Updated takes on traditional adventure genres are big this season, displaying the kind of worldbuilding that comics do best.
Image, home to a superstar lineup of comics talents, fields some of the best this spring. The long-running team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips is back with The Fade Out, a stylish mystery set in Hollywood’s golden age. Kurt Busiek and Ben Dewey dig in to the genre of anthropomorphic high fantasy with Autumnlands, Vol 1: Tooth and Claw, offering an exquisite level of visual detail and characterization.
The school for young fill-in-the-blanks has been a staple of endless mangas and Harry Potter–copies, but two forthcoming comics give it kicky updates. Gotham Academy, Vol. 1, by Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl presents a magic-tinged Gossip Girl for Gotham city. Jillian Tamaki, follows up her award-winning This One Summer with SuperMutant Magic Academy, a collection of dark-humored webcomics that skewer the entire genre while creating empathy for its drifting, affectless teens.
In a season of visually striking comics, The Divine is a standout, with hallucinogenic art by Asaf and Tomer Hanuka boldly illustrating Boaz Lavie’s story about two mercenaries caught up in a supernatural war in Southeast Asia. And Josh Simmons’s Black River is an even-bleaker-than-usual take on the popular postapocalyptic survival genre.
The invasion of French cartoonists continues with Anne Goetzinger’s Girl in Dior, a comics biography of the designer in an appropriately stunning art style. And the last 25 years of indie comics gets a splendid showcase with Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels, which includes comics by D & Q luminaries and essays by Margaret Atwood and others. Sydney Padua’s The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer is a delightful history of the birth of the“difference engine” by two early computer nerds. Finally, the science of comics themselves are examined in Nick Sousanis’s Unflattening, a thesis on perception and context presented in comics form.
PW’S Top 10: Comics & Graphic Novels
The Autumnlands, Vol. 1: Tooth & Claw. Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey. Image, May
Black River. Josh Simmons. Fantagraphics, May 15
The Divine. Asaf Hanuka, Tomer Hanuka, and Boaz Lavie. Roaring Brook/First Second, July 14
Drawn & Quarterly: 25 Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels. Edited by Tom Devlin. Drawn & Quarterly, May 12
The Fade Out, Vol. 1. Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips. Image, Feb. 27
Girl in Dior. Annie Goetzinger. NBM, Mar. 1
Gotham Academy, Vol. 1. Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl. DC, July 14
SuperMutant Magic Academy. Jillian Tamaki. Drawn & Quarterly, May 5
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer. Sydney Padua, Pantheon, Apr. 21
Unflattening. Nick Sousanis. Harvard Univ., Mar. 30
Comics & Graphic Novels Listings
Just So Happens by Fumio Obata (Mar. 17, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-4197-1595-2). Yumiko returns to Japan from London when her father dies and finds herself immersed in the rituals of death while also plunged into the rituals of life—fish bars, bullet trains, pagodas—as she confronts the question of where her future really lies.
From Now On: Short Comic Tales of the Fantastic by Malachi Ward (June 9, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-934460-91-7) collects hauntingly beautiful science fiction and horror short stories by Ward (Prophet and Ritual), blending classic themes with a range of illustration styles.
Sunbeam on the Astronaut by Steven Cerio (May 12, paper, $9.95, ISBN 978-1-934460-23-8). A long-awaited collection of comics, art, and stories by artist Cerio that explores silly, psychedelic, and strange worlds.
Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue by Bill Watterson (Feb. 24, paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-4494-6036-5) accompanies an exhibition at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University includes art from cartoons and cartoonists that Watterson says have influenced him, with a new interview with the artist.
Deep State, Vol. 1 by Justin Jordan and Ariel Kristantina (Mar. 17, paper, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-60886-492-8). John Harrow doesn’t exist, and his job is to make sure that other things don’t exist, either. A conspiracy thriller.
The Realist by Asaf Hanuka (May 19, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-60886-688-5). In this autobiographical comic, Hanuka discovers that he and his wife and their young son need to find a new place to live, immediately, in the “crazy” Tel Aviv real estate market—everyday life in Israel with offbeat and surreal humor.
The Complete Pistolwhip by Matt Kindt and Jason Hall (May 13, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-61655-720-1). This deluxe hardcover edition includes both of Kindt and Hall’s elaborate mystery graphic novels, in color for the first time, along with the Pistolwhip one-shot and a story from Dark Horse Maverick: Happy Endings.
Usagi Yojimbo: Senso by Stan Sakai (May 6, hardcover, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-61655-709-6). Twenty years in his future, Miyamoto Usagi faces a menace from Mars. It will take all the considerable fortitude, ingenuity, and heroism that Usagi and friends can muster to halt the alien invasion.
Girlfiend by Arnold and Jacob Pander (Apr. 1, paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-61655-552-8). In this meaty vampire crime thriller, a human and his vampire girlfriend must hunt the criminal underworld to keep their love alive.
Gotham Academy, Vol. 1 by Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl (July 14, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-4012-5472-8). Gotham City’s most prestigious prep school is a very weird place. It’s got a spooky campus, oddball teachers, and rich benefactors always dropping by... like that weirdo Bruce Wayne. But nothing is as strange as the students.
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, Vol. 1 by Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver, and various. (Mar. 24, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-4012-5344-8). An anthology of digital Wonder Woman comics features creators from Gail Simone to Gilbert Hernandez.
Bodies by Si Spencer, Tula Lotay, and Phil Winslade (June 2, paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-4012-5275-5). Four detectives, four time periods, and four dead bodies set off sleuths in four different eras to investigate a centuries-spanning murder mystery.
CMYK by various (July 28, paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-4012-5336-3). The four colors that are the basis of comics coloring serve as the jumping-off point for creators to push the boundaries of short graphic fiction in the new Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK series, including Fabio Moon, Jock, Shaun Simon, James Tynion IV, Tony Akins, Peter Milligan, Nathan Fox, Gerard Way and many others.
Drawn & Quarterly
Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels, edited by Tom Devlin (May 12, hardcover, $44.95, ISBN 978-1-77046-199-4). This huge anthology celebrates the storied transformation of the Montreal publisher with new work by Michael DeForge, Guy Delisle, Miriam Katin, R. Sikoryak, and Jillian Tamaki, and essays by Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Lethem, Sheila Heti, and Deb Olin Unferth.
Melody by Sylvie Rancourt, trans. by Helge Dascher, intro. by Chris Ware (May 12, paper, $22.95, ISBN 978-1-77046-200-7). In this groundbreaking memoir from 1985, Rancourt begins dancing in strip clubs, and the result is a clear-eyed look at that world, which is neither voyeuristic nor self-pitying. Rancourt’s original comics are being reprinted for the first time.
SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki (May 5, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-77046-198-7). Award-winning artist Tamaki (Skim and This One Summer) is back with a collection of her satirical webcomic. Unrequited love, underage drinking, and teen angst rule at a high school for mutants and witches.
Trash Market by Tadao Tsuge, trans. by Ryan Holmberg (Feb. 17, paper, $22.95, ISBN 978-1-77046-174-1), collects comics by one of the key contributors to the legendary avant-garde Japanese comics magazine Garo, with six of Tsuge’s character-driven stories about life in post-WWII Japan.
Saint Cole by Noah Van Sciver (Mar. 3, paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-60699-817-5). Four days in the life of a 28-year-old suburbanite named Joe, who works at a pizzeria to support his girlfriend Nicole and their infant child—then Nicole invites her troubled mother to move into their two-bedroom apartment.
Wuvable Oaf by Ed Luce (May 2, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-60699-816-8). The first collection of the acclaimed self-published gay-themed comic by cartoonist Luce. Oaf is a large, hirsute, scary-looking ex-wrestler who lives in San Francisco with his adorable kitties and listens to a lot of Morrissey.
Black River by Josh Simmons (May 15, paper, $18.99 ISBN 978-1-60699-833-5). In Simmons’s first full-length graphic novel since 2007’s acclaimed House, a group of women, one man, and two dogs are making their way through a postapocalyptic world in search of a city that supposedly still has electricity and some sort of civilization.
Not Funny Ha-Ha by Leah Hayes (June 20, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-60699-839-7). Two young women from different cultural, family, and financial backgrounds who go through two different abortions (medical and surgical). A nonjudgmental, comforting, even humorous look at what a woman can go through during an abortion.
Bright-Eyed at Midnight by Leslie Stein (June 20, hardcover, $22.99, ISBN 978-1-60699-838-0). For one full year, Stein began drawing a comics page a night. A visual and narrative experimentation made possible by serendipitous bouts of insomnia.
Alice in Murderland, Vol. 1 by Kaori Yuki (June 23, hardcover, $17, ISBN 978-0-316-34212-4). The Mad Tea Party begins this deliciously violent, fast- and-loose romp through the pages of Alice in Wonderland from master of gothic horror, Kaori Yuki.
The Devil Is a Part-Timer, Vol. 1 by Satoshi Wagahara and Akio Hiiragi (Mar. 24, paper, $13, ISBN 978-0-316-38313-4). Satan and his general are trapped in modern-day Tokyo and must assume human identities and live average human lives with mundane jobs until they can find a better situation.
Unflattening by Nick Sousanis (Mar. 30, paper, $22.95, ISBN 978-0-674-74443-1). The primacy of words over images has deep roots in Western culture. But what if the two are inextricably linked, equal partners in meaning-making? Sousanis explores this question as an experiment in visual thinking, entirely in comics.
Hill and Wang
The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy by Michael F. Patton and Kevin Cannon (Apr. 14, paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-0-8090-3362-1) is an authoritative and engaging guide to the fundamental questions about our existence by Cannon (Evolution and The Stuff of Life) and philosopher Patton.
(dist. by Diamond)
Star Slammers by Walter Simonson (Feb. 24, hardcover, $49.99, ISBN 978-1-63140-230-2). This stylishly illustrated space opera features a race of men who can out-shoot, out-fight, and out-kill anybody, and set up their own business as mercenaries.
(dist. by Diamond)
Nemo: River of Ghosts by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill (Mar. 19, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-60309-355-2). In the final volume of the Nemo trilogy, it’s 1975. Janni Dakkar, head of the fabled Nemo family, is 80 years old and embarks on what may be a final voyage down the vastness of the Amazon.
Renee by Ludovic Debeurme (July 7, paper, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-60309-304-0). In this devastating sequel to Debeurme’s prize-winning graphic novel Lucille, she moves back in with her overbearing mother. and Arthur serves time in prison, while new character Renee becomes obsessed with a married jazz musician twice her age.
You Don’t Say by Nate Powell (May, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-60309-366-8). A celebrity glares; a community burns; a child’s heart breaks; a recipe summons a ghost; a dying woman makes her peace—all in a collection of Eisner Award–winner Powell’s short comics.
The Fade Out, Vol. 1 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Feb. 25, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-63215-171-1). A movie stuck in endless reshoots, a writer damaged from the war and lost in the bottle, a dead movie star and the look-alike hired to replace her. Nothing is what it seems in this epic noir set in the backlots and bars of Hollywood’s golden era.
The Humans, Vol. 1: Humans for Life by Keenan Marshall Keller, Tom Neely, and Kristina Collantes. (Mar. 11, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-63215-259-6).
Follow the Humans (who are apes) as they deal out beatings, cook drugs, party endlessly, and struggle to keep their turf and status among the numerous outlaws, rival gangs, and bonafide killers.
The Autumnlands, Vol. 1: Tooth & Claw by Kurt Busiek, Benjamin Dewey, Jordie Bellaire, and John Roshell (May, paper, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-63215-277-0). New York Times bestselling writer Busiek (Astro City, Marvels) and rising-star artist Dewey (I Was the Cat and Tragedy Series) collaborate on an epic fantasy tale in a world of beast-wizards, sorcery, brutality, and hope.
Drifter, Vol. 1: Out of the Night by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein (June, paper, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-63215-281-7). In this futuristic adventure, Abram Pollux barely survives a crash landing on Ouro, where he must search for answers among the ruins of this forgotten world.
Intersect, Vol. 1: Metamorph by Ray Fawkes (May, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-63215-279-4). Something terrifying is reshaping the fabric of the city of Detroit and everyone in it, in this controversial ongoing series by the author of One Soul.
Supreme: Blue Lotus by Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay (June, paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-63215-312-8). Supreme returns in a multilayered and often hallucinatory mystery presented by New York Times–bestseller Ellis and acclaimed new artist Tula Lotay in her graphic novel debut.
(dist. by Consortium)
Diary Comics by Dustin Harbin (May 12, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-927668-17-7). Quirky existential examinations of life and living in the form of Harbin’s daily diary comic.
Mighty Star: and the Castle of the Cancatervater by A. Degen (Apr. 14, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-927668-16-0). Degen takes superhero myth and puts it in a baroque blender; the result is the cerebral, sensuous, and uncanny, equal parts Dalí and Astro Boy.
Avengers: Rage of Ultron by Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña (Mar. 31, $24.99, hardcover, ISBN 978-0-7851-9040-0). It was another glorious victory for the Mighty Avengers. Good triumphed over evil and Ultron was shot into space, never to be seen again. Or so they thought. Years later, the homicidal artificial intelligence has a new world to conquer.
Miracleman, Book 3: Olympus by the Original Writer and John Totleben (Apr. 21, $39.99, hardcover, ISBN 978-0-7851-5466-2). Gods and monsters walk the earth, as the aliens whose technology created Miracleman seek to exterminate Project Zarathustra’s survivors. And even as the future of humankind hangs in the balance on the far side of the galaxy, the price of godhood takes its toll on Johnny Bates.
Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger (Mar. 1, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-56163-914-4). A biographical docudrama marries fiction with the story of one of the greatest couturiers in history, presenting Dior’s greatest designs beautifully rendered by bestselling artist Goetzinger.
Louise Brooks: Detective by Rick Geary (June 1, hardcover, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-56163-952-6). A fictional story imagines actress Louise Brooks coming back to her hometown of Wichita, Kans., where she becomes intrigued by a murder involving a friend, a famous reclusive writer, and a shady beau.
Lulu Anew by Étienne Davodeau (Apr. 1, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-56163-972-4). Davodeau (The Initiates) is back with a woman who leaves behind her husband and kids for a trip to the shore that’s thrilling, fun, and possibly dangerous.
(dist. by Consortium)
Fantasy Sports by Sam Bosma (July 14, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-907704-80-2). A young explorer and her muscle-bound friend go treasure hunting in a mummy’s tomb, but if they want to get rich, they’re going to have to best the mummy in a game of hoops. A fast-paced sports adventure in the vein of 1960’s manga, Mike Mignola, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The Spectators by Victor Hussenot (Apr. 14, hardcover, $22.95, ISBN 978-1-907704-75-8). This poetic and philosophical introspection on the nature of man is reminiscent of New Wave cinema with its clipped dialogue, gentle pacing and departure from a classic narrative structure.
Terrible Lizard, Vol. 1 by Cullen Bunn, Ryan Hill, and Drew Moss (Apr. 29, paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-62010-236-7). When the scientists of Cosmos Labs pull a ferocious dinosaur into the present through a hole in time and space, it imprints on teenage Jessica, proving to be more mischievous than vicious. But the creature is not alone.
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua (Apr. 21, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-0-307-90827-8) offers a unique take on the unrealized invention of the computer in the 1830s by the eccentric polymath Charles Babbage and his accomplice, the daughter of Lord Byron, Ada, countess of Lovelace.
The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History by Jon Morris (June 2, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-59474-763-2). For every superhero hitting the big time with a blockbuster movie, there are countless failures, also-rans, and D-listers, from Atoman to Zippo.
Roaring Brook/First Second
The Divine by Asaf Hanuka, Tomer Hanuka, and Boaz Lavie (July 14, paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-59643-674-9). Two old army buddies take what they think is a lucrative military contract for a mining job in an obscure Southeast Asian country. What awaits is a civil war led by magical 10-year-old twins.
Exquisite Corpse by Pénélope Bagieu (May 5, hardcover, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-62672-082-4). When Zoey finds out her new boyfriend is a famous author who has faked his own death to escape bad reviews, will she keep his secrets or expose him? From French superstar Pénélope Bagieu—the literary world’s sleaziest mystery is about to be blown wide open.
Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv by Jack Baxter, Joshua Faudem, and Koren Shadmi (June 9, hardcover, $22.99, ISBN 978-1-59643-857-6). Mike’s Place was one of the few spots in Tel Aviv where Jews, Christians, and Muslims could hang out peaceably. That all changed after a suicide bombing.
(dist. by HBG)
The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers and I.N.J. Culbard (May 5, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-906838-92-8). The supernatural stories in Chambers’s classic weird fiction are tied together by a play that brings madness to all who read it; adapted by Lovecraft expert Culbard.
Room for Love by ILYA (Apr. 7, hardcover, $22.95, ISBN 978-1-906838-72-0). A middle-aged romance novelist suffering from writer’s block meets a young homeless man who has survived on his wits and looks, and a hard-hitting tale of unconventional romance begins.
Dredd: Urban Warfare by Matt Smith, Arthur Wyatt, Henry Flint, and Paul Davidson (Feb. 10, paper, $21, ISBN 978-1-78108-317-8). This collection continues the story of Judges Dredd and Anderson from the cult hit film Dredd, as they police the dark postapocalyptic city of Mega-City One.
Dark Justice by John Wagner and Greg Staples (July 14, paper, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-78108-319-2). After a 10-year absence, Judge Death, the life-hating super-fiend from Deadworld, returns, ready to resume his mission to destroy all life with the help of judges Fear, Fire, and Mortis—and only Judge Dredd and Psi-Judge Anderson can possibly stop them.
Borb by Jason Little (June 30, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-94125-002-0). Little (Shutterbug Follies and Motel Art Improvement Service) presents the hilarious and horrifying story of Borb, a severely alcoholic homeless man whose misfortunes pile up at an alarming rate.
The Delinquents by James Asmus, Fred Van Lente, and Kano (Feb. 1, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-939346-51-3). Quantum and Woody are the world’s worst superhero team. Archer and Armstrong are a mismatched pair of conspiracy-busting adventurers. When they must team up, all hell is bound to break loose.
Dream Fossil by Satoshi Kon (May, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-94122-024-5) is the definitive collection of comic shorts from internationally renowned movie director Kon (Paprika and Perfect Blue), featuring 16 shorts, including his award-winning debut Torino.