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How to Talk to Girls at Parties

Neil Gaiman, Fabio Moon, and Gabriel Ba. Dark Horse, $23.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-61655-955-7

Gaiman’s Hugo-nominated short story gets a graphic adaptation ahead of a planned cinematic one, and Ba and Moon (Daytripper) deliver exquisite art that elevates the tale’s surprisingly mundane premise. Transparent author insert and clueless straight-coded teenager Enn accompanies his pal Vic to a house party, during the course of which he meets three young women. It’s clear that the women aren’t merely “tourists” in the terrestrial sense; they’re otherworldly and extra-dimensional, sent for various nebulous purposes to Earth. While Enn has his horizons (literally) broadened, Vic attempts to sleep with a fourth woman, only to have his amorous intentions (equally literally) blow up in his face. Gaiman works from a questionable, adolescent premise: what if women seem so alien because they’re really from another planet? With no resolution beyond Enn’s nice-guy stroll into the sunset and Vic’s punishment for cliché machismo, the real fun here is in the art: striking linework, breathtaking watercolors, and creative incorporation of text elevate the story considerably. (July)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Jughead, Vol. 1

Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson. Archie, $19.99 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-62738-893-1

As part of a revamp of the durable Riverdale teens in a more realistic style, Archie’s best pal, Jughead, now stars in his own ongoing series. Zdarsky (Howard the Duck) lends his absurdist wit to Juggy’s adventures in hilarious fashion: between alternate-universe dream sequences (Jughead’s Time Police is only the beginning) and desperate ploys for free milkshakes, Jughead (who, in a surprising but welcome move, is now a confirmed asexual) must rally his friends to stop Riverdale High’s new principal from turning the school into a spy-training camp—if he can convince them it’s actually happening. Henderson (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl) is perfectly suited for Zdarsky’s madcap scripts, imbuing each character with a vibrancy and expressiveness that evokes classic Archie while staying true to her own personal style. Together, the team crafts a gag-packed tale that’s easily the most exciting (and relatable) Jughead story ever. (July)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Mooncop

Tom Gauld. Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-77046-254-0

Like a Jim Jarmusch view of a fiercely inglorious future, this cool, serene, and funny graphic novel imagines what outer orbit life might be like many decades after it’s an accepted fact. A nameless mooncop patrols the flat lunar plains amid an ever-deepening sense of ennui. He achieves a 100% success rate on his reports because there is no crime to report, investigate, or solve. One of the original settlers confides in him that, like many others, she’s leaving their shrinking colony: “Whatever were we thinking? It seems rather silly now.” Gauld (You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack) plays with this sense of “Now what?” in a manner that is almost as bleak as the modular retro-1950s structures and spacesuits rendered by his stripped-down, blue-tinged artwork. But the deadpan humor leavens the hopelessness that sometimes threatens to overwhelm the anonymous policeman, who’s just happy to see his automated doughnut machine replaced by a café with an honest-to-goodness human waitress. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Oh Joy, Sex Toy, Vol. 3

Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan. Oni, $29.99 trade paper (312p) ISBN 978-1-62010-361-6

Who knew vibrators could be so adorable? In the third print collection of their cheerfully randy webcomic, spouses Moen and Nolan review sex toys of all shapes, sizes, and power settings. Their cartoon doppelgangers cheer for the successes and throw side-eye at the occasional failures. (One review opens with cartoon Moen simply repeating “What” as she struggles to figure out where the latest piece of silicone is supposed to go.) With trips to porn studios and swingers’ parties, frank sex tips, and medical information on STIs, foreskins, and genital development, the creators expand their sex-positive agenda to topics ranging from fun and cheeky to potentially life-saving. Sexy times are illustrated with characters who have a wide range of genders, orientations, and body types, and Moen’s fluid, bouncy brushwork makes the brashest nudity look cute. The book finishes with a selection of erotic comics by guest artists. Like good sex, it’s goofy fun that might just make the reader’s life better. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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