Shangguan’s warm and lyrical narratives capture ﬂeeting moments and sensations; while her shifting perspectives take in all of existence from the emptiness of space to the intimacy of human interactions.
A contemplative journey that explores how it feels to be alive.
Karen Shangguan‘s Quiet Thoughts is out August 19th in the UK and August 24th in the US from Avery Hill Publishing.
A collection of Tillie’s three longform comics with Avery Hill: I Love This Part, The End Of Summer and A City Inside. Plus the early sketches, short comics for magazines and webcomics such as What It’s Like To Be Gay In An All-Girls Middle School that shot her to fame on both sides of the Atlantic and have never been collected before.
Out 19/08/2021 (UK) – 24/08/2021 (USA)
A collection of sketches and poetry comics from Vancouver artist Karen Shangguan.
Lights! Planets! People!
Lizzy Stewart and Molly Naylor
Out 23/09/2021 (UK) – 28/09/2021 (USA)
An adaptation of Molly Naylor’s play about a renowned scientist who is undergoing catastrophes in her work and personal life. Molly Naylor is an award-winning writer, performer and director and creator of Sky One comedy After Hours. Lizzy Stewart is an award-winning artist and writer, and creator of Walking Distance which came out from Avery Hill in 2019.
Methods of Dyeing
Out 07/10/2021 (UK) – 12/10/2021 (USA)
A new book in the quiet, fantastical Ismyre series by Bristol-based creator B. Mure. Mure continues to expand the Ismyre universe, this time with a detective story!
Out 21/10/2021 (UK) – 26/10/2021 (USA)
Down on the Riviera a famous sculpture has been stolen and the local police force are out of their depth – can a vast cast of local heroes, such as ‘King Gianthead Fighter Policeman O.X.’ or ‘Danny Kildare the Space Priest’, help solve the crime or will the thieves get away with their prize?
Told through the twisted creative lens of Hurk, Jinx Freeze is a heist story unlike any you’ve read before!
11/11/21 (UK) – 16/11/21 (USA)
A semi-autobiographical comic about being bi-racial and working class whilst struggling to finish the final year at a prestigious London art school.
From exiting new Manchester-based artist Clio Isadora.
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.
Avery Hill Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site
Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!
Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!
Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.
7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up (Graphix) – Why would any kid want to be an adult? This graphic novel explores the challengese of growing up.
Great Naval Battles of the Twentieth Century (Dead Reckoning) – In this collection, Jean-Yves Delitte and Giuseppe Baiguera plunge you into the heart of three of the twentieth century’s greatest naval battles: Tsushima (1905), Jutland (1916), and Midway (1942).
The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott (Avery Hill Publishing) – Billie Scott is an artist. Her debut gallery exhibition opens in a few months. Within a fortnight she’ll be completely blind. Already getting tons of praise, read our early review here.
Miskatonic #1 (AfterShock) – Miskatonic Valley holds many mysteries – cultists worshipping old gods, a doctor deadset on resurrecting the recently deceased, a house overrun by rats in the walls – but none more recent than a series of bombings targeting the Valley’s elite.
Plutocracy (NBM) – 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. A citizen decides to explore how the world came to this situation.
Power Rangers #1 (BOOM! Studios) – A new era for the Power Rangers is here and it’s a perfect opportunity to dive in and see what you’ve been missing.
Punchline #1 (DC Comics) – The hit character gets a spotlight in a not so veiled exploration of Trump’s America.
Scarenthood #1 (IDW Publishing) – With the kids away the parents away in this ghost-hunting/demonic entity fighting twist of a story.
Terminal Punks #1 (Mad Cave Studios) – Mutant animals are unleashed at an airport and four punk teens take them on.
Taskmaster #1 (Marvel) – Framed for the murder of Maria Hill, Taskmaster is on the run attempting to survive and prove his innocence.
Place and memory s a powerful connection that most people tend to take for granted. I remember the first time I went to Madison Square Garden. I knew instantly after getting there exactly why Michael Jordan called it his favorite place to play. The fact it was the same place many of basketball idols played made it such an indelible memory to this day coupled with the fact my Mother took me there. Places and our relationships to them, is inextricable. In Claire Scully’s Desolation Wilderness our author reminds the reader just how delicate memory is.
We are taken to the place as the creator shows how this patch of land has evolved over years. As people move here then a small town emerges and even when mankind emerges in this place the elements are paramount to anything humans have brought. The intervention of mother nature’s rain shows us just how powerful it is. We also see how mother nature’s sunshine can be as nurturing as any parent. It gives growth to everything within its reach. The graphic novel shows us the true beauty of mother nature and that her dominion is her unending generosity.
Overall, Scully has shown the reader just how important it is to observe and to see that in mother nature’s unobtrusive manner she is beautiful. The story by Scully is simple, elegant, and well done. The art by Scully is breathtaking. Altogether, mother nature’s love and our appreciation of her is more than evident in this affecting tome.
Growing up, I used to hear that expression, “No Man is an island,” and I never knew what it meant. I heard it from my school teachers, my parents, my family elders and even some of my neighbors. With no one explaining it right out, I assumed, that you can’t accomplish most things by yourself. This is partially true, but as I grew older, I realized it was more than that.
As the need for human connection, is truly the lifeforce that runs through our veins. As there is nothing like meeting some, who just like you. It is even more affecting, when you fall in love with that person. So, when I heard about Tillie Walden’s masterpiece, I Love This Part, I had a feeling it would take my heart places.
We are transported to your average small in America, where boredom is commonplace for teenagers and life is otherwise ordinary. We meet two teenagers, who find out they have a lot in common, from music, to stories, and everything in between. All of a sudden, the unexpected happens and one of the girls falls for the other, and their relationship is never the same. By book’s end we go through the rollercoaster of emotions, as it becomes too much for one of them to bear, as ultimately a love of music becomes the only thing they share moving forward.
Overall, a moving, emotional, and sublime tale of a deep connection which goes beyond words. The story by Walden is awe-inspiring and heartfelt. The art by Walden is gorgeous and luminous. Altogether, an otherwise ordinary tale from the outside that tugs at your heartstrings all throughout and at the end.