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Eleanor Davis
Eleanor Davis

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Eleanor Davis
Eleanor Davis

Every Wednesday, I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, Kickstarter and the web. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.

1. How To Be Happy

By Eleanor Davis
Fantagraphics

The first ever collection of Eleanor Davis’ acclaimed short comics

Eleanor Davis’ first graphic novel, How To Be Happy, hit bookstores and comic shops last week (I'm playing catch up after a week off from doing these lists). Davis has been making award-winning and highly acclaimed comics for years but this is the first ever collection of her work. It would seem that today’s younger generation of cartoonists, when they even get around to putting out a print publication, are no longer creating full-length graphic novels; instead, they put out shorter works through the web, anthologies, and self-published mini comics, and once they’ve built up a substantial catalog and following, release a collection through a publisher. 

How To Be Happy starts with a story that seems to be about the Garden of Eden ... until you realize that there are multiple Adams and multiple Eves and one of them has been hoarding M&Ms and candy bars. Many of Davis’ stories here explore the way people live with each other and try to find themselves in the modern world. They are funny, surprising, touching, and insightful. Some have a sci-fi slant to them, some are fantasy, and some are just about real people.

What makes this book so outstanding is how wonderfully cohesive it is both in terms of the book design and the themes that run through each story. Davis employs a variety of styles with fully painted stories alternating with ones that are done in just pencils or ink. One of her strong points as an artist is her confident use of color, and you can see how each story has its own carefully-utilized color palette upon simply flipping through this book or even by looking through this preview.



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2. Captain Victory & The Galactic Rangers #1

By Joe Casey with Farel Dalrymple, Jim Rugg, Benjamin Marra, Ulises Farinas, Jim Mahfood, Nathan Fox, Michael Fiffe and Connor Willumsen
Dynamite Comics

Joe Casey and a team of top artists revisit one of Jack Kirby’s last creations

While Jack Kirby famously co-created almost every character owned by Marvel Comics, but retained none of the rights to them (a fact that may soon get disputed by the Supreme Court), there is one character that has remained the property of his estate since his death in 1994: Captain Victory. A creator-owned project that began in 1981, Captain Victory ran for 13 issues and was published by the now-defunct Pacific Comics. The title character is kind of your typical, late-era Kirby hero with lots of cosmic trappings and a stylistic link to the New Gods mythology Kirby created for DC Comics (there were hints in the original comics of actual links within the story, too). The Kirby family has granted Dynamite Comics the right to bring back the character in a new ongoing series written by Joe Casey.

Casey has worked on a number of interesting projects in his career, from writing superhero mainstays like The X-men and The Hulk to co-creating the Cartoon Network series Ben 10 to writing more adult, experimental projects like Automatic Kafka and the recent Image Comics series Sex. In the mid-2000s, he created his own homage to Kirby’s cosmic style of superheroes with the series Gødland. For Captain Victory & The Galactic Rangers, he has assembled a really exciting group of collaborators. Each issue will feature multiple artists including Farel Dalrymple, Jim Rugg, Benjamin Marra, Ulises Farinas, Jim Mahfood, Nathan Fox, Michael Fiffe and Connor Willumsen. That is a dream lineup for this kind of project and working on a Kirby property like this is probably something of a dream project for a lot of these artists. Here’s a preview.


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3. Forming II

By Jesse Moynihan
Nobrow Press

A mashup of dozens of creation myths by one of the minds behind Adventure Time

Jesse Moynihan, like a lot of young cartoonists today, spends his days working in animation, specifically for the popular Cartoon Network series Adventure Time (for which he was actually nominated for an Emmy for an episode he wrote) or his most recent, “Manly,” which hit YouTube this week. Forming is his personal comics project which began as and continues to be a popular webcomic. Nobrow Press has been collecting the webcomic into a planned trilogy of hardcover books, the second of which hit bookstores this past month.

Forming takes all the creation myths of the world and mashes them up into one epic adventure full of ludicrously over-the-top fight scenes and a crass, modern sense of humor. It’s drawn with a childlike enthusiasm, like a kid thinking up how the world might have started and then drawing it like the craziest Jack Kirby comic ever. It’s all rooted in actual mythology and you’ll recognize references to Judeo-Christian, Egyptian, Greek, and various other religions. There’s also ancient Atlantis plus the aliens that helped get this whole ball rolling, and lots of characters that dress and talk in anachronistic, modern ways. It’s a hodgepodge of philosophy, fight scenes and stupid jokes and it is unlike anything you’ve ever read before.

Like everything that Nobrow publishes, Forming II is a beautifully designed book, oversized and a joy to flip through. If you’re coming into the second book cold, it very much just drops you into the middle of what Moynihan is doing without much of a setup—at least not one that would make much sense. It’s all so nuts though that you can quickly jump in and enjoy the ride for what it is.  Nobrow has some images of the book here.

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4. Faction Vol. 3

By Various
3 Bad Monkeys

An anthology featuring comics newcomers from New Zealand

Dylan Horrock’s classic 1998 graphic novel, Hicksville, was about a fictional town in New Zealand in which everyone was an expert on comics. While New Zealand may not actually be a comics Utopia, the biannual comics anthology Faction aims to showcase the breadth of comics talent that hails from that country.

Editor (and comic artist himself) Damon Keen has now assembled three volumes of his “Kiwi Comics Anthology,” each featuring mostly new and relatively unknown talent. Volume One boasted a contribution from Roger Langridge (who, along with Horrocks, is probably the most famous cartoonist from the area) and the latest volume contains a story from rising talent Tim Gibson who has made a recent splash in the digital comics world with his Thrillbent and Comixology Submit hit series Moth City. His contribution is actually a prequel to that series. 

The stories here are mostly genre works and lean heavily sci-fi (though there is a purposeful absence of superheroes). Like any anthology, the stories are hit and miss, but you never know with these kinds of collections whether you’re viewing the early work of a rising star. You can find out more about Faction and buy each of the volumes here.



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5. The Bunker Vol. 1

By Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari
Oni Press

A group of friends learn they will be responsible for the end of the world as they know it

Undoubtedly the biggest success to come out of Comixology’s Submit program for digital comic self-publishers is Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari’s The BunkerI wrote about it as being one of the most noteworthy books of 2013 and its popularity led to the first publishing deal to come out of that program. Oni Press has already put out reformatted and recolored digital and print editions of the first four issues of the series and is now releasing a collected trade paperback to introduce the book to new readers. In addition, the 5th issue, which follows the events of Vol. 1, also comes out this week.

For those new readers, The Bunker is about a group of friends who find a bunker containing dire warnings from their future selves. The story jumps back and forth between the present and the dystopian future they seem to have somehow caused. 

Here’s a preview of The Bunker.


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Disney/Marvel Studios
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Afternoon Map
Marvel vs. DC: This Map Shows Each State’s Favorite Comic Universe
Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios

Which comic book company is the best: Marvel or DC? This is a perennial argument on middle-school playgrounds and Reddit threads, but this map, courtesy of USDish.com, might just give us a definitive answer. The information here is broken down by state, using information provided by Google Trends to give us a clear winner of not only the most popular comic book company but also the most popular individual hero in each state (let’s show a little respect to Indiana for championing the Martian Manhunter).

According to the map, Marvel is the most popular publisher in 37 states, with DC trailing behind at eight, and five additional states coming to a 50/50 stalemate. The totals weren’t a blowout, though. In certain states like Mississippi, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, the favored company only won by a point. And just because a state searches Google for a specific publisher the most doesn’t mean an individual character from the opposing team isn’t its favorite—Hawaii is listed as favoring Marvel overall, yet they love Aquaman on his own. Same with DC-loving Maryland showing Black Panther some love (helps to have a big movie coming out). Take a look at some of the most notable state preferences below:

So how did Marvel amass so many states when there are just as many DC TV shows and movies out there? Well, according to Andrew Selepak, Ph.D., a professor in the department of telecommunication at the University of Florida, and director of the graduate program in social media, the answer lies in the depth at the House of Ideas.

“While Superman and Batman may be dominant characters,” Selepak said in a statement, “the DC Universe offers few other well-known heroes and villains and when these other characters are presented to the audience in film and on TV, they often are less than well-received.” This is opposed to Marvel, which launches new heroes on the big and small screen seemingly every year.

Does this map tell the whole story? That’s up for debate. When it comes to comics sold, DC and Marvel are always in a close battle: In January 2018, DC had six of the 10 best-selling comics of the month, placing four of the top five. Marvel, meanwhile, had three, while Image Comics had one with The Walking Dead. In terms of overall retail market share, though, Marvel eked out DC 34.3 percent to 33.8 percent.

This is a battle that's been raging since the 1960s, and for an industry that thrives on a never-ending fight between good and evil, we shouldn't expect the Marvel vs. DC debate to be settled anytime soon.

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DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
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entertainment
The Dark Knight Is Returning to Theaters, Just Ahead of 10th Anniversary
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Believe it or not, July 18 will mark the 10th anniversary of the release of The Dark Knight, the second entry in Christopher Nolan’s game-changing superhero movie trilogy. To mark the occasion, Showcase Cinemas—the movie theater chain behind the Cinema de Lux experience—is bringing the movie back to select theaters on the east coast for limited screenings on February 8 and February 11, /Film reports.

Many people consider The Dark Knight the best film in the Batman franchise (Tim Burton and LEGO-fied movies included). The film currently holds a 94 percent “fresh” rating with both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the highest-rated movie in the Batman universe.

Much of the film’s acclaim came from Heath Ledger’s brilliant turn as The Joker—a role that won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (making him the only actor to win that award posthumously). Even Michael Caine, who plays Bruce Wayne’s ever-dutiful butler and BFF Alfred, admitted that he wasn’t sold on the idea of bringing The Joker back into Batman’s cinematic universe, after the character was so ably played by Jack Nicholson in Burton’s 1989 film, until he found out Ledger would be taking the role.

“You don’t try and top Jack,” was Caine’s original thought. But when Nolan informed the actor that he was casting Ledger, that changed things. “I thought: ‘Now that’s the one guy that could do it!’ My confidence came back,” Caine told Empire Magazine.

To find out if The Dark Knight is playing at a theater near you, visit Showcase Cinemas’s website. If it’s not, don’t despair: With the official anniversary still six months away, other theaters are bound to have the same idea.

[h/t: /Film]

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