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 events 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
It’s 1963, two young girls meet and instantly fall in love. It’s that classic love story we hear so… No, wait. We don’t get to hear these stories very often because much like Hazel and Mari’s love, prejudice and discrimination keep them from flourishing.
And 50 years later, have things really changed that much? Hazel and Mari are about to find out when they finally meet again at the same place they first laid eyes on each other; church bingo.
With multi-generational families of their own, these reunited soulmates push against just as much in the way of family complications and societal pressure as ever to to prove that love will always win out in the end.
Tee Franklin (W), Jenn St-Onge (A), Joy San (C), Cardinal Rae (L) • Image Comics, $9.99
– Tyler Chin-Tanner
What a year it was for Latvian micropublishers kuš! who celebrated their tenth anniversary in 2017 with an Eisner nomination. There’s much love in the international indie comics world for what kuš! do in bringing cross-continental comics artists to wider audiences through their anthologies and minicomics. That was also reflected in their signature š! digest being nominated as the ‘Best Ongoing Series’ in the 2017 Broken Frontier Awards.
After a (near) all-Latvian artists issue and the last Brooklyn artists special edition, this latest collection of stories is based on the theme of ‘Visitors’. Look for stories from creators of the quality of Emelie Östergren, Inés Estrada, Marie Jacotey, Mikkel Sommer, Olive Booger, Tetsu Kayama and many more in its pages. And check out BF later this week for an interview with the kuš! team. You can order online from kuš! here.
Anthology – Various creators • kuš!, $13.95
– Andy Oliver
mini kuš! #63-66
If it’s a release week for the main kuš! comics anthology then there must, of course, also be a batch of their mini kuš! minicomics on the schedule as well. This latest set includes Nausea’ by Abraham Díaz, ‘Collection’ by Pedro Franz, ‘Master Song’ by Francisco Sousa Lobo and ‘Resident Lover’ by Roman Muradov.
Diaz’s offering takes us to the dark corners of Mexico City, Franz presents a tale inspired by a 1970s Amsterdam book shop, and Francisco Sousa Lobo introduces us to an unstable London nanny named Emily. Muradov’s issue, meanwhile, is described in the intriguing terms of “a dreamlike love-story-in-a-love-story: of symmetrical apartments and abandoned plays, shared lovers and former lovers’ lovers’ lovers, and bocce – and not a word on love.”
Bite-sized intros into the work of artists who may be new to you, the mini kuš! series always rewards the reader looking for something different in their comics reading.
Abraham Diaz, Pedro Franz, Francisco Sousa Lobo, Roman Muradov (W/A) • kuš!, $6.00 each or $19.00 for the set
– Andy Oliver
There’s a lot that can be said about the relation of comics and jazz. Both are a series of moments I suppose, which become meaningful through their sequence but retain an essential individualism. French artist Blutch has long pushed boundaries in the sense of both drawing and narrative, playing with the bandes dessinées form and seeing what he can make of it; but he does not equate music and comics. Jazz here is the subject not the work itself, in form of mood, anecdote, archetype and a general celebration of a subculture that is as much about scene as sound. If you detect some improvisational magic in the marks on the page, that is coincidental.
Blutch (W/A) • Fantagraphics Books, $19.99
– Jenny Robins
Planet of the Apes: Ursus #2
If you’re a fan of the original Planet of the Apes films then this carefully crafted and faithful study of one of the series’ most memorable antagonists – the gorilla general Ursus – will delight you on a number of levels. The first issue was careful to add extra layers to the character with writer David F. Walker bringing us slowly into Ursus’s worldview and, if not making him perhaps a sympathetic player per se, then certainly making his perspective all the more understandable.
Giving further background on the series’ early continuity, making a story point of some of its more glaring issues, and interweaving events around those seen on screen, the book is also gorgeously illustrated by Chris Mooneyham with highly atmospheric colouring by Jason Wordie. This is shaping up to be the single best POTA comic or the franchise since the Marvel 1970s heyday.
David F. Walker (W), Chris Mooneyham (A), Jason Wordie (C), Paolo Rivera (CA), Ed Dukeshire (L) • BOOM! Studios, $3.99
– Andy Oliver
Grass Kings Vol. 1
For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the state of the direct comics market, there are still some very strong series hitting the shelves every week – and you’ll find the name of Matt Kindt on quite a few of them. Here he collaborates with artist Tyler Jenkins on a slow-burning and atmospheric contemporary mystery.
The Grass Kings of the title are the self-appointed rulers of an autonomous community somewhere in the US badlands.While its inhabitants are keen to stay off the grid, historical tensions with the outside world are never far from reigniting. And when a young woman staggers out of the lake looking for sanctuary, the blue touchpaper is lit again.
Grass Kings offers a rich mix of the political and the personal across its various story strands, and creates a strong sense of time and place, highlighting the territory’s bloody history. Jenkins picks up where he left off in Snow Blind, another rural mystery, with his blend of fine inking and vivid watercolours creating a tactile and evocative environment for the finely shaded morality of the series to play out in.
BOOM! might not be doing their trade waiters any favours by popping this out in a prestige hardback edition in the first instance, but if your pockets are deep enough, this is a handsome presentation of one of 2017’s best-looking and most engaging titles.
Matt Kindt (W), Tyler Jenkins (A), Jim Campbell (L) • BOOM! Studios, $29.99
– Tom Murphy
Is this Guy for Real?: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Box Brown’s contribution to the North American indie comics scene over the last several years. Boundary-pushing Retrofit Comics, the US micropublisher he brought into being in 2011, has provided a vital platform for alt comics voices in that time with a hugely impressive back catalogue of eclectic publications.
Brown may have taken an indefinite hiatus from Retrofit but his solo projects continue apace. This last week saw his latest project Is this Guy for Real?: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman published with many shops (particularly if you’re in the UK) getting their copies this week. Brought to us by First Second who also published Brown’s André the Giant: Life and Legend biography and his Tetris: The Games People Play it tells the story of entertainer and actor Andy Kaufman.
Expect a nuanced study of the complex life of a man whose multi-faceted and innovative career as popular sitcom player in Taxi, professional wrestler and improvisational performer was cut tragically short at the age of just 35 in 1984. One of 2018’s most anticipated picks for sure.
Box Brown (W/A) • First Second, $19.99
– Andy Oliver
Some years ago I wrote a number of entries for Paul Gravett‘s book 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die that included Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr’s Kick-Ass series. I described the book’s protagonist Dave Lizewski then as “a true Peter Parker for the social networking age”. Admittedly in hindsight it’s a soundbite that probably hasn’t aged that well – at the time, though, it served its function in describing the book’s central premise of a foolhardy, often incompetent, but sympathetic teenager with a desire to write wrongs as a costumed vigilante. One who was operating in a far more realistic and contemporary world than his Silver Age teen predecessor.
This week sees the duo return to the title with a brand new character behind the mask. This fourth volume promises to take the concept in new directions with the cover giving you a hint of what’s in store. Whether you loved or loathed the overt violence and casual brutality of those original miniseries there’s no doubting what a phenomenon Kick-Ass was a few short years back. No doubt this new incarnation will be one of 2018’s big serial comics talking points in the months to come…
Mark Millar (W), John Romita Jr. (A) • Image Comics, $3.99
– Andy Oliver