As a fan of Back to the Future, I’ve watched the trilogy way too many times. It’s one of those films that still stands up to time. Michael J Fox is at his best while Christopher Lloyd shines. Director Robert Zemeckis also solidifies his position as a visual storyteller with the films.
As the movies became a staple of modern American cinema, they also became an earmark in popular culture. What I enjoyed about the movies was how it was written for everyone to watch without saying outright that it was made for the family. I also enjoyed how it insisted on real-world stakes if one thing changes. In Acursian Chapter 7, Charlie finds out the hard way just how much things changed when a certain chess piece is moved.
We find Charlie dealing with the fallout of Jock’s death, as he loses the dagger of time in the process. We are also taken back in time to see how the dagger gained it power where one Scottish ruler uses it in a Blood oath to ensure his victory on the battlefield. Charlie is told of how the loss of the dagger may mean the difference between life and death. By the issue’s end, we find exactly how it has changed his life by the loss of it, realizing now he has made a colossal mistake.
Overal, Acursian Chapter 7 is an immense entry that has our heroes with their back to the wall. The story by John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis is gratifying. The art by the creative team is stunning. Altogether, a story that shows our heroes as they suffer their first great loss.
Story: John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis Art: Beni Lobel and Tommy Lee Edwards Story: 9.0 Art:9.0 Overall:9.0 Recommendation: Buy
There is always that point of the story where everything changes. Most writers call it the “turning point”, where life is is no longer as simple for the characters. This is where usually things get more interesting. Sometimes it can be dangerous. Usually, that includes what writers call a “catalyst”.
These catalysts are often disturbances that no one saw coming and most of the time don’t want to be there. Sometimes they get there in the nick of time, often saving our protagonist. Either way, their entrance is always interesting. In Acursian Chapter 6, a certain progenitor helps our protagonist find his way
Alison shows up with his son right about the time Corra arrives, leading to more confusion between the couple as Charlie tries told on to what is left of his family. We also find Jock, stabbed by the same dagger he stole all those years ago, which the only thing is keeping him alive. We find out how Bregon broke from his sisters and how Jock got hold of the dagger in the first place. By the issue’s end, a skirmish between Charlie and Steve over the dagger changes events in ways they don’t even know how bad.
Overall, Acursian Chapter 6 is a great entry that gives a bunch of twists and turns. The story by John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis is satisfying. The art by the creative team is dazzling. Altogether, an issue that pushes the foot on the accelerator for the story.
Story: John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis Art: Beni Lobel and Tommy Lee Edwards Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Valiant Entertainment has released the second episode of the Faith Motion Comic!
The first episode explored the origin of Faith Herbert, aka Zephyr, and the relationship with her first love and fellow Harbinger Renegade John Torkelson, aka Torque… but what’s next for the heroes and where will Faith’s adventures lead her? The second episode is now available to watch on Valiant Entertainment’s YouTube channel.
Plus: An action-packed motion comic featuring Bloodshot will arrive next week!
Faith’s motion comic series is pulled from the pages ofHarbinger: Faith #0, featuring a script by Joshua Dysart, artwork by Robert Gill and José Villarrubia, and letters by Dave Sharpe. See below for the motion comic’s credits.
Voice Actors FAITH: Tamara Fritz GRANDMA: Phoenix Emrys TORQUE: Eric Shonk COMIC SHOP OWNER: Joe Cliff Thompson AGENT: Megan Youmans FIREMAN: Kenneth Faircloth
Crew Editor: Brian Paterno Animator: Sam Warren Audio Supervisor: Joe Thompson
“I reverse engineered Mark Trail”– Jules Rivera is the new cartoonist for the classic syndicated comicstrip Mark Trail. You know, the nature guy in the plaid! Jules gives Mark Trail a look and a new environmental justice spin on his LONG STANDING mission of conservation education. Plus a diverse cast for soap opera hijinks and humor.
Jules is the second Latina woman to become a nationally syndicated comic strip cartoonist. Jules brings her background in engineering and lifelong interest in nature and the environment to Mark’s adventures.
There is something so interesting about omens. As most people who think logically cannot fathom the existence of anything that does not belong to the natural world. This is most interesting when you take into account, most people believe in a religion also. As scientists dismiss most myths are fairytales. The truth is, most myths are based on facts, with some skewed details.
As we usually believe most myths until cynicism enters our thought process as adults. So when I started to research some famous myths, the stories behind them made them even more rapturous. As sometimes the reason for the myth provides a more fascinating story than what is told. In Acursian Chapter 5, the reader finds out exactly how Jock ends up as the titleholder
We’re taken back to 1746 Scotland, where Prince Bregon is trying to usurp his sisters, who just happens to be the three witches, from taking back the crown. We soon find out how the witches hid their source of power away from Bregon but had an unknown observer. We also find how Jock became as wealthy as he and Charlie are. By the issue’s end, it’s up to Charlie to set things straight.
Overall, Acursian Chapter 5 entertains. The story by John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis is pleasurable. The art by Beni Lobel and Tommy Lee Edwards is bright. Altogether, a story that gives the reader some very much needed context.
Story: John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis Art: Beni Lobel and Tommy Lee Edwards Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
2020 definitely felt like a year where I embraced comics in all their different formats and genres from the convenient, satisfying graphic novella to the series of loosely connected and curated one shots and even the door stopper of an omnibus/hardcover or that charming webcomic that comes out one or twice a week on Instagram. This was partially due to the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down comics’ traditional direct market for a bit so I started reviewing webcomics, trade paperbacks, graphic novels and nonfiction even after this supply chain re-opened. I also co-hosted and edited two seasons of a podcast about indie comics where we basically read either a trade every week for discussion, and that definitely meant spending more time with that format. However, floppy fans should still be happy because I do have a traditional ongoing series on my list as well as some minis.
Without further ado, here are my favorite comics of 2020.
10. Marvels Snapshots (Marvel)
Curated by original Marvels writer Kurt Busiek and with cover art by original Marvels artist Alex Ross, Marvels Snapshots collects seven perspectives on on the “major” events of the Marvel Universe from the perspectives of ordinary people from The Golden Age of the 1940s to 2006’s Civil War. It’s cool to get a more character-driven and human POV on the ol’ corporate IP toy box from Alan Brennert and Jerry Ordway exploring Namor the Submariner’s PTSD to Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, and Benjamin Dewey showing the real reason behind Johnny Storm’s airhead celebrity act. There’s also Mark Russell and Ramon Perez’s take on the classic Captain America “Madbomb” storyline, Barbara Kesel’s and Staz Johnson’s sweet, Bronze Age-era romance between two first responders as the Avengers battle a threat against the city, and Saladin Ahmed and Ryan Kelly add nuance to the superhuman Civil War by showing how the Registration Act affects a Cape-Killer agent as well as a young elemental protector of Toledo, Ohio, who just wants to help his community and do things like purify water. However, the main reason Marvels Snapshots made my “favorite” list was Jay Edidin and Tom Reilly‘s character-defining work showing the pre-X-Men life of Cyclops as he struggles with orphan life, is inspired by heroes like Reed Richards, and lays the groundwork for the strategist, leader, and even revolutionary that appears in later comics.
Fangs is cartoonist Sarah Andersen’s entry into the Gothic romance genre and was a light, funny, and occasionally sexy series that got me through a difficult year. Simply put, it follows the relationship of a vampire named Elsie and a werewolf named Jimmy, both how they met and their life together. Andersen plays with vampire and werewolf fiction tropes and sets up humorous situations like a date night featuring a bloody rare steak and a glass of blood instead of wine, Jimmy having an unspoken animosity against mail carriers, and just generally working around things like lycanthropy every 28 days and an aversion to sunlight. As well as being hilarious and cute, Fangs shows Sarah Andersen leveling up as an artist as she works with deep blacks, different eye shapes and textures, and more detailed backgrounds to match the tone of her story while not skimping on the relatable content that made Sarah’s Scribbles an online phenomenon.
I really got into Vault Comics this year. (I retroactively make These Savage Shores my favorite comic of 2019.) As far as prose, I mainly read SF, and Vault nicely fills that niche in the comics landscape and features talented, idiosyncratic creative teams. Heavy is no exception as Max Bemis, Eryk Donovan, and Cris Peter tell the story of Bill, who was gunned down by some mobsters, and now is separated from his wife in a place called “The Wait” where he has to set right enough multiversal wrongs via violence to be reunited with her in Heaven. This series is a glorious grab bag of hyperviolence, psychological examinations of toxic masculinity, and moral philosophy. Heavy also has a filthy and non-heteronormative sense of humor. Donovan and Peter bring a high level of chaotic energy to the book’s visuals and are game for both tenderhearted flashbacks as well as brawls with literal cum monsters. In addition to all this, Bemis and Donovan aren’t afraid to play with and deconstruct their series’ premise, which is what makes Heavy my ongoing monthly comic.
Writer/artist Katie Skelly puts her own spin on the true crime genre inMaids, a highly stylized account of Christine and Lea Papin murdering their employers in France during the 1930s. Skelly’s linework and eye popping colors expertly convey the trauma and isolation that the Papins go through as they are at the beck and call of the family they work almost 24/7. Flashbacks add depth and context to Christine and Lea’s characters and provide fuel to the fire of the class warfare that they end up engaging in. Skelly’s simple, yet iconic approach character design really allowed me to connect with the Papins and empathize with them during the build-up from a new job to murder and mayhem. Maids is truly a showcase for a gifted cartoonist and not just a summary of historical events.
In her webcomic Grind Like A Girl, cartoonist Veronica Casson tells the story of growing up trans in 1990s New Jersey. The memoir recently came to a beautiful conclusion with Casson showing her first forays into New York, meeting other trans women, and finding a sense of community with them that was almost the polar opposite of her experiences in high school. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the evolution of Veronica Casson’s art style during different periods of her life from an almost Peanuts vibe for her childhood to using more flowing lines, bright colors, and ambitious panel layouts as an older teen and finally an adult. She also does a good job using the Instagram platform to give readers a true “guided view” experience and point out certain details before putting it all together in a single page so one can appreciate the comic at both a macro/micro levels. All in all, Grind Like A Girl is a personal and stylish coming of age memoir from Veronica Casson, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.
Thai/Italian cartoonist Elisa Macellari tells an unconventional World War II story in Papaya Salad, a recently translated history comic about her great uncle Sompong, who just wanted to see the world. However, he ended up serving with the Thai diplomatic corps in Italy, Germany, and Austria during World War II. Macellari uses a recipe for her great uncle’s favorite dish, papaya salad, to structure the comic, and her work has a warm, dreamlike quality to go with the reality of the places that Sampong visits and works at. Also, it’s very refreshing to get a non-American or British perspective on this time in history as Sampong grapples with the shifting status of Thailand during the war as well as the racism of American soldiers, who celebrate the atomic bomb and lump him and his colleagues with the Japanese officers, and are not shown in a very positive light. However, deep down, Papaya Salad is a love story filled with small human moments that make life worth living, like appetizing meals, jokes during dark times, and faith in something beyond ourselves. It’s a real showcase of the comics medium’s ability to tell stories from a unique point of view.
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (with colorist Jacob Phillips) are two creators whose work has graced my “favorite comics” list many times. And this time they really outdid themselves with the graphic novella Pulpabout the final days of Max Winters, a gunslinger-turned-Western dime novelist. It’s a character study peppered with flashbacks as Phillips and Phillips use changes in body posture and color palette to show Max getting older while his passion for resisting those who would exploit others is still intact. Basically, he can shoot and rob fascists just like he shot and robbed cattle barons back in the day. Brubaker and Phillips understand that genre fiction doesn’t exist in a vacuum and is informed by the historical context around it, which is what makes Pulp such a compelling read. If you like your explorations of the banality of evil and creeping specter of fascism with heists, gun battles, and plenty of introspection, then this is the comic for you.
Music is my next favorite interest after comics so My Riot was an easy pick for my favorite comics list. The book is a coming of age story filtered through 1990s riot girl music from writer Rick Spears and artist Emmett Helen. It follows the life of Valerie, who goes from doing ballet and living a fairly conservative suburban life to being the frontwoman and songwriter for a cult riot girl band. Much of this transformation happens through Helen’s art and colors as his palette comes to life just as Valerie does when she successfully calls out some audience members/her boyfriend for being sexist and patronizing. The comic itself also takes on a much more DIY quality with its layouts and storytelling design as well as how the characters look and act. My Riot is about the power of music to find one’s identify and true self and build a community like The Proper Ladies do throughout the book. Valerie’s arc is definitely empowering and relatable for any queer kid, who was forced to conform to way of life and thinking that wasn’t their own.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: slice of life is my all-time favorite comic book genre. So, I was overjoyed when writers Sina Grace and Omar Spahi, artist Jenny D. Fine, and colorist Mx. Struble announced that they were doing a monthly slice of life comic about a brother, sister, and their best friend/ex-boyfriend (respectively) set in San Francisco that also touched on the gay and indie music scene. And Getting It Together definitely has lifted up to my pre-release hype as Grace and Spahi have fleshed out a complex web of relationships and drama with gorgeous and occasionally hilarious art by Fine and Struble. There are gay and bisexual characters all over the book with different personalities and approaches to life, dating, and relationships, which is refreshing too. Grace, Spahi, and Fine also take some time away from the drama to let us know about the ensemble cast’s passions and struggles like indie musician Lauren’s lifelong love for songwriting even if her band has a joke name (Nipslip), or her ex-boyfriend Sam’s issues with mental health. I would definitely love to spend more than four issues with these folks.
My favorite comic of 2020 was The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott , a debut graphic novel by cartoonist Zoe Thorogood.The premise of the comic is that Billie is an artist who is going blind in two weeks, and she must come up with some paintings for her debut gallery show during that time period. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott boasts an adorably idiosyncratic cast of characters that Thorogood lovingly brings to life with warm visuals and naturalistic dialogue as Billie goes from making art alone in her room to making connections with the people around her, especially Rachel, a passionate folk punk musician. The book also acts as a powerful advocate for the inspirational quality of art and the act of creation. Zoe Thorogood even creates “art within the art” and concludes the story with the different portraits that Billie painted throughout her travels. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott was the hopeful comic that I needed in a dark year and one I will cherish for quite some time as I ooh and aah over Thorogood’s skill with everything from drawing different hair styles to crafting horrific dream sequences featuring eyeballs.
When does your morality keep you from doing something? That is the question that idealists have asked as long as the world could dream of eloquent ideas. This what separates idealists from pragmatists. One only wishes it could be such a ways while the other knows how the world actually works. That make sthe vitriol troops got when they came home from the Vietnam War so abhorrent.
Many of those men and women who only followed orders found rebuke and death threats when they came home. The choice of not following orders is only the thing of movies and television and not how it works in the real world. A moral compass has no place in the battlefield. In Noir Ceasar’s Try Again#2, Danielle does find her moral compass but maybe to her own peril.
We find Danielle as she grapples with whom she is doing the hit for, and how she only hopes to walk away alive. When she realizes who the target is and the reasons behind it, she understands immediately why she needs to finish the assignment. Of course, nothing is easy, but being a revenant, comes with its advantages, as she swiftly executes him. By the issue’s end, Danielle uneasily completes the ritual that every revenant must do to ensure payment, a task that is more difficult than it sounds.
Overall, it’s a great chapter which is a bit different than every other entry in the genre. The story by Will Brown, Marcus Johnson, and John Lawrence is exciting. The art by Win Dolores is stunning. Altogether a story that adds some horror to the crime noir genre.
Story: Will Brown, Marcus Johnson, and John Lawrence Art: Win Dolores Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Tapascelebrates the holiday season with an invitation to readers to spend “FREE Reading Day” Thursday, December 10, reading the #1 Action Fantasy series, The Beginning After the End. The FREE Reading Day is an opportunity to binge the beloved series before its return with season four on January 1, 2021.
Hit webcomic The Beginning After the End is based on the same-titled Tapas original novel by TurtleMe and is a top series on the platform with more than 4.8M views of the comic and 7M+ views of the novel. The Beginning After the End is a magical tale of reincarnation in a different time and place. Imagine waking up to your birth with the knowledge you are King Grey – with unrivaled strength, wealth, and prestige in a world governed by martial ability. But beneath the glamorous exterior of a powerful king lurks the shell of man, devoid of purpose and will. Reincarnated into a new world filled with magic and monsters, the king has a second chance to relive his life. Correcting the mistakes of his past will not be his only challenge, however. Underneath the peace and prosperity of the new world is an undercurrent threatening to destroy everything he has worked for, questioning his role and reason for being born again.
Tapas Media has launched Studio Tapas – a newly formed division dedicated to producing and publishing original webcomics and novels. Studio Tapas boasts a robust catalog of more than 70+ Originals – exclusive content wholly-owned by Tapas Media. Studio Tapas has an additional 30 originals in production for launch in 2021.
The first property Studio Tapas will develop beyond the platform is the hit original series Magical Boy (3.4M views/117k weekly subscribers) through an exclusive partnership with Madison Wells for television and cross-platform. This is the second series confirmed to get the broadcast treatment with Madison Wells as previously announced Tapas webcomic Yes, My Boss! is also slated for television. Magical Boy just returned from hiatus earlier this month.
Studio Tapas has named Film/TV industry veteran Corey Sienega as Head of Business Development where she will oversee film, television, and cross-platform partnerships. Formerly the President of Production and Development for Chaotic Good Studios, Sienega is a member of the Producers Guild of America where she is on the Diversity & Inclusion Committee and was previously named one of HollywoodReporter’s ‘25 Most Powerful Hispanic Women in Entertainment.’
The new division will be helmed by Head of Studio, Gabrielle Luu, who was recently promoted into the newly created position. In her new role, Luu will direct development and strategy of Original Series projects, with a focus on forging new opportunities for top emerging talent through producing stories that not only perform well on Tapas, but also for Tapas’ global network of webcomic and ancillary partners to create Super IPs that can cross platform and geographic borders. Previously a Content Manager and Acquisitions Executive at the digital publisher, Luu worked her way up and has played an instrumental role in building out Tapas’ vast portfolio of hits in several genres such as The Beginning After the End, The Dragon Prince’s Bride, Born Sexy Tomorrow, and His Barcode Tattoo.
Studio Tapas has already begun co-development of its partner content slate with multiple projects in the works. Recent entertainment partnerships for Studio Tapas Original titles include:
Magical Boy, the hit webcomic centers on Max, a young man coming out as trans to his parents, just as he learns from his mother that he’s from a long line of Magical Girls charged with saving the world from the dark Devoid (optioned by Madison Wells for television and cross-platform).
The webcomic adaptation of CJ Entertainment’s blockbuster film A Werewolf Boy.
Yes, My Boss!a modern office-place romance for the gig economy about an aspiring webcomic artist who suffers through her horrible boss during the day, only to find out that her new assistant candidate and biggest fan is actually her horrible boss. Frolic Media and Madison Wells are producing a scripted podcast and developing the tv adaptation.
MNEMOSYNE, an AI thriller created by Sansa, follows a young woman recovering from a horrible crash who struggles to regain her memory. The more she remembers, the more she fears that her caretakers are her captors and that her memories might not be her own. Tapas is partnered with Zoic Studios for television and cross-platform adaptation.
In our current climate, and hopefully, we’ll soon see its repudiation, being a minority seems as though your life is not safe. It’s almost incomprehensible that the safety of our children is what’s at stake. Before the election results, our worry was only amplified because of the hate propelled by the current President. During the previous Obama administration, the diversity the nation held was a source of our strength and not our weakness.
What really happened over these past four years is not that the current president suddenly created all this hate but he only made these groups bolder to be out in the open. Our newly elected administration looks to mend those ties. What ties those hyphens in our identity is what makes us unique and beautiful. In the first volume of the brilliant Katie Quan’s Generasian Comics Volume I, she eloquently shows the joys and struggles of everyday Asian Americans.
We open up on Katie’s journey in high school, as in the sobering “Labels”, she shows how insecurities when it comes to race, has a powerful psychiatric effect. In “Modern Courtship”, she navigates the always murky waters of getting to know someone and the insistent need to define. In “A (Great) Wall”, she points out the absurdity of the subject movie and the fact that Matt Damon was in it. In “ This Asian American Life”, she points out all the stupid questions Asian Americans have to deal with at some point from someone not Asian. In “Popo”, she tells the tale of one woman going through TSA, and how minorities get unfairly targeted no matter how long they lived in the US. In “(Un ) Sensitivity”, Katie and her friends have some unmitigated fun with a census worker. In “Six Degrees of Seperasian”, she points out how small a world it really is especially if you are Asian. In “The Same, The Sane”, she fangirls over Supernatural, and just how riveting is, and it doesn’t hurt it has eye candy in its protagonists. In “Chink’, her brother gets a racial slur targeted at him and she finds herself not being able to help him but only able to give him solace. In “American Born Chinese”, she gets into the absurdity of Asian branded foods. In “Aloha”, she gets into why the casting of Emma Stone as an Asian shows just how backward Hollywood is. In “Time”, she ponders on if she was born I the wrong time but upon discovering the Angry Asian Man blog realizes that she is not alone. In the final strip“Resilence”, se exposes the hate Asian Americans are exposed to. By the book’s end, she entails the struggles of the Asian American in both a relatable and poignant fashion.
Overall, an excellent showcase of Quan’s eloquence as a storyteller which instantly has made me a fan of hers. The stories by Quan are timely, funny, and moving. The art by Quan is simply gorgeous. Altogether, Generasian Comics Volume I is an important part of America’s canon that deserves more attention and will have me coming back week after week.
Story: Katie Quan Art: Katie Quan Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy