardcover is due out in May and will have an MSRP of $24.99.

A Gift for a Ghost, by Borja González, is a Spanish import with an Emily Carroll vibe; Kochman calls it "beautiful and haunting."  It will be published as a hardcover in May with an MSRP of $24.99.

Magic: The Gathering: Legends is a guidebook to the legendary creature cards from their introduction in the 1994 Legends set of Magic cards, early in the game’s history, to the spring 2020 set.  The book combines artwork from the cards with histories of the characters and creatures.  This is Abrams’ second book about Magic: The Gathering (see "’Magic: The Gathering: Rise of the Gatewatch: A Visual History’").  The hardcover is scheduled for July with an MSRP of $19.99.

Click Gallery below for full-size covers of Abrams ComicArts Spring 2020 releases!