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The 12 Most Interesting Comics of November

Each month, we round up the most interesting comics, graphic novels, webcomics, digital comics and comic-related Kickstarters that we think you should check out.

1. A.D.: AFTER DEATH BOOK ONE

By Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire
Image Comics


Most wouldn’t expect formal comics experimentation to come from the writers of Batman and the X-Men, but, to be fair, Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire are two of the most celebrated creators in comics and both have had a lot of success outside of their work for Marvel and DC. In this three-part prestige format series, they are collaborating to tell a story about a future in which death has been cured. Jonah Cooke, the story’s protagonist, has been alive for centuries and in this first chapter, reflects on his life and his culpability in an event that changed the world.

The format of this book is not entirely a comic; it's a combination of sequential art, prose, and illustrations. Lemire, who lately has been writing for other artists, provides the art in his discernibly loose, outsider art style while Snyder handles the considerable sections of prose with a novelist’s skill. The result is an ominous and contemplative read about memory and mortality.

2. MUHAMMAD ALI

By Sybille Titeux and Amazing Ameziane
Dark Horse Comics


Some biography subjects were born to be in comics and the brash, super-heroic figure of the boxing world known as Muhammad Ali is one of them. He famously appeared in a comic with Superman back in 1978, but in this 2015 French graphic novel, being released for the first time in English, he gets a 128-page bio-comic all his own. Ali’s life—from his youth as Cassius Clay through his storied boxing career, his conversion to Islam, and his rise as an early hero of the civil rights movement to his final battle with Parkinson’s disease—is all covered here. Titeux gives many of the biographical events some proper historical context by providing some details of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X, and the conflict in Vietnam. Ameziane’s photo-realistic artwork depicts these events with accuracy and an appropriate sense of drama equal to Ali’s legend.

3. SUPER POWERS #1

By Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani
DC Comics


Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani are responsible for some of the most popular all-ages comics and their work for DC, like Tiny Titans, is just about the best option you can find out there for early reader superhero comics. Their newest series, Super Powers, stars some of the biggest heroes in the DC Universe and begins with a story in which Batman has gone missing, leaving Superman and Wonder Woman to not only find their friend, but to also fill in for him in Gotham City while he’s gone.

4. WHO KILLED KURT COBAIN?

By Nicolas Otero
IDW Publishing


For Gen Xers, Kurt Cobain’s death by apparent suicide in 1994 was a “where were you when…” moment that is forever burned into their memories. Over 20 years later, the mystique around his death has sparked conspiracy theories and a number of books including the French novel Le Roman de Boddah by Héloïse Guay de Bellissen, which focuses on Cobain’s suicide note and its reference to his imaginary childhood friend “Boddah." French artist Nicolas Otero has adapted that book into a graphic novel that captures the feeling of the ‘90s—both the grunge aesthetic and even the page layout-driven style of the comics from that decade—while depicting a dramatized version of the real events of Cobain’s life. We see Nirvana’s sudden rises to success, Cobain's passionate relationship with Courtney Love, his struggle with heroin addiction. and his early death, all told from the point of view of Boddah.

5. ETHER #1

By Matt Kindt and David Rubin
Dark Horse Comics 


Writer Matt Kindt isn't a fan of the supernatural genre, so the protagonist of his new book is himself a skeptic who prefers science over magic. However, Boone Dias is a scientist-adventurer who is often brought from our world to a magical dimension called the Ether to solve a murder. In a world where seemingly anything can happen, the inhabitants of that world lean on Dias to find explanations for the unexplainable. Kindt is one of the smartest genre writers in comics right now and he’s paired with astounding new talent David Rubin (The Rise of Aurora West), whose richly colored art is like an hallucinatory children’s book that you’ll want to spend some time admiring.

6. BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA #1

By Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, Yona Harvey, Afua Richardson, and Alitha Martinez
Marvel Comics


After his cinematic debut in Captain America: Civil War, an upcoming solo film, and a new comic series written by acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, Black Panther has now become a high-profile character in the Marvel Universe—enough to warrant a spinoff series focusing on his supporting characters. The Dora Milage is the King of Wakanda’s elite all-female guard, made famous during Christopher Priest’s iconic run on the Black Panther series in the 1990s. Two of the members, Ayo and Aneka, have been a major part of Coates's run and will now be the focus of this book. 

Neither of the big two comics publishers have been a model for hiring diverse creators—especially when it comes to African American women—but this particular book boasts an interesting creative team of women of color, led by professor and op-ed writer Roxanne Gay who readers of Bitch Planet will know from her essays in that comic. She is joined by artist Alitha E. Martinez, while a 10-page backup story co-written by Coates and poet Yona Harvey features art by Afua Richardson, who made a splash this past year drawing the politically charged Image series Genius.

7. MAYDAY #1

By Alex DeCampi, Tony Parker, and Blond
Image Comics


This is the first issue of a proposed trilogy of mini-series that mix Cold War espionage with unexpected elements like ‘70s drug culture, Alice Cooper, and Krautrock. The series will follow a pair of CIA agents through different exploits in the 1970s. The first issue begins with the murder of a Soviet general while he is in the act of defecting to the United States. Rather than a John le Carré-style of complex spy maneuvering, it quickly veers into the unexpectedly violent and weird vibe of a Coen brothers film when the two Russian assassins hook up with a bunch of hippies and fall victim to some LSD-laced vodka.

DeCampi employs a number of neat writing tricks here, including a clever way of showing how someone trying to understand another language may miss every few words as they’re trying to keep up with a conversation. She also manages to integrate a ‘70s era soundtrack into the story, along with a recommended playlist at the end and some notes about the musical choices.

8. SUGAR & SPIKE VOL. 1

By Keith Giffen, Bilquis Evely, and Ivan Plascencia
DC Comics


Sugar Plumm and Spike Wilson are private investigators for superheroes. When someone like Alfred the butler needs someone to track down a stash of embarrassing zebra and rainbow-colored Batsuits that has been stolen or Green Lantern needs to investigate whether an alien flower on display in a museum is the same sentient being he used to wear on his lapel for a time back in the ‘80s, they turn to Sugar and Spike for help. This series, which ran in the recent Legends of Tomorrow anthology and is now collected on its own in a trade paperback edition, is representative of DC Comics's new, brighter outlook on its properties; one that embraces the silliness of the past and lets their superheroes be superheroes (Sugar and Spike themselves are meant to be grown-up versions of a couple of toddler characters that ran in a strip of the same name back in the 1950s). It’s a clever yet ridiculous concept that is played for laughs and works well, thanks to the physical comedy and character acting by artist Bilquis Evely. Amidst all the broad comedy, there are also subtle hints at a complicated but affectionate relationship between the two protagonists that leaves you wanting to know more.

9. SUNNY VOL. 6

By Taiyo Matsumoto
Viz Media


The final volume of Taiyo Matsumoto’s award-winning manga series reaches English-speaking audiences this month (it came out in Japan last year). The poignant, slice-of-life series about a group of foster children who only find solace and escape when sitting in an abandoned yellow car they’ve named “Sunny” is considered a masterwork by many. This series has been nominated for numerous awards and won the Shogakukan Manga Award this year, one of Japan’s highest honors for manga.

10. THE PLUNGE

By Emi Gennis
Kilgore Books & Comics


In 1901, Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel. And she did it at the age of 63. Emi Gennis tells her story in this beautiful new black-and-white comic, released through brand-new publisher Kilgore Books & Comics. Taylor’s life story is both an uplifting example of can-do feminism and an anti-climactic tragedy, as she would eventually die poor and alone, gaining nothing from her death-defying feat. Gennis’s crisply inked cartooning style has an appropriately old-timey feel and her depiction of the horrific ride down the falls is captivating and surreal.

11. LEGEND

By Samuel Sattin and Chris Koehler
Z2 Comics


After humans have been wiped out by a biological terror attack, dogs and cats are left to rebuild the world in their absence. But there is something else out there—a mysterious creature called the Endark—that has killed Ransom, the leader of the dogs, requiring an English Pointer named Legend to step up and take his place. Chris Koehler is an accomplished editorial illustrator who has worked for publications such as The Atlantic and Variety. His style exhibits a high level of photorealism and a designer’s sense of minimal color. He manages to translate that style to his first piece of sequential comics without losing any of his technical polish. This collaboration with novelist Samuel Sattin, also a comics newbie, should please most domestic animal adventure fans of stories like The Incredible Journey or We3.

12. Off Season

By James Sturm
Slate.com


Acclaimed cartoonist and director of the Center for Cartoon Studies James Sturm (The Golem's Mighty Swing) has been creating a webcomic for Slate that began in September and will continue through the end of the year. It is about 2016, with a focus on the election and now on its aftermath. Set in New England, it follows a down-on-his-luck divorced dad who was a Bernie Sanders supporter raising a daughter who is excited about the prospect of electing the first female president. Sturm draws everyone—including real-life players like Donald Trump—as anthropomorphic dogs, trudging through the same reality we’re all currently living in real time.

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BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
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10 Amazing Facts About Stan Lee
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Comic book legend Stan Lee’s life has always been an open book. The co-creator of some of the greatest superheroes and most beloved stories of all time has become just as mythical and larger-than-life as the characters in the panels. In 2015, around the time of Marvel’s 75th anniversary, Lee had the idea to reflect on his own life, as he said, “in the one form it has never been depicted, as a comic book … or if you prefer, a graphic memoir.”

The result, published by the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster in 2015, was Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir—which was written by Lee with Peter David and features artwork by cartoonist and illustrator Colleen Doran. Here are 10 things we learned about Lee, on his 95th birthday.

1. HIS WIFE IS ALSO HIS BARBER.

As a bit of a throwaway fact, Stanley Martin Lieber (Stan Lee) reveals the secret of his slicked back mane on the second page of his memoir. “My whole adult life, I’ve never been to a barber,” he writes. “Joanie always cuts my hair.”

2. HIS CONFIDENCE COMES FROM HIS MOTHER.

Amazing Fantastic IncredibleCourtesy POW! Entertainment[2].jpg

Stan Lee writes that as a child he loved to read books by Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and others, and his mother often watched him read. “I probably got my self-confidence from the fact that my mother thought everything I did was brilliant.”

3. YOUNG STAN LEE WROTE OBITUARIES.

Before writing about the fantastic lives of fictional characters, Stan Lee wrote antemortem obituaries for celebrities at an undisclosed news office in New York. He says that he eventually quit that job because it was too “depressing.”

4. CAPTAIN AMERICA WAS HIS FIRST BIG BREAK.

A week into his job at Timely Comics, Lee got the opportunity to write a two-page Captain America comic. He wrote it under the pen name Stan Lee (now his legal name) and titled it "Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge." His first full comic script would come in Captain America Issue 5, published August 1, 1941.

5. HE WROTE TRAINING FILMS FOR THE ARMY WITH DR. SEUSS.

After being transferred from the army’s Signal Corps in New Jersey, Lee worked as a playwright in the Training Film Division in Queens with eight other men, including a few who went on to be very famous: Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan, cartoonist Charles Addams (creator of The Addams Family), director Frank Capra (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [1939] and It’s a Wonderful Life [1946]) and Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

6. HE DEFIED THE COMICS CODE AUTHORITY WITH AN ANTI-DRUG COMIC.

In 1971, Lee received a letter from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare asking him to put an anti-drug message in one of his books. He came up with a Spider-Man story that involved his best friend Harry abusing pills because of a break-up. The CCA would not approve the story with their seal because of the mention of drugs, but Lee convinced his publisher, Martin Goodman, to run the comic anyway.

7. AN ISSUE AT THE PRINTERS TURNED THE HULK GREEN.

The character was supposed to be gray, but Lee writes that the printer had a hard time keeping the color consistent. “So as of issue #2,” Lee writes, “with no explanation, he turned green.”

8. HIS WIFE DESTROYED HIS PRIZED TYPEWRITER.


Rich Polk/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

According to Lee, during an argument, Joanie destroyed the typewriter he used to write the first issues for characters including Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four. “This happened before eBay," he writes. "Too bad. I could’ve auctioned the parts and made a mint.”

9. A FIRE DESTROYED HIS INTERVIEWS AND LECTURES.

When Lee moved his family to Los Angeles, he set up a studio in Van Nuys where he stored videotapes of his talks and interviews, along with a commissioned bust of his wife. The building was lost to a blaze that the fire department believed was arson, but no one was ever charged with the crime.

10. HIS FAVORITE MARVEL FILM CAMEO WAS BASED ON ONE FROM THE COMICS.

Beginning with the first Spider-Man film in 2002, Stan Lee has made quick cameos in Marvel films as a service to the fans. He says that his appearance in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) was inspired by the story of Reed and Sue Richards’ wedding in Fantastic Four Annual Volume 1 #3, in which he and artist/writer Jack Kirby attempt to crash the ceremony but are thwarted.

All images courtesy of Touchstone unless otherwise noted.

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These Evil Dead 2 Comics Will Look Groovy on Your Bookshelf
Space Goat Publishing
Space Goat Publishing

Bruce Campbell has been quoted as saying the gallons of fake blood poured into his face during filming of the 1987 cult classic horror film Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn led to a week of red-tinged mucus leaking out of his nostrils. Fortunately, no Campbells were harmed in the making of two new comic collections from Space Goat Productions that are now being funded on Kickstarter. The Evil Dead 2 Omnibus features over 300 pages of stories set in the Necronomicon-plagued universe featured in numerous comic book miniseries; The Art of Evil Dead 2 reveals never-before-seen production art from both the comics and ancillary projects.

The campaign is the latest from Space Goat, the Bellingham, Washington-based company that’s made a cottage (or cabin) industry from products spinning out of the Sam Raimi-directed film, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. In addition to the new collections, the publisher has also issued an Evil Dead 2 coloring book; a comic where Campbell’s demon-fighting hero, Ash Williams, encounters Adolf Hitler; and a forthcoming board game where players can navigate Deadite threats while shaking their head at Ash’s questionable competency. (No matter the iteration, he seems ill-equipped to deal with the threat of his own possessed and lopped-off hand.)

According to Space Goat publisher Shon Bury, licensing the Evil Dead 2 property from rights holders StudioCanal in 2015 has been a buoy in navigating the difficult waters of comic book publishing. (Even Marvel, which rakes in billions through its film franchises, struggles to sell more than 60,000 to 70,000 copies of its most popular monthly titles.) One day into its Kickstarter launch, the Evil Dead titles had reached 50 percent of their $20,000 funding goal.

“It’s definitely our flagship on the publishing side,” Bury tells Mental Floss. “The board game is our top seller in the Evil Dead category, and the coloring book sells really well. They’re our evergreen products.”

The cover to 'The Art of Evil Dead 2' from Space Goat Publishing
Space Goat Publishing

Exploring Ash’s adventures in other media comes with a few caveats. While Space Goat is free to explore the characters and situations portrayed in Evil Dead 2, incorporating ideas from the rest of the series (including 1993’s Army of Darkness or the Starz series Ash vs. Evil Dead) is generally off-limits. And while the StudioCanal rights include a likeness of Campbell, the actor has veto power over how he’s depicted on the page. “For some reason, he doesn’t like the dimple on his chin to be drawn,” Bury says. “But he’s very insistent that the scar on his face from the movie is always there.”

Other actors featured in the film—like Richard Domeier, the future home-shopping host who portrayed “Evil Ed”—may not have granted their likeness rights, but his Deadite character design is part of the deal. “You want to inoculate the owner or licensor of the rights,” Bury says. “So we submit drawings and they might say, ‘No, too close to the actor.’”

That development process is part of what makes up The Art of Evil Dead 2, one-half of Space Goat’s current Kickstarter project that follows a successful Evil Dead 2 board game launch in 2016. The campaigns, Bury says, help target Ash fans with material that might not get enough attention if it were released directly to retailers. “Kickstarter is basically social media. It’s direct engagement, our way of saying to fans, ‘Hey, you’re really going to like this.’”

Bury expects fans to be just as enthused about Evil Dead 2: The Doppelganger Wars, a limited series due for release in 2018 that sees Ash and sidekick Annie Knowby enter the mirror dimension glimpsed at in Evil Dead 2 to discover the true origins of both the demon-summoning Necronomicon and the cult surrounding it. A meeting with H.P. Lovecraft may also be on deck, along with other narratives that would carry the license through the end of the publisher’s current agreement with StudioCanal in late 2019.

Still to be decided: whether Ash will ever encounter the werewolves of The Howling, Space Goat’s latest horror license. “Those conversations have occurred,” Bury says. “It would be a natural. But it’s also challenging because the royalties [for the licenses] double.” 

Digital versions of The Art of Evil Dead 2 and the Evil Dead Omnibus will be available to backers pledging $20 beginning in December. Softcover, hardcover, and Necronomicon slipcase editions ($30 and up) ship in May 2018. The Kickstarter runs through November 25.

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