We asked past contributors from Entropy’s The New Comics to give us their sequential art favorites of 2017.
This year, I have been extremely happy to discover Whip, a new all-woman zine published by Ella Bucknall that addresses what she describes as the ‘one all boys club scoffing at another all boys club’ that is the world of political cartooning. ‘There are currently very few female political satirists in mainstream newspapers and media. This is not because women aren’t funny or clever or political, but because we live in a society in which women are marginalised from the political sphere.’ Issue 1 contains some fine depictions of Theresa May, while Issue 2 is in support of the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign. Highly recommended!
Fabian Rangel Jr and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell
This is a “one last job” action comic set in the future where coffee is illegal, aliens live among us, and gangsters role the streets. If you like Blade Runner, Death Wish, Dirty Harry, Midnight Run, Enter the Dragon, Coffy, Mad Max, and caffeine, you’ll love Helena Crash.
Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo
Locust Moon Press
Shaman is s a supernatural story about the misadventures of resurrection –sometimes the dead should stay dead, but when they don’t, you can bet the Shaman had something to do with it. Heavenly Blues, by the same creators, is coming out now. It follows a couple of grifters’ adventures during the Great Depression, and into the great beyond.
The Best We Could Do
Form and content mirror each other, with the severe and spartan black, white and red drawings reflecting the harsh plight of Thi Bui’s family. It is also a tale of immigration, and a tale of our time.
My Favorite Thing is Monsters
Despite the lack of visual to narrative integration, the art is so goddamn tasty that the clunkiness is forgiven. Some amazing moments, revelatory design, and compositional elements make this book transcend.
The Death of Stalin
Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin
The strangeness of the material, coupled with the expressiveness of the cartooning, creates an alien feeling to rival any fantasy. The systems upon systems of bureaucracy underscores the relative cheapness of human life and dignity to those in power. Slapstick abounds. As if the Skeksis performed in Doctor Strangelove. Amazing.
Fante Bukowski Two
Noah Van Sciver
Continuing his prolific assent, Van Sciver kills it again. His work is so deeply personal, and reflective of his humorous sensibilities, that one can’t help but ride joyfully along for another rollick with America’s favorite “loveable” literary loser. The jokes are dark, deep, and quiet, but storywise this is a great leap forward for the character, and we see him as a symptom of a fucked up world rather than just a clueless hack.
You & A Bike & A Road
In spring 2016, diary comic pages started popping up on Davis’ twitter feed, chronicling her bike journey from Tucson to Athens, GA. I remember thinking to myself as the pages started to pile up, “I wish I had the book version of this.” Seemingly magically, the book came out about a year later. It’s done in beautiful and simple graphite illustration, and captures day-to-day moments touching on border patrol & racism, mental & physical health, and the kindness of strangers. It feels particularly from our current moment: while it doesn’t touch on politics explicitly, we see politics through individuals (both good and bad), and the story cuts off in a meta-commentary on the narrative’s end, reminding us that not everything resolves.
Nearly 300 pages of beautiful drama, gripping story, engaging characters and sumptuous art. Gooch explores relationship dynamics, manipulation and isolation with the considered attention to story-detail of a literary master. Oozing with atmosphere and featuring some spectacular panel layouts; a must-read.
Who Was the Somerton Man?
This is the longest work of Jess’ I’ve read, but she’s tackled a really interesting story here and I can’t wait she does next. I’m a sucker for mysteries, and this local tale was new to me, but so intriguing that it resulted in a couple hours of googling. Inspiring stuff.
One More Year
Australian comics legend Simon Hanselmann slays with yet another spiffy-AF legit book. Seriously, seeing Simon grow from a devout, near monthly mini-comic photocopier, to a hardcover, foil-stamped-title LEGIT comics author is just too incredibly inspiring. They deserve every bit of acclaim they’ve received, and this book is a great place to start. Stoner jokes, depressing anecdotes, too real, too real.
URL Ugly Real Life
Nicky’s art is bombastic, in your face, vibrant, chunky, considered and beautiful. She explores all sorts of pertinent themes in an ironic and fun manner that pokes fun at youth hypocrisies, embracing self-deprecation both to explore an issue and to deliver a beautiful, relatable punchline. Eg. ranting about how underarm hair is empowering for women, only to admit in the last panel that shaving her legs makes her feel more attractive. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Nicky reminds us that it’s okay to change your opinion, your mind, your mood. You’re only human.
The Flamingo Diamond
Perhaps my favourite comic of the year. This book came out of nowhere for me. I love Pearson’s Mr. Ray character, who he’s been developing for years–maybe I missed a few connecting pieces, but boom, all of a sudden we have this incredibly poignant, minimal, self-contained (?), poetic art work. Comics that make you feel. Comics you can hear and smell. You don’t need a synopsis, just buy the bloody book.
The Belfry is perhaps my favorite single book of the year. A standalone horror one-shot aimed at mature readers, it feels sincerely cinematic and had me daydreaming for a short film based on its content, crashes, and creatures (which are all gory and glorious). The story is amazingly executed and wholly satisfying. Weird, dark, gross and engrossing, it’s a sleeper absolutely not to be missed.
Andromeda – Bugonia
This wordless vignette follows a nameless searcher on his hunt for water and answers under the watchful eyes of eagle protectors, ominous bull temples, adversarial mask wearing soldiers and bees. The pacing and masterful line work lend an eerie and mysterious quality to the silent story. Burnay really has a handle on his craft here and is clearly in control of the experience. A unique piece of work and certainly one worth pursuing, even if you have to look to Portugal to get it.
Satani-Kill is what happens when you don’t worry about what everybody else is doing and go for it. This self-published comic is raw and alive, and made me nostalgic for 90’s comics and study hall sketches. Done completely in highlighter markers and sharpie, it is a Technicolor blitz into “Aerosol LSD,” psychedelic superheroes, and faceless meta-assassins. Andrew Buck has produced something fully original and fresh. Breaking rules and walls along the way. he is clearly producing these books for himself and simply inviting us to come along—or not. My guess is that he will keep making really cool stuff either way, I for one, do not want to miss it.
Celeste Mountjoy’s Instagram comics are raw, personal, dark, and hilarious. I can’t get enough of them. Great color and play with panels. One of the best things I’ve seen this year.
Golgo 13 – Hammer Price
Golgo 13, #187 – Far North Road
I personally think older Golgo 13 is the best, but it’s nice to read the new ones to see how Takao’s pen stroke continues to change.
The Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign?
Shaolin Cowboy first hit stands this week in 2004, and has been my favorite comic ever since — a hyperviolent mashup of surrealism and kung fu. But while previous volumes focused on demons, sprawling deserts, and zombie hordes, Reign takes place in a run-down city oozing with drug addicts and wild dogs, and the villain of the piece is a young woman covered with swastika tattoos who only stops fighting long enough to ask on occasion if Trump is really president. Prescient and spooky.
Izar Lunaček and Nejc Juren
Animal Noir might seem like its main concern is to insert cute animals into a gritty storyworld just for chuckles, but halfway through the book that intention falls apart. The authors abandon their narrative, and replace it with a collage of in-story historical records and religious documents that build a larger picture of how civilization corrupts the natural world.
Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler
Kid Lobotomy, the first title from new imprint Black Crown, is just halfway through its first arc, but it’s already my favorite comic of the year. The book reads like a pair of improvisational jazz musicians are trying to dare each other off the rails: Milligan and Fowler craft a Burroughsian cut-up / Shakespearian tragedy about Kid, a mentally ill bisexual rock musician who runs a haunted hotel, performs brain surgeries, and occasionally becomes a cockroach. I haven’t read a comic in a long time that felt so much like it was inventing itself in front of me, and in our meticulously-curated media landscape, this is a rare gift.
The New Comics will be back in 2018 with more interviews and new work from emerging creators in the fields of sequential art, graphic narrative, and the funnypages. Keep sending your stories, drawings, and other oddities to Comics Curator Keith McCleary via the Entropy submissions page.