Comic Books Out 7, 14, 21 October 2015

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Butter and Blood (Steven Weissman) [Retrofit]

A collection of short stories, mini comics, zine entries, designs, sketches, etc. put together by an individual with impeccable taste and style. The art here ranges (as you’d imagine) from loose sketchbook pages to photoshop-clean but keeps a scratchy, human quality that also bleeds into the pathos of some of the shorts. There’s plenty of humor, too, particularly a series of escalating gags revolving around Guns ‘n’ Roses and food.

Ikebana (Yumi Sakugawa) [Retrofit]

An art-comic in the sense that it’s about an art student and her performance-art final project, the frame of the story works to address issues of life, gender, family, harassment, and human connection. With a spare art style that rests comfortably somewhere between naive and minimal, there’s still enough interesting detail to necessitate a deeper look, especially in the crowded scenes.

Jughead #1 (Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson) [Archie]

If you’re not familiar with the strange and silly antics of cartoonist alter-ego Chip Zdarsky, you should know that his placement as writer of Jughead is one of those “on the nose” picks. Jughead’s relaunch is properly focused on cheeseburgers, with a healthy dose of friendship, video games and epic fantasy (and Game of Thrones references). This book is literally laugh out loud funny, and Henderson’s cartoony faces perfectly mesh with the silliness within.

Paper Girls #1 (Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang) [Image]

One of my favorite single issues this year, hands down. We’re talking about this on the next episode of Four Color Commentary, so I’ll save my thoughts for the show.

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Comic Books Out 23 September

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Wolf #3

I am enjoying this book a lot. It’s a true crime/seedy criminal underworld kind of book, set in modern Los Angeles. Pretty standard except there are vampires and Chthonic dudes and maybe even the antichrist. It’s slowly unraveling in a way that just keeps sucking me in and I’m stoked to see what’s going to happen. The art effectively uses negative space in a very LA kind of way, and the linework is clear and strong. The colors are spectacular as well.

The Spire #2

The super incredible team who made one of my favorite recent books (Six Gun Gorilla) are building a weird fantasy/scifi universe not unlike 8House. As usual, the art is excellent, and really sells the grotesqueries of the hybrid humans and strange cyborg creatures. It’s framed as a police story, but there’s a lot going on here with class and race and political intrigue.

We Are Robin #4

I bought this issue mostly because of James Harvey’s incredible art. He has a great eye for  over-saturated pop art with a manga flair, and he’s been involved with character design in the We Are Robin series since the beginning. We Are Robin as a book is interesting; it focuses on street-level heroes dealing with the aftermath of the post-Bruce Wayne Gotham City. It nicely ropes in the various political viewpoints that vigilante justice tends to bring up while still roping in a lot of the modern DC universe Bat-family.

Power Up #3

It’s been crazy seeing the rise of girl hero groups in American pop culture, especially in the last couple of years. Sailor Moon (the canonical example) has been around for ages and it’s popped into the zeitgeist a few times, but it’s inspired a ton of awesome cartoons: The Powerpuff Girls and Steven Universe are two of the best. Now, that style that started in Japanese manga and then moved to anime, then came to the US and into American-made cartoons is finally filtering back into comics. Power Up is one of the best of the bunch. It ropes in characters who are personable and human and puts them in highly dramatic and extremely silly situations. 💖