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Chip Zdarsky/Archie Comics
Chip Zdarsky/Archie Comics

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Chip Zdarsky/Archie Comics
Chip Zdarsky/Archie Comics

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.

The Story of My Tits

By Jennifer Hayden
Top Shelf


The title of Jennifer Hayden’s graphic novel memoir, The Story of My Tits, is frank and direct. A survivor of breast cancer, Hayden tells the story of her complicated relationship with her own body, from worrying about being flat-chested as a teen to opting for a double mastectomy after finding a tumor in one breast as an adult. The book, Hayden’s first, is timed to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month and is sure to be considered a major debut this year.

This is not just a book about Hayden’s own struggles with breast cancer, though, and it is not until over 200 pages in that we see her get her first mammogram. Early in this large and densely illustrated book, Hayden’s mother suffers the loss of one breast to cancer, followed years later by her mother-in-law succumbing to the disease. As with many people, cancer affects members of Hayden’s family before the specter of it threatens her own future.

This is not to say the book is weighted down with death. More than anything it is full of life and humor and some especially creative and clever cartooning. Her quirky, pen-drawn style—very similar to the work of the great Roz Chast—is full of effortless jokes and insightful commentary on both life and death.

Here’s more information from the publisher.

Paper Girls #1

By Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson
Image Comics 

Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang first worked together on a Swamp Thing short story in 2000, when both were just starting their comics careers. They now reunite as industry superstars for a new Image Comics series called Paper Girls. Set in the 1980s, this book is peppered with nostalgic flavor. We’re introduced to four 12-year-old girls who stumble across a mystery they can’t begin to understand while out delivering papers in a sleepy suburb of Cleveland. One part Stand By Me, one part War of the Worlds, this 40-page first issue sets up an intriguing premise and ends with a patented Brian K. Vaughan cliff-hanger that will leave you wanting more.

Vaughan has been quite busy recently after having taken a few years off from making comics. Now he adds Paper Girls to his current science fiction hit Saga, the recently completed award-winning mini-series The Private Eye, and the freshly started We Stand on Guard. Meanwhile, Chiang is coming off an acclaimed run on DC’s Wonder Woman.

Check out a preview here.

All New, All Different Marvel

Various titles by various creative teams
Marvel Comics 


For the past few months, Marvel comics have been pre-empted by the line-wide 2015 event called Secret Wars. The event began with the effective obliteration of the Marvel Universe, which was replaced by a patchwork planet called "Battleworld." The Secret Wars mini-series was supposed to have ended by now to make way for a re-launch of the whole Marvel line, but it has been plagued by numerous delays, leaving Marvel no choice but to bring the universe back before we actually find out how that happens.

So this week, the "All New, All Different Marvel" (the publisher's words) begins with new #1 issues for a smattering of titles such as Amazing Spider-Man, Invincible Iron Man, and Doctor Strange. Marvel is not rebooting the continuity of their universe, but what makes these new books “All New” and “All Different,” and how the ending of Secret Wars factors into them, remains to be seen.

These books feature familiar Marvel creators, in some cases shuffled onto different titles. Dan Slott is still in charge of Spider-Man, but longtime Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis is trying his hand at Iron Man for the first time. Jason Aaron, writer on some of Marvel’s biggest recent books, such as Thor and Star Wars, joins fan favorite artist Chris Bachalo, most recently of Uncanny X-men, on a new Doctor Strange book that will likely ramp up excitement for the 2016 film.

Here are previews for Doctor Strange, Amazing Spider-Man, and Invincible Iron Man.

Jughead #1

By Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson
Archie Comics


This new Jughead solo series is the latest example of how willing the people behind Archie Comics are to take surprising creative risks. It's written by one-half of the creative team behind the raunchy and subversive Sex Criminals comic, Chip Zdarsky. Zdarsky, who has been known more in the past for his social media hijinks and his illustrations for Canada's National Post than for his comics work, was already snatched up by Marvel this year to write their new Howard the Duck comic. Artist Erica Henderson has also had a big year at Marvel drawing Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and she joins Zdarsky to bring their comedic sensibilities to Archie’s best friend, Jughead Jones.

This modern Jughead still wears that little crown hat and loves burgers more than anything, but his lazy, quizzical demeanor is now portrayed as zen and enigmatic with a standoffish sense of cool. This first issue sees Jughead mobilized against his will to become political when the school replaces his beloved cafeteria lasagna with a healthier alternative. If you ever wanted to see an Archie parody of Game of Thrones, there’s a dream sequence here that will make your day.

Take a look at the preview here.

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King Features Syndicate
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Comics
8 Things You Might Not Know About Hi and Lois
King Features Syndicate
King Features Syndicate

A comics page staple for nearly 65 years, Mort Walker and Dik Browne’s Hi and Lois is a celebration of the mundane. Married couple Hiram “Hi” Flagston, wife Lois, and their four children balance work, school, and family dynamics, all of it with few punchlines but plenty of relatable situations. This four-panel ode to suburbia might appear simple, but it still has a rich history involving a beef with The Flintstones, broken noses, and one very important candy bar wrapper.

1. IT’S A SPINOFF OF BEETLE BAILEY.

Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker had been drawing that military-themed strip for four years when a friend of his named Lew Schwartz approached him in 1954 with a new idea: Why not create a strip about a nuclear family? Around the same time, the Korean War was ending, and Walker had sent Beetle home on furlough to visit his sister, Lois. Drawing a line between the two, Walker decided to pursue the suburbia idea using Lois as connective tissue. Hi and Lois was born: The two strips would see their respective characters visit one another over the years.

2. A CANDY BAR HELPED DEFINE THE STRIP’S LOOK.

Already working on Beetle Bailey, Walker decided to limit his work on Hi and Lois to writing. He wanted to collaborate with an artist, and so both he and his syndicate, King Features, went searching for a suitable partner. Walker soon came across ads for both Lipton’s tea and Mounds candy bars that had the same signature: Dik Browne. Coincidentally, a King Features executive named Sylvan Byck saw a strip in Boy’s Life magazine also signed by Browne. The two agreed he was a talent and invited Browne to work on the strip.

3. HI ORIGINALLY HAD A BROKEN NOSE.

As an artist, Walker had plenty of input into the style of Hi and Lois: Browne would later recall that trying to merge his own approach with Walker’s proved difficult. “When you draw a character like Hi, for instance, you immediately set the style for the whole strip,” he said. “You have already dictated what a tree will look like or how a dog will look, just by sketching that one head.” In his earliest incarnation, Hi had a broken, upturned nose to make him seem virile, puffed on a pipe, and wore a vest. Through trial and error, the two artists eventually settled on the softer lines the strip still uses today, an aesthetic some observers refer to as the “Connecticut school style” of cartooning.

4. EDITORS WERE WARY AT FIRST.

When Hi and Lois debuted on October 18, 1954, only 32 papers carried the strip. The reason, Walker later explained, had to do with concerns that he was spreading himself too thin. At the time, cartoonists rarely worked on two strips at once. Between Hi and Lois and Beetle Bailey, there was fear that the quality of one or both would suffer. Editors were also worried that having two artists on one project would dilute the self-expression of both. Walker stuck to his intentions—to make Hi and Lois a strip about the small pleasures of suburban life—and newspapers slowly came on board. By 1956, 131 papers were running the strip.

5. TRIXIE MAY HAVE SAVED THE STRIP.

With readers a little slow to respond to Hi and Lois, Walker had an idea: At the time, it was unusual for characters who don’t normally speak—like Snoopy—to express themselves with thought balloons. Walker decided to have baby Trixie think “out loud,” giving readers insight into her perspective. Shortly after Trixie began having a voice, Hi and Lois took off.

6. CHIP IS THE ONLY CHARACTER TO HAVE AGED.

Like most comic strip casts, the Hi and Lois family has found a way to stop the aging process. Baby Trixie is eternally in diapers; the parents seem to hover around 40 without any wrinkles. But oldest son Chip has been an exception. Roughly eight years old when the strip debuted, he’s currently 16, a nod to Walker's need for a character who can address teenage issues like driving, school, and dating.

7. IT LED TO HAGAR THE HORRIBLE.

Browne might be more well-known for his Hägar the Horrible, a strip about a beleaguered Viking. That strip, which debuted in 1973, was the result of Browne’s sons advising their father that Hi and Lois was really Walker’s brainchild and that Browne should consider a strip that could be a “family business.” By 1985, Hägar was in 1500 newspapers, while Hi and Lois was in 1000. Following Browne’s death in 1989, his son Chris continued the strip.

8. IT ALSO HAD A BONE TO PICK WITH THE FLINTSTONES.

The Flintstones, Hanna-Barbera’s modern stone-age family, premiered in primetime in 1960, but not exactly the way the animation studio had intended. Fred and Wilma were initially named Flagstone, not Flintstone, and the series was to be titled Rally ‘Round the Flagstones. But Walker told executives he felt the name was too close to the Flagstons of Hi and Lois fame. Sensing a possible legal issue, they agreed.

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Pop Chart Lab
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entertainment
A Visual History of Captain America’s Shields
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Captain America has gone through plenty of wardrobe changes since his comic book debut in 1941, but it’s his iconic shield that has had the most makeovers. Over the past eight decades, fans have seen the shield change its shape, color, and even the material from which it’s crafted. For the folks at Pop Chart Lab, the shield’s storied history provided the perfect subject matter for their latest poster.

On this piece, the company teamed with Marvel to give a rundown of 50 of Cap’s shields—from the instantly recognizable to the downright obscure. Here we see his classic Golden Age shield, with its slightly different color scheme, and the different variations from Jack Kirby’s time-traveling Bicentennial Battles book. Then there are entries like the vibranium shield he received from Black Panther in Captain America #342 and an adamantium one made by Tony Stark.

Those different shields just scratch the surface of the deep cuts Pop Chart Lab provides. There are also shields from Captain Americas across Marvel’s numerous alternate universes, like the ones used by the Ultimate Universe Steve Rogers and the android Cap from Earth-725.

Each shield is illustrated to match its comic book counterpart and comes with a description specifying the series it debuted in and which Earth it exists on (the Marvel Universe has thousands of different versions of Earth, after all).

The posters will begin shipping on May 23, and you can pre-order yours now starting at $29 on the Pop Chart Lab website. You can check out a full look at the poster below.

Pop Chart Lab's Captain America shield poster
Pop Chart Lab

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