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 or digital storefront, the BF staff is here to lead you through the woods with our weekly staff picks. Satisfaction guaranteed!
Comic of the Week
George and Samantha’s sabbatical year in Oaxaca brings simmering tensions to the surface in Peter Kuper’s staggering new work. At once a deeply focused character piece and a broad portrait of a town, Ruins is a rare blend of emotional realism and technical achievement.
The author spent several years living in Oaxaca with his wife and daughter – an experience that reveals itself in an impressive level of authenticity. The book also looks gorgeous, thanks to Kuper’s blend of magazine illustration and classic underground comix influences.
Early buzz already has Ruins pegged as one of the books of the year. Check out our review on Broken Frontier and don’t miss out on this remarkable work.
Peter Kuper (W/A) • SelfMadeHero, $29.95
– Paul Mirek
Lose #7 and Dressing
The quiet revolution that took place at the Ignatz Awards last weekend might suggest that the laurels have been handed to a new wave of comics champions. However, a week that brings two new publications from Michael DeForge clearly indicates that the ‘old guard’ (!) isn’t going anywhere in a hurry.
Lose #7 is the first full-colour edition of the annual series described by Koyama Press as DeForge’s “comics laboratory”. In typically individualistic style, it promises to explore the eccentricities of a woman who befriends her father’s doppelgänger and the realities of a flightless bird/boy hybrid. Meanwhile, Dressing is a hardback compilation of his various mini-comics, zines and anthology work, forming a follow-up to his earlier collection Very Casual.
The fact that DeForge continues to generate this volume of fascinating work is a cause for celebration, highlighting the talent at play in what is increasingly looking like a golden age of alt-comics.
Michael DeForge (W/A) • Koyama Press, Lose #7 $10, Dressing $19.95
– Tom Murphy
The New Deal
Cat burglary and class politics collide in Depression-era New York, as a round of mysterious thefts at the famous Waldorf Astoria hotel land a bellhop and a maid in the middle of a whodunit where the only people they can trust are each other. The latest graphic novel from Jonathan Case (Dear Creature, The Creep) is a feast for the eyes, his smooth linework and lively facial expressions bringing the legendary hotel (and its employees) to life, in all of its ritzy glory.
Case’s attention to period detail builds a stunning world where his clean lines and impeccable design sense shine. This historical heist yarn is more than just easy on the eyes, though. There is a delicate social balance at play in the book, providing another layer of depth to an already intriguing plot.
A fun, historical romp with no shortage of smarts, The New Deal is a masterful piece of graphic storytelling by a creator at the very top of his game.
Jonathan Case (W/A) • Dark Horse Comics, $16.99
– Jason Wilkins
Exit Generation #1
It’s a brave new world after 95% of Earth’s population had headed to the stars. War has ended, everyone has plenty of what they need, and humanity is energized at the prospect of starting again. But with nothing to rebel against, what’s a young punk to do?
Initially a self-published project by Sam Read (Find) and Caio Oliveira (Super Ego), Exit Generation is getting wider distribution courtesy of ComixTribe. However, the book’s scrappy feel of a couple of creators doing what they love is fully intact.
In my review of the first issue I wrote, “There’s a kinetic energy to this first issue that should be familiar to anyone who’s ever turned their headphones up loud to escape from reality, mundane or otherwise.” If that sounds like you, do yourself a favor and dive into this crazy sci-fi wonderland this Wednesday.
Sam Read (W), Caio Oliveira (A), Ruth Redmond (C) • ComixTribe, $3.99
– Paul Mirek
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
I first ran across the name and accomplishments of Charles Babbage in the pages of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s steampunk novel The Difference Engine. Babbage was something of an eccentric and a polymath, whose theories presaged general computing theory by over a hundred years.
In a similar way to Gibson and Sterling, UK cartoonist and animator Sydney Padua imagines a pocket universe where Babbage and his scientific collaborator Ada, Countess of Lovelace (Lord Byron’s daughter), use their Difference Engine in a series of madcap misadventures, taking on everyone from the American banking system to an evil street musician, who rocks the duo to their very foundations.
Nowhere near as dark in tone as Gibson and Sterling’s influential thriller, Padua’s graphic novel is a fun, refreshing take on her protagonists’ singular relationship, well-crafted and full of heart.
Sydney Padua (W/A) • Pantheon Books, $28.95
– Jason Wilkins
Anyone who’s been a fan of comics over the past decade is probably familiar with Seth Kushner’s work whether they know it or not. The New York-based photographer shot some of the most iconic portraits of comic creators, including this often reused image of Brian Michael Bendis.
And for those of us who knew Seth, who watched him fight and ultimately lose his battle with leukemia over the past year, it’s easy to place a greater amount of importance on what once was a more simple coming-of-age story.
This semi-autobiographical anthology follows the life of Adam Kessler, a pop-culture-obsessed New York photographer torn between pleasing his Mom by finding a ‘nice Jewish girl’ and figuring out what he really wants. Illustrated by twenty-two artists (including Dean Haspiel, Josh Neufeld and Noah Van Sciver), the individual stories fit together to tell a complete narrative. The foreword is by Jonathan Ames, creator of HBO’s Bored To Death.
I had a chance to talk to Seth about this passion project of his back when he was running a Kickstarter campaign to fund it. You can read that here.
Seth Kuschner (W), Josh Neufeld, Various (A) • Alternative Comics, $19.99
– Tyler Chin-Tanner