Tag Archives: Sam Beck

Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2021

Even though it was a shitty year overall, I found some great comics to enjoy in 2021, both old and new. Beginning with its “Future State” event, DC easily shot up to become my favorite mainstream publisher thanks to its renewed focus on different visual styles instead of a Jim Lee-esque art style and its emphasis on LGBTQ+ characters even after Pride Month. Vault and Image continued to be the homes of both my favorite creators and SF stories, and AWA, Dark Horse and even Black Mask and Archie had titles that surprised me even if they didn’t make the cut on this list. Finally, continuing a trend that I jumped on in 2020, I continued to read or revisit classic comics (Both old and new) in 2021, like Copra, Invincible, The Umbrella Academy, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman: True Amazon, The Invisibles, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Force, Hawkeye, and Black Bolt among others.

So, without further ado, here are my ten favorite comics of 2021

10. Alice in Leatherland (Black Mask)

Alice in Leatherland is a wholesome, sexy, and hyper-stylized slice of life romance comic from the creative team of Iolanda Zanfardino and Elisa Romboli. The book is about Alice, a children’s book writer, who leaves her small town for San Francisco when her girlfriend cheats on her and captures the fear and adrenaline of taking a big step in your life. The series explores sex and love through an expansive cast of LGBTQ+ characters that I wanted to spend more than five issues with. Romboli uses fairy tale style visuals as a metaphor to examine Alice’s feelings and self-growth throughout the series, and she excels at depicting both the hilarious and erotic. Alice in Leatherland is an emotional, funny read with well-developed queer characters and made me immediately add Zanfardino and Elisa Romboli to the list of creators I’ll read anything by.

9. The Autumnal (Vault)

The Autumnal by Daniel Kraus, Chris Shehan, and Jason Wordie was the most unsettling comic I read in 2021. The book follows Kat Somerville and her daughter Sybil as they leave Chicago for the town of Comfort Notch, New Hampshire. However, this town isn’t a rural oasis, but incredibly creepy. Kraus’ script unravels the foundation of blood that the town is built on while Shehan and Wordie create tension with the fall of the leaf or a crackle of a branch. I also love how fleshed out Kat is as she deals with being an outsider in what turns out to be an unfriendly space with her parenting style and approach to life being critiqued by her neighbors. Finally, The Autumnal is the finest of slow burns beginning with NIMBY/Karen-like behavior and then going full-on death cult. It’s a must read for anyone who has lived or experienced a place where time seems to stand still, or who thinks a NextDoor app post could be the basis of a good horror story.

8. The Joker (DC)

Contrary to its title, James Tynion, Guillem March, Steffano Rafaele, Arif Prianto, and others’ The Joker isn’t a comic looking at the Clown Prince of Crime’s inner psyche, but is a globe-trotting P.I. type story featuring Jim Gordon trying to capture the Joker for some folks that looks shadier and shadier as the story progresses. Tynion and (predominantly) March show the effect Joker has had on Gordon’s life and his family while also showing him discover himself outside the bounds of Gotham and its police department. As the series progresses, The Joker shows the impact that Batman and his rogue’s gallery have had on the rest of the world, and the ways governments, intelligence agencies, and more nefarious organizations deal with threats of their ilk. Along with a crime novel set in present time, James Tynion, Matthew Rosenberg, and the virtuosic Francesco Francavilla created several flashback comics showing the development of Jim Gordon’s relationship with the Joker over the years, and how it effected his family life and career almost acting as a “Year One” for Gordon as Francavilla’s art style shifts based on the era the story is set in. Plus most issues of Joker feature colorful backup stories with Harper Row trying to bring Joker’s newest ally Punchline to justice in and out of prison from Tynion, Sam Johns, Sweeney Boo, Rosi Kampe, and others.

7. Kane and Able (Image)

Kane and Able is a dual-cartoonist anthology featuring work by British cartoonists Shaky Kane and Krent Able. Kane’s stories flow together in a Jack Kirby-meets-David Lynch kind of way blurring the lines between fiction and metafiction, reality and unreality while also acting as an opportunity for him to draw cool things like dinosaurs, space women, aliens, the King of Comics, and even himself. Able’s stories have more of a grindhouse, body horror quality to him as a chainsaw-wielding Bear Fur battles a boom box wielding cockroach woman, who flesh bonds everyone in a listless, major city. Both creators have delightful, distinctive styles and put their own spin on genres like sci-fi, exploitation, and superhero. Kane and Able is free-flowing, clever, and most of all, fun and is tailor made for the larger page format of treasury editions.

6. Static Season One (DC/Milestone)

As far as pure visuals go, Static Season One by Vita Ayala, Nikolas Draper-Ivey, and ChrisCross was easily one of the best looking books on the stands in 2021. This was in addition to reinventing the iconic Black superhero through the lens of contemporary social movements, like Black Lives Matter and protests against police brutality in summer of 2020. Static Season One doesn’t merely pay homage to the classic Milestone series, but brings it into 2021 with fight sequences straight out of the best shonen manga and a three dimensional supporting cast that holistically explore the Black experience in the United States while also being a coming of age and superhero origin tale. Draper-Ivey’s character designs are sleek as hell, and his high energy approach to color palette adds intensity to fight and chase scenes. I’m excited to see what the talented creative duo of Ayala and Nikolas Draper-Ivey bring to Static’s journey as Season One wraps up and Season Two (hopefully) begins in 2022.

5. Renegade Rule (Dark Horse)

Renegade Rule is an original graphic novel from Ben Kahn, Rachel Silverstein, and Sam Beck that is a perfect fusion of a sports manga and a queer romance story set in the world of competitive video games. Even if you’re like me and have only attempted to play Overwatch a single time, Renegade Rule and its world are quite accessible via things like hypercompetitiveness, sexual tension, and breathtaking fight choreography. The in-game sequences are almost like musical numbers and use shooting, sniping, and various acrobatics to make characters’ unspoken thoughts real. Renegade Rule is like if your favorite sports movie and romantic comedy had a gay baby who loved kicking ass at video games, and I pumped my fist every time the Manhattan Mist overcame adversity or overwhelming odds and smiled when certain characters ended up with each other…

4. Echolands (Image)

After a four year absence from interior art, co-writer/artist J.H. Williams III didn’t mess around with Echolands, a love letter to both genre fiction and double page spreads. Done in collaboration with co-writer Haden Blackman and colorist Dave Stewart, Echolands is an epic fantasy quest loaded up with all kinds of genres and art styles leaking off the page and was one of the most immersive comics I read in 2021. It has a sprawling cast and world, but Blackman and Williams know when to slow down and dig into Hope Redhood and her allies and antagonists’ motivations and when to drop in a multi-page underwater or underground chase sequence. With its unique landscape layouts and all the details in J.H. Williams and Stewart’s visuals, Echolands is definitely a book worth picking up in physical format and has backmatter that both humorously and seriously adds to the worldbuilding.

3. DC Pride (DC)

In honor of Pride Month, DC Comics put some of its most talented LGBTQ+ creators on its most iconic LGBTQ+ characters in a super-sized celebration of overcoming adversity, being yourself, and loving whoever you want to love. DC Pride covered a spectrum of sexual and gender identities from a fast-paced date night story featuring the non-binary Flash, Jess Chambers, to James Tynion and Trung Le Nguyen’s fairy tale influenced story of Batwoman’s younger days and even the first appearance of transgender superhero Dreamer (From the Supergirl TV show) in the comics. Depending on the character or creative team, the different stories could be adventurous and flirtatious, heartfelt and emotional, or a bit of both. This book shows that superhero comics have come a long way since the stereotypes of the 1980s and 1990s, but there’s still room for improvement as many of the characters featured in this anthology are relegated to backup stories or are supporting cast members of cisgender, heterosexual heroes.

2. Barbalien: Red Planet (Dark Horse)

Barbalien: Red Planet is a masterfully crafted, queer rage infused superhero/sci-fi comic from Jeff Lemire, Tate Brombal, Gabriel Walta, and Jordie Bellaire. It understands subtext is for cowards and draws parallels between Barbalien coming out as gay and a Martian with his new friend/potential lover Miguel, who is a Latino activist fighting for the US government to do something about the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Barbalien: Red Planet pays homage to the Black and Latinx activists who fought for queer liberation and is also an emotionally honest character study for Barbalien, who is easily my favorite character in the Black Hammer universe. Lemire, Brombal, and Walta use the superhero and sword and planet genres to explore the conflict between queer folks and power structures as Barbalien struggles with trying to fit into Spiral City as a white cop or being his true, gay Martian self. And to get personal for a second, Barbalien: Red Planet inspired me to speak out against my city’s Pride organization’s open support of police even though it led to me resigning as chairperson of my work’s LGBTQ+ employee affinity group. It’s both a damn good superhero book and a story that had a huge impact on my life in 2020-2021.

1. Die (Image)

My favorite comic of 2021 was Die by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans that wrapped up with the mother of all quest arcs. But beyond having cool fantasy landscapes and wrapping up each party member’s arc, Die nailed the importance of stories, whether games, comics, films, prose, TV shows etc., to change how we view and interact with the world in both a heightened and realistic manner. Most of the realism came in Die #20 where the main characters escape the world of the game into our reality with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing and have emotional reunions with loved ones or just hang out by themselves. However, the final arc of Die also is full of existential nightmares courtesy of Hans’ visuals as well as awakenings and self-realization, especially in Die #19 where Ash comes out as non-binary and discusses how games and fiction shaped their identity. The final issues of Die is a double-edged look at the power of narrative and games to shape us done in both glorious and surprisingly intimate fashion, and I felt I really knew Ash, Matt, Angela, Isabelle, Matt, Chuck, and Sol in the end.

Honorable Mentions: Casual Fling (AWA), Nightwing (DC), Made in Korea (Image), Barbaric (Vault), Superman and the Authority (DC), Catwoman: Lonely City (DC/Black Label)

Preview: Verse Book One: The Broken Half

Verse Book One: The Broken Half

Writer/Artist/Letterer: Sam Beck
On Sale: 9/29/2021

EVERYONE KNOWS MAGIC DOESN’T EXIST ANYMORE, UNTIL MAGIC CHANGES EVERYTHING.

Fife’s plans to become an expert swordsmith are interrupted when he meets Neitya, an extraordinary girl unlike any he’s ever met before…primarily because of her horns and amnesia. Worryingly, she seems akin to the monstrous Vel who roam the countryside. but when Fife is attacked by the Vel, Neitya saves him by using a skill thought to be forever lost to everyone: Magic. Fife and Neitya decide to journey together, seeking the guidance they need to unravel the mystery of her origin.

Claudia Gray, Justina Ireland, Daniel José Older, Cavan Scott, and Charles Soule Explore Star Wars: The High Republic with IDW

IDW Publishing has announced the upcoming December release of Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures Annual 2021, a one-shot comic book that – for the first time ever – welcomes Lucasfilm’s entire team of High Republic lead story architects to share tales from their favorite corners of the galaxy in one place!

Claudia GrayJustina IrelandDaniel José OlderCavan Scott, and Charles Soule are the celebrated comic book and prose authors behind Star Wars: The High Republic, the sprawling new era in the Star Wars saga that depicts the height of the Galactic Republic, centuries before the Skywalker Saga, when the new threat of the Nihil emerge in the Outer Rim.

Partnered with exceptional comic artists including Sam BeckJesse LonegranJason LooYael Nathan, and Stefano Simeone, the five story architects will each shine a spotlight on fan-favorite heroes from their respective Star Wars projects in this 48-page, full-color anthology, aimed at middle grade readers.

Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures Annual 2021 will be available with two cover variants for fans and retailers to enjoy: Cover A by Stefano Simeone and Cover B by Jason Loo.

Wonderbound Reveals its Entire 2022 Graphic Novel Slate

Today at the US Book Show, Wonderbound announced their entire 2022 publishing lineup of original graphic novels from a dazzling array of talent, including Shea Fontana, Brian Middleton, Agnes Garbowska, Colleen Coover, Paul Tobin, Galaad, Rebecca Horner, Kelly Mellings, Corey Lansdell, Lisa LaRose, Sam Beck, Ryan Haddock, Nick Wyche, Heather Nuhfer, Patricia Daguisan, Michael Moreci & many more.  

Wonderbound is the middle grade and young adult publishing imprint of Vault Comics. Every Wonderbound book is a ticket to a land of wonder, inviting you to leave behind the ordinary, and explore a world of magic, marvels, and mysteries. Whether you’re learning fantastical wrassling, going on zany quests to deliver packages (and stuff), solving the mysteries of a gothic mansion, or settling into a spooky new apartment, you’re always in for an adventure. 

Check out the full list of Wonderbound’s 2022 titles below:   

WRASSLE CASTLE VOL. 2: RIDERS ON THE STORM

Written by Colleen Coover & Paul Tobin, drawn Galaad, colored by Rebecca Horner & Galaad, and lettered by Jeff Powell

Synopsis: Sequel! Lydia Riverthane faces more dangerous challenges as she fights for her brother’s freedom and wrassling glory.

Format: YA, 96 pages, $9.99, full color.

Tentative Release Month: February 2022

WRASSLE CASTLE VOL. 2: RIDERS ON THE STORM

POIKO: QUESTS & STUFF

Written & Illustrated by Brian Middleton.

Synopsis: Have you ever had to deliver a care package to a dragon with allergies? Have you ever been waylaid by a school of space fish? That’s just an average day for Poiko, the kingdom’s most reliable courier. The world can be a big, scary place, but it can also be wondrous. Sad things can happen, but there are always good friends to turn to, or new friends to make. And no matter what, there is always, always someone who could use your help. Poiko learns all these lessons and more every time he brushes his tail, pulls on his hoodie, and steps out into a new adventure. The philosophical whimsicality of Calvin & Hobbes meets the fantasy-scapes of Adventure Time in this modern-day classic.

Format: MG, 128, $9.99, full color.

Tentative Release Month: March 2022 

POIKO: QUESTS & STUFF

KENZIE’S KINGDOM

Written by Shea Fontana, drawn by Agnes Garbowska, and colored by Sil Brys.

Synopsis: Kenzie hates that her family moved to a castle to start a Medieval-themed resort, but all that changes when a time-travelling squire needs Kenzie’s help to get back home to the past! From the best-selling creative team behind DC Superhero Girls, this is a perfect read for fans of Phoebe and her Unicorn, The Baby-Sitter’s Club, or Witches of Brooklyn.

Format: MG, 128, $9.99, full color.

Tentative Release Month: April 2022

KENZIE'S KINGDOM

GHOSTER HEIGHTS

Written by Kelly Mellings & Corey Lansdell, and drawn by Lisa LaRose.

Synopsis: When Ona moves into her Baba’s apartment complex after a traumatic event, she befriends a ghost she discovers haunting the boiler room. When her new friendship starts allowing her to see other ghosts—the ghosts who haunt the other residents of her building—she decides to use her ability to help her new neighbors face their troubles and free themselves from their specters. In doing so, however, Ona must eventually come face to face with a much darker foe—her own trauma and grief. The earnestness of Judy Bloom meets the raw emotion of I Kill Giants in this beautifully hopeful story of childhood tragedy.

Format: MG, 208, $14.99, full color.

Tentative Release Month: June 2022

GHOSTER HEIGHTS

VERSE VOL. 2: THE IRON GATE

Written & illustrated by Sam Beck.

Synopsis: Sequel! In the wake of disaster, Neitya and Fife must part ways in order to discover their own destinies.

Format: YA, 240, $14.99, full color.

Tentative Release Month: July 2022 

VERSE VOL. 2: THE IRON GATE

WRASSLE CASTLE VOL. 3: PUT A LYD ON IT

Written by Colleen Coover & Paul Tobin, drawn Galaad, colored by Rebecca Horner & Galaad, and lettered by Jeff Powell.

Synopsis: Final Volume! Lydia and her brother uncover that the plot against them goes much deeper than they realized!

Format: YA, 112 pages, $9.99, full color.

Tentative Release Month: August, 2022 

WRASSLE CASTLE VOL. 3: PUT A LYD ON IT

THE BROTHERS FLICK

Written by Ryan Haddock, drawn by Nick Wyche with layouts by David Stoll, and colored by Whitney Cogar.

Synopsis:  At Strander House, things are…weird. There’s an ogre wedged in the closet and you have to be careful not to slip on the leak coming from the ocean in the attic. What’s possibly weirder than the fact that you can walk into the bathroom and end up in next Tuesday are the four brothers who investigate these strange occurrences…the Brothers Flick! Leo, Desmond, Remy, and Cub seek to get to the bottom of every bump in the night, every shadow you swear you saw move. If they happen to stumble upon answers to the mysterious disappearance of their own family along the way, all the better. Sherlock Holmes meets Wayside School in this Edwardian-era supernatural sleuthing graphic novel.

Format: YA, 208 pages, $12.99, full color.

Tentative Release Month: September, 2022 

THE BROTHERS FLICK

CREEPY THE SNOWMAN

Written by Michael, Noah, & Jackson Moreci.

Synopsis: Creepy the Snowman will get you, maybe today at noon. Creepy the Snowman will get you, even on the moon. Half-melted and half-evil, Creepy the Snowman, along with his fire-breathing sidekick space chicken, seeks to destroy children’s fun, find love, and either save the world or destroy it, depending on what day of the week it is. Created and written by brothers Noah (8) and Jackson (6) Moreci, along with their father, critically-acclaimed horror writer Michael Moreci, this is a book FOR kids BY kids. For readers of Dog Man, HiLo, and Max and the Midknights.

Format: MG, 176 pages, $12.99, full color.

Tentative Release Month: October, 2022 

CREEPY THE SNOWMAN

LUNCH

Written by Heather Nuhfer. 

Synopsis: New to her middle school and terrified of navigating the cafeteria at lunchtime, Tia discovers that when she eats the same food as someone else, she can hear that person’s thoughts. Quickly, she and her new friend Leigh, realize that this power can help them fight back against the popular kids who have excluded them from their lunch table. As Tia connects with more and more of her classmates, not only does she realize that the popular kids are just as nervous and insecure as she is, but she discovers the power of creating a community through food. A perfect bridge to fantasy for readers of Smile, Awkward, or Click.

Format: MG, 208 pages, $12.99, full color.

Tentative Release Month: November, 2022

LUNCH

Vault’s Wonderbound Announces Verse, a YA Original Fantasy Graphic Novel from Sam Beck

Wonderbound has announced they will publish Verse, an inclusive young adult fantasy graphic novel series by star writer/artist Sam Beck. Verse will be released in the Fall of 2021.

Verse is the story of Fife, who lives in a world where magic is feared–only the evil monsters known as Vell are known to use it. But when Fife discovers a young girl with mysterious powers, everything he ever thought he knew is turned on its head. Forging a friendship that will change the course of their society, Fife and Neitya take their first steps on an epic adventure through an unforgettable world.

Verse

Wonderbound is the middle grade and young adult publishing imprint of Vault Comics. Every Wonderbound book is a ticket to a land of wonder, inviting you to leave behind the ordinary, and explore a world of magic, marvels, and mysteries. Whether you’re learning fantastical wrassling, going on zany quests to deliver packages (and stuff), solving the mysteries of a gothic mansion, or settling into a spooky new apartment, you’re always in for an adventure.

Preview: Regular Show: 25 Years Later #3

Regular Show: 25 Years Later #3

Publisher: KaBOOM!, an imprint of BOOM! Studios
Writers: Chris Hastings
Artists: Anna Johnstone
Cover Artists:
Main Cover
: Cristina Chua
     Subscription Cover: Sam Beck
Colorist: Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Mike Fiorentino
Price: $3.99

Mordecai and Rigby finally have a lead in getting back their kids! Just one problem: how are they going to become respected as responsible parents to a pair of bad boys after trading away their kids to be young again?

Vault Comics Gives Readers Free First Issues of Cult Classic & Songs For The Dead

Vault Comics is giving readers free copies of Cult Classic: Return to Whisper #1 and Songs For The Dead #1 as free digital downloads.

After an internal problem at Diamond Comic Distributors delayed the release of Cult Classic: Return to Whisper #2 and Songs for the Dead #2 by one week, Vault Comics decided to offer digital copies of the first issues for free as a thank you to readers for their patience. Because of the delay, physical copies of both Cult Classic #2 and Songs for the Dead #2 will now hit store shelves on Wednesday, April 25th.

Cult Classic: Return to Whisper is the flagship series in a creator-owned, shared universe of interwoven stories published by Vault Comics beginning in 2018. Created and curated by writer Eliot Rahal, the Cult Classic universe will feature a wide array of today’s hottest new creators, including Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, John Bivens, Leah Williams, Katy Rex, Grace Thomas, Jenna Cha, Tim Daniel, Alejandro Aragon, Marissa Louise, and many more to be announced. Cult Clasic: Return to Whisper is written by Eliot Rahal, drawn by Felipe Cunha, colored by Dee Cunniffe, and lettered by Taylor Esposito, with cover art by Irene Koh.

Songs for The Dead is a cult-hit fantasy comic book series that follows Bethany, a minstrel with a heart full of adventure, a would-be hero determined to find a missing boy from the town of Llyne, and a friend to all woodland critters. But mostly the dead ones. Because Bethany is also a necromancer. Captured by the vile Lord Rolland, Bethany will make an unlikely friend, who is all-too-good at providing more corpses to raise. Songs or The Dead is written by Andrea Fort and Michael Christopher Heron, illustrated by Sam Beck, and letterer Deron Bennett.

Review: Wayward Sisters: An Anthology of Monstrous Women

Wayward Sisters coverMany have felt awkward as they grow into themselves and the pressure, from person experience, can be even higher when you’re visibly femme in any way. Wayward Sister: An Anthology of Monstrous Women seeks to capture that awkwardness and make it a source of power. After an incredibly successful Kickstarter by TO Comix Press, Wayward Sisters is available for pre-order now.

As this is an anthology featuring a long list of female-identifying and non-binary creators, it can sometimes be a little harder to keep the themes consistent but has a strain running through almost every story that keeps everything together: equal parts mysterious, adorable, melancholy, sweet, musing, and most importantly hopeful. That tone is established from the outset with a foreward by Faith Erin Hicks (The War at Ellsemere, Friends with Boys, The Last of Us: American Dreams) speaking about her own experiences.

Tinseltown - Allison O'Toole & Emmanuelle Chateauneuf

“Tinseltown” by Allison O’Toole & Emmanuelle Chateauneuf

The majority of the short comics and stories told delve deep into the metaphor of monstrosity to attack it from every angle possible. Some miss the mark a bit, like “Miss Monster” by Stephanie Cooke and Cara McGee, and can be a bit jarring. But others, like “Low Tide” by M. Blankier and Helen Robinson and “Solid Shadows” by Rachel Simons and K. Guillory, drag you right back into the mood flowing through the pages.

The art, writing, coloring, and lettering rarely feels misplaced or a wrong fit with the others here, even on “Date Night” by Allison Bannister, Ronnie Ritchie, Meaghan Carter, and Nikki Powers with a different person on each. It’s obvious a lot of care was put into every bit of this anthology from start to finish to make it as harmonious as (more or less) humanly possible.

This collection of short comics were something I wasn’t expecting to hit me as hard as they did but I’m glad I found and was able to read them. Make sure to pick up a copy for yourself through TO Comix Press or one of their retail partners listed on their site. If you’re not sold, check out a preview with “Zira and the Little Fire” by Katie Shanahan or the full comic “Light Pollution” by iguanamouth.

Story and Art: Aimee Lim, Sam Beck, Megan Kearney, Casandra Grullon, iguanamouth, Saffron Aurora, Elodie Chen, Rachel Simon, K. Guillory, Janice Liu, Cassandra Khaw, C. Ann Gordon, Allison O’Toole, Emmanuelle Chateauneuf, Katie Shanahan, Stephanie Cooke, Cara McGee, Allison Bannister, Ronnie Ritchie, Xavière Daumarie, Michelle Gruppetta, Fleur Sciortino, ZAVKA, Lorena Torres Loaiza, Sabaa Bismil, gillian blekkenhorst, H. Pueyo, Dante L., Laura Neubert, Lea Shepherd, Zoe Maeve, BC Holmes, DEE Williams, Xia Gordon, M. Blankier, Helen Robinson, Mandy James
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0
Recommendation: Perfect for a fan of the supernatural and things that go bump in the night that relates more to the monsters than the would-be heroes, especially if they’re a teen or young adult.