Cartoonist: Nima Afshar Release Date: Currently part of a Kickstarter campaign ending soon, summer 2021 for campaign backers Format: Full colour 60-page square-bound comic Publisher: Three Fold Comics (threefoldcomics.com) Price: $10 (AUS) for digital, $20 (AUS) for printed via its Kickstarter campaign, which offers more for backers who purchase beyond that. For this crowd-funding campaign, click here.
A post-apocalyptic cyberpunk adventure…
On a deep space colony where nuclear war has already damaged the planet, we find Branko Nourbakhsh and his people trying to find their way. His commanding officer Amon decides to slaughter a mining crew who calls for help, stealing resources in order to help their clan survive. Branko opposes Amon but is unable to stop him.
Ten Years later in the City of Argos, Branko is contacted by an old friend. It’s happening again; he must return. But a bounty has been placed on Branko’s head, he has to get past trackers and bounty hunters. Time is running out.
This is a very ambitious, first full-length glow in the dark comic book graphic novel, using a silkscreen printed technique for separated layers. The experience is further optimized with a ultraviolet black light.
Break: Run‘s creator, writer, artist is Nima Afshar, an Australian cartoonist of cyberpunk, sci-fi, and other imaginative stories. This book is his latest project offered to all through his current Kickstarter.com project, where you can purchase a limited run copy.
Here’s a video explaining more of Break: Run and its creative process:
Here’s a preview of sample pages from break: Run. Nima Afshar offers a larger preview of the first 24 pages at threefoldcomics.com.
Huge thanks to Nima Afshar for providing the information, art, and leads to his great project. Time is running short for his Kickstarter project, so get your copy now if interested!
Creator: Jenna Ayoub (writer/artist) Publisher: BOOM! Studios via their YA Kaboom! imprint Release Date: February 17, 2021 Format: Graphic novel, smaller-sized for younger readers
An all-new story about finding your place and learning to love where you are..
Willow has had a nomadic childhood—with two parents in the military, staying put has become a pipe dream. And when the family arrives at their latest stop— the historic Hadleigh House— Willow encounters something that doesn’t help her chances of finding home…ghosts!
Hadleigh House’s spectral residents have been scaring off would-be homebuyers for decades, and they intend to keep the house to themselves. But Willow’s not about to let some nagging spirits force her to move for the millionth time. As Willow spends time in the house and gains the ghosts’ respect through her own strong will to stay in the house no matter what, they find that all of them belong there. Together, the restless spirits are finally able to find some peace, and Willow finds a home.Then it’s just a matter of convincing Willow’s parents that this old house is the one for them- ghosts included.
Forever Home is a fresh graphic novel for middle grade and younger readers by cartoonist Jenna Ayoub (Adventure Time), from Boom! Studios through its Kaboom! young readers imprint.
Check your local and online comic book stores for availability and order options. Digital version is available at the BOOM! Studios webstore or purchased from content providers, including ComiXology, iBooks, Google Play, and Madefire.
Huge thanks to BOOM @ Studios for the following preview. For more on this release and more, visit www.boom-studios.com.
Oh 2020, what an unusual year for the comic book industry.
Sadly, there are less comic book stores, less retail book outlets, and those left are mostly now struggling to survive through the ongoing global pandemic. There’s also the freeze on comic cons, potential book signings, promotions. 2020 was a troublesome year for creators, merchants, publishers, and readers.
Yet, the sequential arts shall survive. Graphic novels sales are up by 29% since 2019! Also, there are many fresh reads throughout the year, and more time among the masses to catch up on these and past work with with the quarantines and lockdowns. Also, buying comics supports the industry, among the struggling creators, publishers, distributers, small business dealers.
So below, are my bestest picks released for 2020, based on what I have checked out.
This series keeps on surprising, with twists and turns while presenting a secret world of Black magic that feels more intricate and responsible than your typical Hogwarts melodrama.
BEST COMIC BOOK COVER of 2020
Amazing Spider-Man #55 (latest series)
Artist: Patrick Gleason Publisher: Marvel Comics
I don’t know if the story is good, but the cover is just too awesome to ignore!
BEST COLORING of 2020
MTSYRY: Octobriana 1976
Writer/Artist: Jim Rugg Publisher: AdHouse Books
The black light colors are truly eye-popping, with this modern take on an old Russian superhero from the early Bronze Age. To further the color even more, Jim Rugg also put out a 1970s style coloring issue, and colorless version as well. Masterful stuff!
BEST INSANITY of 2020
Dark Nights: Death Metal
Writer: Scott Snyderand others Artist: Greg Capullo and others Publisher: DC Comics (monthly mini -eries and crossover one-shots)
Also the best guilty pleasure of 2020. As a big DC fan since the late 1980s, the is the most ridiculous and over-the top crossover event yet. Everything has gone wrong in the DCU as an army evil Batman from the Dark Multiverse take over, and things just get crazier from there.
BEST SUSPENSE SERIES of 2020
Something is Killing the Children
Writer: James Tynion IV Artist: Werther Dell’Edera Publisher: DC Comics (monthly series
If you enjoy horror, mystery, stronger and darker content than Stranger Things, than Something is Killing the Children is waiting for you to turn its pages. It’s different, not as spoon fed in pacing, full of mystery, and has a unique protagonist.
I love this story, which feels like a mix of old fashioned pulp, mixed with grit and light campy elements. Great survival story revolving around adventure, danger, friendship. Also love the alien landscapes, designs, and space tech – simple yet escapist pleasure for sure!
BEST CHARACTER STUDY of 2020
DARTH VADER Vol. 1 – Dark Heart Of The Sith
Writer/Artist: Greg Pack, Raffaele Ienco Publisher: Marvel Comics (#1-5 of the latest series, collected in trade paperback form)
This is an interesting read as it delves deeper into the inner conflict of Darth Vader since the events of Empire Strikes Back (but before Return of the Jedi), searching his feelings. This leads to a startling revelation, that you should read to find out. The result, gives more sense to his transition and actions in Return of the Jedi, yet also plays upon his cruel, corrupted nature.
BEST WRITTEN SERIES in 2020
John Constantine: Hellblazer
Writer: Simon Spurrier Artist: Matias Bergara, Arron Campbell, Marcio Takara Publisher: DC Comics (Black Label) (monthly series)
I freakin love Simon Spurrier’s writing from past work and here, also with great respect back to the Vertigo socio-political days of Delano and Ennis!
BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL of 2020
Writer/Artist: Chris Gooch Publisher: Top Shelf (graphic novel)
This was really, really good, and fitting for a pandemic time for themes of lonliness and isolation turning to friendships and communications through restrictive times. In this case, a prison system in a surreal future or alternate present. The artwork is perfect, with a masterful use of blacks and whites…check it out!
BEST REPRINTING OF CLASSIC COMICS of 2020
Mermaid Saga Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1
Writer/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi Publisher: Viz
Many fans of Rumiko Takahashi will know her best for the grander Inu-Yasha anime and manga series. But for me in my older days of when manga felt more fresh to comic books stores, Mermaid’s Saga captured my heart way more. Seeing it all complete, but this time better edited and and presented, is a treasure to behold.
BEST COMICS HISTORY BOOK of 2020
Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books
Writer: Ken Quatro Publisher: Yoe Books
An large book full of lost history detailing the stories and lives of many obscure Black cartoonists and comic creators during comics Golden Age around the Second World War. Full of rare panels, pictures, fascinating facts on multiple genre contributions (some are very surprising!) what would have been lost if not for this book.
And, that’s all my favorites for the 2020 year. I probably missed or overlooked that might have been better. Please if so, let me know in the comments. I don’t want to feel left out on your best books.
The Young Adult Library Association (YALSA) of the ALA (American Library Association) recently revealed its own list of “Great Graphic Novels for Teens,” for the 2021 year ahead.
This list was comprised by a committee of librarians from across the U.S. and one from the American Library in Paris. This selection of 126 titles narrowed down from 145 nominations. Each book is considered suitable for readers aged 12 to 18, and selected to “meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens.” That list can be viewed on their website at www.ala.org/yalsa/2021-great-graphic-novels-teens.
Also for YALSA, a team of librarian bloggers handpicked a top Ten list of graphic novel reads for young adults. That list is as follows…
Almost American Girl by Robin Ha. Balzer and Bray (HarperCollins) – Ha discusses the challenges of moving to America from her childhood home in South Korea, providing an honest and thoughtful perspective on being an outsider, finding your community, and how it feels to return to a home you’ve left behind.
Blue Flag (volume 1-5) manga by Kaito (Viz Media) – An unexpected love quadrangle forms when Taichi agrees to help Futaba pursue her crush, Toma, while friend Mami looks on. But Toma has feelings for someone else, and as friendships and romantic relationships develop, nothing is as clear cut as it seems.
Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence by Joel Christian Gill (Oni Press) – Joel Christian Gill narrates what it was like for him to grow up in a single-parent household in the 1980s, from childhood to young adulthood—Black, broke, and surrounded by uncertainty.
Go With the Flow by Karen Schneemann, art by Lily Williams (First Second / Macmillan) – Fed up with the empty tampon and pad dispensers at Hazelton High School, sophomores Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha decide to start a “menstruation revolution.” Through blog posts, letter-writing campaigns, and online fundraisers, the girls work together to make change.
Guantánamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison by Sarah Mirk, art by Gerardo Alba, Kasia Babis, Alex Beguez, Tracy Chahwan, Nomi Kane, et al. Abrams (ComicsArts / Abrams Books) – 2 Narratives about the infamous Guantánamo prison are illuminated in this anthology by multimedia journalist Sarah Mirk and a team of talented artists.
The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado, art by DaNi. (Hill House Comics / DC Comics) – El and Vee black out and lose time in a movie theater. While trying to figure out what happened, the girls uncover horrifying secrets about their community that span generations.
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen. (Random House Graphic / Penguin Random House) – Tiến is a first-generation Vietnamese American who struggles with coming out of the closet to his parents. Will Tiến find a way to connect in the fairytales he shares with his mother?
Snapdragon by Kat Leyh. (First Second / Macmillan. 2020) – Snap knows witches aren’t real, but when her dog goes missing, she checks at the local witch’s house just in case. From there, an unlikely friendship begins, and Snap discovers that witches may be real after all.
Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang, art by Gurihiru. (DC Comics) – In 1946, Lan-Shin (Roberta) Lee and her family move from Chinatown to central Metropolis and attempt to fit in with their neighbors. But when the Klan begins harassing the Lees, Roberta must team up with new friends to help Superman take down the Klan in this smart, action-packed adventure.
Wonder Twins, Volume 1 and 2) by Mark Russell, art by Stephen Byrne (DC Comics) – In this humorous and satirical reboot, alien twins Zan and Jayna have to balance their lives as high schoolers in Metropolis while trying to figure out if their actions as heroes are actually helping to solve any of the world’s real issues.
Overall, both lists are great with a nice look back at the best of 2020. But, also important is that much on this list holds a variety of genres, a mix of non-fiction and fiction, and full of ethnic and cultural diversity in both the art and creators involved. This list can be useful at all comic stores as a well, while we wait for the libraries to reopen.
Image Comics released announced a new graphic novel following its the release of Paul Is Dead, the critically acclaimed work of writer Paolo Baron and artist Ernesto Carbonetti. This time its Jim Lives: the Mystery of the Lead Singer of The Doors and the 27 Club, an all new original graphic novel that builds upon a theory that famed musician Jim Morrison never died. This is the second standalone graphic novel in a trilogy set ahead from Image Comics, this June 2021.
Perfect for fans of conspiracy theory and speculative thrillers, Jim Lives follows the story of a man searching for his son—a correspondent for a popular American newspaper—who vanished into thin air after sending one last, enigmatic message: Jim Morrison isn’t dead, he’s hiding out here in Italy, I saw him with my own eyes.
“I wrote Jim Lives by continuously listening to The Doors vinyl records while I was in the small village where I set the story,” said Baron in a recent press release from Image Comics. “At one point I really saw him. I mean Jim.”
Join the creators of Paul Is Dead as they reveal the second chapter in their “conspiracy trilogy”: a new, fascinating vision of the most mysterious legend in the history of rock that envisions what happened “When the Music’s Over.”
Carbonetti added: “I love to draw the small towns of the Italian province made of stone walls and roads that line the sea. While I was working on Jim Lives I felt there.”
Jim Lives original graphic novel will be available on Wednesday, June 16 and in bookstores on Tuesday, June 22. Also on many popular digital book platforms.
Paul Is Dead original graphic novel is still available at your local comic book shops and large retail shops and online stores everywhere!
Tis season shall not to be stopped by the ongoing global pandemic. Many will shop, yet find ways to best stay safe and minimalize risks of infection. Online or local, there are ways to continue the joyous gift giving tradition of our Xmas and winter holiday season!
So, that’s where you come in reaching out to a local bookseller or comic shop, hopefully still open or have a pickup thing going on. Online also works, if local options are too inconvenient. Either way, The book-sellers, publishers, artists, writers, and creative souls that drive the sequential arts need your help! And they can help you in return, by helping to put something new in the hands of someone awesome in your life, most deserving!
But choosing can be tough, especially in this tough time of social distancing and quarantining So, I put together a shortlist of awesome, fresh current shelf reads that I know of, or heard of, or recommended by a respected peers. Much of this is fresh, creator-driven material. Some things are just fresh formats for older. more obscure material now reprinted.
These are mostly currently obtainable through major retail book chains, comic book stores, and wherever new books can be at least ordered. NOTE: Book info below is for the US and Canada retail shelves release.
So, dig in and consider perhaps gifting any of these for yourself as well.
The World of Black Hammer: Volume 1
Writer / Artist: Jeff Lemire / Dean Ormston (Illustrator), David RubÌn (Illustrator), Max Fiumara (Illustrator) Published by: Dark Horse Comics Format: 256-hardcover ISBN: 978-1506719955
An expanded look at the world of Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Eisner Award-winning Black Hammer universe, with two complete series drawn by David Rubín and Max Fiumara. Sherlock Frankenstein lies at the heart of the mystery of what happened to Black Hammer, Spiral City’s greatest hero, and Black Hammer’s daughter is determined to uncover his role. Doctor Andromeda, an aged crime fighter, desperately struggles to reconnect with his estranged son as he takes on personal demons and interstellar battles.
Collects Sherlock Frankenstein & the Legion of Evil: From the World of Black Hammer and Doctor Andromeda and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows in a deluxe, oversized hardcover format with a new cover, sketchbook extras, and more!
Get this for… Black Hammer fans of course, or someone who enjoys comics and perhaps super hero movies on a more intellectual level. The Black Hammer stories can often be enjoyed as self-contained, but also a celebration of the long-standing contributions of super-hero storytelling as literary, character building devices!
Writer / Artist: Chris Gooch Published by: Top Shelf Productions Format: 560-page softcover paperback ISBN: 9781603094771
The inmates of an extensive underground prison struggle to build meaningful lives in a broken system, in the most ambitious graphic novel to date from rising indie star Chris Gooch (Bottled and Deep Breaths).Under-Earth takes place in a subterranean landfill, hollowed out to serve as a massive improvised prison. Sunken into the trash and debris of the past — gameboys, iphones, coffee cups, old cars — we follow two parallel stories.
In the first, a new arrival struggles to adapt to the everyday violence, physical labour, and poverty of the prison city. Overwhelmed and alone, he finds a connection with a fellow inmate through an old, beat-up novel. While these two silent and uncommunicative men grow closer thanks to their book, the stress of their environment will test their new bond. Meanwhile, a pair of thieves pull off a risky job in exchange for the prisons’ schematics and the promise of escape — only to be betrayed by their employer. On the run with their hope for escape now gone, the two women set their minds to revenge. Yet as they lay their plans, their focus shifts from an obsession with the outside world to the life they have with each other.
Equal parts sincerity and violence, Under-Earth explores humanity’s inextinguishable drive to find meaning, connection, and even family — and how fragile such constructions can be.
Get this for… A good friend, someone looking for new positives in these tough times, and enjoys a good long read! Also, Chris Gooch’s art is awesome, with an modern tone that feels both expressive yet beautifully simple.
Accidents and Old Lace and Other Stories
Writer / Artist: A; Feldstein / Graham Ingels Published by: Fantagraphics Format: 232-page Hardcover ISBN: 9781683963806
This volume collects short horror comics stories from Tales From the Crypt, Vault of Horror, Haunt of Fear, Crime SuspenStories, and Impact ― including a rare EC gem that hasn’t been seen since its original publication more than 65 years ago! These stories, which “Ghastly” Graham Ingels drew while he was at the pinnacle of his powers, include tales such as “Accidents and Old Lace.” Three sweet, little old ladies weave tapestries depicting the gruesome deaths of real people, but when an art dealer commits murder to get a tapestry of his own, he discovers just how closely art imitates … death. In “Marriage Vow,” a woman returns from the grave to fulfill her wifely duty to her murderous husband, until death does them … together; and in “The Sliceman Cometh,” an executioner during the French Revolution can’t escape the severed head of an innocent man.
Get this for… someone who loves good short horror stories from yesterday, lost but now found treasure in a book ol book. Some who loves scary movies, and needs to know where some of that stuff probably came from.
Lois Lane: Enemy of the People
Writer / Artist: Greg Rucka / Mike Perkins Published by: DC Comics Format: 304-page softcover ISBN: 1770463690
She uncovered the most dangerous secret in the DC Universe…now she just has to prove it! After a press briefing at the White House-and carrying a secret that could disrupt Superman’s life-Lois Lane embarks on a harrowing journey to uncover a threat to her husband and a plot that reaches the highest levels of international power brokers and world leaders. Bestselling writer Greg Rucka and acclaimed artist Mike Perkins team up for a tale of conspiracy, intrigue, and murder that tests the limits of tough-as-nails investigative journalist Lois Lane. As the mystery deepens, the Question hunts the people responsible for an attempt on the reporter’s life. But do they want her dead because of what she knows or to stop her from finding out more? Collects Lois Lane #1-12.
Get this for… someone who loves journalism, or feels Lois Lane deserves better than how she is written in the movies. Someone who also enjoyed the Lois Lane comics in the 70s (daring reporter!) more than the 60s (Superman’s crazy girlfriend!).
To survive after crash landing on an alien planet, a vacationer must battle against a hostile environment, killer lizards, corporate bureaucracy, and the pessimism of her sole companion, the drug-addled captain of the ship.
Get this for… who loves a good hearted story filled with friendship and danger, with some surprise twists. Personal note: I absolutely loved this, and you should at least buy this for yourself.
Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics
Writer / Artist: Tom Scioli Published by: Ten Speed Press Format: 208-page hardcover ISBN: 1984856901
Told in vivid graphic novel form by a groundbreaking Eisner-nominated comics creator, the long-overdue biography of the legend who co-created Captain America, Iron Man, Black Panther, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and many more superhero favorites.
Get this for…someone who really loves comic books and loves the history that Jack Kirby has helped greatly shaped and influenced on. Tom Scioli brings a special storytelling style with his art, very detailed and stylized through each page!
Transformers/Ghostbusters: Ghosts of Cybertron
Writer / Artist: Erik Burnham / Dan Schoening Published by: IDW Format: 126-page softcover paperback ISBN: 978-1684056200
Prime gets slimed! Crossing streams after 35 years, this action-packed graphic novel combines two of the most popular franchises in pop-culture history. After years of civil war, the Autobots fled Cybertron, leaving their home planet in the evil clutches of Megatron and his Decepticons. Years later and millions of miles away, the Autobots pick up a Cybertronian distress signal from a mysterious planet called Earth. The ghostly signal shouldn’t exist, and it’ll bring Optimus Prime and his team—including brand-new Autobot ECTOTRON—face-to-face with… the GHOSTBUSTERS!
Get this for…anyone who loves the golden age of 80s nostalgia through cartoons, movies, and toys.
Writer / Artist: François Vigneault Published by: Lion Forge Comics Format: 208-page softcover paperback ISBN: 1620107791
When MNGR First Class João da Silva arrives on the moon of Titan to take charge of Homestead Station, he finds the massive mining colony plagued by tensions between the giant, genetically-engineered Titan workers and the Terran management. As anger mounts, what began as a routine posting quickly turns into something far more dangerous.
Phoebe Mackintosh thought she left her fighting days behind her when she turned her back on the “mixing” circuit. Now, she finds herself caught between a past she’d rather forget and a future she can’t predict.Together, they must find a way to pull Homestead back from the brink of disaster… Or Titan might be the spark that sets the entire solar system ablaze.
Get this for… someone looking for something a little different in science fiction, probably watches Star Trek for the social commentary.
New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay (World of Wakanda, Difficult Women) adapts her short story “We Are the Sacrifice of Darkness” as a full-length graphic novel with writer Tracy Lynne Oliver (This Weekend), and artist Rebecca Kirby (Biopsy.) Expanding an unforgettable world where a tragic event forever bathes the world in darkness, The Sacrifice of Darkness follows one woman’s powerful journey through this new landscape as she discovers love, family, and the true light in a world seemingly robbed of any. This young adult drama challenges notions of identity, guilt, and survival in a graphic novel for fans of On A Sunbeam and Are You Listening?
Get this for… someone who loves beautiful art mixed with thoughtful storytelling. Also, those into fresh young adult section finds!
Shuri: Wakanda Forever
Writers: Vita Ayala, Nnedi Okorafor Artists: Leonardo Romero, Paul Davidson, Rachael Stott Published by: Marvel Comics Format: 224-page softcover paperback ISBN: 1302923692
The Black Panther’s techno-genius sister stars in her own incredible adventures! T’Challa has disappeared, and Wakanda expects Shuri to lead their great nation in his absence! But she’s happiest in a lab surrounded by her inventions. She’d rather be testing gauntlets than throwing them down! So it’s time for Shuri to rescue her brother yet again — with a little help from Storm, Rocket Raccoon and Groot! But what happens when her outer-space adventure puts Africa at risk from an energy-sapping alien threat? Then, Shuri heads to America to investigate a lead, with Ms. Marvel and Miles “Spider-Man” Morales along for the ride! But with her people in peril, will Shuri embrace her reluctant destiny and become the Black Panther once more? Prepare for a hero like you’ve never seen before!
Collects Shuri (2018) monthly single issue comic series #1-10.
Get this for… for Black Panther fans and MCU of course, but further more, a fresh superhero journey that feels classic in its own way and stays with the reader longer after the last page.
Writer / Artist: Junji Ito Published by: Viz Media LLC Format: 256-page Hardcover ISBN: 197471747X
(note: due out on December 15th)
Another of Junji Ito’s classics, the sci-fi masterwork Remina tells the chilling tale of a hell star. An unknown planet emerges from inside a wormhole, and its discoverer, Dr. Oguro, christens the body “Remina” after his own daughter. His finding is met with great fanfare, and Remina herself rises to fame. However, the object picks up speed as it moves along in its curious course, eliminating planets and stars one after another, until finally Earth itself faces extinction… Is the girl Remina the true cause of the catastrophe? A masterwork of horror from Junji Ito, unfolding on a universal scale.
Get this for… fans of Junji Ito! Also, someone who loves Japanese horror and science fiction on a much grander, cosmic scale. I haven’t check this one out, but the work of Junji Ito always breaks though and the imagination, and opens the reader to new and eerie dimensions.
Writer / Artist: Abraham Martinez Published by: NBM Graphic Novels Format: 144-page hardcover ISBN: 9781681122687
2051. The world’s largest company, The Company, has seized power on a planetary scale and runs the world as if it were a business. In a plutocracy, the richer one is, the more powerful one is. In this context, an anonymous citizen becomes compelled to uncover how the world came to this situation, without paying any attention to the official version. Several members of the government end up encouraging him to carry out this investigation by giving him access to all information. He decides to discover the true history of The Company and the various interests that are trying to influence his investigation.
Get this for… someone who loves to talk about politics a bit too much.
That’s all for now. I tried for a wide variety, yet not beyond my own reading interests. After all, it’s my personal list. But, if you have something you would like to add to that list, post it in the comments below.
As part the New York Comic Con and MCM Comic Con 2020 (both online as part of the “Metaverse,” because of the pandemic), the unveiling of the winners of the 2018 Harvey Awards commenced, carrying its annual tradition through a virtual ceremony.
The Harvey Awards remain part of the comic industry’s most prestigious awards. Since 1988, the Harvey Awards have highlighted significant achievements in the sequential arts industry, named after named in honor of legendary writer-artist Harvey Kurtzman.
But this year, a new change from the category of Best European Book to Best International Book. This amend, many will agree is long overdue.
Also among the winners announced, seven recipients were also honored for their outstanding contributions and important work done for the comic arts industry: Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy, Buddha), award-winning illustrator Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother, Beasts of Burden), and the core members of the groundbreaking Milestone Media imprint, Dwayne McDuffie, Derek T. Dingle, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis.
Voting was done by eligible industry professionals, currently headlined by the ReedPOP Exhibitions company.
Here below, the winners highlighted among the nominees are…
Book of the Year
Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden (First Second)
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang (First Second) (WINNER!)
Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim (Drawn and Quarterly)
The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis (Drawn and Quarterly)
Invisible Kingdom Vol. 1 by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward (Dark Horse Books/Berger Books)
Little Bird: The Fight for Elder’s Hope by Darcy Van Poelgeest and Ian Bertram (Image Comics)
Making Comics by Lynda Barry (Drawn and Quarterly)
Reincarnation Stories by Kim Deitch (Fantagraphics)
Rusty Brown by Chris Ware (Pantheon Graphic Library)
Something is Killing the Children Vol. 1 by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera (BOOM! Studios)
Digital Book of the Year
Afterliftby Chip Zdarsky and Jason Loo (comiXology Originals)
What a year it’s been, with just a few more months to go. A fun escape into new comic worlds might really help with that.
The global pandemic and related problems will likely stretch the anxieties and effects of social isolation further down for many. It’s a strange time for comic book fans, with shipping schedules interrupted and companies thrown into turmoil with comic stores and retail book outlets struggling.
But the sequential arts are still out there, waiting to be discovered and pushed. Many creators, artists, writers, and publishers have not quite backed down. They push and promote through “virtual” comic conventions, and still have fresh and exciting stuff to share.
So, give the digital screens and social media a break soon. Check your local new comics outlet, be it near or mail order online. Seek what’s new and exciting for whatever money you may have. Finding a fresh read has a wonderful joy that can take you away to a more thrilling place.
So, I have a guide below of some hand-picked comic volume trade paperbacks and graphic novels, either recently released or set for the next few weeks of October. Each is based on peer reviews, personal anticipations, celebrated creative talent, interesting interpretations, awesome art, and storytelling worthy of your attention.
So here we go (keep in mind, the following info is for tailored for United States releases).
(Orion T, aka Captain Stranger notes – Also, I am adding in personal commentary highlighted in blue).
Writer: Curt Pires Artist: Alex Diotto, Dee Cunniffe, Christian Ward Publisher: Image Comics Release Date: October 6th, 2020 Retail Price: $16.99 Age Rating: 16+ Format: softcover 176 pages
Elon is a latchkey kid who spends his days alone reading comic books-until his favorite superhero, Olympian, comes crashing off the page and into reality! But as he nurses his wounded and delirious hero back to health, he discovers Olympian isn’t the only thing that came through… something evil followed him. A comedic yet heartfelt love letter to the comics medium, Olympia is also a meditation on hope and loss, conceived by Curt Pires (Wyrd) and his father, Tony Pires, while Tony was undergoing treatment for cancer. Collects OLYMPIA 1-5 and Bonus Material.
I love this series, and also the main reason I put this on the top of my recommend list here. It’s got humor, action, twists, and a whole lot of heart. It’s just a fun little serialized story that honors the joys of escapism, while dealing with harsh realities. It’s got a lot of fun nods to comics past (especially Jack Kirby), and where it should be in the future. Also, love the coloring and art.
Writer/Artist: Owen Pomery Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing Release Date: October 14th, 2020 Retail Price: $18.95 Format: paperback 80 pages
On a summer’s day, Ellen returns to the coastal town she grew up in, the picturesque, yet architecturally strange, Victory Point. Revisiting old haunts and people from her past, she feels increasingly disconnected from her previous life, and exhausted by the constant struggle of trying to forge the path ahead. Exploring a town, which itself is an experiment in how to live, Ellen searches for some comfort in her own history that might just give her the strength to move forward.
Victory Point quietly explores the idea of how we choose to live and be remembered, asking whether we should strive for a higher calling, or if a simple, domestic legacy is the most honest and admirable achievement we can hope for. And if the land from which we disembark feels as alien as the one we hope to reach, how does anyone make their peace with a life amongst the ever-changing ocean waves?
I love the art and style. And there is something oddly appealing about its approach, which also involves my love of travel and exploration.
Gunning For Ramirez, Volume 1
Writer/Artist: Nicolas Petrimaux Publisher: Image Comics Release Date: September 30 2020 Retail Price: $16.99 Age Rating: 16+ Format: paperback , 144 pages
Falcon City, Arizona. Jacques Ramirez works at Robotop, the leading home appliance company in the Southwest United States. Jacques is efficient, thorough, and discreet. That last one is easy: he’s also mute. But everything changes when two members of one of Paso del Rio’s largest drug cartels stumble upon Jacques and believe him to be the deadly hitman who betrayed them in the past: the ruthless Ramirez. Could it be that the cartel’s legendary clean-up man is really a legendary vacuum cleaner expert?
Nicolas Petrimaux presents the first in a trilogy—a tribute to the action thrillers of the 1980s and ’90s, a brutal narrative with never a dull moment. Gunning for Ramirez is as much a descendant of Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A. as it is Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction or Rodriguez’s Mexico Trilogy.
It’s got style, with some awesome layouts and coloring. Some of the odd elements makes appeal as something fresh and different, rather than a usual drug cartel drama with the usual expectations. I am looking forward to reading this soon.
Writer/Artist: Maria Llovet Publisher: BOOM! Studios Release Date: October 6, 2020 Retail Price: $16.99 Age Rating: 15+ Format: softcover 184 page
IF NO ONE IS INNOCENT, IS ANYONE TRULY GUILTY? Eva, a high school outcast, finds herself witness to a horrible secret: the most popular boy in school enjoys the taste of blood and will kill to get his hands on it. Horrified and intrigued, Eva lets herself be pulled into Donatien’s macabre world. He offers the escape she has been looking for…but how much is Eva willing to betray her moral code in order to find something that gives her life meaning? And will she—or Donatien—ever find redemption? Acclaimed writer and artist Maria Llovet (Faithless) presents a dark, violent, decadent, and disturbing story in which life and death, blood and love are inextricably intertwined. Collects Heartbeat #1-5 for mature audiences.
High school based horror is always fun. I heard great things about this, and I need some fresh horror for October. Definitely worth checking out!
I Hope This Helps: Comics and Cures for 21st Century Panic
Writer/Artist: Tommy Siegel Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing Release Date: October 6th, 2020 Retail Price: $16.99 Format: softcover, 208 pages
Tommy Siegel’s debut book collection includes 200+ pages of comics, essays, and extremely helpful guides to coping with 21st-century panic. With comics titled “Choose your social anxiety coping mechanism” and “What your coffee drink of choice says about you,” I Hope This Helps offers clever and sardonic commentary on our phone-obsessed, social media-driven culture, as well as a series of devastatingly funny relationship comics starring his popular Candy Hearts characters.
Tommy Siegel’s comics began as doodles in the back of a van as a touring rock musician, and quickly earned a viral global fanbase and shout-outs from cultural heavyweights ranging from Ringo Starr to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. With a perfect balance of absurd humor and insightful writing, I Hope This Helps outlines the journey from the author’s earliest “van doodles” all the way to the socially-distanced awkwardness of the present day.
With every little bit of suffering, that needs to be some humor and satire to help with the hard time. I love the cartoon style and humor of Tommy Siegel, especially from his Twitter feed, @TommySiegel.
Tartarus, Volume 1
Writer: Johnny Christmas Artist: Jack T. Cole Publisher: Image Comics Release Date: October 6th, 2020 Retail Price: $16.99 Age Rating: all ages Format: paperback 176 pages
When Surka, a ruthless criminal warlord, escapes her prison pit, she unleashes a wave of destruction that ripples across Tartarus, a vital colony in an everlasting galactic war. Years later when Tilde, a young cadet, learns that she’s Surka’s daughter, will she continue to fight on the side of galactic order or reclaim her mother’s dark crown?
I just started reading this recently, and I really love the world-building and epic grand story going on here. It’s a got a fresh space opera feel to it, with a mix of what I missed from great science fiction space stories – grit, action, and some well-paced character development.
Jean-Claude Forest’s timeless Erotic Sci-Fi series recounting the spatial adventures of the beautiful titular character is now available in a brand new English-language adaptation. In Book 1 (first collected in 1964), Barbarella’s spaceship breaks down, she finds herself trapped on the planet Lythion. There, she has a series of adventurous, and bawdy, encounters with a variety of strange beings, from robots to angels. In Book 2, “Wrath of the Minute-Eater” (first published in 1974), Barbarella’s traveling Circus Delirium enters another dimension, led by the mysterious and alluring aquaman, Narval, whose machinations catapult Barbarella & Co. into a complex battle for the planet Spectra. Featuring a brand new, contemporary English-language adaptation by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick.
I had no idea that the more famous film starring Jane Fonda was based on a French comic series of the same name. This is makes a lot more sense, in recalling the epic weirdness yet awesome style of the movie. And given that based movie adaptations are often watered down versions of original comic stores, this could be an interesting read and interesting treasure.
Henchgirl (Expanded Edition)
Writer: Kristen Gudsnuk Artist: Kristen Gudsnuk Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Release Date: September 29th, 2020 Retail Price: $19.99 Age: 12+ Format: paperback 337 pages
Mary Posa hates her job. She works long hours for little pay, no insurance, and worst of all, no respect. Her coworkers are jerks and her boss doesn’t appreciate her. He’s also a supervillain. Cursed with a conscience, Mary would give anything to be something other than a Henchgirl. This second edition offers the humor and henching you love, along with an extra new Henchgirl story!
I read an older edition some rears ago, and found myself enjoying it more than expected, even laughing out loud at some parts. The art, style, colors are fantastic, and the story has a mix of satire, slapstick, and heart. Highly recommended!
He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse
Writer: Tim Seeley Artist: Dan Fraaga, Tom Derenick Publisher: DC Comics Release Date: September 1, 2020 Retail Price: $17.99 Format: paperback 144 pages
The scourge of Anti-Eternia is unleashed on the Multiverse! Blazing a trail across the dimensions, he’s devastating each version of Eternia and stealing its power. Now it’s up to a ragtag team of surviving He-Men to recruit the one man in existence who might save them: Prince Keldor, the man who would be Skeletor! This series brings together the many various iterations of the fan-favorite franchise, including the 1980s Filmation cartoon series and the 2002 animated series and toy line-as the fate of Eternia is at stake! Collects He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse #1-6.
I am definitely putting this on my list. I am an original fan, and recall some screenshots revealing some fun surprises and expected fan service. I’m a also a fan of any story that merges alternate realities crossing over TV, comics, games, movies. Plus, Tim Seeley is a huge fan of MOTU, so it’s going to be a lot of heartful fun for sure!
Did I miss anything that should be on this list that’s fresh and exciting with sequential art? Have you checked any of these out, and like to share your thoughts? Or has anything here piqued your interest? Let us know in the comments!
Creative Team: Pat Mills (writer) Christine Ellingham (artist) Release Date: Digital version – June 25, 2020. Print edition September 17, 2020 Format: Softcover, 80 pages Price: £9.99 (UK) $13.99 (US) ISBN: 9781781087633
A Skateboarding rivalry, timed to coincide with skateboarding’s 2020 Olympic debut! Sent home to Britain after her parents fail to establish a new life in Australia, Jean Everidge is forced to rely on family charity, moving in with her Aunt, Uncle and cousin Carol, successful gymnast, beloved of teachers and pupils alike, and all round charming “top girl”. Jean has one solace left to her – skateboarding, surfing the concrete pavement, while forgetting all her troubles, and feel free. But Jean’s freestyling talent soon attracts attention, and if there’s one thing Carol can’t stand, it’s being out of the spotlight. With the new skatepark freestyle contest coming up, just how far will Carol go to stay number one?!
Concrete Surfer is scheduled for release digitally on June 25, 2020 and in print on September 17, 2020. Check your better retail book stores, comic stores for availability and order options. Digitally available through Treasury of British Comics webshop & apps for iPad, Android and Windows 10.
Huge thanks to 2000 AD Publishing for the following. For more, visit 2000ad.com.
In the Night Realm, shifters, vampires, weirns, and other night things passing for human may prowl the streets, but school is still in session—and you still have to do your homework!
Recently announced Yen Press, through JY, its young adult imprint released more character details for its upcoming graphic novels series The Weirn Books, and its Vol. 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods, with story and art by Svetlana Chmakova, the creator of the best-selling graphic novels Awkward, Brave and Crush.
Through Yen Press’s recent press release, character details emerged for what looks to be an interesting, diverse set for this new spooky set world.
Ailis Maeve Thornton
Ailis, a twelve-year-old weirn (a witch with a demon guardian spirit bound to them from birth), is a kind and adventurous introvert. She may not have a witty comeback right away or think fast on her feet, but she is very clever and has many useful ideas. While her parents are away, Ailis is living with her grandma above grandma’s magic store, eating every pastry she can snatch from grandma’s kitchen, and going to school every weeknight to learn important weirn subjects, like magic, spells, cryptozoology, and math. Also to train her Astral, because Astrals can be very mischievous troublemakers. Luckily, Ailis’s Astral has always been mild-mannered—she just sheds a lot and randomly digs up the ground. (And she helps herself to the pastries from Grandma’s kitchen along with Ailis.)
Na’ya is a twelve-year-old weirn and Ailis’s cousin. Clever, sharp-tongued, and always certain of who she is and what she wants, Na’ya has been fascinated by dragons since an early age and is making serious plans to become one when she grows up (or maybe even earlier). Along with Ailis, she has to go to school every weeknight and endure all the dumb in its hallways, especially the undeserved label of “loser cousins” that got stuck to her and Ailis, mostly thanks to the efforts of Na’ya’s evil ex-best friend, Patricia Chow. Na’ya lives on the outskirts of town, in an old farmhouse-turned-veterinary-clinic with her little brother and perpetually busy parents (a mystery writer and a veterinarian to night animal creatures).
D’esh is a five-year-old weirn with a very outgoing personality but a very shy Astral. Friendly and excited about everything, D’esh easily gets along with everyone he meets (except for his older sister, Na’ya, with whom the fights are never ending). Every night,
D’esh has to go to night care with all the other little kids, but where he really wants to go is Na’ya’s and Ailis’s school. D’esh has an unusual sensitivity to other creatures’ moods and thoughts, which can be helpful sometimes—but a problem at others.
Julia Thornton, aka Grandma
Mom to two grown kids and grandma to three, Julia (Ms. Thornton to YOU) is an eighty-year-old weirn with mysteries in her past and too much to do in the present. Between running a magic-supplies store and looking after her grandkids, she doesn’t have time for any nonsense, and she is not shy to let that be known. Tough as rusty old nails and busy as a grumpy beaver building a mile-high dam, she still somehow manages to envelop her entire family in care and provide them with a steady supply of freshly baked chocolate rolls.
Jasper is a twelve-year-old weirn, next door neighbor/frenemy to Ailis, and sufferer of an unrequited crush on Na’ya. Kind, easygoing, and always game for an adventure, Jasper usually ends up in the thick of Ailis and Na’ya’s shenanigans and always has good ideas to help out in a crisis. Jasper’s only unpredictable trait is his Astral, who is waaaaaaay too eager to throw things and break stuff, which constantly gets Jasper in trouble. It’s a good thing every weirn kid knows the “fix-it” spell!
A twelve-year-old weirn with a cautiously guarded secret, Patricia used to be best friends with Ailis and Na’ya in elementary school. But when the schools changed, so did Patricia! With new goals and pressures in her life, she is now a completely different person, pushing the cousins away, dubbing them “loser cousins,” and never letting them forget the school’s social pecking order and their place in it. A new upgraded set of friends, a ruthless designer-fashion look that sparkles with perfection, plus fear and respect from the rest of the students—Patricia’s got it all handled… Or does she?
A fifteen-year-old shape-shifter who has a humanlike form and a wolflike form (as well as a sloppy hybrid of the two, as suits the occasion). A student at the same nightschool that Ailis and Na’ya attend, Russ also hangs out a lot at their grandma’s store and works any part-time hours he can get his paws on. His big dream right now is to save up enough cash to buy a car, modify it to travel in the Night Realm, and take a road trip with his best friend across the entire West Vashi Domain. Russ is good-natured, money focused, very strong, and can reportedly carry roughly ten thousand children out of danger all at once.
The Weirn Books, Vol. 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods is available in print and digitally on June 16, 2020.
Additional information on Svetlana Chmakova is available on her official website at: svetlania.com.