Comicker Press is back with Shots Fired, a revamped version of the comics anthology formerly known as Every Day. As with its previous iteration, Shots Fired will raise funds for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Community Justice Reform Coalition to help end gun violence in America via a Kickstarter campaign that will pay for printing and shipping of the comics anthology. Once printed, all proceeds from additional book sales will go directly to the CSGV and CJRC.
Comicker Press co-founder Sean E. Williams said,
Since Kickstarter campaigns are all-or-nothing, when it became apparent that our last one wasn’t going to reach its goal, we decided to regroup and try again as quickly as possible. This issue is too important to not do this book, and the stories the creators are telling are truly unparalleled and need to be read.
With the upcoming 28-day campaign for Shots Fired, Comicker Press has capped the size of the book to around 168 pages and is limiting shipping to the United States to keep the budget down. They are also adding a Kickstarter Exclusive limited-edition hardcover, which won’t be made available after the campaign.
The talent donating their time to Shots Fired include Scott Snyder, Kelly Thompson, David Lafuente, Phil Hester, Ariela Kristantina, Jamal Igle, Devin Grayson, Joe Keatinge, Doselle Young, Marguerite Sauvage, Ron Marz, Stuart Moore, Shannon Wheeler, Steven Grant, Roger Langridge, Matt Miner, Ray Fawkes, CW Cooke, Alex de Campi, Carla Speed McNeil, Kelly Williams, Emma Beeby, and more.
The Shots Fired campaign launches on Kickstarter on June 18th, and runs through July 16th.
Baltimore Comic-Con returns to the Inner Harbor’s Baltimore Convention Center on October 18-20, 2019. The Baltimore Comic-Con has announced the addition of Arantza, Frank Cho, Tom King, Carla Speed McNeil, David Petersen, William Stout, Mark Waid, and Lee Weeks to the 2019 event.
Arantza Sestayo was born in San Sebastian, Basque Country Spain. Her artistic process is self-taught and she developed professionally through portraiture, in ceramic design, and in the production of cartoons in Camelot Studios of Castellon. Her journey in illustration began with publications such as Red Ears of erotic and humorous comics, the Swedish children’s magazine Psago Prinsessan, and the American publishing house S.Q.P. In Spain, she has contributed to Wicked Kisses with Norma Comics and participated in the book Vampires from Heavy Metal. Her art has been featured on merchandise from Schmidt, Bioworld, and Heavy Metal. The municipality of Castellon commissioned an illustration for a facade of the Ateneo Assembly Hall, and published Duende as a compilation of her work. She exhibits at events related to comics and movies, such as Expomanga, Salon del Comic de Irun, Cavacon in Italy, and the Terror Film Festival of San Sebastian. Currently, some of her work has can be seen on products at Penguin Random House, and in the special edition Game of Thrones 20th Anniversary by HarperCollins Publisher. This year, her piece Ophelia has been awarded third place at the Imaginative Realism of Art Renewal Center.
Ringo Award winner and Harvey and Eisner Award nominee Frank Cho launched his career as a comic strip artist at the University of Maryland-College Park student newspaper, penning University2, which was the predecessor of his creator-owned syndicated strip and comic series, Liberty Meadows. His body of work also includes Marvel Comics’ New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, Shanna the She-Devil, New Ultimates, and X-Men: Schism, as well as Jungle Girl for Dynamite Entertainment. His recent work can be seen on covers from DC’s Harley Quinn.
Ringo and Eisner Award-winning Tom King is currently the writer of Batman at DC Comics, where he has also written Mister Miracle, Grayson, The Omega Men, DC Nation, Swamp Thing Winter Special, Heroes in Crisis, and has a story in Action Comics #1000, not to mention his award-winning work at Marvel on The Vision. King’s first book, A Once Crowded Sky, a postmodern super hero novel, was recognized by USA Today as one of the best Graphic Novels of the year. He was named by the Hollywood Reporter as one of the five comic creators to watch in 2015.
Carla Speed McNeil is the author and artist of Finder. She started working in comics since 1997 and hasn’t stopped since. She has also worked on a variety of projects like providing art for Queen & Country: Operation: Stormfront from Oni Press, adapted and drew Pendragon: The Merchant of Death (based on the prose book by D. J. MacHale) for Simon & Schuster, and drawn fan-favorite Frank Ironwine for Apparat/Avatar, as well as two pages of Transmetropolitan for DC/Vertigo, both by Warren Ellis. Bad Houses was released in 2013 by Dark Horse Comics, after which she began a long series of collaborations with writer Alex De Campi, including Ashes, My Little Pony (IDW), and No Mercy (Image) beginning April 2015. Other smaller projects have included drawing Legends of Red Sonja (Dynamite), the short story Here. In My Head (with writer Elizabeth Genco) for Comic Book Tattoo from Image, and shorts in notable anthologies such as The Sleep of Reason and Cautionary Fairy Tales of Africa. She has won an Eisner Award, Ignatz Awards, the Kim Yale New Talent Award from Friends Of Lulu, the L.A. Times Book Prize for graphic novel in 2012, and three Stumptown Comic Arts Awards.
David Petersen is best known as the creator of Mouse Guard. He enjoys fantasy, folklore, myth, and legend. Even more than that, he loves to draw and write about it. A steady diet of cartoons, comics, and tree-climbing fed his imagination and is what still inspires his work today. David won the 2007 Russ Manning Award for Most Promising Newcomer. In 2008, David won the Eisners for Best Publication for Kids (Mouse Guard Fall 1152 & Winter 1152) and Best Graphic Album – Reprint (Mouse Guard Fall 1152 Hardcover). He won the Harvey Award for Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work in both 2014 and 2015. David is a cartoonist and children’s book illustrator who began his career in 2004 with the release of Voices, a self-published anthology from ComiXpress. Possessing a distinctive art style reminiscent of A.A. Milne (creator of Winnie the Pooh), Petersen has worked on such comics as The Dark Crystal, Snowy Valentine, and Muppets & Fairytales from Archaia, as well as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Seriesfrom IDW. His artwork also graced the cover for the 2012 Baltimore Comic-Con program, as well as the show-exclusive t-shirt.
William Stout was born in Salt Lake City on the way to Los Angeles. While attending CalArts on a full scholarship, he began his professional career illustrating the first four issues of Coven 13. In 1971, Stout began assisting Russ Manning on the Tarzan of the Apesnewspaper strips and Eisner Award-winning graphic novels. Stout wrote and drew stories for Cycle-Toonsand Car-Toons, then joined Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder on Playboy’s Little Annie Fanny. After becoming one of the first American contributors to Heavy Metalmagazine, Stout created the one-sheet for Wizards, ultimately working on posters for over 120 films. His first one-man show was held at the American Comic Book Company. Stout has worked on over 40 feature films including Buck Rogers, both Conan films, Predator, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Disney’s Dinosaur, The Prestige, Stephen King’s The Mist, and Men In Black. Return of the Living Dead made Stout the youngest production designer in film history. He wrote films for Roger Corman and Jim Henson. Bill designed Masters of the Universe and helped Pan’s Labyrinth win two of its Oscars. His most recent films are SpongeBob Squarepants 3 and LucasFilm’s Monster Roll. Stout’s groundbreaking THE DINOSAURS-A Fantastic New View of a Lost Era (1981) was followed by Ray Bradbury’s Dinosaur Tales and The Little Blue Brontosaurus (1984 Children’s Choice Award and the basis for The Land Before Time). Michael Crichton acknowledged Stout’s work as an inspiration for Jurassic Park. After voyaging to Antarctica and Patagonia, Stout began working to make Antarctica the first World Park. He considers his most important current book project to be LOST CONTINENT-Modern and Prehistoric Life in Antarctica. Stout worked with Jean “Moebius” Giraud on Arzach and with Will Eisner on a Harvey Award-winning Spirit series. Stout’s own tales have appeared in Dark Horse’s 911, their Eisner-nominated AutobioGraphix book, and Bernie Wrightson’s Night Terrors. Stout’s Animal Planet DRAGONS poster was distributed to every comic shop and convention in America. Stout has created covers for Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Alien Pig Farm 3000, TURF, Jurassic Park, and Alien Worlds, for which he also recently illustrated an eight-page Bruce Jones story.
Bill is the author and illustrator of the bestselling book Legends of the Blues, the first of three volumes on the creators of the world’s greatest blues music. Bill co-founded the Comic Art Professional Society, designed their logo, and served as their tenth president. Over 24 million William Stout trading cards have been sold. Stout’s twelve murals depicting the prehistoric life of San Diego are on permanent display at the San Diego Natural History Museum, as are his two recent murals for the San Diego Zoo. His first two murals are at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. He painted three Cretaceous murals for Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Stout’s huge fifty-year career overview, Fantastic Worlds – The Art of William Stout, was published in late 2018.
The multiple Harvey and Eisner Award-winning Mark Waid has been the voice behind numerous issues, mini-series, and title runs that have resonated throughout comics fandom and the creative community alike. His acclaimed runs and series include DC Comics’ The Flash, Kingdom Come, The Kingdom, JLA: Year One,JLA, Legion of Super-Heroes, and Superman: Birthright, Marvel Comics’ Captain America, Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, The Indestructible Hulk, and Daredevil, BOOM! Studios’ Incorruptible and Irredeemable, Archie Comics’ The Fox, and Empire, originally published by Gorilla Comics and later by DC Comics. He has been Editor-in-Chief and then Chief Creative Officer at BOOM! Studios, as well as one of the principals behind Thrillbent Comics, a digital comics initiative.
Debuting professionally in the 1980s, artist and occasional writer Lee Weeks initially received publication in Eclipse Comics’ Tales of Terror horror anthology. He has contributed to much lauded work on titles such as Marvel’s Daredevil, Captain America, and Spider-Man’s Tangled Web, DC Comics’ bookshelf format Batman Chronicles: Gauntlet, and Dark Horse Comics’ Tarzan vs. Predator. He was also the featured artist in Volume 17 of TwoMorrow Publishing’s Modern Masters. In 2018, he was the recipient of numerous Ringo Awards, including Best Artist or Penciller, and Best Humor Comic and Best Single Issue or Story for his work on DC’s Batman/Elmer Fudd Special.
In addition to on-site CGC grading, this year’s confirmed guests for the show include: Arantza (fantasy artist), Howard Chaykin (Hey Kids! Comics!), Frank Cho (Harley Quinn), Matthew Clark (Green Arrow), Ramona Fradon (The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute), Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (DC Nation), Cully Hamner (Batman Beyond), Adam Hughes (Superman), Matt Kindt (X-O Manowar), Sharlene Kindt (Dept. H), Tom King (Batman), Jeff Lemire (Black Hammer), Carla Speed McNeil (Twisted Romance), Pop Mhan (Raven, Daughter of Darkness), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Afua Richardson (Run), Louise Simonson (Death of Superman), Walter Simonson (Ragnarok), Allison Sohn (The Art of Red Sonja, Volume 2), William Stout (Fantastic Worlds – The Art of William Stout), Mark Waid (Avengers: No Road Home), and Lee Weeks (Batman).
Humanoids is launching a major initiative in 2019 to publish original comic book stories written and illustrated by some of the biggest names in comics. During the Humanoids 20th Anniversary In America panel at New York Comic Con, the publisher unveiled H1, an imprint of comic books, featuring a shared superpowered universe with all new characters and stories created by a dizzying lineup of comic book creators. Humanoids’ new Chief Creative Officer John Cassaday and Humanoids’ new Director of Creative Development Mark Waid are closely collaborating with a core team of H1 architects: Kwanza Osajyefo(Black, Black AF), Yanick Paquette (Wonder Woman Earth One) and Carla Speed McNeil (Finder, Sensation Comics) to create an ambitious storytelling experience with creators including Phil Briones, Vanessa Del Rey, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Mike McKone and Afua Richardson.
Humanoids will launch H1 in Summer 2019 with 3 ongoing series, with details and creative teams being announced next year.
Something strange is happening to the planet… Nature itself is reshaping and redefining the balance of power. Natural disasters are breaking out everywhere, and yet, the population continues to grow rapidly. In fact, the world is becoming so dense, that certain individuals are erupting with super abilities. They are called the Ignited.
A gifted doctor with a vibrant, compassionate personality, Cecelia Cobbina received boundless praise from her peers and her patients. But that was before the incident in Africa. Before she gained the ability to think faster than the speed of light. Overwhelmed with the power to answer every question, she must now overcome her own fears and tackle the one code she can’t seem to break: the truth behind the Ignited.
Opposites attract? Elakshi and Adam Land aren’t married. In fact, a month ago, they were perfect strangers, dwelling in lands foreign to one another. But now, they’re forced to remain by one another’s side, for their separation could mean the planet’s demise. Now, their greatest challenge is to stay together — even if they have to tear the world apart.
In addition to H1, Humanoids will feature all new mini series featuring self-contained original stories featuring some of the biggest and most exciting names in comics, including Dennis Calero, Jock, Shawn Martinbrough, Helen Mullane, Andrea Mutti, Quinton Peeples, Dom Reardon, and Darick Roberston.
THE ORIGINAL MINI-SERIES
THE BIG COUNTRY (5 issue mini-series)
The Old West finally died in the early 1980s. We’re in Texas. And this is the story of Grissom Callahan, the last in a long line of sheriffs. Callahan has learned everything he knows from his father and his grandfather. But the old ways don’t seem to prove efficient when it comes to stopping a violent serial killer. And in a simple moment of shaking down an informant, Grissom will start a chain of events that will reshape his life and the world of law enforcement in Texas.
MEYER (5 issue mini-series)
A comedic, coming-of-age quest where the Golden Fleece is a man’s legacy, Meyer is an immigrant’s story rooted in an old mobster’s tale and a deeply moral fable. A Breaking Bad style imaginary biography of Jewish legendary mobster Meyer Lansky as he’s trying to organize his very last con job.
NICNEVIN AND THE BLOODY QUEEN (4 issue mini-series)
Something strange has been unleashed in the North of England. A modern-day druid commits a series of ghastly murders in an attempt to unleash the awesome power of the ancient gods of Great Britain. But all hell really breaks loose when his latest would-be victim, Nicnevin “Nissy” Oswald, turns out to be more than she seems. A British tale mixing black magic and horror godfathered by Jock, one of the new masters of comic book suspense!
Ahead of Emerald City Comic Con, Dark Horse Comics has revealed information about upcoming publications in the Avatar: The Last Airbender publishing series this fall.
Avatar: The Last Airbender–Team Avatar Tales is a one-shot anthology of stories from the Avatarverse featuring beloved characters brought to life by a cast of all-star creators. It features never-before-collected stories from Free Comic Book Day publications and also debuts several brand-new stories. Fans can journey along with Team Avatar as they rescue a pumpkin farmer waylaid by monsters, go undercover in the Fire Nation, help an old rival with a hair-raising problem, and reflect on what it means to save the world. Featuring the work of Gene Luen Yang, Faith Erin Hicks, Carla Speed McNeil, Ron Koertge, Dave Scheidt, Sara Goetter, and more, this anthology features stories both hilarious and heartwarming. The beautiful cover is by artist Sara Kipin.
Avatar: The Last Airbender—Imbalance Part One is the official continuation of the bestselling Dark Horse graphic novel series. Writer Faith Erin Hicks and artist Peter Wartman have signed on as the new creative team, in collaboration with Avatar: The Last Airbender TV series co-creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. This new three-part adventure follows Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph as they return to Earthen Fire Industries—the factory owned by Toph’s father—and Team Avatar find that the once-small town of Cranefish is now booming. Expecting a warm welcome, Aang is surprised when their arrival is met with disinterest and even open hostility. At a business council meeting, the reason for the slight becomes clear: A massive bender versus non-bender conflict has gripped the town’s inhabitants, and is threatening to turn violent!
Avatar: The Last Airbender–Team Avatar Tales goes on sale September 5, 2018. This 80-page collection retails for $10.99.
Avatar: The Last Airbender—Imbalance Part One goes on sale October 10, 2018. This 80-page graphic novel retails for $10.99.
Critically acclaimed writer Alex de Campi teams up with some of comics’ hottest artists for Twisted Romance, a four-issue weekly anthology miniseries with tales of love—love gone right, wrong, and everything in between.
Each issue of this month-long romance event will feature 48 pages of content: a main comic story, a backup comic story, and a backup prose story. Within the pages of Twisted Romance, you can expect to find a wide variety of themes, including the commoditization of breakups, the love of a shy girl and a wildly famous guy, forbidden love on an intergalactic dreadnought, and the deceptive lure of childhood as seen by a princess who’s afraid to grow up. Exclusive sneak-peeks can be found throughout December and January at participating sites; see below for details.
Twisted Romance #1: “Old Flames” (Diamond code: DEC170607) arrives February 7th, featuring art from Katie Skelly, a backup comic from Sarah Horrocks, and a prose story by Magen Cubed. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, January 15th.
Twisted Romance #2: “Twinkle and the Star” (Diamond code: DEC170608) hits shelves February 14th, with art from Alejandra Gutiérrez, a backup comic from Meredith McClaren, and a prose story by Vita Ayala. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, January 22nd.
Twisted Romance #3: “Invincible Heart” (Diamond code: DEC170609) will be available February 21st, with art from Carla Speed McNeil, a backup comic from Margaret Trauth, and a prose story by Jess Bradley. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, January 29th.
Twisted Romance #4: “Treasured” (Diamond code: DEC170610) hits stores February 28th, with art from Trungles, a backup comic from Sarah Winifred Searle, and a prose story by Naomi Salman. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, February 5th.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl takes a little break in issue 26 for a special in-universe zine comic written and drawn by various heroes, villains, and denizens of the Marvel Universe. In real life, they are all written by Ryan North with Erica Henderson switching roles with her Jughead collaborator Chip Zdarsky to pen a surprisingly sultry Howard the Duck story. It’s a fun sampler that mostly hit and very little miss from the much vaunted series of three panel Galactus gag strips by Garfield‘s Jim Davis to Anders Nilsen and Soren Iverson’s poignant story of Wolverine befriending a Sentinel and shotgunning a beer with his adamantium claws. The series Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has a lot of fantastic action, jokes, and the occasional superhero parody, but it’s a book where Doreen listens to both her opponents and allies and tries to work things out with eating nuts and kicking butts. S
So, it’s fitting, we get this comic that is written by a wacky range of POVs beginning with Squirrel Girl herself who stutters through the intro about his being a fundraiser zine. We get to listen to Kraven, hear Spider-Man’s retort, and see the world through Tippytoe’s eyes, which is drawn and colored in an adorable manner Madeline McGrane’s art and colors make this frame story definitely look like a zine you might pick up at the local coffee shop or one of those fancy schmancy zine stores in bigger stories. It’s followed up by Chip Zdarsky going the closest he’ll ever get to his work on Sex Criminals in a mainstream comic with Erica Henderson doubling as a film noir director, but more awkward. They use close-ups and small panels of Howard the Duck and his femme fatale/client like they’re egging Marvel editorial to linger on this scene more while adding a funny caption. Zdarsky doing Big Two interiors is a big treat, and he barely holds back.
Tom Fowler’s Brain Drain story is a nice showcase of the underrated Unbeatable Squirrel Girl supporting character and hews the closest to Henderson’s usual style on the book. His take on Brain Drain is philosophical, adorable, and structured like the computer science programs that the character loves. It’s oddly motivational too and worth a reread thanks to its erudite writing style. Speaking of rereads, Carla Speed McNeil draws a Loki comic that only makes sense forwards and backwards and is a great example of how the comics medium allows for flexibility of meaning using Loki as a litmus test. It’s a wonderful double page spread, and the best Loki story since Journey into Mystery.
After this, Michael Cho draws a Kraven the Hunter comic/Spider-Man diss story, which is a pretty fun riff off “Kraven’s Last Hunt” and features dead presidents. His art has a light hearted old school vibe while having a subversive take on superhero/supervillain relationships kind of like the main Unbeatable Squirrel Girl title, but from the bad guy’s perspective. It’s followed up by a one page retort from Spider-Man with some gorgeous, yet still funny digital painting work from Rahzzah, who teams up later in the book to do Nancy Whitehead’s photo collage comic with the help of North, who channels Dinosaur Comics in the strip. It’s a well-designed remix story that will make the non-artists reading this comic smile and the kind of mash-up that you would find in a real zine.
But the heavy hitter of the bunch is Anders Nilsen and Soren Iverson’s Wolverine story that is fitting for an artist who had done a comic called Poetry is Useless. Anders Nilsen has a minimalist Euro style perfect for a comic about Wolverine getting talked out of killing a Sentinel, who challenges him to look past his shiny mutant killing exterior and team up with him to beat up some kaiju. (Sadly, this part of the story is off panel.) Wolverine gets a big epiphany moment when he realizes that he’s “hating and fearing” the Sentinel just like the X-Men have been treated for most of their career. This story is proof that more Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly guys should draw superhero comics.
Following this weighty, yet fun story is a couple of candy confections. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl colorist Rico Renzi draws an adorable and faux edgy Batman parody starring the one and only Tippytoe. It pokes fun at Batman’s angsty backstory as well as the fact that Tippytoe always plays second banana. Renzi’s art style is similar to the cartoon The Amazing World of Gumball with lush digital backgrounds and colors. Finally, Jim Davis, whose work I was familiar with eons before I ever opened a Marvel comic, transposes the classic Garfield and Jon relationship to Galactus and the Silver Surfer. It’s the same dad-ish, three panel punchline jokes, but told in a more cosmic key, and Davis has a lot of fun showing Galactus doing his planet devouring, face stuffing thing. His literal eye popping Silver Surfer has a similar manic energy to Robin Williams’ Genie in Disney’s Aladdin.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #26 is a real treat as independent cartoonists, the creator of Garfield, and even the book’s colorist get to take a stab at some of the more familiar faces in the Marvel Universe while also giving Squirrel Girl’s supporting cast a moment in the sun. It’s sometimes poignant and always funny.
Story: Ryan North, Erica Henderson Art: Madeline McGrane, Chip Zdarsky, Tom Fowler, Carla Speed McNeil, Michael Cho, Anders Nilsen, Rico Renzi, Jim Davis Colors: Madeline McGrane, Chip Zdarsky, Rico Renzi, Rahzzah,Soren Iverson Story: 9.5 Art: 9.0 Overall:9.2 Recommendation: Read
(W) Ryan North, Erica Henderson (A) Razzah, Rico Renzi, Chip Zdarsky, Michael Cho, Carla Speed McNeil (CA) Erica Henderson
In Shops: Nov 08, 2017
• In this special standalone issue, Squirrel Girl has convinced, cajoled, and otherwise induced her friends in the Marvel Universe to make comics of their own! For the very first time, find out what kind of comics your favorite Marvel characters would REALLY make!
• Will Tony Stark write author-insert coffee-shop alternate-reality comics where everyone talks up how great he is? It seems likely, and yet, he has given us something EVEN CRAZIER to publish!
• Featuring TONS of special guest artists, including a legendary comic strip artist making his Marvel debut!
• This unique view of both Squirrel Girl and the Marvel Universe is sure to make readers laugh, turn the page, read a bit, see a new joke, and then laugh again! It may also make readers say, “Oh my gosh you’ve gotta read this comic; I’m so glad I purchased it at my local comic-book store and will definitely patronize them again in the near future!!”
• NO OTHER COMIC is making this explicit promise this month, so in our opinion you should definitely order our talking squirrel comic book.
Empowered’s “frenemy” Sistah Spooky was once a schoolgirl who sold her soul for hotness, but was granted even more magic than beauty. Now, both superheroines find themselves trapped in a high-school hellscape by Spooky’s Infernal Service Provider—with her blonde ex-classmates plotting ritual murder to claim her magic for themselves!
Eisner and Ignatz award-winning artist Carla Speed McNeil, acclaimed creator of Finder and artist of No Mercy, Queen and Country, and more joins Empowered creator and writer Adam Warren for the first Empowered comic-book miniseries in standard comics format.
Empowered & Sistah Spooky’s High School Hell #1 is on sale December 20, 2017.
Alex De Campi, Jeremy Whitley, Ted Anderson, Rob Anderson, Thom Zahler, Katie Cook, Christina Rice, Barbara Randall Kesel (w) • Carla Speed McNeil, Tony Fleecs, Agnes Garbowska, Amy Mebberson, Andy Price, Jay Fosgitt, Brenda Hickey (a) • Jay Fosgitt (c)
Friends Forever celebrates the magic of friendship in these stand-alone tales featuring all of your favorite characters. Share adventures with Pinkie Pie and Applejack, Princess Celestia and Spike, Fluttershy and Zecora, Rainbow Dash and Trixie, Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor, and many more! Collects issues #1–12.
TPB • FC • $24.99 • 292 pages • 6” x 9” • ISBN: 978-1-63140-771-0
This is the most powerful issue of a comic you will read this month. It actually can stand alone if you haven’t read the series, because it’s that good and complete.
No Mercy features the only trans male character in a mainstream comic currently. The ONLY one. Issue 9 is a flashback that tells a pivotal part of that character’s past.
No Mercy is the story of a group of Princeton bound teens going on one of those “build schools in Central America to make yourself and your resume feel better” trips. And then their bus goes over a cliff. Literally. The series shows what happens next to each of the teens.
#9 is a flashback issue focused on the aforementioned trans male character, Sebastian. Sebastian, who we’ve known as Charlene up till this point, is twins with the abusive Chad. He introduces himself as Sebastian for the first time in issue #8. He is intentionally misgendered as Charlene by his family and others and subjected to abusive “conversion therapy” in this issue.
I’m not surprised that a series which has dedicated itself to portraying a brutally honest, diverse and realistic range of teens is the comic that finally has a transgender male character. But it is entirely fucked up that there are no other trans male characters in a mainstream comics title.
The story that Alex de Campi and Carla Speed McNeil are telling is dark and complex and the cast they have built are believable and fascinating. It would have been easy for Sebastian’s only characteristic to be that he’s “the trans one”. Instead, these characters represent a range of people who may come across as “types” but not stereotypes. No one is as standard as they may seem at first. Sebastian is bilingual, resourceful and he’s probably going to grow up to be Batman– except with evil parents as opposed to martyred parents.
This issue offers insight into a great injustice happening not only to transgender kids but all sorts of young people who society labels as “deviant”. It takes place in what’s called a “Teen Residential Treatment Center” – sometimes called a “teen boot camp”. I knew kids who were disappeared to them when I was younger and it is never ok. These centers are literally deadly. The comic shows how and why.
No Mercy digs behind the facades of both the characters we like and the characters we hate. It holds nothing back. You can’t guess what’s next and it will always be shocking yet plausible. That brutal integrity Is why I’m always on the edge of my seat when I’m reading it.
We’ve described No Mercy as a great choice for people who are turned off by the standard comics genres (like superheroes or sci-fi). I love those genres but this is a comic you can give to your friends who won’t read comics. I’d tell them this series more resembles prestige television then anything in comics but even television is rarely this diverse and honest.
This issue is a must buy, even if you aren’t reading the series (but seriously, go read the series).
I’m sure the series as a whole and this issue in particular could be triggering for some people. This month’s cover shows Sebastian’s body being forced into female clothing and misgendered, scars from self-harming visible. But I suspect the cover is actually a good trigger warning for what’s inside.
I want to salute the amazing work of art team Carla Speed McNeil and colorist Jenn Manley Lee whose use of black is devastating in this issue. The art throughout series is some of the most accessible around to non comics readers. It’s clear and communicative and believable.