Tag Archives: drawn and quarterly

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays 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 are choosing up to five books and why they’re choosing the books. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Elana

4 Kids Walk Into A Bank issue #5 (Black Mask Studios) – One of the best mini series around, 4 Kids reaches its conclusion. If you want a Stranger Things or Stand By Me type story with an incredibly well written girl protagonist and wise humor this series is for you. Read my review of issues 1-3.

 

Paul

Top Pick: Astonishing X-Men #3 (Marvel) – This X title hit the ground running in the first issue, and shows no signs of letting up. This book has a very interesting group of X-Men making up the team, many I’m happy to see in a team book again. The action is non stop, the writing is really good and one surprise already caught me off guard, so I’m really looking forward to see what else his book is going to throw at me.

Champions #12 (Marvel) – It’s no surprise to anyone following the site that this is one of my favorite titles right now, and I’m really looking forward to this issue and seeing where the team is post Secret Empire. The solicit is promising a change to the line up, and while I do welcome change, I’m a little nervous how a change to the team could change the dynamic and the overall feel of the book. But, I’m optimistic and can’t wait to find out.

Jessica Jones #12 (Marvel) – Being one of my favorite characters (before Netflix and it was cool to be a fan of Jessica’s) I am really enjoying this title. I can’t wait for Maria Hill’s secrets to come to light and how Jessica will react, and how these revelations will shake up Jessica’s world.

 

Javier

Top Pick: World Reader #6 (Aftershock Comics) – I first came across Loveness’ writing in Marvel’s Rocket Racoon & Groot. It was one of the best emotional reads I have had in a while. Since then, if he writes it, I buy it. In his latest work–well supported by Juan Doe’s vibrant art–he gives us more sci-fi laden empathic space travels across the universe, seeking the answers to dead worlds.

Iron Fist #7 (Marvel) – Everybody has been hating on Marvel lately, but they still remain one of the top players in the comic book world and attract top talent (Disney must offer a hell of a health insurance plan). A prime example is Ed Brisson taking over and bringing life back to the Iron Fist character. This latest arc teams him up with Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu; plus Mike Perkins’, dark colored, action packed art is a visual thrill.

Doom Patrol #8 (DC’s Young Animal) – True, it’s not Grant Morrison’s DP, but Gerard Way’s new take stands on it’s own, and has enough weird to keep me coming back month after month.

Seven to Eternity #9 (Image) – This sci-fi western fantasy by Rick Remender has become one of my favorites. I miss Opena’s art, but Harren is filling in the job nicely.

Postal #22 (Image/TopCow) – Hill and Goodhart are bringing things to a head as the town folk of Eden ready themselves for all out conflict with the FBI.

 

Brett

Top Pick: Poppies of Iraq (Drawn & Quarterly) – So many good books this week, but this is the absolute top of my list. This graphic novel is Brigitte Findakly’s chronicle of her relationship with her homeland of Iraq and the history she experienced there. Can’t wait to read this and see her take.

Ab Irato #5 (Lion Forge Comics) – Lion Forge’s “Catalyst” line of comics is making headlines but this series is some of the smartest writing in comics right now looking at a political uprising from the ground perspective.

Beirut Won’t Cry (Fantagraphics Books) – An artist’s view of the summer of 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon. While I probably won’t agree with everything said, I want to see what’s said.

Dastardly and Muttley #1 (DC Comics) – Garth Ennis taking on the classic pair. It sounds insane and I can’t wait to read it.

Lazaretto #1 (BOOM! Studios) – A pandemic strikes a dorm complex at a small college and it’s quarantined with kids trapped inside. Sounds like an amazing concept.

Drawn & Quarterly Decides to Not Publish Berliac’s Sadbøi

A few days ago Drawn & Quarterly announced that it would be publishing Sadbøi by Berliac. After becoming aware of some troubling and offensive comments the graphic novel publisher has changed their mind and announced that they would indeed not publish the publication.

In 2015 Berliac published an essay that compared “cultural appropriation and transgender people.” Drawn & Quarterly was unaware of the article and the “consequent public discussion about.”

In an apology yesterday, the company said they “do not agree with the essay, its defense, nor the tone and aggression he displayed in this and subsequent debates,” and that they did not do due diligence when deciding to work with the creator. After learning of the statements, they can no longer fully support the release and will not be publishing it.

You can read Berliac’s comments here as well as his follow up commentary about it.

Sadbøi is “seen as a statement on the treatment of immigrants—the challenge of being expected to conform to a society’s ideals in a world that prematurely condemns outsiders.”

People Over Politics: Rolling Blackouts and Refugees

A few months ago, for one of my English classes, we dove into the murky waters of refugees, examining the motive behind closing off borders and the way in which that fits or doesn’t fit American ideals (hint: I don’t think it does).  The conversation quickly became pretty heated, with most of my students arguing for letting in refugees against a few very vocal opponents. I’m not going to unearth every part of that conversation, but I do want to dust off the jewel offered by one of my students who is Muslim and has family friends that are refugees–one of those family friends had her family killed by ISIS, a long cry from being an ISIS member herself.

Throughout the course of the conversation, she focused on the idea that a conversation like this quickly unfurls into abstract language, and in doing so, we lose the thread that a conversation like this should focus on: people. We should be seeing faces instead of statistics, hearts instead of hatred.  Perhaps not surprisingly, my students who were against refugees sidestepped this question and continued to talk in generalizations, arguing in abstractions loosely connected with reality.

And perhaps this is the very reason that a graphic novel like Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq exists, a non-fiction graphic novel that follows Sarah Glidden as she journeys with journalists to Turkey, Iraq and Syria to examine refugee life. Yes, it discusses refugees who fled Iran after the US invaded (running to countries like Syria and Turkey) not refugees fleeing Syria. But, the core of the book–its attempts to anchor this abstract issue with real people and stories; its examination of what journalism is and what the responsibility of journalists should be; its insight into the impact this war had on US soldiers–all of those are not only still relevant, but even more relevant than they were in the time period this non-fiction graphic novel covers. But no matter how relevant a text is, people will throw it aside if it’s not any good. Fortunately, that’s not the case: Glidden has a subtle, yet effective, sense of structure, of how much detail to include in a panel (her cartooning style is simple, warm and enormously effective), of how much exposition to give so it informs rather than weighs down the story.

rolling blackouts pic--refugees are people.jpg

The graphic novel expertly shows that refugees are people, but that doesn’t mean it glorifies them to sainthood. No, it means that it shows them with their hopes and fears, their successes and failures. For example, we visit with refugees who were formerly middle class, mainly concerned about their children’s ability to go to college and live a better life. That’s not too far from the American Dream, but then again, the US doesn’t hold a monopoly on the idea that children should become more successful than their parents. At the same time, we see refugees who harbor a lot of hatred towards the American government, although this hatred that doesn’t prevent them from dealing with Americans kindly, realizing they don’t can’t treat a person as a generalized group…if only we had the same compassion and curiosity.

rolling blackouts--regret over fleeing.jpg

If this piece of graphic journalism only concerned itself with removing the blinders that prevent people from truly seeing refugees as people, it would be a powerful work of art. But Glidden doesn’t stop there. As in the real-world, one topic can’t be separated completely from the rest: each person and event is connected by silken strands to others in the web. And it’s almost impossible to talk about refugees without talking about the role of media in their story and the role that US soldiers played in their exile. Although Glidden is not a journalist by trade, she reports these scenes with so much objectivity and emphasis on relevance that one could almost believe she is working from the same cookbook that journalists use. Glidden knows how to balance ingredients so that one taste doesn’t overpower. She knows how to make them gel into something greater than the individual parts, much like a cake is greater than an egg or butter.

rolling blackouts pic--emotions during interview.jpg

And this journalistic instinct also serves her well when turning to the subject of journalism itself.  Glidden focuses on the controversial parts of journalism–the commercialization of it as industry, the need to keep audience reaction in mind when shaping a story, the at-times naive ambitions that let journalists see themselves as an authority on objective reality. These snapshots of the challenges of journalism combine with the images of journalists acting nobly to create a collage that dazzles in its complexity.

The final piece Glidden adds to this story also creates further complexity. A US soldier who had tours in Iraq is along for the ride, giving his perspective on these issues. While he spends most of the novel touting the company line, toward the end of the work, we start to see more nuance to those feelings. But that nuance doesn’t mean the soldier switches perspectives and denounces the war. Instead, it just means that his conflicting emotions are finally brought to light without any resolution, which is more realistic than the Hollywood ending the journalists themselves might have been hoping for.

rolling blackouts pic--shape of story.jpg

With President Trump’s recent ban on refugees there has never been a better time to study this topic. And what better way to do that then with a graphic novel that is informative in its simplicity, thought-provoking in its complexity, and defiant in its belief in the human heart, whether that heart was born American or not.


This post originally appeared on CJ Standal’s blog and is reprinted here with his permission.

Review: Hostage

In the middle of the night in 1997, Doctors Without Borders administrator Christophe André was kidnapped by armed men and taken away to an unknown destination in the Caucasus region. For three months, André was kept handcuffed in solitary confinement, with little to survive on and almost no contact with the outside world.

Artist and writer Guy Delisle recounts André’s experience in Hostage the new graphic novel from Drawn & Quarterly that’s one of the most fascinating graphic novels I’ve read this year. Delisle recounts André’s experience in an almost 500 page book that goes over the details no matter how mundaine it may seem. And I think that’s what’s most fascinating about it all. This isn’t a story where André is being taken out and his life threatened, that experience comes from his head. Instead, the graphic novel is actually almost ordinary in a way. Day in and day out André is handcuffed in his setting given soup and bread to eat and recounting the days. How he spent the three months and what was occuring on his side is the interesting part.

This isn’t a story about negotiations and failed transfers. Instead, this story focuses on what André imagines is going on, or just straight up ponders. Why was a photo taken? Why did he have to provide a phone numbers? Telling the story only from André’s perspective provides us the reader a confinement that reflects what André experienced. For pages and pages the book devotes itself to the soup André eats and how his wrist deals with the handcuffs. Because, that’s what André experienced. We see how André stayed alert during his time, how he counted the days, and his general thoughts. In reality though, we only see and experience what André did.

Delisle conveys the psychological effects of solitary confinement, compelling us to ask ourselves some difficult questions regarding the repercussions of negotiating with kidnappers and what it really means to be free. For those in the nonprofit sector or want to see the power of graphic journalist, Hostage is a fascinating read.

But, what struck me most, and Delisle enhances with his art is how far from an action movie it all is. Seriously, I want to go pack and see how much is devoted to discussing soup. But, the way it’s all presented is in a way so that we the reader who are unfamiliar with André’s experience don’t know what’s happening next. So, through the mundane tension increases as the story goes on.

Hostage is one of the most fascinating releases this year in both its story, attention to detail, and how it’s laid out. For a slice of real life through graphic journalism, this is a must get.

Story: Guy Delisle Art: Guy Delisle
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays 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!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Joe

Top Pick: Action Comics #978 (DC Comics) – This has become my favorite DC comic, and that includes Wonder Woman. Those two and Superman go back and forth as to what is currently the best out of Rebirth, but either way this book is just incredible and consistent.

The Flash #21 (DC Comics) – Wow what a start to “The Button” with who returned and then disappeared in a “flash”. Yup, I did that. I can’t wait to see where this story goes. Plus another lenticular cover!

Batman/The Shadow #1 (DC Comics/Dynamite) – Riley Rossmo! He is one of my favorite artists, and I’m so happy to see him on a bat book again, and this time he will also be drawing another legendary character.

Old Man Logan #22 (Marvel) – I thought Issue #21 wasn’t as good as I hoped, but this is one of my favorite Marvel books, and Lemire is a great writer. I have hope that this arc will be amazing.

Kill or Be Killed #8 (Image) – This is one of the best comic books out, so I recommend grabbing the issues, or at least getting it in trade. It is awesome, and just keeps getting more intense and better somehow.

 

Alex

Top Pick: X-O Manowar #2 (Valiant) – I loved this issue. I can’t wait to get this in my hands to see non-watermarked art.

Batman/The Shadow #1 (DC Comics/Dynamite) – I found out about this comic when I was looking through Previews to make this list (I tend to avoid solicitations), and I immediately got excited. I can’t wait to grab this.

Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #1 (Marvel) – I’ve always been fond of the Scarlet Spider, perhaps because he was the Spider-Man when I started reading comics. You’d think I’d be looking forward to this based on the fact Ben Reilly is back, but I’m more hopeful that Kaine will return to comics, rather than Ben Reily. Yeah, I’m a Kaine fan.

Britannia: We Who Are About To Die #1 (Valiant) – Remember what I said about X-O? I can say the exact same thing here.

Old Man Logan #22 (Marvel) – I’m loving this story. Old Man Logan is revisiting his younger self through some timey-wimey mystical shit, occasionally altering certain things (possibly), but always feeling as though he’s in waaaaay over his head. It’s a brilliant arc, and one hell of an arc for Lemire to leave the series on.

 

Shay

Top Pick: Orphan Black Deviations #2 (IDW Publishing) – Send in the clones. No really , send them in. I’ve got popcorn and everything!

Top Pick: Deadpool vs Punisher #2 (Marvel) – The hits and quips keep on coming in this second installment of DvP and I can’t wait to see if this is the issue where they team up for the buddy anti-hero road trip comic we never knew we always wanted but, can’t wait to see.

Suicide Squad #16 (DC Comics) – Rob WIlliams starts the latest Suicide Squad arc “Earthlings on Fire” with a bang as Amanda Waller makes a deal with the devil (aka Lex Luthor) to fix a bigger problem while the Squad commits some B&E.

24 Legacy – Rules of Engagement #1 (IDW Publishing) – A little back story on Eric Carter the newest super operative in the 24 franchise.

Judge Dredd: Blessed Earth #1 (IDW Publishing) – He’s baccccccck!

 

Brett

Top Pick: Hostage (Drawn & Quarterly) – Guy Delisle… that alone will get me to pick this up, but the subject matter is the real draw here. Delisle’s graphic novel is about the Doctors Without Borders administrator Christophe André who was kidnapped by armed men in 1997. This book recounts his harrowing experience.

Batman/The Shadow #1 (DC Comics/Dynamite) – Scott Snyder, Steve Orlando, and Riley Rossmo… nuff said.

Hulk #5 (Marvel) – The best comic Marvel is putting out today. An absolutely fantastic look at Jen’s journey post Civil War II and the PTSD she’s experiencing due to that.

Real Science Adventures #1 (IDW Publishing) – The She-Devils get their own series and anything Atomic Robo related is a must read for me.

Smoketown #2 (Scout Comics) – The first issue was beyond amazing noir/crime. I’ve been counting down to the second one.

Guy Delisle Goes on Tour for Hostage

Join award-winning cartoonist Guy Delisle for the launch of his highly anticipated, non-fiction page-turner: Hostage. Set in the Caucasus region in 1997, Hostage tells the true story of Doctors Without Borders administrator Christophe André who was held captive for over three months.

Recounting his day-to-day survival while conveying the psychological effects of solitary confinement, Delisle’s storytelling doesn’t just show André’s experiences, but brings you into the room alongside him. Hostage is a thoughtful, intense, and undeniably moving graphic novel that takes a profound look at what drives our will to survive in the darkest of moments.

TOUR DATES

MONTRÉAL, QC
Saturday, May 6 at 7:00 pm
Rialto Hall, presented by Librairie D+Q, 5711 Av du Parc.
Tickets $5 or free with book

TORONTO, ON
Saturday May 13 – Sunday, May 14
Special guest of TCAF
Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St.

CAMBRIDGE, MA
Saturday, May 15 at 7:00 pm
Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Avenue.
*in conversation with Hillary Chute

NEW YORK, NY
Wednesday, May 17 at 7:00 pm
Housing Works, 126 Crosby St.

LOS ANGELES, CA
Friday, May 19 at 7:30 pm
Skylight Books, 1818 N Vermont Ave.

PORTLAND, OR:
Monday, May 22 at 6:00 pm
Books With Pictures, 1100 SE Division St. #103.
*in conversation with Sarah Glidden

VANCOUVER, BC
Wednesday, May 24 at 7:30 pm
inCite Festival at Vancouver Public Library, 202-1398 Cartwright St.
*with Jillian Tamaki (Boundless)

Jillian Tamaki on tour for Boundless!

boundless-tourJoin award-winning cartoonist Jillian Tamaki for the launch of her new book: the inventive and incisive Boundless. At once fantastical and realist, Boundless explores the intersection (and overlap) between the virtual and IRL worlds.

From Jenny, who becomes obsessed with a strange “mirror Facebook,” which presents an alternate, possibly better, version of herself; to Helen, who finds her clothes growing baggy and her shoes looser as she shrinks away to nothingness, these evocative, strange, and magical stories showcase Tamaki’s skill as an artist and storyteller.

TOUR DATES

TORONTO, ON:
Saturday May 13 – Sunday, May 14
Special guest of TCAF
Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St.

CALGARY, AB:
Tuesday, May 23 at 7:00 pm
Pages in Kensington, 1135 Kensington Road NW

VANCOUVER, BC
Wednesday, May 24 at 7:30 pm
inCite Festival at Vancouver Public Library, 202-1398 Cartwright St
*with Guy Delisle (Hostage)

MONTREAL, QC
Friday, May 26 at 7:00 pm
Librairie D+Q, 211 Bernard O.

Saturday, May 27 – Sunday, May 28
Festival BD de Montreal, Parc Lafontaine

BROOKLYN, NY:
Tuesday, June 6 at 7:30 pm
Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton St.

CHICAGO, IL:
Friday, June 23 at 7:00 pm
Quimby’s Bookstore, 1854 W North Ave.

Friday, June 23 – Monday, June 26
ALA Annual Conference, McCormick Place, 2301 S King Dr.

Drawn & Quarterly Reveals Their Fall 2017 Catalog!

A poignant personal account of life in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (Poppies of Iraq by Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim); a novella about race and racism (The Good Times Are Killing Me by Lynda Barry) that is as revolutionary now as when it first appeared in 1988; a new collection of Tom Gauld’s signature Guardian strips once again showcasing his inventive and humourous take on all things literary and pop culture (Baking with Kafka); perfectly paced gems about life, family, memory, and more by Leslie Stein (Present); stripped-down autobiography from a mini-comics legend (From Lone Mountain by John Porcellino); and a giant-size comics treasury of Donald Trump quotes from the 2016 election, as illustrated in classic comics by R. Sikoryak (The Unquotable Trump).

Plus, for younger readers there’s a board book by Leanne Shapton (Toys Talking), a compendium of Anouk Ricard’s beloved kids comic (Anna & Froga: Completely Bubu), and two entries in our Moomin (Tove Jansson) and Kitaro (Shigeru Mizuki) series that will now be fall titles, Moomin and the Brigands and Kitaro’s Strange Adventures.

September

POPPIES OF IRAQ

Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim

poppies-of-iraq

In stores September 5, 2017! $21.95 USD / $24.95 CAD / 6.5″ x 9.5″ / 120 pages / 4-color / hardcover / 9781770462939

GOLIATH (PB)

Tom Gauld

goliath-pb

In stores September 7, 2017! $16.95 USD / $19.95 CAD / 6″ x 8.5″ / 96 pages / 2-color / paperback / 9781770462991

THE GOOD TIMES ARE KILLING ME

Lynda Barry

the-good-times-are-killing-me

In stores September 12, 2017! $16.95 USD / $19.95 CAD / 5.5″ x 7″ / 144 pages / B&W / hardcover / 9781770462618

PRESENT

Leslie Stein

present

In stores September 19, 2017! $19.95 USD / $21.95 CAD / 6″ X 7.75″ / 160 pages / 4-color / hardcover / 9781770462946

ANNA AND FROGA: COMPLETELY BUBU

Anouk Ricard

anna-and-froga-completely-bubu

In stores September 26, 2017! $19.95 USD / $21.95 CAD / 6″ x 8″ / 208 pages / 4-color / paperback / 9781770462922

FROM LONE MOUNTAIN

John Porcellino

from-lone-mountain

In stores September 26, 2017! $24.95 USD / $27.95 CAD / 6″ x 9″ / 240 pages / B&W / paperback / 9781770462953

October

TOYS TALKING

Leanne Shapton

toys-talking

In stores Oct 10, 2017! $12.95 USD / $14.95 CAD / 6.7″ X 6.7″ / 48 pages / 4-color / 9781770462984

BAKING WITH KAFKA

Tom Gauld

baking-with-kafka

In stores October 24, 2017! $19.95 USD / $21.95 CAD / 8″ x 5.9″ / 160 pages / 4-color / hardcover / 9781770462960

KITARO’S STRANGE ADVENTURES

Shigeru Mizuki

kitaros-strange-adventures

In stores October 31, 2017! $12.95 USD / $14.95 CAD / 5″ x 7.5″ / 192 pages / B&W / trade paperback / 9781770462861

November

MOOMIN AND THE BRIGANDS

Tove Jansson

moomin-and-the-brigands

In stores November 4, 2017! $9.95 USD / $12.50 CAD / 8.5″ x 6″ / 40 pages / 4-color / trade paperback / 9781770462854

THE UNQUOTABLE TRUMP

R. Sikoryak

the-unquotable-trump

In stores November 7, 2017! $12.95 USD / $14.95 CAD / 10″ X 14″ / 48 pages / 4-color / trade paperback / 9781770463042

Michael DeForge on tour with Sadie Dupuis!

michael-deforge-on-tour-with-sadie-dupuisJoin Michael DeForge for a live reading and book signing as he introduces the world to Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero. Sticks has escaped her heritage for the refuge of the woods and through her story, DeForge delivers another deeply humane work, one that subtly questions the integrity of the political state and contemporary journalism, all while investigating our relationship to the natural world.

Michael will be joined by musician Sadie Dupuis (Sad13, Speedy Ortiz) who will play a solo set following the reading in Providence, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cambridge, and Brooklyn. Come out for a celebratory lo-fi comics night!

TOUR DATES

TORONTO, ON:
Wednesday, March 15th at 7:00 pm
Type Books, 883 Queen St W, M6J 1G5

MONTREAL, QC:
Thursday, March 16th at 7:00 pm
Librairie D+Q, 211 Rue Bernard O, H2T 2K5

PROVIDENCE, RI
Wednesday, March 22 at 7:00 pm
AS220 with Ada’s books, 115 Empire St. 02903
*with Sadie Dupuis & Mickey Zacchilli

PHILADELPHIA, PA
Thursday, March 23 at 7:00 pm
Brickbat Books, Fabric Row Shopping Center, 709 S 4th St, 19147
*with Sadie Dupuis

CHICAGO, IL
Saturday, March 25 at 7:00 pm
Quimby’s Bookstore, 1854 W North Ave, 60622
*with Sadie Dupuis

CAMBRIDGE, MA
Tuesday, March 28 at 7:00 pm
Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave, 02138
*with Sadie Dupuis

BROOKLYN, NY
Wednesday, March 29 at 7:00 pm
Rough Trade NYC, 64 N 9th St, 11249
*with Sadie Dupuis

The Best Comics of 2016 – Brett’s List

It’s the first day of a new year and so that means I’m posting my “best of” listing of the top comic books for 2016. Generally these are comic books that came out in 2016, though some are from earlier times and I got around to reading them, or limited series that continued. Keep in mind, this is what I have read (and does not reflect what other contributors to this site might think, they’ll hopefully have their own lists). If it’s not on here, I just might not have read it.

This was a particularly tough year of choices with some categories easily having their own top ten or twenty-five and some I struggled to even come up with one. 2016 was a year that ongoing, maxi-series, and limited floppies seemed to blend more and more and for me as a reader I found myself shifting away from one publisher to another and as a whole enjoying graphic novels and indie comics a hell of a lot more than I have in the past.

What stood out to me? Check out below what made the cut!

Best Super Hero Comic – The Paybacks

the-paybacks-3A new publisher, but still absolutely amazing. The Paybacks by Donny Cates, Eliot Rahal, Geoff Shaw moved from Dark Horse to Heavy Metal for its second volume, but it didn’t lose any steam in doing so continuing to deliver hilarity and upping the action.

The concept of the comic is that there’s a repo crew who have to deal with all the superheroes who can’t pay back the loans they take for all of their fancy gadgets. To pay off their debts those heroes then join the ragtag team.

A send-up of so many familiar characters and lets face it creators too, the comic has more jokes in each panel than some series have their entire run. It’s funny, action packed, and in this volume actually is somewhat timely with news with a focus on a data breach.

My biggest wish in comics for 2017 is someone is smart enough to invest in this series because I know it’ll pay off in the log run. Everyone who I’ve turned on to it falls in love and whole there were some issues with the second volume, it still is the one “superhero” comic I devoured as soon as possible.

Runners Up:

  • COPRA – There’s some arguments to be made that Michel Fiffe‘s indie series about a group of raftag characters should be the top pick, and there was long thought about if it should, it’s that good. Out of all of the series I read this year, this is one that delivered with every single issue. This is a comic that shows that superheroes aren’t the domain of just two companies anymore, especially due to how many issues have been released. I said this exact same thing in 2015 and it applies here.
  • The Legend of Wonder Woman – An absolutely brilliant max-series that went from digital to print. Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon delivered a Wonder Woman story that stands out in a year of solid Wonder Woman output. Fun to read. Beautiful to look at. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll just get this one volume.
  • The Omega Men – Writer Tom King took this ragtag group of characters and has given us a maxiseries that explores revolution/terrorism in so many ways. This is one to read once collected and the ruminate on. It began in 2015 but wrapped up in 2016.
  • Tomboy – This series published by Action Lab: Danger Zone and by M. Goodwin is a comic that’s not on enough people’s radar. A mix of manga, Japanese horror, western vigilante stories, it’s a strange, creepy, haunting series featuring a teenage girl out for revenge against the people who killed her friend.

 

Best Non-Super Hero Comic – The Sheriff of Babylon

the-sheriff-of-babylon-12-coverI said above that 2016 was the year of Tom King, and guess who wrote this one! Tom King! The Sheriff of Babylon is another max-series that wrapped up, but we’ll get a second volume some time in 2017.

The comic is based on King’s experiences working for the CIA in Iraq taking place in the Green Zone after the recent Iraq war. The comic is brutally honest showing a world where there’s so little right and so much wrong and it all comes together in a muddied brown and gray.

That dirtiness of it all is helped by Mitch Gerads‘ art and the smart use of colors. The detail, every body movement, the framing of the panels, Gerads’ art adds so much to every issue. That’s saying something considering how amazing King’s scripts are!

This is a comic series that shows comics are political and can question the world we currently live.

Runners Ups:

  • Descender- Jeff Lemire has had a hell of year in general in comics and is one of my favorite writers of the year. This series features the stunning art of Dustin Nguyen. The sci-fi series is so hard to describe revolving around an android that looks like a little boy. Every issue is a treat to read, and Nguyen’s art helps with beautiful visuals. Seriously the art alone is a reason to pick up the series. We didn’t get an issue every month, but what we did get was fantastic.
  • The Fix – Two fuck up cops who are corrupt and get mixed up in a drug smuggling scam. The comic is absolutely hilarious. Written by Nick Spencer with art by Steve Lieber the comic is one of the funniest books on the market.
  • The Flintstones – Written by Mark Russell this series is some of the smartest and subtle political and social commentary in any writing going on today. The comic covers everything from religion to consumerism to the 2016 election. And like his writing in Prez no one is safe, the right and the left are equal fodder. Entertaining, smart, and elevating the classic characters to a whole new level.
  • Invisible Republic – A reporter investigates the truth of an uprising on a planet discovering fact from fiction in a series that bounces back and forth between the past and present. Each issue reminds us about the power of journalism and the need for good reporting. Myth can easily be twisted into fact and lies can replace reality. The comic series seems prescient in so many ways.

 

Best Limited Series or One Shot – 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank

4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK #1 CoverWe got three issues of this series in 2016 and holy crap do I wish we got more. In those three issues we did get some of the best storytelling in any comics. I’m assuming this is a limited series since it is a “crime caper in five parts” but hopefully we get more after this volume wraps up.

The series involves a bunch of kids that find out one of their dads is possibly a criminal and has some buddies who plan to rob a bank. Their idea is to rob the bank before them.

But, it’s not the heist that’s the drawn it’s the kids themselves. Each one feels so real with so many quirks their personalities jump off the page. Everyone is relatable and each feels like real people we knew growing up. It’s absolutely amazing.

The art by Tyler Boss is top notch and the writing is why Matthew Rosenberg is one of the hottest writers in comics right now.

More please!

Runners Up:

  • Black – This series was a Kickstarter phenomenon and the concept is what if only Black people had superpowers? Political. Daring. In your face. The comic is layered and will leave you debating what it’s trying to say.
  • Love is Love – A charity comic to benefit the victims of the Pulse nightclub attack, this comic is a prime example of what the comic industry can do when profits aren’t at the forefront. Bringing together publishers and hundreds of creators it’s a touching tribute.
  • Refugees Book One – A hell of a find at Small Press Expo, the comic is haunting taking us into the world of refugees as they attempt to find a better life. There’s definite issues with the comic as far as some of the writing, but the message is clear and brutally honest.
  • Superman: American Alien – Featuring a bunch of different artists, this maxi-series by writer Max Landis explored a different time in Superman’s life with a different take on the character. It’s a fun and fantastic read and somehow actually gives us something that feels fresh for a character that’s been around for over 75 years.

 

Best Graphic Novel/Trade Paperback – March Book Three

MarchBookThree-CoverThe best thing to be released in 2016 for comics. This is an absolutely amazing finish to the award winning trilogy. The winner of the National Book Award among other things the graphic novel focuses on Congressman John Lewis’ experiences during the Civil Rights movement.

Written by Lewis, Andrew Aydin, with art by Nate Powell this is the crown jewel of comics showing that they’re more than tights and has been adopted by schools to teach about this time in American history.

As I read the graphic novel from cover to cover, I found myself filled with emotions, as Lewis’ life was there in print for those to see and read. The story is a complicated one, but it’s presented in a way that feels honest and open, both good and bad. This is an inside look at one of the most important, and turbulent times in American history from not just someone that was there, but a leader of the movement. And that’s a fascinating part of this third book, is its focus on Lewis’ role as a leader.

This third volume somehow leapfrogs the other two. Whether it’s due to learning or the material within, something about it created an emotional reaction I haven’t felt by any media in quite some time. And most importantly it got me to think about where we as a people and nation have been, where we are, and where we’re going.

Runners Up:

  • The Attack – A man’s wife winds up being a suicide bomber. This story is about his attempt to find out why and discovering he knew so little about the woman he called his wife. A spiral into despair and madness the end will leave you speechless and heartbroken.
  • Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches From Turkey, Syria, and Iraq – By Sarah Glidden this graphic novel is her experiences as she researches potential stories on the effects of the Iraq War on the Middle East, especially refugees. Beautiful to look at, the graphic novel is the second best thing I’ve read this year (behind March).
  • Soviet Daughter – Adapting her great grandmother’s journal Julia Alekseyeva provides an interesting look at someone who lived in Russia from 1910 to emigrating to the US in the 90s. The Revolution, WWII, the Holocaust, it’s all presented as Alekseyeva illustrates what is a diary. Between each chapter, Julia reflects on her own life and her closeness with her great grandmother. It’s an amazing piece examining women finding their place in the world. It’s also a reason you wait until the first of the year for your list, as this came out the last week of the year.
  • Tetris: The Games People PlayBox Brown takes what should be a boring story about the history of the video game Tetris and makes it really interesting! A fun graphic novel published by First Second that makes corporate maneuvering a bad business deals engaging.

 

Best Genre of the Year – Indie Comics/Small Publishers

Is it a “genre”? We can argue about that, but lets face it, 2016 was a year we saw major creators continue to shrug off the big two, instead launching creator-owned series at other publishers, digitally or through Kickstarter. We saw more comics, in more varieties, on more subjects and more ways to consume them, than any time before. It really wasn’t the year of the Big Two, this was a year that we as consumers could continue to find something that would fit our varied tastes.

With more channels for distribution and more ways to produce comics, we’re in a golden age where the old ways of publishing no longer hold back the creativity that abounds.

I named Indie Comics “it” in 2013, 2014, and 2015 and nothing changed in 2016. There’s a massive opening for someone to step in and be a mainstream breakout, maybe 2017 will be the year we see it.

 

Best Surprise of the Year – DC Comics

DC_Logo_RGB_0318162016 was a year that had everyone shaking their head when they heard DC was shaking things up again and “rebooting.” Except, their reboot was anything but.

In “Rebirth” the publisher blended the old with the new bringing back legacy characters and also pushing forward some of the newer ones too. They even moved away from grimm and gritty and gave us a bit of hope and fun in it all!

While Batman has always been strong for the company, Superman, Wonder Woman, and more all all returned to greatness with a new positive energy about them that could be felt.

But even better, sales increased and while they’ve leveled off and dropped quite a bit from the initial launch, the publisher is stronger and in a better position than it has been in a long time.

The company continued to expand upon its digital first program, and has begun to look towards expanding its market with its DC Super Hero Girls line.

They also did this as their movie output was mixed and television output strong. Now to get everything to line-up and the DC brand as a whole could be unstoppable.

The dots are all there, now we’ll see if the company has the vision to connect them all.

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year – Kickstarter

KickstarterLast year’s disappointment continued to be so, as projects were delayed, vapor ware, or not as advertised. Also add in issues on the creator end of folks pledging high amounts and then disputing the charges, at times getting the goods. Add in the platform’s unwillingness to step in to deal with either situation and you get a tech company showing off it’s greed. What was once the toast of the town has shown its cracks which will only get worse.

The crowdfunding platform became a way for creators to raise funds for projects, only to get picked up by publishers, at times delaying projects and leaving bad tastes in the mouths of fans. If all creators were held to the standards of some of the best users of the system, there’d be no issue, but over 90% of the projects I’ve pledged to have been delayed or non-existent only creating angry backers and fans.

These issues have lead this site to rethink what we promote and how we do so, no longer choosing comics to promote, as we feel some responsibility for things gone wrong and your dollars being held hostage.

Kickstarter continues to be tone-deaf, and it’s only a matter of time before someone stands up and challenges the platform with a system that’s fair to creators, and protects those who pledge.

Oh how the mighty continue to fall.

 

Publisher of the Year – None of the Above

This one I’ve thought about the most out of all of the categories on the list. I keep going back and forth between Image, BOOM! Studios, Valiant, Action Lab, IDW, First Second, and so many more. For each strength one brings to the table, they also have major weaknesses. Whether it’s a focus on a genre, pigeonholing themselves with adults, failure in digital, a mix of quality of comics, none of them are at least good everywhere. But, the comic industry has really grown in 2016 with no one breaking out as THE publisher to rival the big two. Partially that’s because so many have stood out with some of what they’ve done, but none have stood out for their whole.

Of the big two Marvel has stumbled… a lot. Entire articles can be written in that department, but the company is not the juggernaut its been in quite some time and I’d expect their to be some big shake-ups in 2017.

DC on the other hand came really close to being named for this. They’ve done some amazing stuff in the year with Rebirth being a smash hit. There’s still something slightly off, but out of every publisher, they’ve gotten most improved.

Image has become of the home of amazing indie comics by big name creators, but they generally lack a kids line that gets the next generation of readers and the sales just aren’t their in floppies. BOOM! has had a great mix of comics, but they’re missing that ongoing series that goes on for 30 to 50 issues. Valiant is quality all around and have tried some interesting market tactics, but you have to like superhero comics, Action Lab is a solid up and comer with good consistent releases. IDW has shown its possible to do great licensed comics, while First Second has fantastic graphic novels of all sorts. Aftershock has quality and so has Black Mak Studios.

Out of all of that, where’s the standout above everyone else? They’re all good in their own ways, but each have some flaws, with some of those flaws being pretty big. After a lot of deliberation, I couldn’t decide on one, so I chose none.

Each publisher is close to going huge, it’s just taking someone to connect those dots. Or maybe no one will, and it’ll be up to the individual creators to fill up the gap.

« Older Entries