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Brittney Williams // Boom! Box
Brittney Williams // Boom! Box

The 4 Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Brittney Williams // Boom! Box
Brittney Williams // Boom! Box

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.

1. MARY WEPT OVER THE FEET OF JESUS

By Chester Brown
Drawn & Quarterly

Chester Brown // Drawn & Quarterly

If you’re familiar with Chester Brown’s work, the inflammatory subtitle to his latest graphic novel—“Prostitution and Religious Obedience in the Bible”—makes it a sequel of sorts to his last book, Paying For It, an autobiographical account of his own experience with hiring prostitutes. It is also a follow-up to Brown’s unfinished adaptations of the Gospel of Matthew he published in the '90s as backup features in his comics Yummy Fur and Underwater.

Brown is a supporter of sex workers' rights and he is also a skeptical Christian (born and raised in a Baptist household). He looks to tie these aspects of his life together by pointing out the considerable instances of prostitution described in the Bible. It goes a step further, however, when Brown takes all the stories he’s illustrated here—which include those of Bathsheba, Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth—and points out that these were the only women included in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus. Brown uses this as a Da Vinci Code-like clue to explore a controversial theory about Mary, Jesus' mother.

This is a book that many will probably dismiss out of hand, but Brown is one of the greatest and most fearless cartoonists working in comics right now, and his quietly humorous approach to difficult material like this makes it easy to immerse oneself in. In addition to the comics, Brown closes the book with a nearly 100-page, hand-lettered afterword that references reading he had done on this subject and presents his true overall thesis: God actually rewards disobedience of His laws.

2. GOLDIE VANCE #1

By Hope Larson and Brittney Williams
Boom! Box

Brittney Williams // Boom! Box

In the new four-issue “girl detective” series Goldie Vance, the action takes place in a Florida resort during a slightly fantasized version of the 1960s. Guys are racing for pink slips and girls are lusting after astronauts, but the cast of this comic is much more diverse than you might expect given its period setting. The star of the book is a young woman who works as a valet in her father’s hotel but also helps the resident detective solve a plethora of cases involving guests. Goldie is smart and plucky and is all about solving problems, whether it's the case of a missing necklace or the love lives of her fellow employees.

Hope Larson is the author of such acclaimed graphic novels as Mercury and the adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. Larson has just been announced as the new writer of DC Comics’ Batgirl series, so Goldie Vance almost acts a bridge into further monthly detective comics for her. She typically draws her own graphic novels, but this book also marks a move towards collaborating with another artist. Brittney Williams is the artist on Marvel’s Hellcat series and draws in a delightful style reminiscent of pre-CGI Disney that pops with color and ‘60s pizzazz.

This book is the latest entry in Boom! Studios’ all-ages imprint, Boom! Box, that already boasts such hits as Lumberjanes and Giant Days.

3. HEARTTHROB #1

By Christopher Sebela, Robert Wilson IV, and Nick Filardi
Oni Press

Oni Press

Christopher Sebela and Robert Wilson IV have both had comics published by digital pioneer Monkeybrain. The two have teamed up for the first time for a new ongoing series called Heartthrob that is an unusual crime thriller/comedy/romance set in the 1970s. It follows Callie Boudreau, a young woman with a congenital heart defect who receives an experimental heart transplant and finds herself changed. She's more irritable, abrasive, and prone to stealing, all of which gets exacerbated after she gets fired from her job and dumped by her boyfriend. That’s when Callie meets a cute guy in a bar who turns out to exist only in her head—or, actually, in her heart. He is the deceased previous owner of her new heart and also a thief who is now her disembodied companion and partner in crime.

This is a love story 

angle that’s akin to something like Fight Club with Callie as the dry and acerbic protagonist, liberated from caring about everything in her life and thumbing her nose at everyone around her.

4. THE NAMELESS CITY

By Faith Erin Hicks and Jordie Bellaire
First Second

First Second

The city in The Nameless City serves as the main character in Faith Erin Hicks' new three-book series about class and power struggles in a Tibetan-inspired fantasy world. Every few decades, this strategically well-situated city is conquered and renamed by one of the various surrounding kingdoms. Those who have grown up within its walls resent each invading army.

The story follows Rat, a street urchin adept at parkour-style roof-jumping who meets Kaidu, a newcomer to the city and a member of the city’s latest conquerors, The Dao. The Dao are not only responsible for invading Rat’s home but also for the deaths of her parents, making her budding friendship with Kaidu unlikely to say the least.

Coming out of the webcomic scene in the early 2000s, Faith Erin Hicks had a breakout hit in 2012 with her graphic novel Friends with Boys, which turned her into a big player in the world of young adult genre comics. Her manga-influenced artwork is most often seen in pure black and white, but here she is teaming up with Jordie Bellaire, the prolific colorist of a variety of comic series for Marvel and Image. With the setting being such an important part of the story, she brings a richness and vibrancy to Hicks’ work that makes this book a joy to read.

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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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