Broken Frontier http://www.brokenfrontier.com Exploring The Comics Universe Fri, 21 Feb 2020 19:15:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.4 53049596 Gender: A Graphic Guide – Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele Provide a Concise and Accessible Exploration of Gender Identity http://www.brokenfrontier.com/gender-graphic-guide-barker-scheele-icon/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gender-graphic-guide-barker-scheele-icon http://www.brokenfrontier.com/gender-graphic-guide-barker-scheele-icon/#respond Fri, 21 Feb 2020 16:49:52 +0000 http://www.brokenfrontier.com/?p=90605 If you’re a Broken Frontier reader then you are already well aware of the power of graphic narrative to communicate, educate and inform. Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele’s Gender: A...

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If you’re a Broken Frontier reader then you are already well aware of the power of graphic narrative to communicate, educate and inform. Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele’s Gender: A Graphic Guide explores the concept of gender, discussing the “current debates and tensions” on the subject and providing a concise and easily digestible account of the intricacies of the issues discussed.

Barker and Scheele previously collaborated on Queer: A Graphic History, also from Icon Books and Scheele will be familiar to our audience from their various self-published work over the years, as well as being the artist on Avery Hill Publishing’s time-twisting, musical fantasy series Metroland with Ricky Miller. Here, Scheele provides sometimes directly representative, sometimes symbolic illustration for Barker’s succinct but certainly never superficial analysis. Strictly speaking this is not comics in terms of pure sequential art but it does employ many of the tools of the form.

Gender: A Graphic Guide begins with an exploration of the historical reasons for our perception of gender as a groundwork for the discussion that is to come. That conversation initially covers the relationship between sex and gender, the gender spectrum and the inter-related factors that shape our perceptions of it, before moving on to extensive chapters covering masculinity, feminism, the non-binary experience, and the trans community. As narrator Barker is conciliatory and welcoming, breaking down complex ideas into easily considered sections.

Scheele’s illustrations are lively, animated and engaging, taking the text to a new level of connectivity with the readership. Scheele has always had a fluid and appealing cartooning style but here their graphic characterisation and ability to encapsulate ideas and emotions in striking visual metaphor is outstanding in its application, adding relatable layers to Barker’s already accessible words. One visual device that is used to give the reader an empathetic point of contact is the small cast of characters who weave in and out of the pages, providing the audience with familiar reference points as the book progresses.

Gender: A Graphic Guide asks us to question the social constructs we take for granted, to consider the perceived norms that shape those views and, crucially, to think about a wider lived experience. It’s very easy to throw out terms like “essential reading” in reviews but this comprehensive and expansive analysis lives up to those words. Now, more than ever, we need to be challenging what we may once have unconsciously considered as objective facts and acknowledge not just the subjectivity they embodied but the reasons behind that conditioned thinking. This is an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to explore the subject further.

Meg-John Barker (W), Jules Scheele (A) • Icon Books, £13.99

Review by Andy Oliver

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Frontier #22: Tunde Adebimpe – Ruminations on Death and Perception in the Latest Issue of Youth in Decline’s Comics Monograph Series http://www.brokenfrontier.com/tunde-adebimpe-frontier-youth-decline/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tunde-adebimpe-frontier-youth-decline http://www.brokenfrontier.com/tunde-adebimpe-frontier-youth-decline/#respond Thu, 20 Feb 2020 16:15:48 +0000 http://www.brokenfrontier.com/?p=90549 Over the last few weeks we’ve been gradually catching up with some of the recent issues of Youth in Decline’s quarterly art and comics monograph series Frontier. The latest number...

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Over the last few weeks we’ve been gradually catching up with some of the recent issues of Youth in Decline’s quarterly art and comics monograph series Frontier. The latest number of this creator spotlight project is the subject of our attention today with an edition featuring the work of TV on the Radio lead singer Tunde Adebimpe. Something of a Renaissance man, Adebimpe’s practice has crossed many mediums including animation, acting, music, directing and cartooning.

Frontier #22 begins with a brief anecdotal text piece recounting a bad acid trip. Two pages that, for all their lack of accompanying illustration, are highly visual. Sprawling text is used to highlight changing mental states, increasing and decreasing in size and placement to mirror shifts in perception and intoxicated emotional reactions. It’s the precursor to a stream-of-consciousness reflection on life, death and (possibly!) apocryphal family secrets.

With a relentless, nihilistic rhythm, Adebimpe bookends Frontier #22 with a graphic poem on the fragility of existence (below). A procession of death in a myriad of forms rolls out under single illustrations, eerie visual metaphor mirroring the unsettling descriptive accompaniment. It’s an unceasing reminder of not just our own mortality but of the impermanence of all things; the literal and the figurative side by side, spiralling from the gravely serious to the ridiculous but with the same sense of the existentially ephemeral sitting at the heart of each page.

Sandwiched in between as interlude is a short piece on psychic ability within Adebimpe’s family line (below). This takes the form of single page portraits of family members endowed with elements of representational symbolism. There’s something very knowing about each profile, character and personality projecting directly out of each and expressive image, the life and vibrancy of this section proving an intriguing contrast with its surrounding material.

Showcase publications that allow creators experimental spaces like Frontier are owed wider acknowledgement. The idea that comics as a medium has so much room to grow and develop – that its language is an ever evolving one – is a recurring one here at Broken Frontier, both in terms of our commentary and the ruminations of our creative interviewees (perhaps best expressed by British graphic novelist Karrie Fransman here a few years ago). Frontier embodies that belief with its ever eclectic line-up of styles and approaches, and it deserves all the acclaim it’s had to date. We look forward to seeing what the series has in store for us in 2020…

Frontier #22 is available to buy online from Youth in Decline here. Follow Tunde Adebimpe on Instagram here

Review by Andy Oliver

Follow Andy Oliver on Twitter here and Instagram here

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Fizzle #1-3 – Whit Taylor’s Beautifully Observed Slice-of-Life Tale from Radiator Comics Possesses an Emotional Immediacy http://www.brokenfrontier.com/fizzle-whit-taylor-radiator-comics-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fizzle-whit-taylor-radiator-comics-2 http://www.brokenfrontier.com/fizzle-whit-taylor-radiator-comics-2/#respond Thu, 20 Feb 2020 09:36:46 +0000 http://www.brokenfrontier.com/?p=90551 Whit Taylor’s minicomics series Fizzle, published by Radiator Comics, has been something of a slow burn read to date, and that has very much been a huge part of its...

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Whit Taylor’s minicomics series Fizzle, published by Radiator Comics, has been something of a slow burn read to date, and that has very much been a huge part of its intrinsic charm. The sedate pace over which it has developed in its three issues has meant we have been able to savour the world Taylor has been building and invest ourselves more fully in its central character Claire, a protagonist whose life is changing not with an abrupt moment of sudden epiphany but rather a gradual realisation that her circumstances can be altered.

When we are first introduced to Claire she’s been with her partner, the oft stoned slacker Andy, since meeting him at a student party some years before. In her professional life she is trapped in a job as a barista with a passive aggressive manager so devoid of even rudimentary empathy that they will no doubt represent a familiar figure to many readers. One throwaway discussion, though, is about to push her in an entirely new direction as an interest in fruit flavours and ice pops (ice lollies for our British audience!) begins to take hold…

What’s so relatable about Fizzle is that is that its drama lies in the small frustrations and unspoken disappointments that we all live through and can recognise through Claire’s experiences. The feeling we could be doing so much more with our lives, for example, and the unfulfilled ambitions that define us as much as our achievements. Its familiarity comes in its understatement, from the casual oppression of Claire’s workplace to the painful awkwardness of family parties with Andy’s nearest but not necessarily dearest.

Taylor’s cartooning is not elaborate in detail but rather possesses an emotional immediacy that allows us to connect with her characters on a more instinctive level by capturing the pure essence of the moment rather than over-rendering it. But perhaps less obviously it’s the tempo of her panel to panel storytelling that impresses in terms of bringing us so directly into the mindset and experiences of the cast – the build-ups, the pacing, the quiet pauses and the shifts in perspective communicating the pathos and humanity of their lives. Taylor also has an obvious ear for naturalistic dialogue that gives the story an added sense of veracity.

Whether it’s in self-publishing or micropublishing, small press serial comics can be a difficult sell to an audience simply because the momentum is understandably affected by their incremental delivery. That’s a shame because so much excellent and eventually collected work exists and survives via this method of publishing, and comics like this deserve our support. Relatable and beautifully observed, Fizzle is a prime reminder of the connective power of slice-of-life comics storytelling.

You can buy Fizzle online here from Radiator Comics.

Review by Andy Oliver

Follow Andy Oliver on Twitter here and Instagram here

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Bitter Root #6 – The Critically Acclaimed 1920s Monster-Hunting Series Returns with a Solid and Compelling Jumping-on Point Issue http://www.brokenfrontier.com/bitter-root-image-comics-walker-brown-greene/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bitter-root-image-comics-walker-brown-greene http://www.brokenfrontier.com/bitter-root-image-comics-walker-brown-greene/#respond Wed, 19 Feb 2020 15:13:36 +0000 http://www.brokenfrontier.com/?p=90607 ‘Family Business’, the first Bitter Root story arc, established the Sangerye family, a monster-hunting clan whose status had diminished over the years. Set in the 1920s, during the Harlem Renaissance,...

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‘Family Business’, the first Bitter Root story arc, established the Sangerye family, a monster-hunting clan whose status had diminished over the years. Set in the 1920s, during the Harlem Renaissance, those opening issues introduced the assorted Sangeryes including the matriarchal Ma Etta, frustrated would-be adventurer Blink, the less accomplished Cullen (who would undergo a significant transformation), and the erudite Berg, among others. A follow-up one-shot anthology Bitter Root: Red Summer Special filled in some of the previously hinted at gaps in the family’s history while propelling other plot points forwards.

That initial storyline mixed supernatural action thriller with social commentary as the Sangeryes faced the threat of the Jinoo, humans whose hatred and bigotry had changed them into demonic entities. Written by David F. Walker and Chuck Brown, and brought to visual life by Sanford Greene, it placed events into a very specific historical context, exploring the racist atrocities of the era in what has been frequently referred to as an “ethnogothic” tale.

The first Bitter Root arc had a sprawling cast and a breakneck pacing which meant, although largely well defined in their own rights, characters still fought for their moment in the narrative spotlight. Readers, too, were thrown into the action from the outset, learning about the characters and their backstory on the go. While this felt fitting in terms of mirroring the frenetic pace and uncertainty of Sangeryes’ lives it meant that ‘Family Business’ was a significantly more satisfying read as a collection in comparison to its monthly incremental incarnation.

For the second story arc, Bitter Root #6 wisely provides the reader with a family tree and bios of the cast, along with a recap of events to date to ease the audience back into the Sangeryes’ world. The first issue to be edited by Shelly Bond (Black Crown, Vertigo) builds on that startling cliffhanger from #5 as we find the family dealing with an escalation of the Jinoo threat, the tensions in their own relationships, a markedly changed family member and an all-new monstrous adversary…

With an expanding list supporting players and further revelations about the greater picture, Bitter Root #6 acts as both prologue to this second storyline and as an exercise in world-building, giving us a greater understanding of the book’s environment while Walker and Brown also drop in enough hints and teasers to open up a whole new set of questions.

The distorted fluidity of Sanford Greene’s art brings the horrors of the Sangeryes’ world to vivid, brutal life. That can be in the frenzy of battle – the action sequences this issue are sublime in their realisation with panels overlapping panels and separate perspectives/sequences juxtaposed – or in quieter but no less devastating scenes, as the conclusion of this instalment demonstrates. Sofie Dodgson’s colours are an integral part of the mix, soaking each page in the eeriest, most atmospheric hues while Clayton Cowles’ lettering craft can always be relied on to play its part in guiding our eye and pacing dialogue.

As with the first run of issues the back material essays on black popular culture and history make a fascinating and welcome complement to the main action. Bitter Root is such a compelling read because, for all the grand guignol and ostentatious adventuring, it’s an intensely human drama rooted in very real horrors. If you’ve yet to pick it up then #6 has been much touted as a jumping-on point, and it’s a solid and compelling one at that.

David F. Walker & Chuck Brown (W), Sanford Greene (A), Sofie Dodgson (C), Clayton Cowles (L) • Image Comics, $3.99

Review by Andy Oliver

Follow Andy Oliver on Twitter here and Instagram here

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Illustrated Haiku – Sajan Rai Introduces Us to a Fantasy Realm that is Diverse, Magical, Bizarre and Unashamedly Irreverent http://www.brokenfrontier.com/illustrated-haiku-sajan-rai/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=illustrated-haiku-sajan-rai http://www.brokenfrontier.com/illustrated-haiku-sajan-rai/#respond Wed, 19 Feb 2020 09:16:37 +0000 http://www.brokenfrontier.com/?p=90547 When I say that I have always found Sajan Rai to be a curious creative voice I mean that in a distinctly positive way. His work feels notably different from...

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When I say that I have always found Sajan Rai to be a curious creative voice I mean that in a distinctly positive way. His work feels notably different from project to project and is never easy to pin down in terms of easy genre definitions. Neither of these are bad things and, indeed, we need far more unpredictable creators that I can hang that “curious” label on. From his contributions to the Backwards Burd collective a few years back to his utterly out there and (as far as I’m aware) sadly uncompleted in print Petty Beach, through to his adventures of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, Rai continues to carve out his own small press niche with no concessions to the delicate sensibilities of a potentially wider audience (as the name of his publishing imprint Childish Butt-Vomit underlines!). I think that’s rather splendid.

Rai’s recent long-term ongoing project has been a series of illustrated haikus which have been posted on social media, with a dedicated Instagram account of their own. Last year he collected 199 of them into a book with the appropriately functional title of Illustrated Haiku. Set in a fragmentarily realised fantasy world, each individual haiku is the work of a single narrator who gives their observations on this plane of existence. In terms of chronology they are not presented in sequence, meaning the reader picks up and pieces together the particulars of this realm in a non-linear sense, fostering a more intimate interaction between reader and narrative.

Rai’s poetry here is delightfully contradictory in tone. As he introduces us to this imagined land he can be portentous and brooding, bathing in the mysterious majesty of its environs, and yet Illustrated Haiku is punctuated with multiple moments of wonderfully, incongruous irreverence as well: “All butts clenched in dread/When she strode in. leaving with/Jester’s head in hand” reads one description of a frightening warrior woman. People being dropped from a monastery roof to endure 50-foot wedgies, sphinxes with terrible stand-up comedy routines and a city whose main defence is that its moat is fed by its sewer are just a few examples of the dark humour in these pages.

The orcs, gorgons and wizards that live here are perhaps the most pedestrian inhabitants of this strange world of marvels in comparison to some of its other sights: a waterfall formed from the grieving tears of an inconsolable giant; an eerie, millennium-old, giant flame that exists within the ocean and boils unwary fish that cross its path; and the horrifying sight of a race who live here whose eyes, ears, nose and mouth are all one organ. Added to this fairy godpiglets, frozen theme parks, aphrodisiac plants used as weaponry, and belching valleys are just some of the bizarre features we encounter.

Rai’s illustrations are utterly captivating throughout. It’s not simply the imagination behind the weird concepts he brings to life but also his spellbinding use of colour to draw the eye in and it’s refreshing to see a sci-fi/fantasy realm inhabited by a diverse cast of characters. Each single image feels like an entire story in itself with the audience not so much filling in the gaps between panels as the narrative space surrounding each illustration. It’s up to the reader, then, to put together the recurring themes, events and motifs of the wider picture. This is the kind of excellent experimental storytelling practice that acts as a reminder of how undefined comics as a medium still is and how much we continue to discover about its structural potential.

Follow Sajan Rai on Twitter here and Instagram here. You can buy Illustrated Haiku in print from Sajan Rai’s online store here

Review by Andy Oliver

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Mark Waid Named Publisher of Humanoids Ahead of a Year Celebrating the Publisher’s Legacy http://www.brokenfrontier.com/mark-waid-named-publisher-humanoids-ahead-year-celebrating-publishers-legacy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mark-waid-named-publisher-humanoids-ahead-year-celebrating-publishers-legacy http://www.brokenfrontier.com/mark-waid-named-publisher-humanoids-ahead-year-celebrating-publishers-legacy/#respond Wed, 19 Feb 2020 06:43:27 +0000 http://www.brokenfrontier.com/?p=90677 An announcement this week preceding what looks set to be a banner year for Humanoids with the news that US comics writer Mark Waid has been announced as Publisher. The...

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An announcement this week preceding what looks set to be a banner year for Humanoids with the news that US comics writer Mark Waid has been announced as Publisher. The full press release with details of some of Humanoids 2020 releases runs below.

Award-Winning Writer Mark Waid Named Publisher of Humanoids

Announcement Follows Launch of Ambitious Publishing Initiatives

And Predates A Year-Long Celebration of The Seminal Science Fiction Publisher’s Legacy Titles

(February 18, 2020) Humanoids, the Los Angeles-based publisher of some of the world’s most iconic and groundbreaking science fiction and fantasy graphic novels, has named Eisner award-winning writer Mark Waid as Publisher. In his new role, Waid will lead the content strategy for Humanoids’ LA-based office. In addition to taking the reins as day-to-day creative lead for the company, Waid will be responsible for overseeing editorial, sales and marketing; expanding Humanoids’ relationships within the creative community; and deepening its ties to retailers and librarians. Waid will report to Humanoids’ CEO Fabrice Giger, who was previously both Humanoids’ CEO and Publisher.

“Humanoids is internationally renowned for its history of publishing prestigious, groundbreaking graphic novels,” said Humanoids CEO Fabrice Giger. “With his passion for publishing, respect for the medium’s past, attention to today’s political and cultural landscapes, and keen eye for spotting talent, Mark Waid is perfectly suited to lead the Humanoids publishing team as the new Publisher of Humanoids English-language efforts. We are thrilled with the work that Mark has done and it was time to expand his responsibilities. It’s a significant passing of the baton.”

“Fabrice Giger founded Humanoids in Los Angeles in 1998 with the goal of introducing American readers to the European masterworks by creators like Jodorowsky, Mœbius, Gimenez, and Manara and these classics remain the foundation of Humanoids,” said Waid. “As we look to the future, Humanoids’ publishing slate will honor the legacy of those iconic books, while continuing to innovate and experiment with new publishing initiatives like Life Drawn, BIG and H1.”

In October of 2018, Humanoids announced Waid as the company’s Director of Creative Development and also named John Cassaday as the company’s first ever Chief Creative Officer. Those high profile hirings followed the launch of Life Drawn (a new literary imprint featuring deeply personal, powerful and often political narratives), BIG (an all ages imprint), and H1 (a shared, superpowered universe with all new characters and stories).

The announcement of Waid as Humanoids’ Publisher comes at an opportune time. Timed to the 40th anniversary of THE INCAL by writer Alejandro Jodorowsky and internationally acclaimed artist Mœbius, the company will pay tribute to its illustrious past with a series of high profile publications, including:

WE ARE HUMANOIDS FEATURING THE INCAL, An All-New Free Comic Book Day Issue by writer Mark Waid and artist Stéphane Roux. Colors by Hi-Fi Colour Design

Humanoids returns to the world of THE INCAL, the sci-fi masterpiece by Mœbius and Jodorowsky, with the first original story in close to a decade. This brand-new tale by superstars Mark Waid (Ignited, Kingdom Come) and Stéphane Roux (Star Wars, Birds of Prey), and featuring a cover by Ladrönn (Final Incal, Hip Flask, Inhumans) makes its world premiere for FCBD and serves as the perfect introduction for new readers to discover the seminal series. The 2020 Free Comic Book Day Issue also includes exclusive first looks at the new wave of projects from Humanoids and its imprints.

Available for free in comic book stores on Free Comic Book Day Saturday May 2, 2020.

“Forty years ago, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Mœbius redefined the comics medium with their revolutionary storytelling in THE INCAL,” said Mark Waid. “Our Free Comic Book Day story pays tribute to that iconic science fiction epic, while introducing its characters to a new generation of readers everywhere.”

THE SEVEN LIVES OF ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY compiled and curated by Vincent Bernière & Nicolas Tellop

This all-new, oversized hardcover coffee table edition is an appreciation of the legendary filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky and provides a definitive overview of his many creative ventures, including his comics writing, his passion and contribution to Tarot, his life in the theater, his rebirth as a 70s cinematic cult figure and his legendary work on the unfinished film adaptation of Dune. Featuring exclusive interviews, photos and much more.

On sale in bookstores on May 12, 2020 and in comic book shops on May 13, 2020.

Two 40th Anniversary Trade Paperback Editions of THE INCAL by writer Alejandro Jodorowsky and artist Mœbius; Featuring an introduction by bestselling writer Brian Bendis.Colors by Yves Chaland (Book 1), Isabelle Beaumeney-Joanner (Books 2, 3 & 4), and Zoran Janjetov (Books 5 & 6).

“Jodorowsky is our prophet. Our patron saint of imagination. A man with the mind of a god, where universes upon universes swirl and splinter, explode and coalesce, and wither and flower, all at once, all the time.”—Jason Aaron, Southern Bastards

Humanoids will celebrate the 40th anniversary of THE INCAL with two separate special anniversary editions: a limited edition cover for comic shops to be published timed to Free Comic Book Day and a mass edition featuring the classic yellow Difool cover for bookstores. When the limited edition direct market is sold out, it will not be reprinted.

In this iconic story, John Difool, a low-class detective in a degenerate dystopian world, finds his life turned upside down when he discovers an ancient, mystical artifact called “The Incal.”

On sale in comic book shops on April 29, 2020 and in bookstores on June 2, 2020.

The First Ever Trade Paperback of BARBARELLA by Jean-Claude Forest

Adapted by bestselling writer KellySue DeConnick

Jean-Claude Forest’s timeless sci-fi series introduced the intergalactic and erotic adventures of the fierce warrior Barbarella. Now, for the first time, Humanoids will publish a trade paperback edition of the English-language adaptation by BITCH PLANET and PRETTY DEADLY writer Kelly-Sue DeConnick, featuring both the original BARBARELLA story and its sequel THE WRATH OF THE MINUTE EATER in one volume.

On sale in bookstores on June 16th and in comic shops on June 17, 2020.

“BARBARELLA is iconic,” said BITCH PLANET writer and co-creator KellySue DeConnick. “But more people know the film than the comic, and THE WRATH OF THE MINUTE EATER is virtually unknown here in the States. I feel lucky to have played a role in making it available to English audiences. I love it. It’s dark, and somehow even more insane than the original.”

A Re-issue of METAL HURLANT: SELECTED WORKS

“Métal Hurlant” magazine was created in Paris in 1974 by Moebius, Druillet, and Dionnet, the founding fathers of Les Humanoïdes Associés. This movement soon revolutionized the medium and inspired countless writers, artists and filmmakers the world over. Versions in various languages flourished everywhere, including in the States with “Heavy Metal.” Always with innovation and creativity in mind, Humanoids launched a 13-issue anthology in 2002, to develop relationships with the new wave of comics talent and establish a creative bridge between the US and Europe with stories by comic book stars Geoff Johns, Kurt Busiek, Guy Davis, Jerome Opena, and more. Now highlights from the anthology are being published in book form in a new edition.

On sale in bookstores on March 17 and in comic shops on March 18.

“THE INCAL, BARBARELLA and METAL HURLANT are some of the most essential comics ever created,” said superstar artist and Humanoids’ Chief Creative Officer John Cassaday. “For decades, these books have inspired everyone from Brian Bendis, Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, and Mark Russell to filmmakers around the world. Speaking on behalf of Mark Waid and myself, we feel it’s our responsibility to introduce these classics to the next generation of readers.”

“Humanoids has a wildly ambitious lineup of releases for 2020,” said Waid. “And it’s not just a celebration of our past. No genre is off-limits, no audience left behind. We’ve got NICNEVIN AND THE BLOODY QUEEN, a haunting and unsettling coming-of-age horror story by Helen Mullane, Dom Reardon, Matthew Dow Smith, Lee Loughridge and Jock. We’ve got MPLS SOUND by writers Hannibal Tabu and Joseph Illidge, with art by Meredith Laxton, colors by Tan Shu, and a cover by Jen Bartel, an aspirational graphic novel about a fictional band inspired, and later guided by, Prince himself that was recently announced at the Apollo Theater. We’ve got some brilliant non-fiction on the slate. We’ve got a wide array of books in progress for young readers and the YA audience that we’ll be announcing soon. That range of storytelling and ambition illustrates where our focus is in 2020–and where Humanoids goes from here.”

For more updates on Humanoids, follow the company on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Curls – Charlot Kristensen’s Autobiographical Minicomic Captures Her Feelings of Exclusion in this Account of Growing Up with Naturally Curly Hair http://www.brokenfrontier.com/curls/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=curls http://www.brokenfrontier.com/curls/#respond Tue, 18 Feb 2020 15:42:07 +0000 http://www.brokenfrontier.com/?p=90553 In a recent Avery Hill Publishing press release I was quoted as saying of the work of Charlot Kristensen that “Kristensen’s vibrant visual characterisation, immersive employment of colour and playful...

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In a recent Avery Hill Publishing press release I was quoted as saying of the work of Charlot Kristensen that “Kristensen’s vibrant visual characterisation, immersive employment of colour and playful sense of pacing marks her out as a genuinely exciting new emerging talent to watch.” This year sees the release of her graphic novel What We Don’t Talk About from AHP, described as a book that “examines contemporary issues of race, entrenched bigotry and the difficulties faced by interracial couples.”

While that project is Kristensen’s debut graphic novel she has already published a number of minicomics and zines including Curls. Kristensen’s devotion “to representation and empowering women of colour” has also been underlined in Avery Hill’s recent press and this short minicomic explores her childhood as a person of colour trying to fit into a society where her naturally curly hair was not accepted.

Employing the too seldom used in comics landscape format Curls looks at Kristensen’s early years. In a prologue that uses white space and sparse panelling to evocatively depict the moment of her birth as a blank canvas ready for life, she makes a simple bold statement that will define the rest of the story: I was born with what you would call “bad hair.”

From here we observe a young Charlot’s school days where she finds that having what is perceived as an unruly head of hair marks her out as an outsider among her white peers in the schoolyard. From outright hostility and ridicule through to equally hurtful inappropriate teasing she begins to resent her own appearance, and becomes obsessed with finding a solution…

Kristensen’s story lasts just ten or so pages but works on multiple levels. There’s that very personal account, obviously, about growing up in an environment where you are made to feel an outsider simply because of your ethnicity but there are also themes of peer pressure, identity and social profile examined here. Kristensen uses the landscape format to her narrative advantage, giving each page a newspaper strip-style pacing and also employing a highly atmospheric use of both colour and perspective to further the mood and themes of her story. Check out as well her use of cropped perspective to heighten tension and give an almost claustrophobic feel to the memories she relives.

What We Don’t Talk About debuts from Avery Hill this May and t’s undoubtedly going to be one of the key UK graphic novel releases of 2020. That’s no secret to anyone who has looked at the preview art. Those wanting to get some extra pre-publication insights into Kristensen’s practice would do well to make Curls their starting point!

You can follow Charlot Kristensen on Instagram here and on Twitter here. Visit her online store here and her website here.

Review by Andy Oliver

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Join the Future #1 – An Intriguing Look Forward and Backwards in Genre Time and Space that Might Say Something True about the Here and Now http://www.brokenfrontier.com/join-the-future-aftershock-kaplan-kowalski/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=join-the-future-aftershock-kaplan-kowalski http://www.brokenfrontier.com/join-the-future-aftershock-kaplan-kowalski/#respond Tue, 18 Feb 2020 09:11:35 +0000 http://www.brokenfrontier.com/?p=90567 Why not Join the Future for an intriguing look forward and backwards in genre time-space that might say something true about the here and now. #1 out in March. If...

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Why not Join the Future for an intriguing look forward and backwards in genre time-space that might say something true about the here and now. #1 out in March.

If you like science fiction and also westerns you might like to think about how combining the tropes of these two genres is a little bit like some of the contradictions inherent in current American culture; technology will save us, nothing can save us, we have to save ourselves. Small town values and a longing for the good old days? Buy this. Progressive values and a longing for a shining liberal future? Buy this. Same company owns both thises by the way. Zack Kaplan is thinking about it. With three successful genre titles with Image Comics under his belt, this new series with Aftershock Comics paints a beautifully juxtaposed scenario combining the best of both forward-looking and backward looking worlds while really, of course, being all about looking around ourselves at what’s going on today. Probably. I mean, it’s got robots and wolves and evil corporations and Stetson hats. So, it should be good.

Elegant, spindly skyscrapers set the scene from the first page, as picture perfect diverse custodians of the future lay out an opulent advertisement for city life. It looks pretty darn good to be honest. Every sci-fi technology and social policy you can think of to spell a metropolitan utopia is here, so of course it’s all highly suspicious.

As can be seen here and in the preview on the Aftershock website, the art from Piotr Kowalski and Brad Simpson is pretty exquisite, more than living up to the concept, polished off with lettering from the excellent Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou of Strip Panel Naked fame. With beautifully balanced pages and cannily crafted colour schemes, the future is bright and also romantically rustic when the palette switches from gleaming glass to warm woodland. Outside of the future city exist rural communities, holding out against the lure of technology. The Mid-West countryside looks pretty lush. Definitely not a Matrix-style scorched landscape. But all is not ideal of course. Clementine, who we soon meet hunting with her family, is suffering some kind of climate-induced asthma, and also there’s giant killer wolves. So that’s fun. Clem’s dad is the mayor of a small town resisting the call to the city, and seems to take an anti-tech stance to the extreme. Her brother isn’t even allowed an iPod, or the readily available gadgets that would make it easier to shoot dinner.

Join the Future has everything you need for a joyful high-concept science fiction western epic. It’s too early of course, in the first issue, to know whether these ingredients will ultimately be handled in an interesting way. There’s certainly some thoughtful treatment of American cultural tropes, a protagonist with both grit and vulnerability, and more than enough implied intrigue to explore. I would read this comic for the visuals alone in all honesty, so I’m quite happy to ride along to see if the story will live up to its potential too.

Zack Kaplan (W), Piotr Kowalski (A), Brad Simpson (C), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (L) • Aftershock, $3.99

Advance review – arrives in stores March, 2020

Review by Jenny Robins

This post Join the Future #1 – An Intriguing Look Forward and Backwards in Genre Time and Space that Might Say Something True about the Here and Now appeared first on Broken Frontier.

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Staff Picks for February 19, 2020 – BANG!, Plunge, Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Return of Effie Kolb and More! http://www.brokenfrontier.com/bang-kindt-daark-horse-fax-sarajevo-kubert-hellboy-silver-sprocket/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bang-kindt-daark-horse-fax-sarajevo-kubert-hellboy-silver-sprocket http://www.brokenfrontier.com/bang-kindt-daark-horse-fax-sarajevo-kubert-hellboy-silver-sprocket/#respond Tue, 18 Feb 2020 07:24:29 +0000 http://www.brokenfrontier.com/?p=90542 It’s nearly Wednesday, and you know what that means: a fresh load of comics and graphic novels! With so many publications hitting your local comics store, comics event or digital...

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It’s nearly Wednesday, and you know what that means: a fresh load of comics and graphic novels! With so many publications hitting your local comics store, comics event or digital storefront, the BF team are here to lead you through the woods with our weekly staff picks. Satisfaction guaranteed!

Comic of the Week

BANG! #1

I rarely get very excited about industry comics these days, but on the basis of this opening issue, BANG! promises to live up to the hype.

Writer Matt Kindt starts by building on the trappings of the James Bond archetype (including that cufflinks thing that seems to send a lot of grown men giddy and giggly). However, he then veers sharply into territory related to memory, identity and agency that recalls his masterful Mind Mgmt. Meanwhile, the slick art of Wilfredo Torres (ably backed up by colourist Nayoung Kim and letterer Nate Piekos) propels the story with clarity and drive.

Whether as a writer/artist or in collaboration with other top talents, Matt Kindt is a creator whose work is never less than entertaining and is often thought-provoking, if not downright mind-bending. At first glance BANG! might look like just another spy caper, but by the end of #1 both its protagonist and the reader have been hurled into something altogether more rich and strange.

Matt Kindt (W), Wilfredo Torres (A), Nayoung Kim (C), Nate Piekos (L) • Dark Horse Comics, $3.99

– Tom Murphy

Plunge #1

Joe Hill has been having a better year than most of us, thanks to Locke & Key wowing audiences on Netflix and introducing new readers to his eclectic body of work. With Plunge, he goes back to his roots, exploring what he has described to an interviewer as an arctic horror remake of John Carpenter’s The Thing.

There are echoes of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu as well, in this story of an exploration vessel known as the Derleth that sends a distress signal from a remote atoll in the aftermath of a tsunami. The strange thing is, the ship has been missing for 40 years!

Joe Hill (W), Stuart Immonen (A) • DC Comics/Black Label/Hill House, $3.99

– Lindsay Pereira

No Romance in Hell

When you read a creator credit and see a name like Hyena Hell it’s an instant draw even if you’re not familiar with their work. The second plus for this indie release this week is, of course, that it’s published by Silver Sprocket, one of our favourite alt comics publishers here at Broken Frontier Towers.

This one-shot follows a demon dissatisfied with her lot in the netherworld who makes her way to the mortal plane to check out her romantic prospects there instead. We’re promised that “disappointment, disintegration, and hilarity ensue in this brimstone-infused roasting of modern romance.” Expect a distinctly underground vibe to the pages of this intriguing release this week.

Hyena Hell (W/A) • Silver Sprocket, $5.00

– Andy Oliver

Fax from Sarajevo

A new edition of the 1996 non-fiction classic is published by Dark Horse this month, hopefully bringing Joe Kubert’s masterpiece to entirely new audiences. It tells the true story of European comics agent Ervin Rustemagić, trapped in Sarajevo during the Serbian siege of the city.

With his family’s only contact with the outside world being via fax, Rustemagić spends 18 months only able to communicate via that method of communication. One of those recipients was friend Joe Kubert, the comics legend whose contributions to the DC line were immeasurable. Kubert brings this unique tale of survival and the family’s struggle against the odds to life in one of the most important books of the 1990s. Vital and obligatory.

Joe Kubert (W/A) • Dark Horse Comics, $19.99

– Andy Oliver

Big Black: Stand at Attica

In the summer of 1971, New York’s Attica State Prison was a symbol of everything broken in America: prisoner abuse, rampant racism and a blind eye turned towards the injustices perpetrated on the powerless. But when the guards at Attica overreacted to a minor incident, the prisoners decided they’d had enough and revolted against their jailers, taking them hostage and issuing demands for humane conditions.

A natural leader, Frank “Big Black” Smith found himself at the centre of this uprising, struggling to protect hostages, prisoners and negotiators alike. But when the only avenue for justice seemed to be negotiating with Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Smith soon discovered that a peaceful resolution for the prisoners in Attica was unattainable.

Before his death in 2004, Smith (who became an advocate and counsellor for prisoners and former inmates following his release) worked with Jared Reinmuth, the son of his lawyer, to share the true story of his time in Attica. Adapted by French artist “Amazing” Améziane (Muhammad Ali), whose work crackles with gritty period energy, this is an unflinching look at the price of standing up to injustice.

Frank Smith and Jared Reinmuth (W), Améziane (A) • Archaia/BOOM! Studios, $19.99

– Tom Murphy

Bitter Root #6

It’s been a while since the conclusion of the first story arc but the monster-hunting Sangerye family return this week with a new run picking up directly on the dangling threads of the first. Acting as a jumping-on point, complete with recap and family tree sections for new readers, Biter Root #6 sees the clan members face not just an escalation of the Jinoo threat and the return of a much changed family member, but also the emergence of an ultimate evil from beyond.

We have a review coming later this week and all we can say at this point is watch out for the visuals of Sanford Greene this time around for some sensational visual storytelling.

David F. Walker & Chuck Brown (W), Sanford Greene (A), Sofie Dodgson (C), Clayton Cowles (L) • Image Comics, $3.99

– Andy Oliver

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Return of Effie Kolb #1

Twelve years after the miniseries that saw Hellboy pitted against the demonic Crooked Man, Mike Mignola returns to the character in this first of a two-part story Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Return of Effie Kolb. The original was illustrated by legendary horror artist Richard Corben with this sequel featuring the visual talents of artist Zach Howard and colourist Dave Stewart.

Years after he banished the Crooked Man, Hellboy makes a return visit to Appalachia when a psychic warns Tom Ferell of an imminent threat. There he discovers the Crooked Man’s house is no longer empty and there are new menaces to uncover in the Virginia woods.

Mignola has said of this follow-up; ““Sometimes you create a character, they perform their function, and that’s it. Other times you finish with them and they just refuse to get back in their box. Tom Ferrell is one of those characters. Even as I was writing The Crooked Man I knew there was a whole lot more to that guy.” A new Mignolaverse release is always a highlight and this will definitely be one of the picks of the week on Wednesday.

Mike Mignola (W), Zach Howard (A), Dave Stewart (C) • Dark Horse Comics, £3.99

– Andy Oliver

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British Ice – Owen D. Pomery’s Bleak Thriller Explores the Legacy of Empire and the Devastating Consequences of Colonialism http://www.brokenfrontier.com/british-ice-owen-d-pomery-top-shelf-productions-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=british-ice-owen-d-pomery-top-shelf-productions-2 http://www.brokenfrontier.com/british-ice-owen-d-pomery-top-shelf-productions-2/#respond Mon, 17 Feb 2020 13:33:01 +0000 http://www.brokenfrontier.com/?p=90561 A few weeks ago when we made British Ice our ‘Comic of the Week’ at Broken Frontier we also noted that we have been following the progression of its creator...

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A few weeks ago when we made British Ice our ‘Comic of the Week’ at Broken Frontier we also noted that we have been following the progression of its creator Owen D. Pomery for the best part of a decade, from his very earliest minicomics to his Avery Hill Publishing books including The Megatherium Club and Beyond the Billboards and the Authoring of Architecture. It’s always pleasing to see creators we remember from their hand-stapled, self-published, earliest efforts going on to being picked up by acclaimed publishers and imprints, and 2020 looks set to be something of a banner year for the London-based artist. It sees not just the publication of last month’s British Ice from Top Shelf Productions but also Victory Point, another upcoming graphic novel from Avery Hill.

Set in the 1980s, British Ice begins with the British High Commission posting diplomat Harrison Fleet to an isolated Arctic island somehow still under British rule a hundred years after being colonised. Dealing with indifferent locals and an openly hostile indigenous people, Fleet finds himself caught up in both the outpost’s sinister past and the echoing reverberations of his own family’s history,

Long believed cursed, this small colony has an eerie, unsettling quality and Fleet soon begins to realise that the tensions in the area are the products of generations of brooding resentment and secrets long hidden. What is the truth behind original governor Netherton’s insistence that the island’s importance meant it should always stay in British hands? What happened to Fleet’s predecessor who mysteriously disappeared in post? Can Fleet separate legend from reality when exploring the settlement’s 19th century origins? And with opposing factions moving ever closer to open conflict can he also complete his investigations before time runs out?

Pomery’s architectural background has informed much of his comics work to the degree that, on occasion, environment seems as much protagonist as its central characters, influencing narrative flow and acting as catalyst for plot movement. That sense of place has been such an intrinsic part of his work from the claustrophobic environs of Between the Billboards to the nexus point of The Victory Motel through to the bleak comedy of Kiosk and its history of the fictional Jantia Free State. British Ice is no exception, with the vast, open spaces of the remote Arctic as essential a member of the cast as its sprawling human players.

In British Ice Pomery weaves an intriguing historical mystery, tautly paced and scattered with sudden brutal twists that never allow the reader to become complacent in their expectations. It’s also a scathing commentary on British colonialism that simply allows the horror of that legacy to speak for itself without the need for redundant additional discourse. The evils of the past cast a long shadow over the present here, but for the ultimate wielders of power it’s a darkness they are happy to continue to embrace.

With a cold monochromatic aura to his pages that reflects the barren landscape of this isolated world, Pomery reminds us that for all its sweeping and largely untouched majesty there is still something oppressive and confined to its reality. Frequent changes in perspective and reader viewpoint of events only underline this sense of brooding alienation. Stark and atmospherically charged, British Ice combines a damning study of jingoism and the legacy of empire, a flawed but quietly defiant central character and a forbidding locale to provide probably the bleakest comics thriller you’ll read in 2020.

Owen D. Pomery (W/A) • Top Shelf Productions, $14.99

Review by Andy Oliver

Follow Andy Oliver on Twitter here and Instagram here

British Ice will be officially launching at London’s Gosh! Comics on Friday February 21st. More details on the Gosh! site here

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