The Most Interesting Comics of the Week
Every week I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, 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.
By Fran Krause
Ten Speed Press
Illustrator Fran Krause had a great idea a few years back that he has since turned into one of the most popular webcomics on Tumblr. He encouraged readers to anonymously submit their deepest, darkest fears so he can turn them into beautifully painted cartoons, publishing a new one every Monday. Krause has now collected 101 of these into a new book called Deep Dark Fears.
The comics collected perfectly capture a whole slew of fears. There are ones many of us had as kids (getting caught in the escalator, waking up to something being in your room) and ones that feel familiar despite how specific and just plain unlikely they are (fear of your eye drops getting replaced by superglue, fear of getting into a car accident while picking your nose and fatally stabbing your brain). There are plenty that will make you squirm in your seat, but it's oddly comforting to read through these and see that other people are afraid of the same stupid stuff that you are.
By Gene Luen Lang and Mike Holmes
First Second Books
Award-winning graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang pretty much excels at everything he does, from literary historical fiction like Boxers & Saints to popular monthly comics like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Superman. He’s proven that he can write engaging comics for readers of any age, and in Secret Coders—a new series of graphic novels he writes with artist Mike Holmes—he combines two things that he does very well: writing fun comics and teaching computer programming.
Yang, a former high school computer science teacher, is a big proponent of introducing kids to coding at an early age. (He even wrote an article for us this week with his own tips on how to encourage kids to get interested in this hobby.) In Secret Coders, two students try to get to the bottom of why their mysterious, Harry Potter-ish school is full of weird things like random numbers painted on the walls, four-eyed birds, and robotic turtles. The key to understanding it all lies in the fundamentals of binary code.
By Michael DeForge
Every year we get to look forward to a new issue of Lose, Michael DeForge’s one-man anthology comic. Since he is so prolific, we not only get Lose #7 this week, but also a separate collection of assorted short comics called Dressing. Koyama Press describes Lose as the “laboratory” where DeForge works out his experimental storytelling ideas. While that’s true, this is really where he tends to showcase his best and most fully realized works.
Each issue gets better and better, and issue #7 follows suit—even adding full color for the first time in the series. The main story, which fills out most of the issue, is about a father and his grown daughter who share an apartment while he deals with a serious illness. Things take a DeForge-ian turn for the weird when they meet the dad’s doppelgänger (who happens to be a famous Hollywood action star).
Meanwhile, Dressing is the real collection of odd experiments. There are many short comics here, including pieces that are more like illustrated prose, a format DeForge first dabbled in with last year’s graphic novella First Year Healthy. Deforge’s work is so different from anything else out there that it looks like it was made on another planet. Yet, it’s the unexpected humanity—his keen observations and sense of humor—that is embedded in all the weirdness that makes his comics a must-read.
Southern Bastards Book One
By Jason Aaron and Jason Latour
I previously wrote about Southern Bastards when the first issue came out, and since then it has won numerous awards and has been optioned for television.
The comic begins with the story of aging Earl Tubb, who returns home to Craw County, Alabama to clean things up with his righteousness and his big ol’ stick. However, this isn’t really Earl's story, as becomes unexpectedly clear in the middle of this book. Jason Aaron and Jason Latour are telling a bigger tale about family, football, and southern culture. It’s as unflinching as it is reverent in its depiction of the South. Latour, who has become known more as a writer over at Marvel, is the key to this book’s success with his bold, distinct, art style full of grit, splatter, and the best use of half-tone dot shading in comics.
This week sees the first hardcover collection (containing the first two story arcs) of the series. After winning a Harvey Award this past weekend for Best New Series, this book is a great way for new readers to jump on.