My favorite comic book, graphic novels reads of 2021

Captain Orion, longtime reader of comics and graphic novels, of strangerworlds.com, writes:

2021 was a quiet year for comic book stores and retail shelves, but the awesome new reads keep coming.

The impact of the ongoing global pandemic continues to affect the industry, creators, publishers. Yet, there the push to keep sequential arts remains perpetual in a forward direction, from and for folks who are passionate for its pure form of art and storytelling. Comic books and graphic novels will never die as long as there are intelligent creatures who can distinguish, interpret, enjoy visual storytelling. But in our present days, that may change in format, and how they are received.

For myself, I am well aware of the new trends of online comics as long form storytelling, particularly with WebToons, and scrolling comics. I do find that evolving form interesting, but found nothing yet that has grabbed me. There are many new webcomics series self-published as well, which I hope to explore in 2022. But for last year, it was all about print and what was available at comic stores, borrowed from friends and local libraries.

I’m often excited if a favorite writer or artist is involved, so there might be a bit bias for how much involved with a read I get. In 2021, I was especially excited to see many favored names prominent on shelves, especially Mark Russell, J.H. Williams III, Naoki Urasawa, Tom Taylor, and more. I also discovered new favorites for the years ahead.

Many of those, I will share below as my best comics and graphic novels of 2021, which I highly recommend for 2022…

BEST SUSPENSE SERIES of 2021

Stray Dogs

Writer: Tomy Fleecs Artist: Trish Forstner, Tone Rodriguez, Brad Simpson
Publisher: Image Comics (limited series)

It’s scary being the new dog. In this suspenseful new series, readers meet Sophie, a dog who can’t remember what happened. She doesn’t know how she ended up in this house. She doesn’t recognize any of these other dogs. She knows something terrible happened, but she just…can’t…recall…Wait! Where’s her lady? Now Sophie has to figure out where she is, what’s happening, and how she’s going to survive this. They say there’s no such thing as a bad dog—just bad owners.

Stray Dogs is an underrated hit and an exhilarating reading experience. By that, I mean looking at the old cartoons. mostly from Disney where house pets and street animals are humanized, to a point of talking and having there own lives. But, also with a realistic approach keeping in mind their physical limits. Stray Dogs brings it all to a creepy extreme, with grisly murder and dark turns where nothing is off the table for the fates of some very cute, talking animals. Throw in some many nail-biting moments, leading to an epic finale. And overall, Stray Dogs is an awesome read.

BEST FANTASY (and NEW) SERIES of 2021

ECHOLANDS

Writer: W. Haden Blackman, J.H. Williams III Artist: Dave Stewart, J.H. Williams III
Publisher: Image Comics (monthly series)

In a bizarre future world that has forgotten its history, a reckless thief, Hope Redhood, holds the key to excavating its dark, strange past—if only she and her crew can escape a tyrannical wizard and his unstoppable daughter. But fate will send them all on a path leading to a war between worlds. Echolands is a landscape format, mythic-fiction epic where anything is possible—a fast-paced genre mashup adventure that combines everything from horror movie vampires to classic mobsters and cyborg elves, to Roman demigods and retro rocket ships. It’s going to be a helluva ride!

This series is a bold mix of magic, technology, world-building, but with a unique feel and presentation, bringing the reader on a dreamy, wild journey. Echolands delivers well with a landscape oriented pages, utilizing J.H. Williams III (which I know well from Batwoman, Promethea) inventive use of panels and transition. It’s all very fast-paced as we follow Hope and friends are in constant danger, but also for the reader to slow-down and really take in beautiful complexities of this strange, fantastic adventure full of interesting concepts. Also, love the extras every issue brings, expanding upon both the insights of the creators and the world of Echolands. This brings what true fantasy should be, without limits and breaking the boundaries of the fantastic.

BEST SCIENCE FICTION SERIES of 2021

We Only Find Them When They’re Dead

Writer: Al Ewing Artist: Simone Di Neo
Publisher: BOOM! Entertainment (monthly Series)

Captain Malik and the crew of the spaceship the Vihaan II are in search of the only resources that matter — and can only be found by harvesting the giant corpses of alien gods that are found on the edge of human space. While other autopsy ships and explorers race to salvage the meat, minerals, and metals that sustain the human race, Malik sees an opportunity to finally break free from this system: by being the first to find a living god. But Malik’s obsession with the gods will push his crew into the darkest reaches of space, bringing them face to face with a threat unlike anything they ever imagined, unless the rogue agent on their trail can stop them first…

This is some crazy cool sci-fi fun, told with modern digital coloring, slick animated style, and fluid storytelling. There’s action mixed with moral reflection on our place in the stars, and the limits sentients ponder on breaking. But also, the story feel believable with space physics and engineering that doesn’t seem like made up nonsense. Our main hero, Captain Malik, is the cosmic romantic with an deep life-story bringing him to the edge of the known, and beginning of the unknown. It’s all a wonderful story unfolding in vibrant color and dramatic faire, giving this hard sci-fi a wicked sharp edge. I look forward to see where this all goes!

BEST COMICS PANELING of 2021

The Body Factory: From the First Prosthetics to the Augmented Human

Writer: Heloise Chochois Artist: Kendra Boileau
Publisher: Graphic Mundi – PSU Press (graphic novel)

A young man has a horrible motorcycle accident. He wakes up in the hospital to discover that one of his arms has been amputated. Then a portrait on the wall of his hospital room begins to speak to him. The subject of the painting introduces himself as Ambroise Paré, the French barber-surgeon who revolutionized the art of amputation. From this wonderfully absurd premise, the two begin an imaginary conversation that takes them through a sweeping history of surgical amputation, from the Stone Age to the Space Age. Unencumbered by pathos or didacticism, this graphic novel explores the world of amputation, revealing fascinating details about famous amputees throughout history, the invention of the tourniquet, phantom limb syndrome, types of prostheses, and transhumanist technologies. Playfully illustrated and seriously funny, The Body Factory is sure to delight anyone interested in the history and future of medicine and how we repair and even enhance the body.

This read is both a wild story journey and a real look at the history, science, psychology of amputations and prosthetics. The story is also psychological, dealing with a protagonist dealing with the loss of his body part, and coming to terms with what comes next. It’s fascinating on that level where the situation can happen to us, what how we can understand, given it’s necessity to history and medical solutions. There are parallels of the fictional, the non-fictional, textbook information, mixed in a strategic placements giving the reader a broader understanding of the subject matter. The Body Factory gives much on this unfortunate situation that amputation brings, yet also giving an enlightened approach on the act of living through fixing ourselves. Telling this through expressive art, story mixed with information through this inventive, entertaining style, is awesome.

BEST SUPERHERO SERIES of 2021

Superman: Red and Blue

Writer/Artist: (Various)
Publisher: DC Comics (limited series)

Around the world, everyone knows that when they see a red-and-blue streak in the sky, it’s not a bird…it’s not a plane…it’s Superman. Collected for the first time in its entirety, this unforgettable anthology series showcases fresh new visions of the Man of Steel in his two signature colors!

A series of very diverse stories about Superman, sometimes from different perspectives, that give a fresh look at a character that some would think all has been done to. Those people would be wrong. There are some very interesting takes on Superman, his strengths and weaknesses, and what helped make him so iconic. All of these stories, with an artistic challenge where only red and blue colors used. I loved every issues, and excited to read about Superman again.

BEST CREATIVE STORYTELLING of 2021

Mawrth Valliis

Writer/Artist: EPK
Publisher: Image Comics (graphic novel)

During a skirmish with an opposing Martian faction, a fighter pilot disobeys orders to pursue a fleeing foe. Guided by her determination and curiosity, she is led into a dangerous chase through Mars’s forbidden valley where she will be confronted with the red planet’s darkest of secrets. A fast-paced, 128-page, full-color, pocket-format, sci-fi adventure through Mars’s mysteries all told in its original Martian form.

It’s a short read with a lot of heart. There’s a pursuit across a Martian landscape, leading to some fantastic twists and turns. But, also, there is no exposition of an Earth language. It’s all in “Martian.” giving the reader a more alien feel, and more reading of actions, reactions, and situation. There is more show, don’t tell, and I love that. The use of colors are fantastic, the choice of opposites of blank and white in our two main characters are brilliant. The end is haunting, leaving room for the reader to ponder its overall message and true nature of the story.

BEST SATIRE SERIES of 2021

Not All Robots

Writer: Mark Russell Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.
Publisher: AWA Studios – Upshot (monthly Series)

In the year 2056, robots have replaced human beings in the workforce. An uneasy co-existence develops between the newly intelligent robots and the ten billion humans living on Earth. Every human family is assigned a robot upon whom they are completely reliant. What could possibly go wrong? Meet the Walters, a human family whose robot, Razorball, ominously spends his free time in the garage working on machines which they’re pretty sure are designed to kill them in this sci-fi satire from Mark Russell (The Flintstones, Second Coming) and Mike Deodato Jr. (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Resistance).

I love Mark Russell’s style at satire with Prez, Flintstones, God is Disappointed in You, dark but with a mix of wit and humor to it all. But here is a brilliant escalation in Not All Robots; to what happens when machines are made to be more human, with attitudes and status. There is a lot of back and forth with human elements/ That includes taken in all the insecurities are also inherited with both humans and machines that they create. But there’s also a lot of metaphorical moments, bouncing back to who we treat as machines today, who we take for granted, and groups we take in as cheap, willing labor. It’s funny, because we see the absurdities that Mark Russell loves to mix as cartoonish tropes brilliantly disguised as current, real human issues.

BEST IMPORTED SERIES of 2021

Asadora!

Writer/Artist: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher:
Viz (published in monthly volumes, 16 volumes)

In 2020, a large creature rampages through Tokyo, destroying everything in its path. In 1959, Asa Asada, a spunky young girl from a huge family in Nagoya, is kidnapped for ransom—and not a soul notices. When a typhoon hits Nagoya, Asa and her kidnapper must work together to survive. But there’s more to her kidnapper and this storm than meets the eye.

Asadora is a historical fiction, science fiction, and suspense mystery all rolled together. There’s much stroy to follow with multiple plotlines, but with memorable characters that we trust will eventually be more connected – a signature style to the storyteller that brought us Monster, 20th Century boys, Pluto – all great works but took time to develop. There’s only a few volumes in the US so far, and off to a big start. Asadora gives more in curiosity with real life events mixed in with science fiction familiarities; all rooted deep in Japanese culture. We also get some great developments, with some tense reactions. But Naoki Urasawa’s art style seems more detailed than ever here. I’m excited, and looking forward to reading more of this in 2022.

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL of 2020

Monsters

Writer/Artist: Barry Windsor-Smith
Publisher: Fantagraphics (graphic novel)

In this pen-and-ink graphic novel, in 1964, Bobby Bailey is recruited for a U.S. military experimental genetics program that was discovered in Nazi Germany 20 years prior. His only ally, Sergeant McFarland, intervenes to try to protect him, which sets off a chain of events that spin out of everyone’s control. As the titular monsters multiply, becoming real and metaphorical, literal and ironic, the story reaches its emotional and moral reckoning. Windsor-Smith has been working on this passion project for more than 35 years, and Monsters is part intergenerational family drama, part espionage thriller, and part metaphysical journey. Trauma, fate, conscience, and redemption are just a few of the themes that intersect in the most ambitious (and intense) graphic novel of Windsor-Smith’s career.

Monsters is brutal, mean, and really putting the “graphic” into graphic novel. The art is amazing with a story that leads through the familiar territory of government experiments gone out of control, but then heads into darker territory into both physiological and psychological. It’s started as a Hulk story, then kind of mutated over time, with elements from Barry Windsor’s work on Conan and Marvel’s Wolverine story of Weapon X. There is amazing passion that comes from telling the grand story of Barry Windsor-Smith’s Monsters, which comes out as an uncomfortable, emotionally-driven masterpiece.

BEST REPRINTING OF CLASSICs of 2021

Berserk Deluxe Editions

Writer/Artist: Kentaro Muira
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics (published in volume compilations)

Not much else needs to be said about the amazing epic story of Berserk and art/storytelling of Kentaro Muira. His sad passing in 2021 has brought fans and new readers together to further appreciate his great work and what we will miss in the years ahead. But to best appreciate his work I believe, are these amazing deluxe hardcover compilations of his smaller sized manga volumes, all beautiful brought on larger, high quality pages. For myself in later years of rereading, this will be how I best enjoy the story of Guts and his many companions and challenges.

BEST HISTORICAL COMICS of 2021

The Comic Book History of Animation

Writer: Fred Van Lente Artist: Ryan Dunlavey
Publisher: IDW Publishing (limited series)

Incredibly informative and very entertaining. From the Victorian Era to the Digital Age, no bits of significant knowledge of moving art is forgotten and so well put together. Everything makes perfect sense, especially in the critical turn of my growing up with Saturday morning commercialized cartoons, anime binges through college, emotional Pixar masterpieces, and all in between and moving ahead. Much behind the scenes is explained, including many rough legal spots and bitter feuds, leaving the history of the industry as cartoonish and wacky as expressed through every chapter.

That’s all my favorites for the 2021 year. I probably missed or overlooked some as I could only cover so much. I would love to read your favorites in the comments below.

Short Animated Film Find: Fuelled

Fuelled

KilledtheCat Productions
Sheridan Animation 2021 Group Film
Group MentorJason Par, Music Composer: Sebastian Reuten
Published: December 2021 on Youtube

Synopsis: Fuelled tells the story of a housewife on the path of revenge for her late husband.

Personal Thoughts:

What a beautiful, sad story this is. Fuelled is simple, timeless template of happiness to tragedy to revenge to madness to sadness.

Through it, these andromorphic characters express powerfully through emotional action and reaction. No word are needed, as the facial expressions tell enough. We feel, reflected on the beautiful postcard lives the housewife and husband had. We can be happy through them. The music, lighting, gentle animation of the past is sweet. Then soured by murder, and events of the present. It’s twisted, sad, and yet still emotionally driven. That ending left me haunted, though with a lesson on grief and resolution (or lack there of)

I love that animation is perfect and beautiful. Many animators/storyteller in the credits are attributed to this short project. Each involved should be very proud of this outstanding result, and likely elevate and branch off into bigger projects.

Trailer Teaser for Night of the Cooters delivers stylish weird west intrigue

During the 1800’s, strange otherworldly visitors menaced the small town of Pachuco, Texas. The people of that town banded together, to survive and fight back. This is the story of the Night of the Cooters.

That tale set for 2022 as an indie film, based on a classic short story by science fiction author Howard Waldrop. The screenplay is by Joe Lansdale, and produced by George R.R. Martin, best known as author of the Game of the Thrones book series. Vincent d’Onofrio, well-known for his Kingpin portrayal in Netflix’s Daredevil series, directs and stars in this sci-fi western.

Here’s is a teaser tailer…

George R.R. Martin presented the above trailer for online viewing on his official website, with more details on the filming still in progress, with a projection to complete by “February, Maybe March.”

For the photo realistic hybrid style, George R.R. Martin worked with Trioscope Studios. Its graphic novel appeal mixes for a different animated result, giving Night of the Cooters a viewing experience unlike other weird sci-fi westerns to date. Trioscope is based in the U.S., but now globally reaching out with multiple projects. Their European branch premiered on Netflix in 2020 with “The Liberator“, a four issue TV serial and World War II drama, done in their signature style.

Night of the Cooters looks fun, with an indie feel for those appreciate something different and fresh for any fresh sci-fi or weird west cravings in 2022. George R.R. Martin and Vincent d’Onofrio are also an interesting collaboration, both well respected in fandom communities, and have returned that back in their work and side projects including this.

No solid release date or venue for Night of the Cooters is yet set for this time. Yet, worth keeping an eye open, especially for any small town Texas folks from the 1800s.

Relaunch to the Stranger Worlds, to infinity and beyond

Believe, the best adventures take the longest times through uncertain paths.

A true explorer can expect to get lost, finding maps useless and going by instinct, looking further into the unknown, stepping toward with curiosity. Use intelligence to take calculated risks, always be inquisitive and gain more data to keep every step moving forward, passing on as stories for others to expand upon and take further steps. Repeat the cycle and look further to those infinite possibilities that hide in our Stranger Worlds.

That’s where we return to this site after a long hiatus, with a new path on what’s to come. The hiatus was filled with distractions, anti-stories, fixated on the repercussions of an ongoing pandemic escalating personal responsibilities. I had to stop, rethink, then step forward again.

What can be done now to stand out, to be something other than a place where we tell things, and actually contribute to the grander infinite scope of stories and Imaginative power? This site, is to be a vessel to extract what needs to be explored, and shared. For that to happen, this atmosphere must be welcoming, yet reel in curiosity and bring out the explorer inside.

Remember the mission, to boost and promote creative work through the Stranger Worlds expedition…

To explore these imaginative, creative ideas and storytelling in every form through literature, visual art, motion, interactivity, music and mixtures of such. Seek samplings, previews, shorts, demos, displays of interesting findings. In our findings we encourage discussions, conversations, and new inspirations leading to further exploration.

So, Strangerworlds.com is now reactivated with changes. The site now has a darker presentation with some colors to emphasize the way. The site will have less clutter, with links to our social media. Our Discord site will be a main hub for communications among readers and creators. There will be less focus on telling and more on encouraged sharing. While informing of interesting imaginative works, we hope to share exclusive content, to be a gateway to other creators who seek to remain independent of corporate influence. In it’s center will be our upcoming project, which will be a main feature on Strangerworlds.com:

Stranger Worlds Quarterly.

There will be more on that soon. But for now, let’s renew strangeworlds.com to new horizons, portals, and beyond. I hope many of you will join our crew on the new adventures of adventures. Keep discovering, keep sharing, keep exploring.

Stranger Worlds await us all.

Big changes, new horizons…

After much thinking and heavy thought, there will be momentous changes for the Stranger Worlds journey.

There will be new plans, and a repurpose of its original mission on this grand journey. To discover, and rediscover the worlds of the infinite imagination and beyond. There will be reaching out, with new tools and a crew gathering, to a whole new outlook, and presentation to our findings, to share and bring back so most far our concepts and ideas that only our creative minds can fathom..

Sometimes, that means going a different way. More information will come soon across strangerworlds.com, its social media connections, and more. It all might take a little time to present our pathways, but we will get there….

Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology comics adaptation returns with a new volume

Recent news release from Dark Horse Comics:

The comic book adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s best-selling book, Norse Mythology, will continue from Dark Horse, this coming month of June. Eisner-winning comics writer P. Craig Russell, with artists Matt Horak (The Punisher, The Covenant), Mark Buckingham (Hellblazer, Miracleman), Gabriel Walta (Barbalien: Red Planet, Sentient), Sandy Jarrell (Archie, Meteor Men), and colorist Lovern Kindzierski (The Worst Dudes, The Sandman) will team together for the upcoming six-issue follow-up series, Norse Mythology II.

Explore the origins of poetry—good and bad—in this tale of malicious dwarfs, suspicious giants, and the wise god Kvasir, whose eventual fate leads to the creation of a powerful mead that many will fight and die for.

Also available will be a variant cover for each issue by longtime comics artist, David Mack.

“It has been an absolute delight working with the slate of artists assembled for our adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology,” says Russell in a recent DH press release. “Sending the artists the layouts and then seeing their finished pages come rolling back in, each having brought their own unique artistic vision to the page, has been great fun.”

Norse Mythology II #1 (of six) will arrive in comic shops on June 16, 2021.

David Mack variant cover:

The Whispering Dark creators reimagines World War II with The Secret Land

Interesting news from Dark Horse Comics…

Coming soon, from writer Christofer Emgård and artist Tomás Aira, the creative team duo behind The Whispering Dark, return to Dark Horse comics with a new, upcoming cosmic horror mini-series and fictionalized reimagining of World War II in The Secret Land.

It is 1945, and Hitler is dead. Ben and Katherine are supposed to be together, happy. Instead, Ben fights the war in the Pacific with reckless heroism, believing his fiancée to be dead. However, Katherine lives, undercover aboard a German submarine.

As Ben tries to move on, the US Navy receives a message. The Nazis are plotting their return, powered by strange and foreboding technology in Antarctica. When Ben learns Katherine is there, he knows he must go too.

As war engulfs the edge of the world, Ben and Katherine confront the truth about the boundaries of love, and what lies beyond them.

“Ever since The Whispering Dark I’ve been looking to reprise my collaboration with Tomás, and The Secret Land finally provided the perfect opportunity. This mini-series began life as a pulpy horror tale (it does have both Nazis and tentacles in it…), but at its core it’s really a story about commitment, longing and loss. I feel Tomás has conveyed this beautifully through his evocative art and I hope the readers out there will feel the same.” said Christofer Emgård in a recent press release from Dark Horse Comics.

“Chris’ amazing script hooked me from day one and I was eager to flesh out these characters and continue building this terrifying world. Bringing the Otherlands to life has a strange fascination for me, and often I find myself fearful of the very monsters I’m painting, while adorning their abominable visage with teeth-covered appendices. There’s probably no better place to set up the darkest monsters than in WW2 but this time, humanity has upped the game, I’m rooting for them as I draw them! “ adds Tomás Aira.

The Secret Land #1 (of four) arrives June 9, 2021, at the comic stores everywhere. Emgård and Aira’s previous miniseries, The Whispering Dark is available now in collected trade paperback for $17.99.

COMPASS sets new comics adventure, history, and more for this summer

Image comics recently announced an all-new, five issue miniseries by acclaimed writer/creator Greg Rucka (The Old Guard), writers Robert Mackenzie and Dave Walker (Lazarus Sourcebook) with artist Justin Greenwood (Stumptown, The Fuse, The Last Siege) “to take readers on a breathless journey” in the forthcoming Compass, starting in June.

In Compass, readers meet Shahidah El-Amin, a main character who is many things: scholar, cartographer, astronomer, mathematician, scientist, explorer, adventurer, and—when need be—two-fisted fighter. Setting out from Baghdad’s legendary House of Wisdom during the Islamic Golden Age, Shahi’s quest brings her to 13th-century Britain…where the Welsh are whispered to possess the secret of eternal life. But Shahi’s not the only one after it…

“Compass was born out of our desire to tell a story of discovery without colonialism, of adventure without exploitation—something with the verve and energy of the pulps, but with a perspective that hadn’t been seen much in that genre,” said Mackenzie in a recent press release. “Getting there was its own process of discovery, and it’s been a joy to work with co-creators who have the talent to truly unearth Shahidah‘s quest. I’m so pleased to be able to share Compass with the world.”

“This story has been with Robert and I since our earliest days writing together. We wanted to step into a world that felt definably real—but still with the thrills of haunted ruins, ancient wonders, deadly rivals,” said Walker. “Justin found that world immediately and brought it to life, and Daniela, Simon and Greg have all added their inimitable touches to truly make it something special.”

Greenwood added: “Compass has just the kind of energy and fun that I’d been looking for in a new project. The sense of adventure is palpable in every issue and Shahi is one of the most engaging characters I’ve ever gotten to draw. Compass being a teen book is also a big bonus for me creatively, as my kids are finally getting old enough to read comics too. I’ve always enjoyed this type of pulpy action comic but being able to share it with my family is a new and gratifying experience. Very excited to share what this talented creative team has been cooking up.”

“I fell in love with Dave and Robert’s idea the moment they shared it with me. I love stories rooted in historical truth, in facts that have somehow been overlooked or—more frequently, I think—ignored in favor of another, more ‘traditional’ narrative,” said Rucka. “As much as Compass is an action-adventure with all of those wonderful pulp elements I adore, its engine is personal and intimate, ultimately about the friendship between two very impressive, very capable women from two very different backgrounds. As soon as I realized that, I knew Justin was the only artist who could deliver what Dave and Robert were after. I’m very proud to claim a very small part in making this book come to life.”

Compass #1)will be available at comic book shops and digitally across many digital platforms, on Wednesday, June 16th.

Here’s a four page preview in the meantime:

Thanks to Image Comics for the preview, visit imagecomics.com for more!.

The upcoming Little Nemo game, dreams Mega Ran to its soundtrack

The Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends new video game is currently on Kickstarter, based on the very groundbreaking early 1900s Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strips by American cartoonist Windsor McCay, has some new surprises for gaming fans, with an addition to its soundtrack.

But first, a little more about the game:

Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends follows the adventures of a 7-year-old boy in the world of his dreams. Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends finds Nemo and his friends fighting off the invasion of the Nightmare Fiends, who threaten the existence of Slumberland itself!

Featuring hand-drawn, keyframed artwork and animation, Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends combines the exquisite art and wild dreams of the original comic with reimagined characters and new adventures. The game is currently in early prototype form and is tentatively slated to release in 2022.

Pie for Breakfast Studios, an award-winning game studio blending play with the arts, and independent studio PxlPlz recently announced the soundtrack for Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends will be composed by Wayne Strange, a video game composer, vocalist, and orchestrator whose previous work includes score prep work on game soundtracks like Star Trek: The Video Game and God of War: Ascension, as well as arrangements for Materia Collective and Video Games Live.

The soundtrack will also include a guest track by the prolific hip-hop nerdcore artist Mega Ran, whose music blends education, hip-hop, and gaming. He has covered and remixed numerous classic game soundtracks, including Capcom’s Little Nemo the Dream Master (which is an awesome and very underrated classic of the NES 8-bit era).

Mega Ran’s recently released a memoir, Dream Master, that details his personal journey and is named after Little Nemo. Current plans for the soundtrack will see it exploring different genres of music, lending the game a lucid dream-like quality. Backers to the game’s Kickstarter can pre-order a copy of the soundtrack in both digital and CD formats.

Here is the Little Nemo track backed by the Little Nemo NES game music.

Further details of the game involve the control of Nemo and his 3 friends: the magic-wielding Princess of Slumberland, the mischievous clown Flip, and the agile royal guard Peony, an original character created for this game. Each character has different abilities that help them navigate the dangers in Slumberland. The game offers a system that lets players switch between characters quickly, allowing them to use different characters’ abilities in tandem for powerful combinations.

The music and animation look promising for Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends. Check out the Kickstarter and eventual release details at www.LittleNemoGame.com.

Lady Mechanika returns to comic stores and, and raise steampunk brows

Recently announced, the fan-favorite steampunk adventure series by comic artist and storyteller Joe Benitez, Lady Mechanika will return with in 2021 with a new publisher, Image Comics. The adventure begins anew with a special Free Comic Book Day 2021 edition of her first appearance for participating comic shops on Saturday, August 14. Then, a new Lady Mechanika story series launching this September, also from Image Comics.

Lady Mechanika follows the story of a young woman during the Victorian Era who is desperately in search of the secrets to her past—a past that left her with extraordinary, but unnatural, mechanical limbs. Lady Mechanika publishing run began in 2010, carried on with multiple mini series, all then self published by its creator Joe Benitez.

The entire backlist of Lady Mechanika will be made available from Image Comics too, beginning this August with the long anticipated reprints of the volume one trade paperback and hardcover editions. These reprints will join a total of seven trade paperbacks and five hardcover editions of the beloved series.

“I’m very excited that Lady Mechanika is moving to Image!” said Benitez in a recent press release from Image Comics. “We hope this move will provide an opportunity to share the series with a new, wider audience, and also give us more time to focus on our creative strengths while letting the experts at Image handle publishing and marketing. We have so many stories to tell, hopefully this will help us get more of them out faster. The next story arc we’re calling ‘The Monster of the Ministry of Hell-th’ will deal with a piece of Lady Mechanika’s haunted past. Check out a preview of the new book in our FCBD issue!”

Eric Stephenson, Publisher & Chief Creative Officer at Image Comics also added: “We’re pleased to welcome Joe back to Image. Joe got his start at Image, as part of Marc Silvestri’s Top Cow Productions, and he has grown into a phenomenal talent over the years. What he has built for himself with Lady Mechanika is truly impressive, and it’s exciting to be part of what comes next for this incredible series.”

The FCBD 2021 edition of Lady Mechanika will include the stand-alone short story “The Demon of Satan’s Alley,” which first introduced Lady Mechanika and her steampunk world (Lady Mechanika #0)—plus a preview of “The Monster of the Ministry of Hell-th,” the newest story by series creator Joe Benitez which will debut this year at Image Comics.

Contact your local FCBD participating comic shop to learn more about these exciting freebies and more and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in FCBD 2021 on Saturday, August 14!