We asked this year’s featured contributors from Entropy’s The New Comics to give us their comic book favorites of 2015.
So, I’m a HUGE fan of Rumble (John Arcudi & James Harren, Image). Quick action, cool colors, really…goddamn amazing art. Part of me just also loves the simple premise of a no-holds-barred city brawl with demons and old-ass gods.
I also…love Head Lopper (Andrew MacLean, Image) for obvious reasons (awesome art, story, layouts, color…everything…etc) but I’m gonna go with a surprise suggestion.
The Auteur: Sister Bambi (Rick Spears & James Callahan, Oni). Maybe I’m just out for blood, and maybe I just hate Hollywood, but I loved the first run of The Auteur because it was funny, disgusting, and made me laugh my ass off. Sister Bambi was no different. Real funny/weird stuff. I recommend reading through once sober—and in the spirit of the book, at least once drunk off your ass or with your perceptions seriously altered.
Cole Closser’s comics have long reveled in nostalgia, recovering the style and material presence of Golden Age newspaper strips with the skill of a master forger. In fact, with Closser’s last book, Little Tommy Lost, one could imagine a more sinister artist successfully disrupting comics history. Alas, with Black Rat, Closser makes the moves I’d been hoping for in Little Tommy Lost: getting darker and weirder. Black Rat pays homage to a host of new inspirations (of which Closser has impeccable taste), but this time his narrative is more fractured, repurposing various artistic styles toward the gleefully absurd and darkly surreal, all carried along by his titular black rodent. It is a fantastic book.
Ley Lines 2015 Catalog
various writers and artists
Grindstone Comics & Czap Books
Ley Lines is a quarterly zine project “dedicated to exploring the intersections of comics and the various fields of art,” which is a cool idea, if relatively benign. In practice, however, Ley Lines is so much more than its instigating premise. First: the books are gorgeous, sharply designed and risograph-printed via Issue Press in Michigan. Second: the series is flawlessly curated, their 2015 catalog bookended by Warren Craghead’s Golden Smoke—a proper skewing of Art Basil Miami—and Erin Curry’s Poems by the Sea—an unofficial sequel to Cy Twombly’s drawings of the same name. If you’re interested in abstract comics and comics poetry, Ley Lines 2015 catalog is a no-brainer.
Fabian Rangel Jr. & Alexis Ziritt
Space Riders is the one comic more than any other this year that I looked forward to hitting the shelves. It’s the one book that I physically made time for. Alexis and Fabian remind us how much pure fun comics can be, their book induces that frenetic fanboy comic buzz that I have rarely felt with adult eyes. The art and colors are alive and fast and kick so much ass. The writing is a perfect fit—Rangel is the peanut butter to Alexis’ jelly. The first issues were damn near impossible to find, and the series has since been reprinted and collected into one large volume. Every issue I read twice, as in I would read it, catch my breath, flip it over and read it again immediately a second time through. Fun, fresh, fast and for real. These guys get it, and you should too. Plus, eye patches, monkeys, skulls, and spaceships. Do the damn thing.
It Will All Hurt
Study Group Comics
Farel Dalrymple is the personification of creativity. While Dalrymple’s The Wrenchies received most of the praise in 2015 (and deservedly so), It Will All Hurt was the comic that really resonated. Slipping a hair under the radar, the series wrapped up this year and culminated in a three issue story that left me sincerely attached to, wondering about, and sympathizing with a new and entirely unique cast. We follow a trail of battles and bread crumbs that lead us along a dreamscape journey, picking and choosing personal connections along the way. While IWAH pulls on the grit found in Wrenchies, it is softened by the innocence of Farel’s earlier work (see Pop Gun War), and inside lies the best of both worlds. There were points in the middle of the experience where I was talking out loud to myself, shaking my head, smiling and real-time daydreaming. The art nerd in me loved the muted colors against the neon covers, linework and newsprint paper. The creative in me had my head, heart and hands jealous and wishing for more. There’s a little sadness in my gut assuming we’ll never see these wayward warriors again, but one can hope. If you try to find a set it will be well worth it. You can’t put a price on a passageway.
Joelle Jones & Jamie S. Rich
Beautiful art and I never felt patronized by the story. Yes, Josie is very beautiful and her kills are very violent. But the story goes beyond “Hey, it’s a sexy lady killing people” and shows her motivations and misgivings, as well as the forces of the culture of the time. The thing I loved the most, though, was the completeness and integration of the period (late 50s/early 60s) into the story and the visuals of the book. Jones and Rich obviously did their homework. You see period-appropriate design across many different settings, from a tiki party, to a Chinese restaurant, to a Playboy-Club-like bar (complete with the stilted way bunnies were required to set down drinks). You see real maternity wear. All the little details were fantastic.
Boaz Lavie, Asaf Hanuka & Tomer Hanuka
Sometimes you read a comic so lovely it’s hard to describe. This was definitely the case for me with The Divine. I almost feel it’s something that should be read with a minimum of previous knowledge. The art is fantastic. The juxtaposition of delicate lines with intense color is somewhat remarkable. It works even as sometimes you feel it maybe shouldn’t. In a way this can also be said of the story. This book leaves you with much to ponder and many good conversations to have—all of them very specific and spoilery—but is very hard to “elevator pitch,” at least for me. You just have to read it.
Just say Secret Wars. It’s literally the only comic I’ve been picking up consistently. I love me some hamfisted blockbuster event books.
OH! Paper Girls! I really liked that!
Actually, shoot! Welcome Back! Welcome Back & Paper Girls, final answer. Fuck that Secret Wars racket—give some indie girl hero books some love!
Jonathan Hickman and various artists
Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang
Christopher Sebela & Jonathan Brandon Sawyer
I’m glad I let the other contributors go first—they helped me narrow things down by mentioning some of my favorite books from the past year so I didn’t have to (The Divine and IWAH topping the list). There’s just a few books left on my faves list that I’d like to mention:
Stephen Murphy and Michael Zulli’s underground 80’s environmental sci-fi comic, the Puma Blues, was collected into a beautiful omnibus by Dover Books this year, including 60 pages of new material that finishes out the storyline of the original series.
Anders Nilsen’s Poetry is Useless (Drawn & Quarterly), an anthology of sketches and webcomics from the past
several years, is a very strange and indulgent collection that, while far from perfect, is a must-buy for fans of sketch journals and experimental comics.
And lastly, Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell’s Jem and the Holograms (IDW) gets the award for the new monthly I have been most excited about this year. Part aesthetic bubblegum, part political statement on gender and identity, Jem is a brave and risky book that performs brilliantly and makes no apologies for what it is.
As a final note, I’d like to take a little space to thank all of our contributors to this year’s Best Of, and to everyone who shared their work in the first year of The New Comics. TNC will be back in 2016 with more interviews and new work from emerging creators in the fields of sequential art, graphic narrative, and the funnypages. Til then.