It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics.
Wait a minute ... "monthly"?
It's true that we haven't taken a What Looks Good tour in a few months, but the feature is back with an all-new approach that we hope will be more varied and useful than the old format. Instead of Michael and Graeme just commenting on everything that catches our attention in the catalog, we've invited Chrises Mautner and Arrant to join us in each picking the five new comics we're most looking forward to. What we'll end up with is a Top 20 (or so; there may be some overlap) of the best new comics coming out each month.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
1) Love and Rockets New Stories #5 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) -- How do you possibly top the triumphant storytelling feat that was "The Love Bunglers"? I dunno, but Jaime Hernandez is certainly going to give it the old college try, this time shifting the focus onto the vivacious "Frogmouth" character. Gilbert, meanwhile, brings back some of his classic Palomar characters, so yeah, this is pretty much a "must own" for me.
2) Skippy Vol. 1: Complete Dailies 1925-1927 by Percy Crosby (IDW) -- Percy Crosby's Skippy might well be the great forgotten comic strip of the 20th century. Extremely popular in its day, and a huge influence on such luminaries as Charles Schulz, the strip has largely been forgotten and the name conjures up little more than images of peanut butter. IDW's effort to reacquaint folks with this strip might change that -- the few snippets I've read suggest this is real lost gem.
3) The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books) -- Tom Kaczynski's small-press publishing company drops its first major, "big book" release with this memoir from the always-excellent Gabrielle Bell. Collecting work from her series Lucky (and, I think, some of her recent minis), the book chronicles a turbulent five year period as she travels around the world. Should be great.
4) Godzilla: The Half Century War by James Stokoe (IDW) -- I usually stay as far away from licensed books as possible, but there is one simple reason I'm including this comic in my top five: James Stokoe. Stokoe's Orc Stain has quickly become one of my favorite serialized comics, and his obsession with detailing every inch of the page combined with his ability to incorporate significant manga storytelling tropes in his work convince me he can do a solid job chronicling the adventures of the big green lizard that spits radioactive fire.
5) Barbara by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga) -- Speaking of manga, here's one of the more noteworthy Kickstarter projects of recent years: Digital Manga's attempt to bring the master's saga of a famous author and the homeless, beautiful woman he takes in and assumes to be his literal muse. This is well regarded in many Tezuka fan circles as one of the cartoonist's better adult stories, and I'm glad to see Digital willing to take a chance on bringing more Tezuka to the West. I'll definitely be buying this. I should also note that Vertical will also be offering some Tezuka this month, namely a new edition of Adolph (originally published by Viz in the '90s), here titled Message to Adolph but well worth checking out regardless of the title.
1) Once Upon a Time Machine by Various (Dark Horse) – I love twisted takes on classic stories, and this looks to be just that – fairy tales refashioned for different times. Plus, the creator list seems inspired, with the likes of Ryan Ottley, Brandon Graham, and even mainstream artists like Khoi Pham.
2) Prince of Cats by Ronald Wimberly (DC/Vertigo) – This is the first Vertigo title I’ve been excited for in a long time. Shaking off the comparison to Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, I hope, this work by Ronald Wimberly looks amazing.
3) Godzilla: The Half-Century War #1 by James Stokoe (IDW) – Seeing James Stokoe do Godzilla is like a pipe dream, so whoever at IDW made this happen deserves an award.
4) Chote Meow by Pooja Lulla and Sachin Nagar (Campfire) – A cute cat with an electric guitar strapped to his back? It’s like they know me.
5) The Ride: Southern Gothic #1 by Various (12 Gauge) – I’ve been a fan of this series of one-shots and minis following an old hot rod (especially Tomm Coker’s one-off issue), and I’m excited to see this new one go in an anthology format with the likes of Rick Leonardi, Nathan Edmondson, Paul Azaceta , Andrew Robinson, Toby Cypress and more. Bring it on!
1) Beasts of Burden: Neighborhood Watch by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson (Dark Horse) – I'm a trade-waiter, but I'm not patient enough to wait for these recent Beasts of Burden stories (originally published in Dark Horse Presents) to join other, not-yet-created ones in a fancy hardcover collection like Animal Rites. I need to see those animals fighting some monsters and I need to see them now. Or August anyway, when they're collected into this one-shot.
2) Planet of the Apes Annual #1 by Jeff Parker, Daryl Gregory, Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko, Carlos Magno, Benjamin Dewey and John Lucas (BOOM!) – I've said before that BOOM! has enough Planet of the Apes clout now that I'll buy anything with their logo next to the PotA one. That goes double for an anthology that includes Agents of Atlas' Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman (you see the Gorilla Man connection, right?) as well as the creators of the current ongoing series.
3) All-Action Classics: Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Ben Caldwell (Sterling) – Sterling is my favorite publisher of comics that adapt classic literature, and August has two examples of why. Ben Caldwell's All-Action Classics: Dracula is my favorite way to read that story (after Bram Stoker's original, of course), so I have no doubt that I'm also going to love his take on Dorothy and her friends.
4) Illustrated Classics: Princess of Mars by Ian Edginton and I.N.J. Culbard (Sterling) – Caldwell and Company's All-Action series is only one of Sterling's series of classic adaptations. Their Illustrated Classics line often features art by Robert Ingpen, but their Princess of Mars adaptation is by Ian Edginton and I. N. J. Culbard. Sterling also publishes U.S. editions of Edginton and Culbard's excellent Sherlock Holmes adaptations, so they've put Edgar Rice Burroughs' much-adapted novel into very good hands.
5) Hawkeye #1 by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel) – I'm not a fan of this character, but Matt Fraction won me over as soon as he started throwing around The Rockford Files as a comparison to what he and David Aja want to do with this series.
In no particular order:
1) Prince of Cats by Ronald Wimberly (DC/Vertigo) – I remember, growing up, being handed some terrible comic-book versions of Shakespeare plays and struggling through them, wishing that someone would work out a way to make the stories work in illustrated form. Turns out, two decades later, Ronald Wimberly's done it with this adaptation of Romeo and Juliet that updates the story to one filled with hip-hop samurai and written in iambic pentameter. One of the more ambitious books this month, there's no way I can pass this up.
2) Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman (Fantagraphics) – From what little I've seen of Steven Weissman's take on the most important figures in American politics, his version of the daily news has to be much more interesting (and amusing) than the one I can see, especially when it comes to Joe Biden fart jokes and a Hillary Clinton who calls people "turkeys." I want to live in that world.
3) The Love and Rockets Companion: 30 Years (and Counting) by Marc Sobel and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics) – I was a latecomer to L&R; I didn't really get into it until after I moved to Portland and found a copy of Jaime's Locas in the library by chance. Reading it in one sitting like that convinced me of its greatness in a way that I'd somehow missed reading it piecemeal years earlier; I still feel like I'm playing catch-up with it, though, so I'm really looking forward to Marc Sobel and Kristy Valenti's collection of timelines, family trees and background material for the series. I'm sure I'll learn a lot, and feel even dumber for not making more of an effort sooner.
4) Memorial HC by Chris Roberson and Rich Ellis (IDW) – A bit of a cheat, this; I've already been picking this up in single issues, but I'm entirely convinced this is one of those books that - years from now - will be looked back on with lots of "How did I miss THAT?" It's Gaiman-esque fantasy, but with a more grounded sense of humor, I'd say, from writer Chris Roberson, with some really lovely art by Rich Ellis. The initial run hasn't finished yet, so I don't know how the story will end, but even so: I'm convinced this will be an awesome collection.
The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon (Selfmade Hero) – The long, long-awaited return of Glyn Dillon, who some may remember from early Vertigo comics, or those with longer memories from Deadline magazine. Mixing romance and philosophy with some truly beautiful artwork, I've been impatiently following Dillon's blogged updates about this book for some time, and cannot wait to see the finished story.