With 2012 still fresh and new, it seems like as good a time as any to look at various publishing companies' plans for the year ahead and pick out what looks good, or at least interesting. Because the year looks to be filled with so many delights, I decided to double down and offer not just six but 12 comics I'm really looking forward to reading. Obviously this list is reflective of my own, indie-slanted interests, so feel free in the comments section to tell me what a dope I am for forgetting about Book X by Artist Y.
1. Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin). With a planned initial print run of 100,000 copies, there's little doubt that Houghton Mifflin is expecting big things from Bechdel's follow-up to her hugely acclaimed graphic novel Fun Home. Whereas that book dealt mainly with Bechdel's relationship with her dad, this one focuses on her mom (in case you didn't grab that from the title). A touchy subject, to be sure, but Bechdel's proven she can handle such difficult, personal material with considerable aplomb.
2. Mastering Comics by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden (First Second). Abel and Madden's Drawing Words and Writing Pictures was one of the best "how-to" guides comics has ever seen. I'm anxious to see what they'll do for an encore.
3. Sammy the Mouse Vol. 2 by Zak Sally (La Mano). Volume One of Sally's surreal, anthropomorphic saga just came out, collecting the first three issues of the Ignatz series. As good news as this is, what I'm excited about is Sally's plans to have Volume 2, featuring all-new material, out by the end of the year. Sammy was one of the best books in the Ignatz line, and I'm eager to see the story continue.
4. Best of Enemies: A History of the Middle East Relations, Part One by Jean-Pierre Filiu and David B (Abrams). Funny the things you find out when you start strolling through a company's online catalog. Did you know that Abrams is kickstarting another graphic novel imprint this year? With a heavy focus on Eurocomics? I sure as hell didn't. One of the more notable releases is an English edition of the award-winning Kiki de Montparnasse. What I'm really curious about, however, is this historical project by the always interesting David B. and friend on the history of the Middle East.
5. Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown (Drawn and Quarterly). How long has it been since a collected version of Ed has been available? It's been a long time. Long enough for me to note that it's one of the few books by Brown that I haven't read (other than pieces here and there -- it's shameful, I know). This is definitely going to be one of the big reprint projects of the year.
6. The Strange Tale of Paranorma Island by Suehiro Maruo (Last Gasp). This was initially promised to come out last year but apparently got delayed. Let's hope we're able to see a release in 2012. Maruo's work is rarely for the squeamish or easily offended, but his comics have a haunting, lush quality that makes them worth checking out.
7. Barnaby Vol. 1 by Crockett Johnson (Fantagraphics). Here's the other big reprint project of the year. Johnson's wonderful, vastly underrated comic strip about a little boy and his underperforming fairy godfather is finally, finally being collected. Can't wait.
8. Rohan at the Louvre by Hirohiko Araki (NBM). OK, so NBM has been publishing these graphic novels about the Louvre museum in Paris, and for the most part they've all been pretty good. This one, however, looks really interesting as it's by the creator of the manga series Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventures and stars one of the characters from that series. Chris Butcher talks a bit about it and offers up a preview over at his site.
9. Skippy Vol. 1 by Percy Crosby (IDW). OK, this is the other other big reprint project of the year. Even more than Barnaby, Skippy has largely been forgotten by a lot of comic readers, even though it heavily influenced works like Peanuts. But it's a thoroughly charming, thoughtful strip that I expect will find a new appreciation with the release of this book.
10. The Lovely Horrible Stuff by Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf). A new book from Eddie Campbell is always cause for celebration. This one deals with money and mankind's general relationship toward it, with lots of personal anecdotes provided by the author, no doubt.
11. Lose #4 by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press). Oh, yeah, boy, more DeForge. What's not to like?
12. Spirit World by Jack Kirby (DC). I didn't even know this work existed until DC announced the collection earlier this year -- that's how poor a Kirby scholar I am. Still, it's nice to see DC make a concerted effort to get as much of the King's work out there as possible and I'm excited to see what this collection -- mainly collecting horror/supernatural-style magazine stories if I'm correct -- holds.