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.
Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire #2 (Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener) [IDW]
Robots back! Or, well, his head is. This series is starting to solidify and things are starting to add up. I love the concept of a secret black market ship that’s run very carefully and strictly that they worked into this. It seems like this series might end up very Pacific Rim-y, with a giant Robo fighting kaiju. I am okay with this.
8House #4: Yorris Part 1 (Fil Barlow and Helen Maier) [Image]
The sprawling, confusingly-numbered, shared-universe 8House continues with another story debut. This is one of the best yet, with another entire new civilization/religion/magic focusing around feelings, and one girl’s attempts at rebellion and salvation. I was instantly hooked by this book and the fluid, ornate art, and I can’t wait to read more of the Yorris story.
Plutona #2 (Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox) [Image]
Such a cool book. Though it’s named after a superhero that actually exists in the world of the story, the book focuses on middle-school dirtbag kids, one of whom is a “cape-watcher” which is exactly what it sounds like, and which the book makes seem more like one of those people who keep track of trains than something cool. Emi Lenox’s ink work is beautiful (and the fashion designs are so on point) and for a book about teenagers hanging out in the woods arguing, it’s gorgeous. I love it!
Wolf #4 (Ales Kot and Matt Taylor) [Image]
I still can’t get over how cool the concept of a private eye who focuses on the seedy supernatural underbelly of modern LA is. It’s so cool. This issue finally brings a lot of the drama of the previous issues to a head and starts to give us a clue into our main character Antoine Wolfe and how he’s mixed up in all this. I was a casual reader of this book until this issue; now I’m all in.
Hip Hop Family Tree #2 & 3 (Ed Piskor) [Fantagraphics]
If you’re not reading Hip Hop Family Tree in one form or another (these single issues, the giant-sized graphic novels, weekly syndicated at Boing Boing), then you’re missing out on one of the best-researched, in-depth histories of one of the biggest and most important styles of music to come out of America. These individual issues perfectly ape the comics of the time (including references to classic comics on the covers) complete with the vintage style that this book is drawn in.
Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #3 (Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie) [Image]
I love the Phonogram comics and universe that Gillen & McKelvie have built. I like that most of the stories that have been set in this world focus mostly on the people in it, not some “epic end of the world” garbage. These music references in this book are tailor-fit to me specifically, as is the drama of which self to choose during that chrysalis time of 18-22.
Giant Days #7 (John Allison and Max Sarin) [Boom]
John Allison is one of the funniest writers alive. His dialog sparkles off the page and if you’ve been reading his various webcomics long enough, his words have likely altered your speech patterns. Giant Days is the continuing saga of a character first introduced as a kid in a webcomic at least 10 years ago, and it perfectly captures college life and its melodrama.