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 Jeff Parker, Doc Shaner, Jordie Bellaire, and Darwyn Cooke
DC Comics recently announced a deal with Hanna-Barbera productions to bring a number of their classic cartoon characters to comics, joining their already successful Scooby-Doo books. One of the first new series to launch is a big one, and it arrives with the unexpected weight of tragedy.
Darwyn Cooke inspired the book’s concept and contributed designs (like the splash image you see at the top of this page). Comic fans everywhere this week are mourning the loss of Cooke who passed away this past Saturday, May 14. His involvement with Future Quest will be among the last of his published works, adding to an influential career that includes books like DC: The New Frontier, Catwoman, and the Parker graphic novels.
Future Quest marks the return of Jonny Quest to comics for the first time in 20 years. In a move that seems inspired by the recent “shared universe” trend in cinema, this book will see Jonny team up with other Hanna-Barbera action heroes like Space Ghost, Harvey Birdman, the Herculoids, and more. Unlike DC’s plans for other upcoming books, there will be no modernizing or reimagining of these characters. This series will retain the classic look created by legendary artists like Alex Toth and the sincere adventure that Cartoon Network spoofed when they remade many of these characters in the 1990s with series like Space Ghost Coast to Coast. To capture the original feeling, DC brought in the team that specializes in rebooting classic adventure heroes: Jeff Parker, Doc Shaner, and Jordie Bellaire.
By Judd Winnick
Hilo is about a contagiously enthusiastic robot alien boy who falls to Earth and befriends DJ, an ordinary kid from a family of annoying overachievers. DJ, along with his friend Gina, try to teach Hilo how to act like a normal Earth boy, and the trio become fast friends. The first book was a colorfully illustrated fish-out-of-water tale with some great one-liners and catch phrases your kids will enjoy repeating. My own six-year-old daughter has been anxiously awaiting volume two which hits stores this week, six months after volume one ended on a cliff-hanger.
Former Real World cast member and award-winning cartoonist, Judd Winnick, was a regular writer at DC Comics for many years working on comics that leaned towards adult subject matters. In 2012, as a new parent, Winnick stepped down from the books he was writing at DC to create comics that he would actually be able to let his own kids read. Hilo is the first book he has drawn himself since his award-winning graphic novel Pedro and Me in 2000 and his first all-ages series The Adventures of Barry Ween in the late 1990s and it seems like this is what he was born to do, making you wish that he had jumped off that DC ship much sooner.
By Rob Williams, Michael Dowling, RM Guera, Quinton Winter, and Giulia Bausco
In the new DC Vertigo series Unfollow, the dying head of a social media empire randomly selects 140 people to inherit his $18 billion net worth and divide it evenly. Each recipient receives an app on their smartphones with the number “140” on it. If one of the recipients dies, the others' cut of the money increases. When the number on their apps drops almost immediately, the implication becomes clear: Their lives are in danger and no one can be trusted.
Vertigo launched a slew of new titles at the end of 2015, and Unfollow is one of the strongest. It boasts a large cast of 140 characters (get it?). The first volume focuses on just a handful, each cleverly introduced with a Twitter-like bio. There’s a young black man from post-Ferguson St. Louis, a thrill-seeking heiress trying to get back at her father, an Iranian photo-journalist, a highly eccentric Japanese novelist, and a religious zealot. The highlight of the series is the realism of Michael Dowling’s artwork and the way he makes these characters distinct and believable.
By Tiggy Upland
When someone who is not a traditional artist has an idea they want to see come to life in the form of a comic, they usually either find someone else to draw it for them or do it themselves the best they can with crude drawings. Jen Bonardi (aka Tiggy Upland), meanwhile, got a little more creative and tells her story through carefully staged photographs of custom dolls in a miniature doll house.
The setting in her webcomic Upland is intended to be a hostel in Boston run by Tiggy herself, and it allows her to tell stories based on her real-life experiences. Each episode is primarily conversations between Tiggy and her friends and hostel guests about LGBTQ issues (Bonardi is a strong advocate and also writes an advice column ... as Tiggy).
Upland is full of sharp, witty dialogue that covers interesting topics like gender identity, in-fighting within the LGBTQ community, pronoun usage, bi dating, and David Bowie. The photographed miniatures are charming and full of personality, and, while the layout of the word balloons can be confusing at times, the strength of the natural conversations in each story make these comics delightful, funny, and informative.