Things are different for me now, I don’t really have a pull list at a single store and I kind of come and go with the comics I read. These are some of the reasons I am sticking around in no particular order.
Howard the Duck
Chip Zdarsky & Joe Quinones
I’m a sucker for a detective story, let alone an unsuccessful detective bouncing around by sheer luck a la Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973). Now set that within the confines of the Marvel Universe with an anthropomorphic duck and you’ve sold me. Zdarksy (Sex Criminals) and Quinones (FF) offer up their new take on Howard and his life as a private detective trying to get by in the center of weirdo infested New York. Quinones’ cartooning is beautiful and provides the perfect facial expression needed for a comedy book. Zdarsky gets to poke fun at all the weird corners of the Marvel U such as the Infinity Gauntlet’s lesser known companion…the Abundant Glove.
The Fade Out
Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are my favorite team in all of comics. They’ve been working together for the past 16 years and to anyone who loves a good crime and pulpy story, I recommend anything they touch. Their stories have always had the tone and feel of a classic Hollywood noir from the 40’s but have strayed away from making that their setting.
With The Fade Out, they have decided to dip head first into the times. Set in Hollywood 1948, the story concerns a film being made at all costs even amidst murder, cover ups, communist, booze, and sex. With Act Two beginning this year, the double crossing, murder, and lying is ramping up too. Atmosphere is dripping off these pages from Brubaker’s tight script or Phillips shadowy moody art.
Rick Remender & Wes Craig
Deadly Class is essentially Harry Potter but instead of a wizard school it’s a bunch of teens going to school to become assassins. The book itself is a love letter to punk music and the lifestyle that goes alongside it. This year we are treated to how hardened teenagers deal with a breakup while being chased by a group trying to kill the two of you. Remender’s script of Marcus and Maria figuring out why they don’t work to together and what they miss about each other may have broken my heart. Craig captures the characters perfectly and also layouts beautiful frenetic action sequences.
Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses
Growing up reading comics, there were always these legendary series I’d heard of. Eventually, I tracked and read most of these but one always eluded me, Stray Bullets. Luckily for me, Image decided to put out all Stray Bullets and Lapham would continue the series for the first time in 10 years. The best part about SB is how each story arc is treated as its own thing. Sure they fit into the overall story that spans from the 70’s-to 90’s with a huge cast of characters but they are treated as their own start to finish stories. SB is about Lapham showing the weird and often bungled side of criminals. You love them because they are such fuck ups but so frightened because they are in a world they have no place belonging. It’s like a heist movie except each issue shows how more and more things will go wrong. Sunshine & Roses is no different and shows how a hapless group of kids in love deal with robbing the crime boss of Baltimore and all the horrible things that will happen. I literally gasp and struggle to read this all the time.
Optic Nerve 14
Drawn & Quarterly
Comedy doesn’t work without sadness. It’s weird but it’s true. “Comedy is tragedy plus time” or “Comedy loves misery” are just some of the phrases associated with trying to describe the phenomenon involving comedy and sadness. As someone who performs and hangs out with a lot of comedians/improvisers/sketch actors, I can attest to the idea that people whether they like it or not work out a lot of issues on stage. It is this weird little clique where you can feel confident around others when in any other scenario you’d crumble.
Adrian Tomine manages to capture this perfectly in the main story of the issue “Killing and Dying”. The first moment you get the crowd on your side, the first time you bomb, the anxiety of your peers, it’s all rendered perfectly on the page. I love Tomine so much because his stories seem so sloppy in a strange way, his characters just breathe in every scene.
The tragedy of it all is the female lead is also dealing with her family struggling through her mother’s undisclosed illness. Every joke and every character moment has a new meaning under the lens of doing it work through tragedy. This one really got to me.
More Top 5’s!
BC | IP | MMDG