Dynamite Entertainment
Dynamite Entertainment

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Dynamite Entertainment
Dynamite Entertainment

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. Tomboy

By Liz Prince
Zest Books

A true story about growing up and never giving up being a tomboy

Liz Prince has been making short autobio comics for years now, which has helped prepare her for creating her first full length graphic novel. In Tomboy, Prince recounts her childhood growing up as a girl who disliked all the things that society thinks girls are supposed to love. She has always preferred wearing baseball caps, playing with Ghostbusters toys, reading comics, keeping her hair short, and never, ever wearing dresses. All her life, even now at the age of 31, she is often mistaken for a boy, but that’s the way she likes it.

These days, with parents being more conscious of gender stereotyping and even school kids becoming more accepting of gender identity issues their classmates may have, Tomboy seems almost quaint. Liz is not gay or transgender and she grew up with progressive parents who let her dress how she wanted so, despite some bullying, her story is comfortably devoid of emotionally scarring experiences. However, not being able to fit into the girl-shaped mold that she was expected to makes this a relatable comic for anyone who has ever not fit in. The triumph of her story, and of Liz herself, is that she was always strong enough to be who she was even when it might have been easier to just play a part. It’s an enjoyable and even comforting read as you find yourself rooting for Liz to find the acceptance you know a smart, funny, confident person like her will eventually find.

While this is a book that not just tomboys will enjoy, I should note that it is not one parents will want to give to younger kids. It is very much written from the perspective of Liz as an adult reflecting back on her childhood, and a lot of the issues raised, scenes depicted, and language used is only appropriate for teenagers—even though a lot of younger readers could benefit from reading the book’s lessons about self acceptance and what it means to be a girl.

Here’s a preview.

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2. Bob’s Burgers #1

By Rachel Hastings, Mike Olsen, Justin Hook, Jeff Drake, Frank Forte, Brad Rader, Bernard Derriman and Tony Gennaro
Dynamite Entertainment

The creators behind the hit TV series try their hands at a comic book

The latest in a long line of TV-to-comic adaptations, unlike most others, Bob’s Burgers is written and drawn by the writers and artists who work on the series. In addition, they’ll be creating stories that are "in canon” within the universe of the show.

Bob’s Burgers is a family sitcom about the Belchers—Bob, Linda, and their kids Louise, Tina, and Gene—who run a burger joint called, of course, Bob’s Burgers. Each issue of the comic will include multiple installments of "Louise's Unsolved Mysteries," "Tina's Erotic Friend Fiction," "A Gene Belcher Original Musical," "Letters Written by Linda," and "Bob's Burgers of the Day.”

Fellow Fox family series The Simpsons has had a long and critically acclaimed life in comics and, as something of a successor to that show’s popularity, Bob’s Burgers looks to do the same here.

Dynamite has a preview of the first issue.

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3. Jaegir

By Gordon Rennie and Simon Coleby
Rebellion/2000 AD

A strong new female character starring in a new Rogue Trooper spin-off

Next to Judge Dredd, the most popular, long-running series to come out of 2000 AD Magazine is probably Rogue Trooper. It's about a dystopian civil war between the ’Norts' and the ‘Southers' of toxin-ravaged Nu-Earth and the genetically modified soldier of the Souther infantry who goes AWOL after his platoon is massacred. Jaegir, a new one-shot which was recently serialized in 2000 AD, is the start of a new series set in the Rogue Trooper universe but looks at it from a new vantage point—that of the Nortland.

Kapitan-inspector Atalia Jaegir is a war crimes investigator assigned to stop a genetically-modified soldier from murdering his wife and children. 2000 AD is looking for Atalia Jaegir to be a strong female lead to build a new series of comics around and is putting a strong foot forward here.

Veteran artist Simon Coleby, who has worked on lots of gloomy material like Judge Dredd, The Punisher, and Rogue Trooper itself, brings a dirty, wretched realism to the otherworldliness that helps give this the feel of a futuristic detective drama. Fans of Michael Lark’s work on the Image Comics series Lazarus may want to check out Jaegir for the similarities in style.

You can read a preview here.

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4. Pop #1

By Curt Pires, Jason Copland, Pete Toms and Ryan Ferrier
Dark Horse

For the reader who just wants to see Justin Bieber get his kneecaps blown off

Comics have always been considered a “pop” medium with a quick-fix 22 pages of guilty pleasure. That’s partly why comics and pop music seem to often cross paths—from a 1970s Marvel Comic about The Beatles to The Wicked + The Divine’s rumination on gods reincarnated as pop stars. But, since the tastes between the two audiences don’t quite match up, the result usually ends up being comics critiquing or poking fun at the shallowness of pop music.

Writer Curt Pires looks to go down that route with the 4-issue mini-series Pop in which we find out that stars like Britney Spears and Mariah Carey have been grown in a lab and released to the public in order to deliver ROI to their investors. However, the planned next sensation has somehow escaped, weeks before the expected end of her gestation period, and is now alone and on the run.

While Pop doesn’t look like it's aiming for any groundbreaking conclusions about the artificial nature of pop music, it is off to an enticingly fun start, particularly when a couple of deadly “specialists” who look like they may have been created in a punk rock lab terrorize and blow off the kneecaps of the book's Justin Bieber stand-in.

Artist Jason Copland has been on the cusp of making it big for a while now ever since his webcomic Kill All Monsters first made the rounds. His thin-lined inks paired with Pete Toms’ appropriately poppy colors makes for a fine looking comic.

Here’s a preview on Dark Horse’s website

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5. Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2: 1981-1983

By Ed Piskor
Fantagraphics

The birth of Run-DMC, NWA, the Beastie Boys, and more

The first volume of Ed Piskor's comic book history of hip hop music was one of my favorite books of last year and it seems astounding that we already have the next edition of Hip Hop Family Tree in stores this week. This is Piskor’s magnum opus and he is diligently working his way through depicting the early days of the music and 70s-era comics he loves.

This second volume spans three years (1981-1983), a time when hip hop was becoming recognized outside of the clubs and streets of New York's outer boroughs. The early part of this book shows the making of Charlie Ahearn’s 1983 film Wild Style (Ahearn provides a lively written introduction to this volume) and by the end we’ve seen the formation of groups like Run-DMC, NWA, and the Beastie Boys.

Fantagraphics has a preview on their website. Also, Piskor continues to post new panels on BoingBoing as he goes for those who love the books and can’t wait for the next volume.

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6. B-Squad: Soldier of Misfortune Vol 1

By Eben Burgoon, Lauren Monardo, Jon Williams, Claudia Palescandolo, Sean Sutter, Junior Bruce, Michael Finn
Kickstarter

A squad of expendables that lose a team member each issue

B-Squad is a lite-comedy version of a concept we’ve seen in comics like DC’s Suicide Squad or Michael Fiffe’s Copra—a team of expendables is sent on missions where you never know who might not make it. The B-Squad consists of a group of goofy misfits like Brodee, the friendly surfer dude who is a master of the “Bro-Arts,” or MacGoogle, a guy with an iPad who gets out of fixes like MacGyver by Googling the answers. At the end of each issue, a member of the team is killed off.

After successfully funding the first issue on Kickstarter, creator Eben Burgoon has decided to fund a collection of all 4 issues at once rather than his original plan of single issues. Much the way the makeup of the team changes each issue, Burgoon has recruited a different up-and-coming artist to draw each chapter.

The Kickstarter has almost reached its goal with 14 days still to go. If you want to sample the story, you can download the first issue for free here. There’s a variety of pledge packages to choose from so check out the Kickstarter page here.

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Comics
8 Things You Might Not Know About The Wizard of Id
Titan Books
Titan Books

Debuting in 1964, Brant Parker and Johnny Hart’s The Wizard of Id took a page from the macabre humor of cartoonist Charles Addams. Ruling the kingdom of Id, a pint-sized tyrant uses humor to disarm a medieval cast made up of a jester, an executioner, a thief, and the titular magician, whose spells don’t usually impress. Although Hart and Parker both passed away in 2007, their black humor lives on. Take a look at some facts behind the throne, including the time Jim Henson almost brought it to television.

1. THE IDEA FOR THE STRIP CAME FROM A DECK OF PLAYING CARDS.

Johnny Hart was already a successful syndicated cartoonist (the Stone Age comedy B.C.) before he and former Disney animator Brant Parker decided to collaborate on a different project. Hart was flipping through a deck of playing cards in 1964 when he came across a peculiar illustration used for the king. Drawing on it to create his own diminutive despot, Hart wrote most of the jokes for Id while Parker illustrated it.

2. THE SYNDICATE THOUGHT THE TWO ARTISTS WERE DISGUSTING.

Although Id would eventually be syndicated to over 1000 strips across the country, Hart and Parker first had to get past the gatekeepers of cartoon distribution operating out of New York. Traveling to the city to show them samples, the two worked late into the night and called to tell executives they were ready. They didn’t know the syndicate would be coming to their hotel room, which was a mess of papers, food, and beer bottles. Caught off-guard, the men looked like transients. “We think you guys are disgusting,” one executive said, “but we love the strip. We’ll take it.”

3. THE SHORT JOKES WERE BASED ON JOHNNY HART.

In a visual juxtaposition, the king of Id’s height is inversely proportional to his power. Parker said the character’s stature was based partly on Hart, who used to fend off jokes about his own height. "The king became short because we used to kid John about being short and a lot of the short gags began to slide over into the strip," Parker said. "He just kept getting smaller, and as he shrunk, the nose got bigger and bigger."

4. A LITTLE GIRL GOT THEM TO DROP A CHARACTER.

Most of the humor in Id is centered around the morbid dynamics of Middle Ages politics, which is not normally an opportunity to offend current sensibilities. But early on, Parker and Hart created a karate teacher from Japan who was perceived by some as a stereotype. When Parker received a letter from a young Japanese-American girl who was being teased at school as a result of the character, the creators decided to drop him from the strip.

5. JIM HENSON WAS GOING TO PUT IT ON TELEVISION.

An avowed fan of comic strips and of The Wizard of Id in particular, Muppets creator Jim Henson met with Hart in 1968 to discuss a possible collaboration. Henson wanted to create an Id television show that would use puppets against an animated backdrop. Hart agreed, and in 1969, Henson was able to shoot test footage featuring himself as the voice of the Wizard. But executives at Publishers-Hall, which had taken over syndication of the strip, were having trouble enticing networks into producing a series. By the time ABC showed interest, Henson had moved on to Sesame Street and other projects. Wizard of Id got translated into animation in 1970 as part of a Chuck Jones variety series titled Curiosity Shop.

6. HART TURNED DOWN FEATURE FILM OFFERS.

Possibly disappointed in the outcome of the Henson project, Hart wasn’t very receptive to offers to adapt Id into other mediums. He reportedly shunned Steven Spielberg and Norman Lear when they called about adaptations. Producer Andrew Gaty managed to interest Hart in 1987, though his plans for a live-action feature—possibly starring Danny DeVito as the king—never came to fruition.

7. IT WAS A (STRANGE) VIDEO GAME.

In 1984, users of the ColecoVision home computer system were able to pick up a software program with an unwieldy title: The Wizard of Id’s Wiz Math. The edutainment program allowed players to brush up on math skills by solving problems faced by Spookingdorf, the tortured and jailed cast member of the strip. By solving math problems, players could navigate Spookingdorf out of his dungeon. The game was produced by Sierra, which later became known for its King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry franchises. A typing game, WizType, was also released.

8. BLONDIE AND BEETLE BAILEY CELEBRATED THE STRIP'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY.

When The Wizard of Id passed the half-century milestone in 2014, the entire comics page came out to celebrate. Hi and Lois featured a portrait of the Wizard in a panel, while Blondie and Family Circus made subtle references to the anniversary. (As modern-day strips, it would be difficult to regard a medieval strip with more overt acknowledgment.) In Beetle Bailey, the perennial screw-up shared a cell with the eternally suffering Spookingdorf.

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A Canadian Man Set a Guinness World Record for Most Marvel Comic Tattoos

Here’s something to Marvel at: A 36-year-old man from Alberta, Canada just set a Guinness World Record for having the highest number of Marvel comic tattoos on his body, Nerdist reports.

Rick Scolamiero, of Edmonton, boasts 31 Marvel tattoos in total and is inked from his neck down to his feet. What started out as a plan to get a sleeve (full arm tattoo) of his favorite Marvel characters quickly morphed into a full-body makeover.

"I fell in love with the artist’s work and wanted to continue to see what else we could come up with regarding tattoos,” Scolamiero told Guinness World Records. “I have been a Marvel comic lover since I was small and growing up we didn’t have much but I always had my Marvel comics and Marvel trading cards. They actually got me through some tough times so the idea of having them on my body forever just really appealed to me."

Wolverine and Spider-Man can be seen on his forearms, the Guardians of the Galaxy trail down his left calf, and LEGO versions of Daredevil and Deadpool adorn his ankles, to name but a few designs. Scolamiero didn’t want to leave any superheroes behind, so he had them inked onto his, well, behind. His left and right buttocks feature depictions of Spider-Man 2099 (a futuristic version of the original) and Vision (from The Avengers), respectively.

He even got Marvel comic artist Stan Lee’s autograph tattooed onto his wrist. In total, he attended one tattoo session per month for the past seven years and endured 350 hours under the needle. Now that’s dedication.

Check out the video below to see Scolamiero show off his tats.

[h/t Nerdist]

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