The 9 Most Interesting Comics of July

Becky Cloonan/DC Comics
Becky Cloonan/DC Comics

Each month, we round up the most interesting comics, graphic novels, web and digital comics that we recommend you check out.

1. SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL VOL. 1: EARTH GIRL MADE EASY

By Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Ryan Kelly and Kelly Fitzpatrick
DC Comics Young Animal

Shade the Changing Girl
Marley Zarcone/DC Comics

 
While Gerard Way’s Doom Patrol is the headline act of DC’s new Young Animal imprint, the surprise hit has been Shade the Changing Girl, a modern, gender-swapped sequel of sorts to early DC Vertigo classic Shade the Changing Man, which itself was a re-imagining of a Steve Ditko creation from the 1970s. The Shade of this series is Loma Shade, an alien from the planet Meta who dumps her boyfriend and steals a “madness coat” that transports her to Earth and into the body of comatose teenage “mean girl” Megan Boyer. Loma is an Earth fan girl who is delighted to get to live in the culture she learned about from the radio transmissions of a 1950s TV show called Life with Honey, but 21st century Earth is not what Loma expected, and the reappearance of Megan puts a cramp in the style of a lot of people in her life that weren't expecting her back. Marley Zarcone’s psychedelic art and Cecil Castellucci’s knack for realistic teenage dialogue make this one of the freshest, most singular and interesting books of the year.

2. KAIJUMAX SEASON 3 #1

By Zander Cannon
Oni Press

Kaijumax
Zander Cannon/Oni Press

The beginning of the new “season” of Kaijumax follows on the large, scaly heels of season 2’s trade collection released last month. Zander Cannon’s smart prison satire may have started as a joke concept—Oz with goofy, rubber-suit-looking Kaiju monsters—but has turned out to be a surprisingly emotional read. Season 2 amped up the emotion when it moved off the giant-sized island prison to explore the lives of the human cops as well as the tragic post-prison lives of a parolee and an escapee. Season 3 returns to the prison, but looks as if it will retain that poignant, character-driven drama. This first issue focuses on a character who has become a fan favorite—the giant, sad goat monster known as the Creature from Devil’s Creek. Kaiju and obscure monster film aficionados will delight at the many references in this series, but anyone who appreciates a good prison drama will appreciate how well Cannon translates it to this unexpected setting. Despite the cute looking drawings, though, parents should be aware that this is not for kids.

3. THE WENDY PROJECT

By Melissa Jane Osborne and Veronica Fish
Super Genius/Papercutz  

The Wendy Project
Veronica Fish

In her first graphic novel, newcomer Melissa Jane Osborne uses art and J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan as a storytelling device to explore how children cope with loss. The Wendy of this book, a teenager from a New England suburb, is the actual star of this story, rather than Peter, who is more like a rakishly handsome Charon, ferrying souls to the otherworldly Neverland. When she crashes her car into a lake with her two brothers in the back seat, the youngest, Michael, does not survive. To deal with her feelings about this tragedy, Wendy’s therapist gives her a sketchbook, which becomes the visual motif for artist Veronica Fish’s gorgeous art. While Osborne has written a touching and contemplative work, Fish has turned it into career-making work. Her use of vibrant splashes of color amidst mostly black and white sketches represents pieces of Neverland that work their way into Wendy’s reality, making this book feel as magical as it is melancholy.

4. BY CHANCE OR PROVIDENCE

By Becky Cloonan with Lee Loughridge
Image Comics

By Chance or Providence
Becky Cloonan/Image Comics

Back in 2011, Becky Cloonan began self-publishing what would become a trilogy of mini-comics—“Wolves,” “The Mire,” and “Demeter”—that would change the trajectory of her career from being a popular comics penciler to a writer/artist powerhouse and a self-publishing pioneer. While her mini-comics had just a limited print run, she managed to have the digital editions included in the launch of Comixology’s Submit platform for self-publishers where they became some of the most popular comics in the early days of that program. Now, for the first time, those three stories are being collected and released in wide print distribution with added colors by veteran colorist Lee Loughridge. Each story is a moody, sexy yet understated piece of supernatural fantasy with eerie twists that feel straight out of a classic EC horror comic.

5. MOONSTRUCK #1

By Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, Kate Leth
Image Comics

Moonstruck
Shae Beagle

Fans and comic book sellers alike are hungry for more books like the wildly popular summer camp adventure Lumberjanes. Well, you can’t ask for better than a new comic from one of its creators that’s full of werewolves, gorgons, centaurs and more. Writer Grace Ellis brings a lot of Lumberjane’s progressive, girl-friendly and LGBTQ-friendly vibe to this new series about a couple of baristas in a world where everyone is part human, part mythological creature. Newcomer Shae Beagle’s comedic, animation-inspired art style should appeal to the teen and young adult readers this is made to please.

6. THE AMERICAN WAY: THOSE ABOVE AND THOSE BELOW #1

By John Ridley, Georges Jeanty, Danny Miki and Nick Filardi
DC Vertigo

The American Way
Georges Jeanty/DC Comics

Writer John Ridley returns to comics after a 10-year break during which he won an Academy Award for his screenplay for 12 Years A Slave and created the critically acclaimed television series American Crime. Specifically, he’s returning to The American Way, a comic mini-series he wrote in 2007 about a government-sponsored group of actors in the 1960s hired to fool the public into thinking they are real superheroes. When the government introduced The New American, an African-American with actual superpowers, into the group, it sparked racial strife among both the team and the public. In this new sequel, The New American and his colleagues have gone in separate directions and are caught up in the tumultuous political backdrop of the 1970s. Ridley, who is once again joined by artist Georges Jeanty, deals with racial violence, domestic terrorism, and the rising drug problem in America in this new series.

7. IMMORTAL IRON FISTS #1

By Kaare Andrews, Afu Chan and Shelly Chen
Marvel Comics

Immortal Iron Fists
Afu Chan/Marvel Comics

Back in May, Marvel gave a big boost to Comixology’s Unlimited subscription service by adding a portion of their catalog where readers can have “unlimited” access to those and a selection of titles from other publishers for $5.99 a month. Now, they are partnering with the service to produce exclusive content, free with an Unlimited subscription, beginning with this six-part series. Kaare Andrews recently completed a run as writer and artist on the solo Iron Fist title in which he introduced a pre-teen girl named Pei as the latest inheritor of the Iron Fist power. Now Andrews returns to continue Pei’s story, accompanied by up-and-coming artist Afu Chan. Danny Rand has brought Pei to New York from her devastated other dimensional home of K’un Lun to train her in the ways of the Iron Fist by making her face the most daunting challenge he can imagine: the NYC public school system. Andrews and Chan show a great knack for funny, human moments amidst all the dynamic kung fu action here.

8. SOLID STATE

By Jonathan Coulton, Matt Fraction and Albert Monteys
Image Comics

Solid State
Albert Monteys/Image Comics

Singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton, known for writing folk-rock songs about internet and geek culture, recently released a concept album called Solid State. To accompany the album, he has written his first graphic novel of the same name, a sci-fi black comedy about technology, social media, privacy and the collapse of civilization. It is notable for Coulton’s choice in collaborators: Matt Fraction, the superstar writer of Sex Criminals and Satellite Sam, helps craft the story idea into a comic-ready script while Albert Monteys, the Spanish artist currently producing an astounding creator-owned comic called Universe for Brian K. Vaughan’s Panel Syndicate really makes it come alive. Hopefully, the star power of the two writers will result in some new readers discovering Monteys’ bright, colorful and fun artwork.

9. DUCK TALES #0

By Joe Caramagna, Paolo Campinoti, Gianfranco Florio, Andrea Greppi and Roberta Zanotta
IDW Publishing

Duck Tales
Paolo Campinoti/IDW Publishing

In advance of the Disney Channel’s new highly anticipated update of the popular ‘90s animated series Duck Tales comes a new comic that matches the modern, visual style of the new cartoon. This issue #0 is a preview of the new comic series which launches later this summer to coincide with the TV show and contains two stories both featuring Donald and his nephews, Huey, Duey and Louie. Even though Disney now owns Marvel Comics, IDW has been in charge of producing comics featuring characters like Mickey Mouse and Uncle Scrooge, who, along with Donald and the boys, have a long treasured history in comics thanks to the groundbreaking work of creators like Carl Barks and Don Rosa.

10 Words & Phrases Coined in Comic Strips

iStock/crisserbug
iStock/crisserbug

Cartoons, comics, and newspaper comic strips might seem like an unusual source of new words and phrases, but English is such an eclectic language—and comic strips have always had daily access to such a vast number of people—that a few of their coinages have slipped into everyday use. Here are the etymological stories behind 10 examples of precisely that.

1. Brainiac

The most famous brainiac is a cold-hearted, hyper-intelligent adversary of Superman who first appeared as an alien in DC Comics’ Action Comic #242, “The Super-Duel In Space,” in 1958. But after releasing his first adventure, DC Comics discovered that the name was already in use for a do-it-yourself computer kit. In deference to the kit, Brainiac was turned into a “computer personality” and became the great villain. As a nickname for an expert or intellectual, his (and the kit’s) name slipped into more general use in English by the early 1970s.

2. Curate’s Egg

Like the curate’s egg is a 19th century English expression that has come to mean something comprised of both good and bad parts. It comes from a one-off cartoon entitled “True Humility” that appeared in the British satirical magazine Punch in November 1895. Drawn by the artist George du Maurier (grandfather of the novelist Daphne du Maurier), the cartoon depicted a stern-looking bishop sharing breakfast with a young curate, who has unluckily been served a bad egg. Not wanting to make a scene in front of the bishop, the curate is shown eating the egg anyway, alongside the caption “Oh no, my Lord, I assure you, parts of it are excellent.”

3. Goon

Goon is thought to originally derive from gony, an old English dialect word once used by sailors to describe cumbersome-looking seabirds like albatrosses and pelicans. Based on this initial meaning, in the early 1900s, goon came to be used as another word for an equally dull-looking or slow-witted person, and it was this that presumably inspired Popeye cartoonist EC Segar to create the character of Alice the Goon for his Thimble Theater series of comics in 1933. But it’s Segar’s portrayal of Alice—as a dutiful but impossibly strong 8-foot giantess—that went on to inspire the use of goon as a nickname for a hired heavy or thug, paid to intimidate or terrorize someone without asking questions, in 1930s slang.

4. Jeep

Jeep is popularly said to derive from an approximate pronunciation of the letters “GP,” which are in turn taken as an abbreviation of “general purpose” vehicle. If so, then jeep belongs alongside only a handful other examples (like deejay, okay, veep and emcee) in an unusual class of words that begin their life as a phrase, then become an abbreviation, and then a whole new word based on the abbreviation—but in the case of jeep, that’s probably not the entire story. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the spelling jeep was likely influenced by the character Eugene the Jeep, a yellow cat-like animal (that only ever made a jeep! jeep! noise) that also first appeared alongside Popeye in EC Segar’s Thimble Theater in 1936. Jeep was then adopted into military slang during the Second World War as a nickname for an inexperienced or enthusiastic new recruit, but eventually somehow came to establish itself as another name for a specialized military vehicle in the early 1940s and it’s this meaning that remains in place today.

5. Keeping Up With The Joneses

A Keeping Up With the Joneses strip from 1921
A "Keeping up with the Joneses" comic strip from 1921
Pop Momand, Wikimedia // Public Domain

Synonymous with the quiet rivalries between neighbors and friends, the idiom keeping up with the Joneses comes from the title of a comic strip created by the cartoonist Arthur “Pop” Momand in 1913. Based partly on Momand’s own experiences in one of the wealthiest parts of New York, the strip ran for almost 30 years in the American press and even inspired a cartoon series during the height of its popularity in the 1920s. The eponymous Joneses—whom Momand wanted originally to call “The Smiths,” before deciding that “Joneses” sounded better—were the next-door neighbors of the cartoon’s central characters, but were never actually depicted in the series.

6. Malarkey

Etymologically, malarkey is said to somehow derive from the old Irish surname Mullarkey, but precisely how or why is unclear. As a nickname for rubbish or nonsense talk, however, its use in English is often credited to the American cartoonist Thomas Aloysius Dorgan—better known as “TAD”—who first used it in this context in several of his Indoor Sports cartoon series in the early 1920s. But the spelling hadn’t been standardized yet. Once he spelled it Milarkey referring to a place, and in one famous example, depicting a courtroom scene, one of Dorgan’s characters exclaims, “Malachy! You said it: I wouldn’t trust a lawyer no further than I could throw a case of Scotch!” (Dorgan, incidentally, is also credited with giving the English language the phrases cat’s pajamas and drugstore cowboy.)

7. Milquetoast

Taking his name from the similarly bland breakfast snack “milk toast,” the character Caspar Milquetoast was created by the American cartoonist Harold T. Webster in 1924. The star of Webster’s Timid Soul comic strip, Caspar was portrayed as a quiet, submissive, bespectacled old man, whom Webster himself once described as the kind of man who “speaks softly and gets hit with a big stick.” His name has been used as a byword for any equally submissive or ineffectual person since the mid-1930s.

8. Poindexter

When Otto Messmer’s Felix the Cat comic strip was adapted for television in the late 1950s, a whole host of new supporting characters was added to the cast, including a super-intelligent, labcoat-wearing schoolboy named Poindexter, who was the nephew of Felix’s nemesis, The Professor. Created by the cartoonist Joe Oriolo, Poindexter’s name—which was apparently taken from that of Oriolo’s attorney—had become a byword for a nerdish or intellectual person in English slang by the early 1980s.

9. Shazam

Shazam was coined in Whiz Comics #2 in February 1940, as the name of an old wizard who grants 12-year-old Billy Batson the ability to transform into Captain Marvel. The wizard’s name, Shazam, was henceforth also Captain Marvel’s magic word, with which he was able to call on the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury.

10. Zilch

As another word for “zero,” zilch has been used in English since the early '60s. But before then, from the 1930s onward, it was predominantly used as a nickname for any useless and hopeless character or non-entity or someone who didn't exist. In this context it was probably coined in and popularized by a series of cartoons that first appeared in Ballyhoo humor magazine in 1931, and which featured a hapless unseen businessman character named “President Henry P. Zilch.” Although it’s possible the writers of Ballyhoo created the name from scratch, it’s likely that they were at least partly inspired by an old student slang expression, Joe Zilsch, which was used in the 1920s in the same way as John Doe or Joe Sixpack would be today.

This list first ran in 2015 and was republished in 2019.

Tony Stark’s Cabin From Avengers: Endgame Is Available for Rent on Airbnb

Robert Downey Jr. and Lexi Rabe in Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Robert Downey Jr. and Lexi Rabe in Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Marvel Studios

For fans who can't get enough of Avengers: Endgame, you can now book a weekend getaway in Tony Stark’s own cabin, courtesy of Airbnb, Complex reports. And it looks (for the moment, anyway) that there are still some available dates this summer.

According to Comicbook.com, this cabin is where Stark’s family lived during the film, and where he came to say his goodbyes toward its conclusion.

The cabin is located in Fairburn, Georgia, just 20 minutes away from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and can accommodate up to six guests. The listing boasts a central location while offering a wilderness retreat, saying: “Need to get away from it all without traveling more than 30 minutes from Atlanta? Need to have a corporate retreat with your elite team? Need to come take the kids fishing and watch a horse show? Then this is your place.”

The cabin was originally listed at $335 per night but has since gone up to $444 per night, most likely as a result of MCU fans catching on. It includes an indoor fireplace.

Even if Marvel Studios never responds to the viral petition calling for the return of Iron Man, at least fans can grieve Stark at this Georgia Airbnb while it still has availability.

[h/t Complex]

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