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 Nick Drnaso
Drawn & Quarterly
In Beverly, Nick Drnaso gives us stories of suburban dread, sexual longing, and the poor decisions people make when trying to deal with one another’s hangups. With a minimalist drawing style that looks like Chris Ware (if Ware directed a Cartoon Network show), Drnaso’s first major comics work shows that he is entering the scene already a very accomplished storyteller.
Beverly's interconnected vignettes are set in and around the same suburban town, and they include: a young woman dealing with sexual feelings for a childhood friend, a pre-pubescent boy whose sexual curiosity about his sister ruins a family vacation, and a teenage girl who finds the worst possible way of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. Drnaso tells these stories at an almost languid pace and takes unexpected turns that keep you anxiously looking ahead. It’s a fresh and compelling book that I am mentally filing away for inclusion in my Best of 2016 list.
2. Faith #1
By Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage, Andrew Dalhouse
Since relaunching in 2012, Valiant Entertainment has been building a rich and compelling universe of comics. One of their most unique characters is Faith Herbert (codename Zephyr). Faith is a rarity in superhero comics—a plus-sized female heroine. She always wants to do the right thing, as evidenced by her short stint in the shadowy government-sanctioned superhero group Unity, which ended when the questionable moral nature of the work didn’t sit right with her. She’s an upbeat, confident, and fun character who has the potential to be the company’s breakout star if given the chance, which she’s getting now with a new four-issue mini-series to call her own.
In a funny, modern touch, she looks to get herself a secret identity as a reporter and ends up writing celebrity listicles for a Buzzfeed-like website. Writer Jody Houser and artist Francis Portela bring a lot of heart and laughs, and the amazing Marguerite Sauvage steps in a couple of times to draw the book’s multiple fantasy sequences.
By Emily Carroll
Whenever Emily Carroll posts a new webcomic, it is an event worth mentioning. In "Some Other Animal's Meat" we follow Stacy, a middle-aged woman who seems to be in a state of melancholic self-reflection. Her marriage is loveless and her greatest joy seems to come from selling a skin-care product called Alo-Glo that she herself is afraid to try. Is she allergic to it, or is it causing her to slowly lose her grip on reality?
Carroll is one of the greatest horror cartoonists who has ever worked in this medium, and with each new comic she finds a way to push her work to become both more beautiful and more horrifying.
By Sterling Gates and Bengal
With so many superhero characters making the jump to TV and movies, comic publishers are grappling with “synergy” problems while trying to convert viewers into readers. Oftentimes what makes it to a TV show is a distilled version of a character that doesn’t really resemble the comic book version with its years of impenetrable backstory. Case in point is Supergirl. With the new CBS television show proving to be a success, DC seemed caught off-guard by not having an ongoing Supergirl comic already on the stands. Her most recent series was cancelled last year, and DC has decided to try a new series that exists in its own separate universe, one that more closely matches the show than the existing comics.
The result is something that fans of the TV show should enjoy. It carries its lighter attitude and is written by Sterling Gates, whose work on Supergirl in the past was an influence for the current TV iteration. He’ll be joined by a rotating stable of artists including Bengal, Emma Vieceli, Jonboy Myers, and Emanuela Lupacchino. DC is releasing this through their Digital First program on Comixology, meaning it will initially only be available in digital format at 99 cents an issue and will eventually make its way to print, but only in graphic novel (not “floppy”) format. For that added touch of “synergy,” each new issue will be released bi-weekly on Mondays, the same day the show airs.
By Ryan Heshka
Ryan Heshka’s short comic Mean Girls Club begins with a call to order of the "113th secret meeting of the Mean Girls Club." What follows is a stylishly drawn parade of throwback “good girl" subversiveness that would make John Waters and Betty Page proud. Drugs, lingerie, euthanasia, mayhem, and ceremonial insect venom transfusions are all on display here. (None of it is really offensive unless you happen to be from the 1950s.) Heshka has the retro-exploitation vibe down perfectly and his artwork—printed all in black and white and hot pink—is a blast.
This is the latest offering in Nobrow’s 17x23 “graphic short story project” in which they give young cartoonists the opportunity to tell short, one-off stories in a beautiful yet affordable single-issue format. Heshka is an accomplished illustrator and has even published a couple of children’s books, but this is his first comics work outside of anthology contributions.