Written by: Andrew Maclean, Sina Grace, Paul Azaceta, Andrew Constant Art by: Andrew Maclean, Leonardo Bastos Romero, Paul Azaceta, Nicola Scott
Mod myths of might and mystery! This month’s stories are literally out of this world! You won’t want to miss Diana traveling to deep space, going toe-to-toe with a feathered friend from her past, and heading back to the ’60s for an unexpected mod-era tale. All this and more in an issue jam-packed with tales trimmed in Wonder Woman’s signature gold!
(W) Sina Grace, Ryan Parrott (A) Francesco Mortarino (CA) Eleonora Carlini In Shops: Sep 01, 2021 SRP: $16.99
THE ORIGIN OF THE OMEGA RANGERS!
Tommy, now the WHITE RANGER, must lead the Power Rangers even as members of his own team doubts his ability to do so.
Meanwhile, Jason, Trini, and Zack must step into their own new roles as they embark on their first mission as the OMEGA RANGERS off world.
The writing duo of New York Times bestseller Ryan Parrott (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and the GLAAD Award-nominated Sina Grace (Iceman) join artists Francesco Mortarino (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and Eduardo Francisco (Adventures of Superman) for the final volume of Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers!
In honor of Pride Month, DC Comics dropped DC Pride #1, an 80 page anthology featuring short stories with LGBTQ+ characters by mainly LGBTQ+ creators. In addition to the stories, there’s an introduction by prominent gay comics writer Marc Andreyko (Manhunter, Love is Love) and pinups by some of the best LGBTQ+ artists (and artists period) like Sophie Campbell, Nick Robles, and Kevin Wada. The overall tone of the anthology is celebratory, but one story definitely made me tear up. I really enjoyed how DC Pride touched all corners of the LGBTQ umbrella and its exploration of how our differences make us stronger and really hope that one day all the characters featured in the book can have their own comic.
After the aforementioned introduction by Andreyko and a vibrant pinup of queer Teen Titans Aqualad, Bunker, Traci-13, and Crush from Travis Moore, DC Pride #1 leads off with a Batwoman story from James Tynion and Trung Le Nguyen. It starts with a look back at Kate Kane’s childhood, and how she didn’t conform to traditional gender roles and desires beginning with the games she would play with her sister Beth (Now the supervillain Alice) where they would pretend to be dolls complete with makeup, frilly dresses, and the accoutrements of traditional femininity. There’s almost a fairy tale cadence to both Tynion’s writing and Nguyen’s art as Kate grows up, finds love in the arms of a variety of women, and forges an identity as the superhero, Batwoman. Trung Le Nguyen’s flat reds and blacks punctuate these changes while James Tynion’s script takes a macro-level to the theme of pride as they show a montage of various queer heroes in the DC Universe fighting their battles and being themselves. This opening story is a fine encapsulation of Batwoman’s character journey and also is an ode to embracing queerness and gender conformity in a heteronormative world. Plus Nguyen’s story book style applied to superhero comics is a real visual treat.
The next story was one of my favorites as Steve Orlando returns to Midnighter (kind of) and Extraño as the magician regales John Constantine with a tale of a night out with the violent vigilante. Orlando and artist Stephen Byrne’s story is pure fanservice and adventure in the best way with iconic visual and verbal moments like Midnighter punching a Nazi vampire’s head off and John Constantine flirting with Extraño at a bar and totally being open to a threesome with Extraño and his werewolf husband. This story is mostly made up of fun things like one-liners, magic, and mayhem. However, Steve Orlando digs a little deeper with his script and commentates on how queer history is rewritten by bigoted historians with lovers becoming relatives (Like in the original Sailor Moon English dub) or “pals” as Midnighter and Extraño fight the aforementioned vampire to stop him from casting a spell that makes people think the mythological heroes Achilles and Patroclus were cousins, not lovers. This is a very real issue, and it’s vindicating to watch Midnighter and Extraño kick the asses of those who would straight-wash history in a thrilling, beautiful way thanks to Orlando’s witty script and Byrne’s power-packed visuals.
The third story in DC Pride is a noir-tinged saga of dark alleys, fisticuffs, and political activism starring Renee Montoya aka The Question from Vita Ayala, Skylar Partridge, and Jose Villarrubia. The plot is fairly straightforward with the Question tracking down missing defense attorney and city council candidate Valeria Johnson. Partridge and Villarrubia bring the dark shadows, atmosphere, and flat background colors when Montoya puts the fear of her into some loutishly heterosexual goons. I love how Skylar Partridge uses inset panels to show Montoya’s speed and skill and match Ayala’s snappy narrative captions. The whole story looks gorgeous, and there’s also a hint of budding romance between Renee Montoya and Valeria Johnson as the latter isn’t just a do-gooder damsel in distress. It definitely feels like a backdoor pilot for a Renee Montoya Question series, and I would love to see more of this creative team fleshing her and her relationship with Valeria out.
The Question story is followed by a hilarious and touching Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy story from Mariko Tamaki, Amy Reeder, and Marissa Louise. Basically, this anti-heroic duo stop a plant monster from going on a rampage (After giving it several cute pet names.) and talk about their relationship. Underneath Louise’s candy-meets-body horror palette and Reeder’s memorable facial expressions and high-wire layouts, they chat about going from the “will they, won’t they” stage to the moving in and starting a life stage. Tamaki’s script is peppered with jokes (Including a classic lesbian U-Haul one.), but she also once and for all shows that Harley and Ivy are a well-matched, occasionally wacky queer couple, and that they’ve brought a lot of support and laughs into each other’s lives. Also, Harley’s hammer should always have a Kirby face on it.
Full disclosure: Sam Johns, Klaus Janson, and Dave McCaig’s Alan Scott and Obsidian story was the one that made me cry. At brunch with Obsidian and his partner, the Golden Age Green Lantern opens up to his estranged son and tells him that Obsidian’s confidence to live as an out gay man encouraged him to finally come out and be his full, true self to the world. Janson uses nine panel grids, Ben-Day dots, and a command of 1940s fashion to show Alan’s secret romance with a train conductor named Jimmy and also walk down memory lane when being gay was a crime and gay bars were shuttered and didn’t have liquor licenses. As well as expanding on Alan Scott coming out in the main DC continuity in Infinite Frontier, this story is an homage to queer elders and their struggles in a world where they could be jailed or even killed holding someone of the same gender’s hand in public. It’s a beautiful intergenerational story and really made me fall in love with Alan Scott as a character even more. He’s the queer grandpa I never had.
The sixth story in DC Pride #1is a fast-moving, romantic story from Danny Lore, Lisa Sterle, and Enrica Erin Angiolini about Jess Chambers (Future State Flash) getting ready for their date with Andy Curry aka Aquawoman. This pair had fantastic chemistry in Future State: Justice League, and it’s nice to see a story centered around their relationship that also riffs on the classic Flash tropes of lateness, Rogues, and legacy. As Jess faces off against Reflek, who was trained by Mirror Master, Sterle and Angiolini get play with different panel shapes simulating the speedster trying to break free from a hall of mirrors while trying to get their outfit, makeup, and gift together. Also, it’s refreshing to see a story featuring a nonbinary character not be all about their gender identity, but focus on action and relationships like any other Flash story. Andy and Jess have a nice thing going, and like many of the other characters who appear in this anthology, I hope to see more of them, their impeccable fashion senses, and cool superpowers in future DC titles.
DC Pride #1 returns to the intergenerational queerness well in a Pied Piper story from Sina Grace, Ro Stein, and Ted Brandt. They introduce a new character, Drummer Boy, who is inspired by Pied Piper to create mind-controlling beats so that he can take money from rich fat cats and save Central City’s gayborhood from gentrification, which is a very real problem in real life today. Drummer Boy calling out Pied Piper’s photo ops and not taking direct action since he’s been rich and famous is something that could be directed at many LGBTQ+ celebrities like Ru Paul, who literally uses his wealth to destroy the Earth. This issue creates a real fantasy in which LGBTQ+ celebrities help their community instead of palling around with war criminals at NFL games while Grace gets in some licks about being smart with one’s direct action and abilities when Pied Piper points out that if Drummer Boy steals money off rich people’s credit cards that they’ll just contest the charges. Drummer Boy has a real activist streak as a hero, and I love the energy that Stein and Brandt visually bring to his powers as well as not making him look like the average Ken-doll superhero body type.
The penultimate story in DC Pride #1introduces the transgender superhero Dreamer, who first appeared in the Supergirl television show, to the comics in a story written by Nicole Maines (Who played Dreamer in the show) and with art by Rachael Stott and Enrica Erin Angolini. Dreamer’s debut is a slice of story as she rushes to clean up a League of Shadows cell before rushing off to date night with Brainiac 5. Maines’ script has a cheery, humorous tone with a hilarious final panel, and Dreamer makes a lot of quips to go with Stott’s acrobatic fight choreography that is still good at showing motion even though her art style is more photorealistic. There’s a big feeling of wanting to get the fights over with so that Dreamer can spend time with the man she loves, and this story could honestly be one big metaphor for work/life balance. Dreamer makes her mark with charm and wholesomeness in the story, and her oneiromantic abilities have real visual flair.
DC Pride #1 wraps up with a superhero spin on a big damn Pride parade with Andrew Wheeler, Luciano Vecchio, and Rex Lokus chronicling Aqualad’s first Pride since coming out with his new friend (and Extraño’s apprentice) Syl. Lokus’ colors match the tone of the story from bright and triumphant to dark and dreary as Eclipso has everyone at Pride airing out their worst thoughts and finally triumphant again with a group of DC’s LGBTQ+ superheroes led by Extraño saving the day and being the true, queer selves in the process. This story is a true victory lap, but Wheeler spends a little time in Aqualad’s head as he takes in the sights and sounds of Pride and also grapples with not wanting to be like his father, the villainous Black Manta. Even though everyone feels isolated and alone when targeted by Eclipso, there is actually a large, vibrant LGBTQ+ community of heroes in the DC Universe and hopefully they show up in stories beyond this anthology, which has honestly been a recurring theme as I read through the stories in DC Pride #1.
DC Pride #1 is a fantastic showcase not just for DC Comics’ LGBTQ+ characters, but the company’s LGBTQ+ creators too as they capture a range of relationships, feelings, sexualities, and gender identities. There’s a lot of focus on established romantic relationships, but some of the stories explore activism, community, and the Midnighter/Extrano/John Constantine is a straight up adventure yarn. I enjoyed seeing myself and my queer siblings uplifted in this comic and hope DC can do something more ongoing with these characters, situations, and especially creators.
Story: James Tynion IV, Steve Orlando, Vita Ayala, Mariko Tamaki Sam Johns, Danny Lore, Sina Grace, Nicole Maines, Andrew Wheeler Art: Trung Le Nguyen, Stephen Byrne, Skylar Partridge, Amy Reeder, Klaus Janson Lisa Sterle, Ro Stein and Ted Brandt, Rachael Stott, Luciano Vecchio Colors: Jose Villarrubia, Marissa Louise, Dave McCaig, Enrica Erin Angiolini, Rex Lokus Letters: Aditya Bidikar, Josh Reed, Ariana Maher, Tom Napolitano, Becca Carey, Steve Wands Story: 9.8 Art: 10 Overall: 9.9 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
(W) S. M. Vidaurri, Michael Dialynas, Sina Grace, Lara Elena Donnelly (A) Various (CA) Jenny Frison In Shops: Jun 02, 2021 SRP: $24.99
RETURN TO THE MASQUERADE.
Discover an all-new collection of stories expanding the world of Jim Henson’s beloved fantasy classic Labyrinth, including the secret history of Sir Didymus and the untold story of one of Jareth’s Masquerade guests who embarks on a journey of self discovery after Sarah shatters the mirror during the Masquerade Ball.
Collects Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Under the Spell #1 and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Masquerade #1.
GlobalComix has announced Resilience: Creators Against COVID. The anthology is the digital platform’s first original release. GlobalComix has teamed up with creators for original stories about perseverance and hope. 100% of the revenue will go to the creators for them to donate to causes or comic shops of their choosing.
Resilience: Creators Against COVID features 7 chapters which will be released twice a week starting on May 18.
Check out the full creative lineup below:
Persevere Released on May 18 2021, made by Landry Walker (Batman), Eric Jones (Star Wars), Taylor Esposito (Daredevil) are donating to Fantastic Comics in Berkeley, CA
The Fantastic Flame Released on May 25 2021, made by Alex Segura (Archie), Chantel Acevedo (Muse Squad), Richard Ortiz (DC Bombshells), Ellie Wright (Black Ghost), Taylor Esposito (Daredevil) are donating to A&M Comics in Miami, Florida
Persian Version of Pop Culture in America Released on May 27 2021, made by Sina Grace (Iceman) is donating to Secret Headquarters Comics in Los Angeles, CA
Surviving Camino Del Diablo Released on June 1 2021, made by Henry Barajas (Helm Graycastle), Nicky Rodriguez (Pulse), Gabbie Downie (Harleen) are donating to Palabras Bilingual Bookstore in Phoenix, AZ
DC has announced new releases coming to store shelves in June.DC Pride is an 80-page anthology comic featuring LGBTQIA+ characters from across the DC Universe. Crush & Lobo is a new eight-issue miniseries written by Mariko Tamaki with art by Amancay Nahuelpan. Crush & Lobo will launch on June 1 and DC Pride will publish on June 8. DC will also publish a series of nine Pride-themed variant covers in June, showcasing DC’s top characters as realized by the comic book industry’s leading artists.
DC Pride #1 will feature LGBTQIA+ characters from all corners of DC’s ever-expanding Universe, including cameos by fan favorites Batwoman, Renee Montoya, Alan Scott, Midnighter, Apollo, Extraño, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Constantine, and more. The DCPride creative teams, and the characters they’re developing stories for, are:
Batwoman (Kate Kane) by James Tynion IV & Trung Le Nguyen
Flash of Earth-11 (Jess Chambers) by Danny Lore & Lisa Sterle
Green Lantern (Alan Scott) & Obsidian by Sam Johns & Klaus Janson
Aqualad (Jackson Hyde) by Andrew Wheeler & Luciano Vecchio
Dreamer by Nicole Maines & Rachel Stott
Renee Montoya by Vita Ayala and Skylar Patridge
Pied Piper by Sina Grace, Ro Stein & Ted Brandt
Additionally, DC Pride #1 will include full-page profiles of DCTV’s LGBTQIA+ characters and the actors who play them, and fans of The CW’s Supergirl will be thrilled to see the first comic book appearance of Dreamer, a trans woman superhero, in a story written by actor Nicole Maines, who plays Nia Nal/Dreamer on Supergirl.
Rounding out the DC Pride anthology is a forward by Marc Andreyko (Love is Love), single-page pin-ups by artists Kris Anka, Sophie Campbell, Mildred Louis, Travis Moore, Nick Robles, and Kevin Wada, with more surprises to come! The DC Pride #1 cover is by Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Tamra Bonvillain.
DC will also release a series of Pride themed variant covers showcasing DC’s leading characters through the month of June, giving fans the opportunity to purchase comics featuring covers with Batman, Harley, Ivy, Superman, Wonder Woman, and more, all by cutting-edge comic book artists!
Batman #109 Pride variant cover by Jen Bartel
Crush & Lobo #1 Pride variant cover by Yoshi Yoshitani
DC Pride #1 Pride variant cover by Jen Bartel
Harley Quinn #4 Pride variant cover by Kris Anka
Nightwing #81 Pride variant cover by Travis G. Moore
Superman #32 Pride variant cover by David Talaski
Teen Titans Academy #4 Pride variant cover by Stephen Byrne
Wonder Girl #2 Pride variant cover by Kevin Wada
Wonder Woman #774 Pride variant cover by Paulina Ganucheau
Crush & Lobo spins out of the pages of Teen Titans Academy, and will debut with a cover by Kris Anka, a Pride variant cover by Yoshi Yoshitani, a 1:25 ratio variant by Christian Ward, plus an exclusive Dan Hipp team variant for participating retailers. In this new eight-issue miniseries publishing between June 2021 and January 2022, Crush, daughter of the Czarnian bounty hunter Lobo, is in full-on self-destruct mode! After rage-quitting the Teen Titans and blowing up her relationship with her girlfriend Katie, Crush decides it’s time to finally confront her father in space jail and get her baggage sorted before she wrecks everything. Like father, like daughter?
DC will also publish GLAAD Media Award-nominated Suicide Squad: Bad Blood by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondoon April 27, DC’s gothic LGBTQIA+ romance Poison Ivy: Thornsby Kody Keplinger and Sara Kipin on June 1, and Mariko Tamaki and Yoshi Yoshitani’s highly anticipated YA graphic novel,I Am Not Starfire, will publish on July 27 as part of the publisher’s overall Pride plans in 2021.Lois Lane by Greg Rucka and Mike Perkins, Far Sectorby N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell andYou Brought Me The Ocean by Alex Sánchez and Julie Maroh have also been nominated for GLAAD Media Awards in 2021!
Written by: Crystal Frasier, Mark Russell, Sina Grace, John Ridley Art by: Amancay Nahuelpan, Rob Guillory, Juan Gedeon, Karl Mostert
BLAM! KRACK! POW! Look out, it’s…love?! Falling in love is rough, even for DC’s greatest. Watch as Batman and Catwoman, Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, Mister Miracle and Big Barda, and all the rest of your OTPs fight in vain against the all-powerful forces of romance (and super-villains)! Even Amanda Waller fights the urge to bail on her mystery date. We guarantee that this Valentine’s Day, someone’s taking a shot to the heart—from Cupid’s bow!
2020 definitely felt like a year where I embraced comics in all their different formats and genres from the convenient, satisfying graphic novella to the series of loosely connected and curated one shots and even the door stopper of an omnibus/hardcover or that charming webcomic that comes out one or twice a week on Instagram. This was partially due to the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down comics’ traditional direct market for a bit so I started reviewing webcomics, trade paperbacks, graphic novels and nonfiction even after this supply chain re-opened. I also co-hosted and edited two seasons of a podcast about indie comics where we basically read either a trade every week for discussion, and that definitely meant spending more time with that format. However, floppy fans should still be happy because I do have a traditional ongoing series on my list as well as some minis.
Without further ado, here are my favorite comics of 2020.
10. Marvels Snapshots (Marvel)
Curated by original Marvels writer Kurt Busiek and with cover art by original Marvels artist Alex Ross, Marvels Snapshots collects seven perspectives on on the “major” events of the Marvel Universe from the perspectives of ordinary people from The Golden Age of the 1940s to 2006’s Civil War. It’s cool to get a more character-driven and human POV on the ol’ corporate IP toy box from Alan Brennert and Jerry Ordway exploring Namor the Submariner’s PTSD to Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, and Benjamin Dewey showing the real reason behind Johnny Storm’s airhead celebrity act. There’s also Mark Russell and Ramon Perez’s take on the classic Captain America “Madbomb” storyline, Barbara Kesel’s and Staz Johnson’s sweet, Bronze Age-era romance between two first responders as the Avengers battle a threat against the city, and Saladin Ahmed and Ryan Kelly add nuance to the superhuman Civil War by showing how the Registration Act affects a Cape-Killer agent as well as a young elemental protector of Toledo, Ohio, who just wants to help his community and do things like purify water. However, the main reason Marvels Snapshots made my “favorite” list was Jay Edidin and Tom Reilly‘s character-defining work showing the pre-X-Men life of Cyclops as he struggles with orphan life, is inspired by heroes like Reed Richards, and lays the groundwork for the strategist, leader, and even revolutionary that appears in later comics.
Fangs is cartoonist Sarah Andersen’s entry into the Gothic romance genre and was a light, funny, and occasionally sexy series that got me through a difficult year. Simply put, it follows the relationship of a vampire named Elsie and a werewolf named Jimmy, both how they met and their life together. Andersen plays with vampire and werewolf fiction tropes and sets up humorous situations like a date night featuring a bloody rare steak and a glass of blood instead of wine, Jimmy having an unspoken animosity against mail carriers, and just generally working around things like lycanthropy every 28 days and an aversion to sunlight. As well as being hilarious and cute, Fangs shows Sarah Andersen leveling up as an artist as she works with deep blacks, different eye shapes and textures, and more detailed backgrounds to match the tone of her story while not skimping on the relatable content that made Sarah’s Scribbles an online phenomenon.
I really got into Vault Comics this year. (I retroactively make These Savage Shores my favorite comic of 2019.) As far as prose, I mainly read SF, and Vault nicely fills that niche in the comics landscape and features talented, idiosyncratic creative teams. Heavy is no exception as Max Bemis, Eryk Donovan, and Cris Peter tell the story of Bill, who was gunned down by some mobsters, and now is separated from his wife in a place called “The Wait” where he has to set right enough multiversal wrongs via violence to be reunited with her in Heaven. This series is a glorious grab bag of hyperviolence, psychological examinations of toxic masculinity, and moral philosophy. Heavy also has a filthy and non-heteronormative sense of humor. Donovan and Peter bring a high level of chaotic energy to the book’s visuals and are game for both tenderhearted flashbacks as well as brawls with literal cum monsters. In addition to all this, Bemis and Donovan aren’t afraid to play with and deconstruct their series’ premise, which is what makes Heavy my ongoing monthly comic.
Writer/artist Katie Skelly puts her own spin on the true crime genre inMaids, a highly stylized account of Christine and Lea Papin murdering their employers in France during the 1930s. Skelly’s linework and eye popping colors expertly convey the trauma and isolation that the Papins go through as they are at the beck and call of the family they work almost 24/7. Flashbacks add depth and context to Christine and Lea’s characters and provide fuel to the fire of the class warfare that they end up engaging in. Skelly’s simple, yet iconic approach character design really allowed me to connect with the Papins and empathize with them during the build-up from a new job to murder and mayhem. Maids is truly a showcase for a gifted cartoonist and not just a summary of historical events.
In her webcomic Grind Like A Girl, cartoonist Veronica Casson tells the story of growing up trans in 1990s New Jersey. The memoir recently came to a beautiful conclusion with Casson showing her first forays into New York, meeting other trans women, and finding a sense of community with them that was almost the polar opposite of her experiences in high school. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the evolution of Veronica Casson’s art style during different periods of her life from an almost Peanuts vibe for her childhood to using more flowing lines, bright colors, and ambitious panel layouts as an older teen and finally an adult. She also does a good job using the Instagram platform to give readers a true “guided view” experience and point out certain details before putting it all together in a single page so one can appreciate the comic at both a macro/micro levels. All in all, Grind Like A Girl is a personal and stylish coming of age memoir from Veronica Casson, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.
Thai/Italian cartoonist Elisa Macellari tells an unconventional World War II story in Papaya Salad, a recently translated history comic about her great uncle Sompong, who just wanted to see the world. However, he ended up serving with the Thai diplomatic corps in Italy, Germany, and Austria during World War II. Macellari uses a recipe for her great uncle’s favorite dish, papaya salad, to structure the comic, and her work has a warm, dreamlike quality to go with the reality of the places that Sampong visits and works at. Also, it’s very refreshing to get a non-American or British perspective on this time in history as Sampong grapples with the shifting status of Thailand during the war as well as the racism of American soldiers, who celebrate the atomic bomb and lump him and his colleagues with the Japanese officers, and are not shown in a very positive light. However, deep down, Papaya Salad is a love story filled with small human moments that make life worth living, like appetizing meals, jokes during dark times, and faith in something beyond ourselves. It’s a real showcase of the comics medium’s ability to tell stories from a unique point of view.
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (with colorist Jacob Phillips) are two creators whose work has graced my “favorite comics” list many times. And this time they really outdid themselves with the graphic novella Pulpabout the final days of Max Winters, a gunslinger-turned-Western dime novelist. It’s a character study peppered with flashbacks as Phillips and Phillips use changes in body posture and color palette to show Max getting older while his passion for resisting those who would exploit others is still intact. Basically, he can shoot and rob fascists just like he shot and robbed cattle barons back in the day. Brubaker and Phillips understand that genre fiction doesn’t exist in a vacuum and is informed by the historical context around it, which is what makes Pulp such a compelling read. If you like your explorations of the banality of evil and creeping specter of fascism with heists, gun battles, and plenty of introspection, then this is the comic for you.
Music is my next favorite interest after comics so My Riot was an easy pick for my favorite comics list. The book is a coming of age story filtered through 1990s riot girl music from writer Rick Spears and artist Emmett Helen. It follows the life of Valerie, who goes from doing ballet and living a fairly conservative suburban life to being the frontwoman and songwriter for a cult riot girl band. Much of this transformation happens through Helen’s art and colors as his palette comes to life just as Valerie does when she successfully calls out some audience members/her boyfriend for being sexist and patronizing. The comic itself also takes on a much more DIY quality with its layouts and storytelling design as well as how the characters look and act. My Riot is about the power of music to find one’s identify and true self and build a community like The Proper Ladies do throughout the book. Valerie’s arc is definitely empowering and relatable for any queer kid, who was forced to conform to way of life and thinking that wasn’t their own.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: slice of life is my all-time favorite comic book genre. So, I was overjoyed when writers Sina Grace and Omar Spahi, artist Jenny D. Fine, and colorist Mx. Struble announced that they were doing a monthly slice of life comic about a brother, sister, and their best friend/ex-boyfriend (respectively) set in San Francisco that also touched on the gay and indie music scene. And Getting It Together definitely has lifted up to my pre-release hype as Grace and Spahi have fleshed out a complex web of relationships and drama with gorgeous and occasionally hilarious art by Fine and Struble. There are gay and bisexual characters all over the book with different personalities and approaches to life, dating, and relationships, which is refreshing too. Grace, Spahi, and Fine also take some time away from the drama to let us know about the ensemble cast’s passions and struggles like indie musician Lauren’s lifelong love for songwriting even if her band has a joke name (Nipslip), or her ex-boyfriend Sam’s issues with mental health. I would definitely love to spend more than four issues with these folks.
My favorite comic of 2020 was The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott , a debut graphic novel by cartoonist Zoe Thorogood.The premise of the comic is that Billie is an artist who is going blind in two weeks, and she must come up with some paintings for her debut gallery show during that time period. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott boasts an adorably idiosyncratic cast of characters that Thorogood lovingly brings to life with warm visuals and naturalistic dialogue as Billie goes from making art alone in her room to making connections with the people around her, especially Rachel, a passionate folk punk musician. The book also acts as a powerful advocate for the inspirational quality of art and the act of creation. Zoe Thorogood even creates “art within the art” and concludes the story with the different portraits that Billie painted throughout her travels. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott was the hopeful comic that I needed in a dark year and one I will cherish for quite some time as I ooh and aah over Thorogood’s skill with everything from drawing different hair styles to crafting horrific dream sequences featuring eyeballs.
Sina Grace, Omar Spahi, Jenny D. Fine, and Mx. Struble continue to escalate the storyline, definitely balance the arc of an ensemble of characters, and generally continue to create that premium queer, slice of life goodness in Getting It Together #3. This issue is centered around a big set piece, which is protagonist Lauren’s band Nipslip opening for Wish Me Luxembourg. It also deals with the fallout of the friend breakup between Sam, who is Lauren’s ex, and Jack, who is Lauren’s brother and their various coping mechanisms. There’s lots of drama (and drug use), but there’s also visual flair and creativity from Fine and Struble while Grace and Spahi continue to give readers more insight into this cast of characters.
Grace, Spahi, Fine, and Struble goes into fun, daily webcomic mode to show how Lauren, Sam, and Jack deal with the loss of folks they confide in. Sam’s page is structured like a zine-meets-choose your own adventure that all ends up in him on the couch playing video games as a coping mechanism for his depression, which is explored by Sina Grace, Omar Spahi, and artist Erika Schnatz in this issue’s one page backup story. Jack’s coping mechanism is mindlessly swiping through Tinder, which is definitely relatable to me, especially during the isolation of the pandemic. Like he says in the captions, there really is something “self-soothing” to the swiping motion whether that’s on a dating app or something else like Tik Tok. Finally, Lauren’s coping mechanism is basically straight to business as Fine and Struble draw a series of text messages she has with her bandmate Annie, who made out with Sam last issue. This led to drama in both her personal and creative life, and tonight’s gig has a “now or never” feel as Nipslip’s performance will determine whether they continue as a band, or Lauren goes solo.
I definitely think it’s the latter as they round out the show with Lauren performing a solo song that he wrote years ago in a Sina Grace-drawn flashback. This combined with a full page of Wish Me Luxembourg’s frontwoman Mai talking about how such an inspiration Lauren was to her really is a bit too much too handle. Thankfully, Sam’s friend Tim is there with molly, and Jenny D. Fine and Mx. Struble turn in a drug trip that’s visually fun and also reveals a lot about the characters’ feelings for each other. In his mopey period, Jack has stumbled into a poly relationship with his ex and another man that on a surface seems like good, cuddly fun, but it actually makes him feel alone. Fine definitely shows this with her art with an earlier inset panel showing how uneasy Jack is at the show, and later on, she uses a liquid horror art style on the other two guys to show that this relationship isn’t a free “lots of love” poly situation, but more like a “succubi” situation as Sam and Tim call it.
Even though they barely interact and the gay world is a mystery to him, Sam still looks out for Jack by basically stage a drug-fueled intervention, and hopefully, they can patch things up in the end. Jack is definitely on the cusp of an epiphany by the final chaotically drawn and colored Fine and Struble page. Just like the drug trip sequences have a super charged energy, they heighten the connections and tension between characters in Getting It Together #3. The complete and utter Fleetwood Mac-esque sloppiness of Nipslip is definitely on display with Lauren making a pass at Mai and being high as hell. (Spahi and Grace’s dialogue for this sequence is hilarious.) Then, Mai ends up hooking with Ashton, who slept with Lauren in the first issue and basically kickstarted the plot of this comic when her boyfriend Sam got jealous even though they were in an open relationship. Jenny D. Fine and Mx. Struble’s art is messy and beautiful just like the connections between these talented and deeply flawed folks.
Getting It Together‘s main focus is on the friendship and emotions between Lauren, Jack, and Sam with some ongoing subplots like Nipslip, Jack’s bad taste in men, and Sam’s depression. However, in this issue, Sina Grace and Omar Spahi provide some insightful, non-judgmental, and at times, humorous commentary on the complex nature of poly relationships through the wisdom of drug dispensing, closet Jubilee cosplayer Tim. Even if you’re a “secondary partner”, you should never feel that way, and poly relationships should be beneficial for everyone. The deal that Jack has with his ex-boyfriend and his ex’s current partner isn’t that at all, and Grace, Spahi, and Fine illustrate this through his body language as well as Tim’s “tough love” speech at the end. I might be biased because we have similar taste in libations (vodka crans, Jameson, PBR), but he adds some wisdom, comedy, and loads of fun to the issue as well as playing the plot-necessary role of go-between for Sam and Jack.
Getting It Together #3 continues the dramatic escalation of the previous issues while providing insight into Lauren’s creative drive, Jack’s relationship issues, and Sam’s mental health. Sina Grace and Omar Spahi’s writing continues to be sharp as ever, and they hit that drama/comedy sweet spot. Jenny D. Fine and Mx. Struble continue to provide expressive, DIY style visuals while experimenting with layouts and finally descending into utter madness and fluidity during the drug trip sequence. Struble adds that extra bit of emotion to the musical performances in Getting It Together #3, which was a skill that they demonstrated in on their previous work with Grace on Lil Depressed Boy even if this book doesn’t have any AJJ or Childish Gambino cameos.
Story: Sina Grace and Omar Spahi Art: Jenny D. Fine and Sina Grace Colors: Mx. StrubleLetters: Sean Konot Story: 8.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review