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Lion Forge’s sci-fi / love graphic novel UPGRADE SOUL named one of the best books of 2018

Lion Forge Comics‘ graphic novel UPGRADE SOUL from Ezra Claytan Daniels has been named on two different prestigious end of year lists for best book.

Both The Library Journal and Publishers Weekly named the former Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics as one of their best books for 2018. 

The sci-fi love story about a couple who attempt to rejuvenate themselves but end up making much smarter, yet disfigured clones of themselves. 

Full press release is below. Artwork courtesy of Lion Forge. 


2018 Sleeper Hit Called One of the “Best Books of 2018” By Both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal

ST LOUIS, MO– Upgrade Soul, one of the most talked about graphic novels of 2018, was named as one of The Library Journal’s Best of 2018 this week, following the book’s appearance on Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2018 in October. Additionally, the book was recently selected as one of the year’s best graphic novels by online retail giant, AmazonUpgrade Soul had previously won the 2017 Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics with an un-proofed PDF. 

The book was immediately picked up and announced for publication this September to universal acclaim, including starred reviews and multiple recommendations from influential critics and publications alike.

Writer/illustrator Ezra Claytan Daniels toiled nights and weekends on the book for fifteen years while pursuing a career as a trial graphics consultant on high-stakes court cases, including working with the US Department of Justice to put corrupt Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in prison. 

“I worked with expert witnesses from all kinds of fields, from political science to biology to mass spectrometry” says Ezra Claytan Daniels. “My job was to distill their expertise into graphics and illustrations that a layperson could understand at a glance from 15 feet across the room.” 

That ability to make complex concepts accessible is a defining characteristic of Upgrade Soul, a book that bounces seamlessly between hard science fiction and heady philosophy, without ever losing sight of the emotionally devastating love story at its core.

For their 45th anniversary, Hank and Molly Nonnar decide to undergo an experimental rejuvenation procedure, but their hopes for youth are dashed when the couple is faced with the results: severely disfigured yet intellectually and physically superior duplicates of themselves. Can the original Hank and Molly coexist in the same world as their clones? This page-turning graphic novel follows Hank and Molly as they discover the brutal reality that only one version of themselves is fated to survive.

“Working in a complete bubble for as long as I did with Upgrade Soul, I would often lean on fantasy for motivation. I’m not ashamed to admit I mocked up fake ‘Best of the Year’ ads and wrote fake press quotes and posted them around my workspace” says Daniels. “Of course, part of the fantasy was that these things would actually come true, but the pessimist in me would never let me REALLY believe that. There is nothing more satisfying after 15 years with a project than replacing those fake nods with real ones.”

Upgrade Soul is available now in finer bookstores, libraries, and comic shops everywhere!

“…(A) deeply horrifying and surprisingly thoughtful exploration of identity, aging, and love.”–Library Journal

“Originally serialized on an iPhone app with an original musical score, this innovative and plot-twisting sci-fi love story maintains that experimental spirit on the printed page with stunning color and cunning character design. When Hank and Molly agree to be the first subjects in a youth-regeneration cloning scheme, the disturbing outcome raises big philosophical questions about the meaning of identity.”–Publishers Weekly

About the Author: 
Ezra Claytan Daniels is a writer and illustrator based in Los Angeles, California. His critically acclaimed graphic novel series, The Changers, began a unique career peppered with a number of collaborative multimedia projects ranging from video games to animation to feature documentaries.
Ezra is the creator of the popular live art spectacle, the Comic Art Battle, which was a staple of the Stumptown Comics Festival and the template for countless iterations at comics and art events throughout the country, as well as Loaded Blanks Greeting Cards, a line of fill-in-the-blank comic-art greeting cards featuring both established as well as up-and-coming comics artists.

Ezra collaborated with Chicago-based chamber group Fifth House Ensemble on the narrative concert series Black Violet. He also contributed animation to experimental hip-hop luminary Alexis Gideon’s Video Musicsseries of animated rap operas and has worked on several interactive projects with esteemed interactive artist Erik Loyer. His most recent collaboration, The Golden Chain, an animated short film co-directed with experimental video artist Adebukola Bodunrin, has screened at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the British Film Institute, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, MFA Boston, REDCAT Theater, ATA San Francisco, and at Art Basel, Switzerland. In 2017, The Golden Chainwas acquired by the Whitney for their permanent collection.

Ezra’s latest graphic novel, Upgrade Soul, began life as a pioneering immersive serialized graphic novel for iOS in 2012. Upgrade Soul has been frequently featured on the Apple App Store, was named a 2013 IndieCade Finalist, and has exhibited at the Hyde Park Art Center, the Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Upgrade Soul was a featured project at the Fantoche International Animation Festival in Baden, Switzerland, Haarlem Stripdagen in Amsterdam, and the Fumetto International Comics Festival in Lucerne.

Daniels is repped by Paradigm on behalf of Chad Luibl of Janklow & Nesbit.

Dan Berry
Dan Berry
Dan Berry is a man of mystery, an enigma that flits from convention to convention like a spectre, like a spirit. His interests range far and wide: he cannot be determined, he cannot be defined, he cannot be contained. He's like the wind. He also is a Sagittarius and enjoys a nice Italian.

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