Give a graphic novel, big comics TP with our 2020 Holiday Gift Guide!

2020 Holiday Season is here!!

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!

Under-Earth

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

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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

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!).

Planet Paradise, Volume 1

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Writer / Artist:  Jesse Lonergan
Published by: Image Comics
Format: 128-page softcover
ISBN: 978-1534316980

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

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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.

Titan

Titan

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.

The Sacrifice of Darkness

Sacrifice of Darkness

Writer / Artist: Roxane Gay, Tracy Lynne / Rebecca Kirby
Published by: Archaia (Imprint of BOOM!)
Format: 128-page hardcover
ISBN: 1684156246

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

Shuri

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.

Remina

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 forfans 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.

Plutocracy

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.

Our Fall fresh big comics and graphic novels reading list for 2020

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).

Olympia

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.

Victory Point

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.

Heartbeat

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.

Barbarella

Writer/Artist: Jean-Claude Forest
Publisher: Humanoids
Release Date: October 20th, 2020
Retail Price: $22.99 Format: paperback 160 pages

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!

Our SW Comics Holiday Season Gift Guide for 2019

 

Hey, thinking of brightening up someone’s holiday season with the awesome gift of comics?

Yes, do it! the gift of fresh sequential art gives more imagination and thought in your presents, better than gift cards and lame boring doorbuster junk. Give the gift of a graphic novel, or trade paperback volume, as the best gift form of comic stories. Such captures the visual attention, looks good on a shelf, invites literary curiosity, and can give a lasting impression on the creative senses.

To help choose, I put together a shortlist of great and fresh current shelf reads that I either read myself and enjoyed, or heard much through peer reviews (and checked out for myself). Some are new critically acclaimed work, with some reformatted reprints of older deeply appreciated but lesser-known work.

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.

Frogcatchers

Frogcacthers

Writer / Artist:  Jeff Lemire
Published by: Gallery 13
Format: 112-page hardcover
ISBN: 1982107375

A man wakes up alone in a strange room with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. The padlocked doors and barren lobby reinforce the strangeness of this place. This is—as he reads from an old-fashioned keychain beside his bed—the Edgewater Hotel. Even worse, something ominous seems to be lurking in one of the rooms. But when he meets a young companion—the only other soul in this vast, enveloping emptiness—his new friend begs him not to unlock the door. There must be something behind it…but what? A haunted hotel on the edge of reality, an endless bridge spanning an infinite ocean, and a man and a boy looking for a way out. This is the setting for a boundary-pushing, genre-defying new work of fiction by one of comics’ master storytellers.

Get this forSomeone who loves the art and story of great moments, and not some overall story. Jeff Lemire is brilliant at this emotional expressionist style, focused on the beauty of the moment, pacing, movement of character leading to some haunting and melancholy moments.  For those not familiar with his work, they will be after reading this (and then move to his bigger masterpieces like Sweet Tooth and Essex County).

Bird Brain: Comics About Mental Health, Starring Pigeons

Bird Brain

Writer / Artist: Chuck Mullin
Published by: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Format: 144-page softcover paperback
ISBN: 1975326539

Bird Brain is a collection of brutally honest, brilliantly weird comics exploring what it’s like to live with mental illness . . . using pigeons. When Chuck Mullin began experiencing anxiety and depression as a teenager, she started drawing comics to help her make sense of the rollercoaster. Eventually, she found that pigeons—lovably quirky, yet universally reviled creatures—were the ideal subjects of a comic about mental illness. Organized in three sections—”Bad Times,” “Relationships,” and “Positivity”—and featuring several short essays about the author’s experiences, Bird Brain is a highly relatable, chuckle-inducing, and ultimately uplifting collection of comics for anyone who has struggled to maintain their mental health.

Get this for… Someone quirky, with a diverse sense of humor, and perhaps dealing with or know someone dealing with mental illness. Great for the coffee tables too.

The Complete Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Vol. 1

Writer / Artist:  Don Rosa
Published by: Fantagraphics
Format: 230-page Hardcover
ISBN:  9781683961741

From his shoeshine stand as a plucky young lad to his globe-spanning quests for long-lost treasures as an adult, Uncle Scrooge McDuck has lived a life of legend — a legend founded by Scrooge’s creator Carl Barks and rocketed to new heights by Don Rosa in his signature series, “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck!” Now you can read all 12 chapters of Rosa’s internationally acclaimed and Eisner Award–winning series, completely and meticulously restored under Rosa’s own supervision.Join Scrooge, a very young Donald Duck, the Beagle Boys, Flintheart Glomgold, and more for Scrooge’s epic life story — with plenty of guest stars along the way, including P.T. Barnum, Buffalo Bill, Geronimo, Jesse James, Jack London, Czar Nicholas II of Russia, Annie Oakley, Robert Peary, and President Theodore Roosevelt! 

Get this for… Ducktales, Disney Duck fans of course….but really, get this for someone who loves a good epic story that is both a character study and a true hero’s journey kind of long life adventure that tugs on the heart of what it means to live. Also, Don Rosa’s art is glorious.

Making Comics

Making comics

Writer / Artist:  Lynda Barry
Published by: Drawn and Quarterly
Format: 200-page softcover
ISBN: 1770463690

Hello students, meet Professor Skeletor. Be on time, don’t miss class, and turn off your phones. No time for introductions, we start drawing right away. The goal is more rock, less talk, and we communicate only through images. For more than five years the cartoonist Lynda Barry has been an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison art department and at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, teaching students from all majors, both graduate and undergraduate, how to make comics, how to be creative, how to not think. There is no academic lecture in this classroom. Doodling is enthusiastically encouraged. Making Comics is the follow-up to Barry’s bestselling Syllabus, and this time she shares all her comics-making exercises. In a new hand-drawn syllabus detailing her creative curriculum, Barry has students drawing themselves as monsters and superheroes, convincing students who think they can’t draw that they can, and, most important, encouraging them to understand that a daily journal can be anything so long as it is hand-drawn. Barry teaches all students and believes everyone and anyone can be creative. At the core of Making Comics is her certainty that creativity is vital to processing the world around us.

Get this forSomeone who not only is an aspiring creative but looking to think outside the norm on being creative. It’s inspiring, and great for those looking into the more cartooning direction of comics, and adapting their own style while appreciating the unique way Lynda Barry goes about this (see her other work).

Kabuki Omnibus, Volume 1

Writer / Artist:  David Mack
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Format: 400-page softcover
ISBN: 1-50671-606-7

Celebrate 25 years of David Mack’s Kabuki and immerse yourself in the inspiration for Sony’s upcoming Kabuki television series! A young woman, code name ”Kabuki”, struggles with her identity in near-future Japan. Working as an operative for a clandestine government agency known as ”the Noh,” Kabuki neutralizes dangerous individuals before they become national-level threats, but when the agency she works for, is compromised, Kabuki’s personal quest sends her down a difficult path to her own self-discovery, that may bring her in direct conflict with the powers she formerly served. The origin, the foundation of the story . . . the very beginning of the acclaimed series created by David Mack. This edition collects the first two original Kabuki volumes, Circle of Blood and Dreams, in an easy-to-read trade paperback . . . the perfect book for fans of Mack and Kabuki, and brand-new Kabuki readers! Note: set for release on December 11, 2019

Get this forsomeone who enjoys black and white well-inked art, action, character development, and cultural inspiration. David Mack has an awesome art style, which developed further through his well-known painted work later on. This is also great for long-time comic readers who appreciate his current work but maybe missed out on his very underappreciated older work. 

Monstress: Book One

Writer / Artist:  Marjorie Liu / Sana Takeda
Published by: Image Comics
Format: 528-page hardcover
ISBN: 9781534312326

A teenage girl struggles to overcome the trauma of war in an alternate, matriarchal 1900s Asia that’s brimming with arcane dangers. This task is made all the more difficult by her mysterious psychic link to an eldritch monster of tremendous power—a connection that will transform them both, and place them in the crosshairs of both human and otherworldly powers. Creator/writer Marjorie Liu (who made history as the first woman to win an Eisner Award for Best Writer) and creator/artist Sana Takeda present a deluxe, oversized hardcover edition of their beloved breakout comic in MONSTRESS, BOOK ONE. This massive edition features a striking new cover and includes never-before-seen sketches, script pages, and more for over 500 pages of award-winning content. Collects MONSTRESS #1-18

Get this forSomeone who is interested in fantasy, and enjoys comics…yet, looking for a new world to get lost in, with amazing colorful, rich art rooted in a mix of old cultures, ideas, and civilization.

New Kid

New Kid

Writer / Artist:  Jerry Craft
Published by: HarperCollins
Format: 256-page softcover
ISBN: 0062691198

Seventh-grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

Get this forAny pre-teen reader who loves comic art with a creative soul, and being socially different (or for someone like myself, looking back) from being a person of color or coming from a very different cultured background. This story as a lot of heart from its creator, and that will be felt throughout its well-rounded story of early growing up.

Fearscape, Book 1

Fearscape.jpg

Writer / Artist: Ryan O’Sullivan (Author), Andrea Mutti (Artist)
Published by: Vault comics
Format: 160-page softcover
ISBN: 9781250178138

The Fearscape is a world beyond our own, populated by manifestations of our worst fears. Once per generation, The Muse travels to Earth, discovers our greatest Storyteller, and takes them with her to the Fearscape to battle these fear-creatures on our behalf. All has been well for eons until The Muse encounters Henry Henry-a plagiarist with delusions of literary grandeur. Mistaking him for our greatest Storyteller, she ushers him into the Fearscape. Doom follows. Collects issues #1-5.

Get this forSomeone who loves to write, but struggling and maybe not taking it as seriously…but still loves writing. This is a weird journey about the heart of the craft of ideas and story, with some interesting twists and turns, through a bizarre landscape that terrifies and delights.

Little Bird: The Fight for Elder’s Hope

Little Bird

Writer / Artist: Darcy Van Poelgeest / Ian Bertram
Published by: Image Comics
Format: 208-page hardcover
ISBN: 1534313451

Award-winning filmmaker Darcy Van Poelgeest teams up with Angoulême nominated artist Ian Bertram to bring you the highly acclaimed, dystopian sci-fi, Little Bird. With the same limitless scope as Star Wars, and the social-political explorations of A Handmaid’s Tale, Little Bird tells the story of a young resistance fighter battling against an oppressive American Empire while searching for her own identity in a world on fire. A gorgeously illustrated epic where one girl risks everything to save her people, their land, and the freedom they so desperately deserve. Collects LITTLE BIRD 1-5.

Get this for… Someone who loves very a mix of dark fantasy mixed with post-apocalypse, social commentary involving indigenous identity, great storytelling if they don’t mind some occasional violent imagery. The art is also amazing. 

Marvel Masters of Suspense: Stan Lee & Steve Ditko Omnibus Vol. 1

Tales of suspense

Writer / Artist:  Stan Lee/ Steve Ditko
Published by: Marvel Comics
Format: 688-page Hardcover
ISBN: 1302918753

Before Stan Lee and Steve Ditko revolutionized comic book super-heroes with the Amazing Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, they applied an incomparable storytelling mastery to taut suspense-thrillers. These chilling stories were cast with nervous-eyed dreamers and sweaty-palmed schemers, none of whom make it out with getting theirs. They were parables of wrenching psychological tension, expressed by two of comic book’s most unique creative minds, and they will leave you curled up and screaming for more — whether you like it or not! Marvel is honored to collect Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s complete stories of suspense in this, the first of two beautifully restored volumes. From Ditko’s very first Marvel work in 1956 through to his last five-page masterpiece, every iconic Silver Age short is collected in these incomparable Omnibus editions.

Get this forFor someone who loves the Marvel Comics movies, the characterization, maybe interested in learning more about humble beginnings of Marvel Comics, and what made them great that is far more about emotional storytelling than colorful heroic melodrama, all leading to imagination barrier breakers that build the House of Ideas. 

The Often Wrong

Often Wrong
Writer / Artist:  Farel Dalrymple
Published by: Image Comics
Format: 360-page softcover
ISBN: 1534313524

The Often Wrong is a meaty collection of new and old comic stories, paintings and illustrations, “behind-the-scenes” concept art for The Wrenchies, Proxima Centauri, Pop Gun War, It will all Hurt, and over 100 sketchbook drawings by comic book creator Farel Dalrymple.

Get this forFans of his work for sure, but also those who enjoy a stylish mix of moods, colors, complexities that made his art award winning and in a surreal world of its s own. Get this who enjoy a wide variety of art in comics, looking to expand on ideas for sequential telling, as this I feel inspires and expands.

Choke Gasp! The Best of 75 Years of EC Comics

choke gasp

Writer / Artist: Various
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Format: 528-page hardcover
ISBN: 1506715842

A premiere collection of the best stories of EC Comics, curated in a deluxe hardcover, just in time to celebrate the legendary publisher’s 75th anniversary! This volume collects stories from EC Comics’ most famous titles, featuring classic stories from the hands of legendary creators Al Feldstein, Harvey Kurtzman, Johnny Craig, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, and more! Collects material from issues of Crime SuspenStories, Frontline Combat, Haunt of Fear, Impact, Shock SuspenStories, Tales from the Cry. (NOTE: Schedule for release on December 17, 2019)

Get this for… Someone who loves horror stories, and can appreciate the influence EC brought from its bold beginnings to many generations forward. 


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.

Our Falltastic 2019 graphic novel & comics tpb reading list

Fall List

The Fall season is here with colder, wetter, darker days for the months ahead. To best get through, we suggest some epic comic book format reads.

While single issues only give short thrills, the thicker graphic novels and trade paperback volumes give a more fulfilling, lasting reading experience. Adding to that, seek out the new reads, giving more room for discovery and excitement on what’s fresh and best. Then maybe, share with friends!

So, venture to your favorite retail store graphic novel and trade paperback shelves (or online sources). Take a look at these 10 new books below in our curated list. Each selection is either already available, or will be due out soon. Each is based on peer reviews, personal anticipations, celebrated creative talent, interesting interpretations, awesome art, and storytelling worth attention…

Fairlady, Volume 1

unnamed (13)

Writer: Brian Schirmer
Artist: Claudia Balboni, Marissa Louise
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Retail Price: $16.99 Age Rating: 15+ Format: softcover 184 pages

Every fantasy epic ends with a war. But what happens when the war is over? After posing as a man to join the army, Jenner Faulds returns home to The Feld for a new start as a “Fairman”—a specially licensed private investigator. But sexism didn’t end on the battlefield, and as the only “Fairlady,” Jenner gets stuck with the cases nobody else wants. Hitting the streets to solve The Feld’s overlooked mysteries, Jenner finds that the smallest cases hide the biggest secrets. Collects FAIRLADY #1-5

A little something different with a mix of urban fantasy, mystery and social commentary. Each of which, this new series adds something new and thoughtful to the overall package…making this feel a bit more unique than expected.

Lifeformed Vol. 2: Hearts and Minds

Lifeformed

Writer: Matt Mair Lowery,
Artist: Cassie Anderson
Publisher:  Dark Horse Publishing
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Retail Price: $12.99 Age Rating: 12 Page Format: softcover 200 pages

Cleo, orphaned in the wake of an alien invasion, left behind the life she knew to fight for the future of Earth. Now she and Alex, the shapeshifting rebel alien posing as her father, make a fearsome team in a guerrilla war against the invaders. But Cleo’s past is about to come back to haunt her! Lifeformed: Hearts and Minds is the second installment in the sci-fi thriller series from Matt Mair Lowery and Cassie Anderson.

I enjoyed and highly recommend the first book, Hearts and Minds. But, I felt that was a little short, and cheered to see this interesting world and development from the first book carry on.

The Man Who Came Down the Attic Stairs

the Man who came down the stairs

Writer/Artist: Celine Loup
Publisher: Archaia
Release Date: September 18, 2019
Retail Price: $14.99 Age Rating: 17+ Format:Hardcover, 48 pages

Emma is excited to start a family in her new home, but after her child’s birth she finds her world turning upside-down. The infant cries like it’s scared of something, or someone, and Emma’s sleepless nights quickly drive a wedge between her and her husband, who seems uncharacteristically detached. When Emma begins to see strange things in the house, the line between reality and fantasy blurs and her grasp of what’s real and what’s not becomes even more clouded. Is something unnatural haunting the nursery? And what if it also affected her husband, who ventured up into the attic when they first arrived… Inspired by the works of Shirley Jackson and Ira Levin, Celine Loup’s The Man Who Came Down the Attic Stairs weaves a tale of horror and suspense that captures the isolation of postpartum depression, while exploring the very real fears associated with new motherhood.

The masterful black and white art on every page is amazing and sets the mood well throughout. There is a brilliant pacing throughout, which grabs attention and takes its time on the emotional storytelling, leading to a gripping end.

The Last Space Race, Volume 1: The Pale Blue Dot

The Last Space Race

Writer: Peter Calloway
Artist: Alex Shibao
Publisher: Aftershock
Release Date: October 2nd, 2019
Retail Price: $16.99 Age Rating: 15+ Format: softcover 184 page

It started as an anomaly. An outlier in the noise that’s so common in astronomical data. But the truth sends the United States-and the world-careening into what will become humanity’s The Last Space Race . Leading the effort for the United States is one man, Sasha Balodis. A fun-loving tech billionaire turned aerospace titan, Sasha’s seemingly perfect life has been gripped by recent tragedy. Building and launching the most expensive, most ambitious and most important project in history-well, it gives him something to live for again. There’s only one thing standing in his way: his arch-rival and chief aerospace competitor, Roger Freeman.

I really enjoyed the single issues, of which this volume collects. It’s intelligent science fiction, putting more emphasis on the development and visions of space travel..but also adding drama and colorful art to enhance the ride.

X-Men: Grand Design – X-Tinction

X-men Grand Design

Writer/Artist: Ed Piskor
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Retail Price: $29.99 Format: Softcover, giant 120 pages

The series that has critics and fans raving returns for its final installment! The ruination of the X-Men revisited! Re-live the now-classic storylines like Mutant Massacre and The Fall of the Mutants. With appearances by Longshot, Cable, and The Marauders! Out with old and in with the Blue and Gold as the X-Men enter the radical 90s! Revisit innumerous classic storylines like the return of Jean Grey! The trial of Magneto! X-Tinction Agenda! And many, many more! With appearances by Jubilee, Gambit, and The Reavers! Brought to life by the multi-hyphenate master of graphic fiction himself, Ed Piskor!

Another masterpiece by Ed Piskor highlighting the absurd modern mythology of Marvel’s long-running Mutant team. This one covering the overdeveloped and ridiculously complex late 80’s and early 90’s era, but told in a surreal linear fashion that somehow makes sense…or not.

Ascender Volume 1: The Haunted Galaxy

Ascender

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: October 23nd, 2019
Retail Price: $9.99 Age Rating: M Format: softcover 136 pages

10 years after the conclusion of Descender, magic has taken the place of machinery, and the rules are very different indeed. Mila, daughter of Andy and Effie, spends her days exploring the lonely wilds of the planet Sampson and trying to stay out of the clutches of the evil disciples of the all-powerful vampire witch known only as Mother. But, just like her parents, Mila doesn’t like to play by the rules, and when a certain robot pal of her dad’s shows up, nothing will ever be the same!

While this series takes place after Descender, one can really enjoy this series as a fresh stanadlone series on its own. Jeff Lemire’s writing and Dustin Nguyen’s art mix perfectly together, with an awesome sci-fantasy setting that one can get lost in.

False Knees: An Illustrated Guide to Animal Behavior

False Knees

Writer/Artist: Joshua Barkman
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: October 15th, 2019
Retail Price: $14.99 Format: paperback 144 pages

Based on Joshua Barkman’s popular webcomic by the same name, False Knees is animal humor taken to a very absurd, darkly delightful place. In Barkman’s debut print collection, False Knees fans will find old favorites along with an abundance of all-new material. Featuring creatures found in the author’s native Ontario, this always sharp, sometimes head-scratchingly bizarre collection of comics offers a view into the secret, surprisingly insightful world of blue jays, squirrels, geese, wolves, and rabbits.

I love the webcomic shorts, and cheered to see these now made available to the print audience. Also this makes an awesome gift or brilliant book to leave on any coffee table!

Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal Creation Myths: The Complete Collection

MAY191240

Writer: Brian Froud, Brian Holguin, Joshua Dysart, Matthew Dow Smith,
Artist: Alex Sheikman
Publisher: Archaia 
Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Retail Price: $39.99 Age Format: Hardcover 288 pages

Brian Froud, legendary conceptual designer of the beloved Jim Henson fantasy film The Dark Crystal, returns to the world he helped create in this official prequel trilogy to the cult-classic film. Collected for the first time in one oversized edition, this series reveals the definitive origins of the Skeksis, Mystics, Gelfling, and the Dark Crystal itself while introducing all new characters in an epic spanning thousands of years.

Definitely for the hardcore Dark Crystal fans out there. But, with the new Netflix series gaining new fans and bringing back an appreciation of the old, there’s a lot of new exploration into Jim Henson’s weirdest world, and this book looks to really go deep.

Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral

Black Hammer Streets of Spiral.jpg

Writer: (various)
Artist: (various)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics 
Release Date: September 11th, 2019
Retail Price: $19.99 Format: Softcover 128 pages

A Lovecraftian teen decides she will do anything to make herself ”normal,” a bizarre witch guides her guests through her house of horrors, and an all-star slate of guest artists illustrate a bizarre adventure with Colonial Weird on the farm. Also featuring a complete world guide to the Black Hammer universe and its characters. Collects: Black Hammer: Giant Sized Annual, Black Hammer: Cthu- Louise, World of Black Hammer, and material from Free Comic Book Day 2019.

A series of short yet memorable tales set throughout the expansive world of Black Hammer comics. Much like the other stories in the Black Hammer series, the stories can be enjoyed each on their own. But, this is also a good introduction into the highly underrated universe of Black Hammer.

Rusty Brown

Rusty Brown

Writer/Artist: Chris Ware
Publisher: Pantheon 
Release Date: September 24th, 2019
Retail Price: $35.00 Format: Hardcover 356 pages

Rusty Brown is a fully interactive, full-color articulation of the time-space interrelationships of three complete consciousnesses in the first half of a single midwestern American day and the tiny piece of human grit about which they involuntarily orbit. A sprawling, special snowflake accumulation of the biggest themes and the smallest moments of life, Rusty Brown literately and literally aims at nothing less than the coalescence of one half of all of existence into a single museum-quality picture story, expertly arranged to present the most convincingly ineffable and empathetic illusion of experience for both life-curious readers and traditional fans of standard reality. From childhood to old age, no frozen plotline is left unthawed in the entangled stories of a child who awakens without superpowers, a teen who matures into a paternal despot, a father who stores his emotional regrets on the surface of Mars and a late-middle-aged woman who seeks the love of only one other person on planet Earth.

Chris Ware’s work on the Acme Novelty Library is well-deserved for its award-wining attention, because it’s brilliant. But, also Chris Ware puts heavy attention into evoking a mix of emotions, which is a lasting treat for this new work, said to be in process for over 16 years.

Our awesome 2019 summer graphic novel & comics reading list

 

 

 

Summer is here, and that means more great leisure time under warmer weather, fewer academics, and more reading time. Fill some of that wonderful time with comics!

Here at Stranger Worlds, I put together a list of graphic novels, comics volume collections, and similar books of the variety of the sequential art, to entice all to check out some literary and artistic freshness at your favorite retail book outlets and comic shops!

Through personal experiences, peer reviews, grapevine whispering, and good old-fashioned speculation, here are some recommended reads. Many are in softcover trade paperback format, collecting issues of popular monthly series. Others are in the graphic novel format, usually in hardcover. Many here are not part of some longstanding franchise or continuing from some long-running series. Overall, fresh and ripe for anyone that loves comic book storytelling!

So, take a look at the 10 new books feature below in our curated list. Each selection is either already out, or will be due out soon (range from early June to middle July). Ask for them at your favorite bookseller!

Life on the Moon
A Completed Illustrated Novel

Life on the Moon

Writer/Artist: Robert Grossman
Publisher: IDW/Yor Books
Release Date: May 29, 2019
Retail Price: $39.95

From an artist who reveled in illustrating “the un-illustratable,” a historical graphic novel based on the “Great Moon Hoax,” the most successful newspaper hoax ever. In 1835, New York newspaper The Sun published a series of six articles declaring the discovery of life—and even civilization—on the Moon, which the paper attributed to the famous contemporary astronomer Sir John Herschel. According to The Sun, the lunar inhabitants included unicorns, bison, bipedal tail-less beavers, and intelligent humanoids with bat-like wings. Life on the Moon is a full-length graphic novel capturing this mythical world. Creator Robert Grossman said the book is set in a time when “many of the signal achievements of the 19th Century still lay well in the future, Andrew Jackson was president, the steamboat was the summit of technology, and news traveled slowly.” The unfettered novel includes real historical figures such as P.T. Barnum, Jean Jacques Audubon, Lorenzo Da Ponte, Charles Goodyear, and Edgar Allan Poe

For everyone that loves the far-out visions of Jules Verne and similiar weird ideas of that era. Also, has some unexpected mature themes and unexpected social commentary.

Penny Nichols

Penny Nichols.jpg

Writer: MK Reed, Greg Means
Artist: Matt Wiegle
Publisher: Top Shelf
Release Date: June 12, 2019
Retail Price: $15.99

Somehow, sarcastic Penny’s gotten roped into helping make an amateur slasher film. With a team of flakes and weirdos, she’s probably the only one who can save this stupid movie… but maybe it can save her, too. Now can somebody please stop that dog from licking the fake blood? This hilarious original graphic novel is a loving tribute to the chaos and camaraderie of DIY filmmaking, and the ways we find our future—and our family—in the unlikeliest of places.

DIE
Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker

DIE

Writer: Keiron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: June 5, 2019
Retail Price: $9.95

The Wicked + The Divine writer Kieron Gillon teams up with artist supernova Stephanie Hans, Journey Into Mystery) for her first ongoing comic! DIE is a pitch-black fantasy where a group of forty-something adults have to deal with the returning, unearthly horror they only just survived as teenage role-players. If Kieron’s in a rush, he describes it as “Goth Jumanji”, but that’s only the tip of this critically acclaimed obsidian iceberg. Collects DIE #1-5

I’m in the middle of reading this now, and really loving it. I might even do a review of it soon.

The Lollipop Kids
Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker

Lollipop Kids

Writer: Adam Glass and Aiden Glass
Artist: Diego Yapur
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Release Date: June 12, 2019
Retail Price: $14.99

When immigrants came to the new world they didn’t only bring their hopes and dreams, they also brought their Monsters. Years ago, early setters locked these monsters away in a secret prison deep in the woods of New Amsterdam so that they never would return to the Old World. Those woods have become Central Park and now the monsters have escaped! Nick, 14, finds out that he’s a “legacy” to a secret society that for the last 400 years has kept these monsters in check – he and a ragtag group of kids just like him have to put the monsters back before they get out of the park and destroy the city.

It’s like the Monster Squad movie, but a thousand times better.

PROS AND (COMIC) CONS

PROS AND CONS

Writer: Various
Artist: Various
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Retail Price: $19.99

Following the bestselling The Secret Loves of Geeks comes this brand-new anthology featuring comics and prose stories by cartoonists and professional geeks about the world of comic book conventions from the guests whove attended them across the world. Featuring stories that are funny, sad, sweet, embarrassing, and heartfelt of a geek-culture life that shapes us, encourages us, and exhausts us every summer. Featuring work by Brian Michael Bendis (The Man of Steel), Jim Zub (Wayward), Kieron Gillen (The Wicked and the Divine), Sina Grace (Iceman), and many more.

A must-read for anyone that loves going to comic conventions and identify with the best and worst of what happens in them, but really in it for the best.

HOTEL DARE

Hotel Dare

Writer: Terry Blas
Artist: Claudia Aguirre
Publisher: Kaboom! (younger reader imprint of BOOM! Comics)
Release Date: June 5, 2019
Retail Price: $9.99

Olive and her adopted siblings Charlotte and Darwin are spending the summer with their estranged grandma at her creepy hotel and it’s all work and no play. They’re stuck inside doing boring chores but they soon stumble upon an incredible secret… Behind each room door of the hotel lies a portal to a different strange and mysterious place. The simple turn of a knob transports them to a distant magical world filled with space pirates. Behind the next door are bearded wizards. Down the hall is a doorway to a cotton-candied kingdom. But once the doors are opened, worlds start colliding, and only one family can save them before they tear themselves apart. Written by Terry Blas (The Amazing World of Gumball) and illustrated by the talented Claudia Aguirre (Kim & Kim), this world-hopping fantasy tale breaks down the door to imagination and dares you to embrace the idea that family is everything.

Spider-Man Noir: The Complete Collection

Spider-Man Noir The Complete Collection

Writer: Various
Artist: Various
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Retail Price: $24.99

The hard-boiled adventures of the grittiest webslinger in the Spider-Verse! In the dark days of the Great Depression, young reporter Peter Parker finds himself forever changed by a spider’s bite — and resolves to take on crime and corruption as the urban vigilante called Spider-Man! And there are no shortage of foes — from gangland bosses the Goblin and Crime Master, to pulp-era twists on familiar faces like Kraven, Chameleon, Doctor Octopus and more! But will the seductive Felicia Hardy prove friend or foe? Plus, Spider-Man Noir enters the Spider-Verse via an encounter with Mysterio — and shares a spectacular team-up with a six-armed Spider-Man! And a brand-new video comic adventure, in print for the first time!

Thanks to his popularity in the Spiderverse movie, this is really worth  fresh look as many missed out in the initial run.

Star Trek vs. Transformers

750058._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpg

Writer: John Barber, Mike Johnson
Artist: Jack Lawrence, Phillip Murphy
Publisher: IDW
Release Date: June 12, 2019
Retail Price: $17.99

When Kirk, Spock, and the entire crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise investigate problems at a remote mine, they’re met with an explosive battle between powerful warriors who change into vehicles from the 20th century! As the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons rages, it’s up to Kirk to decide—does he violate the Prime Directive and interfere in a war that’s raged for millenia? And how will the Klingons complicate the issue? It’s cartoony fun between two of the most popular science fiction franchises in the world!

This is the most ridiculous crossover ever, and I love every minute.

Archie 1941
Volume 1

Archie 1941

Writer: Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn
Artist: Kelly Fitzpatrick, Peter Krause, Jack Morelli
Publisher: Archie Comics
Release Date: June 19, 2019
Retail Price: $12.99

Archie Andrews and the gang have seen it all since the characters made their comics debut in 1941, and now they’re going back to their roots in a tale set in Riverdale during World War II. Written by comics legend Mark Waid (Archie, Captain America) with longtime collaborators co-writer Brian Augustyn (The Flash, JLA) and artist Peter Krause (Superman), Archie: 1941 finds Riverdale dealing with the impact of the impending conflict on the small town and in the personal lives of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Reggie.

Low Road West

Low Road West

Writer: Phillip K. Johnson
Artist: Flaviano
Publisher: BOOM! Entertainment
Release Date: June 19, 2019
Retail Price: $19.99

When five teenage refugees are stranded in an irradiated Oklahoma wasteland while trying to survive an exodus from the war-torn East Coast, they take shelter in a ghost town that is much more than it seems. The strange, unnatural threats they face there will make them question what they think they know about death, about reality, and especially about family as they learn to rely on each other if they’re ever going to make it to the sanctuary of San Francisco. Written by Eisner Award-nominated author Phillip Kennedy Johnson (The Power of the Dark Crystal, Aquaman) and illustrated by Ringo Award-nominated artist Flaviano (Thanos, Spider-Man/Deadpool), Low Road West is a story about coming of age in the throes of war, and carving your own path despite an uncertain future. Collects the complete 5-issue series.

That’s all for now. If you checked out any of these, or something else fresh was left out, let us know in the comments below!

Comics Reading Recs: Steller, Volume 1

stellar

Stellar, Volume 1

Writer: Joseph Keatinge
Artist: Bret Blevins
Letterer: Rus Wooten
Published by: Image Comics, SkyBound Ent.
Published Release Date: January 16, 2019 Pages: 123
Notes: Created by Robert Kirkman, Marc Silvestri. Monthly ongoing series. This volume collects the first six issues

Synopsis:

“Stellar was taken as a child and transformed into the ultimate weapon, one that would end an intergalactic war. She succeeded… at everything except finding peace. Reduced to working as a bounty hunter, she scours the worlds she’s broken, searching for redemption. But there are other weapons loose in the galaxy, and some just can’t leave the war behind them. JOSEPH KEATINGE (SHUTTER) and legendary artist BRET BLEVINS (New Mutants, Sleepwalker) will transport you to another dimension, filled with crashed spaceships, fast-talking aliens, and ageless wonders. Collects STELLAR #1-6”

Personal Thoughts (with spoilers):

Stellar is a mix of old school Heavy Metal magazine classic style, gritty spaghetti western feels, and unhinged fight opera.

The artwork here is a beautiful thing, mixed with gorgeous imaginary settings, weird creatures, far-out space-tech that enough to understand, but gives off grander aesthetics to appreciate. Just look at it!

stellar 3

The story of Stellar is not simple or spoon fed to the reader. It’s a heroine’s journey not only in a straight circle but in a twisted cord, where the reader needs to go through and unravel until the linear path is revealed. It’s not a bad thing, as much of it is solid action, some violent gore, and badass posturing.

Meaning, you can really enjoy Stellar for that it is; a good old-fashioned mix of pulp and fantasy set in something that is less science than fiction.

The character of Stellar reminds a bit of the classic early Marvel Silver Surfer tales by Stan Lee with Jack Kirby, and John Romita, Sr. Stellar starts out simple, but harsh circumstances bring her to a journey of many stages leading to a present-day solitary survivalist life until the past comes back. Then come new conflict and challenges, which is very epic at times. She may make a friend or two as well…

stellar 2

Eventually, a grander tale is revealed with a conflict that becomes very personal. It’s awesome, but not for everyone. There are revelations and flashbacks, coming back to a violent confrontation for Stellar to move on. This becomes a guilty pleasure for those wanting their comic book reading to be primal and full of escapism. Stellar gives plenty of that.

So, I really enjoyed Stellar for being something different, but not overly highbrow or pretentious. One can enjoy it for what it is if they love old spaghetti westerns and wrestling smackdown melodramas. The art with awesome colors makes it all better.

However, some of that action results in some gory, violent results. If thrilled by that, then dig in for a good helping. It’s not constant, but such moments can be special.

So, if looking for science fiction that feels more adventurous and action-packed, with a great visual style, do pick up Stellar.

 

Fresh, exciting graphic novel gifts for the 2018 holiday season!

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Hey gift shopper, here’s a cool idea…buy a graphic novel or trade paperback volume for that special person this holiday season.

Give the gift of lengthy sequential art that can be put on a shelf, or opened to reveal a new world away from the screens and work stress. You can give, but also take a risk in finding out later if hated or loved. Any thoughtful literature and art are worthwhile, for heavy time and love was put into its composition. And if enjoyed, then the book will be treasured far longer than a boring gift card.

However, there is a risk for those who appreciate such large comic book forms. There is a chance they either read or know enough of the most popular work out there to have read it already or no interest at all. Such can be a tough decision when works including Watchman, Saga, Ghost World, Batman: Killing Joke, Sandman, etc, are on the many top graphic novels lists out there.

So instead, be fresh and daring. Reach out for something less likely to have, yet may find stimulating. And maybe, get something interesting enough to borrow later.

Below, here are my nine gift picks for graphic novels and trade paperback volumes published in 2018. These still obtainable at major retail book chains, comic book stores, and wherever new books can be gained or ordered. I also have provided an Amazon link for those lacking the proximity or time to visit such wonderful places.

Take a look!

Devilman: The Classic Collection Vol. 1

Devilman

Devilman: The Classic Collection Vol. 1
Writer / Artist:  Go Nagai
Published by: Seven Seas
Format: 680-page Hardcover
ISBN: 162692757X

Hordes of demons, once thought entombed forever in the underworld, have now returned to Earth. Evil and corruption begin to seep into our world, as demons seize human hosts. Mankind’s only hope for salvation is to use the demons’ power against them–-and only a pure-hearted man like Fudo Akira can do so without losing his humanity. Once little more than a crybaby, Akira now wields the terrible power of a devil, yet holds the innocent soul of a man–-Devilman!

Get this forSomeone who appreciates horror and manga/anime in diverse forms. It’s not for kids, but also not meant to be taken too seriously. It’s light-hearted fun but with some violence and nudity at times.  Go Nagai’s art and storytelling style has a childlike innocence that shifts toward unrestrictive awesome horror, subversive for its time (originally published in 1973).  Also, very high-quality hardcover and page quality.

Amazon.com page link

 

Eleanor & the Egret

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Eleanor and the Egret
Writer / Artist:  John Layman / Sam Keith
Published by: Aftershock Comics
Format: 120-page softcover
ISBN: 1935002767

The most daring art thief in Paris has struck again, and the police have assigned their best detective to the case. His only clue? A single white feather left at the scene. Could this feather belong to the thief? To the thief’s accomplice, an oversized talking egret? Or will his investigation lead him to somewhere even stranger? (Answer: all of the above.)

Presenting a peculiar and unforgettable tale of birds and banditry, paintings and pets, larceny, love and…lamprey-wielding assassins? From the legendary creator of The MAXX and co-creator of Sandman, Sam Kieth, and the considerably less-legendary creator of Chew, John Layman!

Get this forFor someone who loves art, humor, with really strange and surrealness to the comics storytelling. Also, for those who enjoyed either the classic The MAXX comics and MTV series for its art and weirdness, also by the artist Sam Keith. The story itself is an awesome unraveling mystery, deeply involving a small cast of bizarre players. There are great unexpected concepts and twists throughout,  Overall, just a fun book that’s very different from the others.

Amazon.com page link

Sleepless, Volume 1

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Sleepless, Volume 1
Writer / Artist:  Sarah Vaughn / Leila del Duca, Alissa Sallah
Published by: Image Comics
Format: 168-page softcover
ISBN: 1935002767

Lady “Poppy” Pyppenia is guarded by Cyrenic, her faithful Sleepless Knight. But when a new king is crowned, an assassin threatens her life, ushering in a new and dangerous time. As Poppy and Cyrenic work to discover who wants her dead, they must navigate the dangers of life at court—and of their growing feelings for one another. Collects Sleepless #1-6

Get this forSomeone who loves fantasy and romance, but more focused on the drama, intrigue, and relationships. All here, with renaissance elements, rich environmental detail, detailed diverse characters, beautiful coloring with an immersive art style a reader can really fall into. The story is ongoing, giving the reader more to follow in later volumes. Personally, I feel this is a very underrated gem.

Amazon.com page link

DC Meets Looney Tunes

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DC Meets Looney Tunes
Writer / Artist:  various
Published by: DC Comics
Format: 248-page softcover
ISBN: 1401277578

DC’s iconic superheroes meet the wacky characters of Looney Tunes in some of the most surprising stories in comics in DC MEETS LOONEY TUNES! When Elmer Fudd sets his sights on Bruce Wayne, it’s a “wabbit hunt” you’d never imagine! Prospector Yosemite Sam strikes it rich, but can circus performer Foghorn Leghorn and bounty hunter Jonah Hex keep him alive long enough to enjoy it? Plus, Wonder Woman enlists the help of the Tasmanian Devil to save the Amazons; Lobo gets caught in the war between a mutated Road Runner and a wily super-genius of a coyote; and the last survivors of Mars fight over the fate of planet Earth! Finally, when the Legion of Super-Heroes needs help, a wrong turn at Albuquerque means the future’s survival depends on…“Super” Bugs Bunny! Worlds collide, courtesy of some of comics’ greatest talents, among them Tom King, Lee Weeks, Jimmy Palmiotti, Mark Texeira, Tony Bedard, Bill Morrison, Kelley Jones, Steve Orlando, Sam Humphries and more!

Get this forSomeone who loves DC Comics, but hasn’t stepped foot in a comic store in a long time, or at all. Also, anyone who looks really hard at old cartoons, for deeper meaning and philosophy. And wow, do these short stories deliver in a mix of madness, light and dark humor, and crossover insanity that will leave the reader speechless at times. As a hardcore DC Comics fan and somewhat Looney Tunes fan, I found this among the biggest surprise of both, leaving me laughing and amazed.

Amazon.com page link

The Book of Ballads and Sagas

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The Book of Ballads and Sagas
Writer / Artist:  Charles Vess
Published by: Titan Comics
Format: 240-page softcover
ISBN: 1782763325

This award-winning compendium of English and Scottish fairy tales and folklore returns to print in a sumptuous new collection! Beautifully illustrated by Charles Vess and featuring adaptations by Neil Gaiman – Vess’ collaborator on the hugely successful Stardust – and a host of famous fantasy writers, this new edition also boasts never-before-seen art and an amazing gallery of sketches!

Includes contributions from World Fantasy Award winner Charles de Lint (Moonheart; The Cats of Tanglewood Forest [illustrated by Charles Vess]); acclaimed fantasy writer Emma Bull (War for the Oaks; Bone Dance) and New York Times bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb (The Ballad of Frankie Silver; St. Dale; She Walks These Hills). 

Get this for Any fan of fairy tales and folklore, in the more unrestricted and less watered down forms. Also, fans of the movie Stardust, and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and other work. The painted and extremely detailed art of Charles Vess is stunning, grabbing appreciating eyes and pulling them to these fantastic other worlds of magic and creatures.

Amazon.com page link

On a Sunbeam

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On a Sunbeam
Writer / Artist:  Tillie Walden
Published by: First Second Comics
Format: 544-page hardcover
ISBN: 9781250178138

Two timelines. Second chances. One love. A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together. Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love—only to learn the pain of loss. With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love.

Get this for Anyone cool with young adult books and an open mind for abstract science fiction, queer relationships, stunning art through a lot of pages. Also, someone who likes to travel or enjoys adventure, and interested in meeting new people. It’s an epic tale that takes the reader through space, time, and the heart.

Amazon.com page link

Star Wars Lost Stars, Volume 1 (manga)

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Star Wars Lost Stars, Vol. 1 (manga)
Writer / Artist:  Claudia Gray / Yusaku Komiyama
Published by: Yen Press
Format: 256-page softcover paperback
ISBN: 1975326539

The Empire can be seductive, particularly if you’re an aspiring young pilot…Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree both know this very well when they enroll Imperial Academy, eager to pursue their dreams. When Thane discovers the darker side of the Empire, though, and defects to the Rebellion, the pair’s lifelong friendship will be put to the ultimate test. Will Thane and Ciena’s relationship — or even they themselves — survive this galactic conflict…?

Get this for Someone who loves Star Wars, but not the recent movies bearing its franchise (or, maybe they do). Also, for someone who likes manga with the usual black and white art, visual styles, and techniques. But more so, are the intertwining new characters set in the time of the classic Star Wars movies, with a few surprise appearances and events thrown in. There are fresh perspectives from the military and civilian lives of the overall space opera melodrama, leading to a new space opera within the space opera. Very engaging!

Amazon.com page link

Isola, Volume 1

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Isola, Vol. 1
Writer / Artist:  Brendon Fletcher / Karl Kershcl
Published by: Image Comics
Format: 141-page softcover
ISBN: 1534309225

An evil spell has been cast on the Queen of Maar and her Captain of the Guard will do anything to reverse it. Their only hope lies on an island half a world away—a place known in myth as Isola, land of the dead. Gotham Academy creators Brendon Fletcher and Karl Kershcl reunite with series colorist Msassyk and letterer Aditya Bidikar for a breathtaking fantasy adventure two decades in the making. Collects Isola #1-5

Get this for Someone who loves the Studio Gibli/Miyasaki films for its complex themes and world-building. Also, for those into nature fantasy, and camping. The art is vibrant, moody, with excellent use of colors and inking to set the mood. The storytelling is mystical, daring and fresh. It’s not for everyone, but for those willing to step into strange new worlds and accept complexity…this is a real treat.

Amazon.com page link

Quantum Mechanics

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Quantum Mechanics
Writer / Artist:  Jeff Weigel
Published by: Lionforge Comics
Format: 208-page softcover
ISBN: 1941302661

On a nowhere asteroid on the far rim of the galaxy, two young alien girls—Rox and Zam—spend their days tearing apart and repairing clunkers in a spaceship junkyard. These aspiring gearheads yearn for the chance to test their skills on something besides rusted old rockets and broken-down planet-hoppers. Their big chance finally comes when the captain of a mysterious ship called the Quasar Torrent enlists the kids for some repair work. But what initially looks like a golden opportunity quickly becomes a nightmare when the young friends find they’ve been kidnapped by what turns out to be a band of space pirates! Rox and Zam find themselves swept up in the astro-buccaneers’ vendetta against a huge intergalactic corporation that’s forced this motley band of working stiffs from across space into a life of crime. Now the girls must choose: do they want the comforts of home and family, or the glamorous adventure of a lifetime—to be part of a crew of colorful misfits intent on plunder, revenge, and excitement? Their lives, friendship . . . and maybe even the fate of a galaxy . . . hangs in the balance!

Get this for Someone who loves campy, light-hearted science fiction surrounding young friendships and space adventure fantasy. It’s escapism in the purest form, with all the tropes and thrills from the days of pulp novels to Firefly, and beyond. Yet still fresh and different, and cheerful. The art and sequential art form are rich in detail and traditional form, adding to the awesome story and thrill ride for readers of all ages.

Amazon.com page link

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.

Sloane Leong’s Prism Stalker: Volume 1, coming this September

Sloane Leong (From Under Mountains, A Map to the Sun)  vivid, psychedelic sci-fi series Prism Stalker, is coming in trade paperback form, this September. This will continue the first five single monthly issues of the recent (and awesome) fresh sci-fi comic series, published by Image Comics.

The story:

Far from the border of colonized space, a newly discovered planet teems violently with strange psychic life and puzzling telekinetic ecology. Indentured refugee Vep is taken by a private military firm to assist in settling this new world. What awaits her there will test the limits of her will as she grapples with the strange power the planet exerts over her…

Prism Stalker, Volume 1 arrives in comics shops on Wednesday, September 5th and bookstores on Tuesday, September 11th.

SKYWARD reaches new heights with its first paperback volume, this September

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The fresh gravity-killing mystery comic series Skyward, by writer Joe Henderson (showrunner of Fox’s Lucifer) and artist Lee Garbett (Lucifer, Loki: Agent of Asgard) will be obtainable to all as in trade paperback form as Skyward, Volume 1: My Low-G Life.

The first story arc of the critically acclaimed series will include issues #1-5 of the series, and published by Image Comics.

The story here…

One day, gravity on Earth suddenly became a fraction of what it is now. Set 20 years later, SKYWARD introduces a humanity that has adapted to its new low-gravity reality. And to Willa Fowler, who was born just after G-day, it’s pretty awesome. You can fly through the air! I mean, sure, you can also die if you jump too high. So you just don’t jump too high. And maybe don’t get mixed up in your dad’s secret plan to bring gravity back, which could get you killed…

Captain’s note: I am reading the single issues of Skyward, and loving the hell out of it. If you enjoy fun, physics bending science fiction stories with a lot of mystery, then check this out.

The Skyward, Volume 1: My Low-G Life trade paperback will descend into comic stores on Wednesday, September 19th and bookstores on Tuesday, September 25th.

 

Black Cloud: Volume 1, No Exit trade paperback, coming this October.

The Black Cloud comic series, by Ivan Brandon (Drifter, Wolverine) and Jason Latour (Southern Bastards, Spider-Gwen), with artist Greg Hinkle (The Rattler, Airboy) and colorist Matt Wilson (Paper Girls, Wicked +The Devine) will be released as a collected trade paperback, this October.

Black Cloud: Volume 1, No Exit will collect the first five issues, featuring the opening arc of the darkly ethereal fantasy series.

Zelda’s about to start a war of dreams. In the days when story and reality were one, the old blood—people with the power to shape stories—built a new world to escape the future we all came to live in. Generations later, Zelda rejects the old blood’s dreams and escapes into our world to run from destiny. But destiny has a nasty way of catching up to you.

Black Cloud, Volume 1: No Exit hits up the comic book stores on Wednesday, October 11th, and bookstores on Tuesday, October 17th.