Past contributors from Entropy’s The New Comics give us their sequential art favorites of 2019.
(Click publishers’ names for details and purchasing info.)
7 Deadly Sins
TZE Chun & Artyom Trakhanov
Pain, action, violence, vengeance and frontier justice… part The Magnificent Seven, part Django Unchained, this western pays homage to some the best movies in the genre and creates a new rich world. Trakhanov is a master, and Chun is a revelation.
House of X and Powers of X
Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, R.B. Silva and Marte Gracia
I grew up on X-Men, but over the past 20 years the book has tried to be many things, and failed at almost all of them. I dropped the book, but I always looked at Uncanny when I walked by and wished things could be the way they used to be. These books promised me a new beginning. What they gave me was hope that I can love the X-Men again.
Pleading With Stars
I’m still unpacking this tome. A one-man anthology of thoughts, emotions, and art styles. Kurt presents us with a world of wonder and characters trying to figure themselves out. Not something you’ll read in one sitting; you need to let parts of this book breathe.
Dial H For Hero: Enter the Heroverse
Sam Humphries & Joe Quinones
Dial… has long been one of the wackier artifacts floating around the DC Universe, but never has it been treated with the care and creativity shown in this year’s mini-series launched as a part of Brian Bendis’s Wonder Comics imprint. What is truly special about this book is the creative way they use the pages to essentially create a comics survey course, with each new hero seemingly pulled from a different comics era or tradition. It’s a book that is not ashamed to openly celebrate the medium of comics.
Abby Howard & Sarah Winifred Searle
Abby Howard released her half of this book of comic essays on her Tumblr this past fall. It’s two stories about eating disorders and body image, and I thought it was really great.
From the publisher’s website: “It’s an ongoing battle, but both [authors] want to share with people what it truly is to be Unhealthy.”
Mira Jacob takes the complicated nature of blending families and raising a child of color in the Trump Era, and writes about it in an honest, raw, real and beautiful way. She mixes words and visuals so stunningly, and takes you on a journey from laughing to crying in such short space.
How Black People Keep Each Other Alive
Hannah Giorgis & Charlotte Gomez
The creators pull us out of any complacency that today’s world allows when dealing with the state of emergency that is police brutality. After I read this, I swallowed, silent, still. It considers the heartbreak of the quiet and desperate moments, and the largeness of a world in catastrophe all at once.
The Hard Tomorrow
Drawn & Quarterly
It’s hard to imagine Eleanor Davis publishing a new comic and it not popping up on a bunch of “Best of” lists. (In fact, several of our contributors nominated it. – ed.) Davis’s comics have become increasingly political, and The Hard Tomorrow is her next step: it’s overtly political, yet hopeful. The narrative follows an antiwar organizer and activist in a not-so-distant future, humanizing the toll that a “carceral state” has on people. Despite the pessimism that the title implies, I found myself drawn to the hope Davis offers at the end, and how it offers an honest salve for our current political moment.
G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte
I love G.I. JOE. I love comics. I love G.I.JOE comics. Fiffe’s work manages to be somehow both nostalgic and ahead of the curve, and I would love to see him tackle other 80’s properties (Thundercats, anyone?) Reading Sierra Muerte feels like Saturday morning cartoons for adults, served with a bowl of Captain Crunch. Plus…my man draws one hell of a mean Destro.
Hellboy vs. Lobster Johnson: The Ring of Death
Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson, Paul Grist & Dave Stewart
One of my not-so-secret loves is lucha libre, where classic battles of good and evil between tecnicos and rudos are played out in squared circles all over Mexico. So when Hellboy and Lobster Johnson don luchador masks in a small pueblo south of the border, I couldn’t help but think this comic was made especially for me. Crafted in the image of =old black and white Santo and Blue Demon movies that rose to popularity during the mid-1960s to early-1970s, this one-shot is like watching a musty matinee — a neat, digestible single serving of escape for a rainy afternoon.
Destroy All Vampires / Vampires Everywhere!
Chris Miller, Justin Ishmael & Rico Renzi
First seen as background props in the classic vampire flick The Lost Boys, these replicas contain rare art obtained from the film’s source materials. With no real narrative to Chris Miller’s original pages, Justin Ishmael and Rico Renzi reconstructed both issues with the fine folks at Bottleneck Gallery. Fans of cult movies, 70’s horror comics, or The Two Coreys should track these down before the sun comes up. They legitimately rule.
Drawn & Quarterly
Trained under Lynda Barry, Flower’s drawings are definitely not the most technical, but they show personality and depth. Most importantly, her stories hold compelling and powerful lessons on race, class, and gender. Furthermore, just seeing her book in print was inspiring for me, since it is based off the author’s dissertation. I am hoping to make comics based off academic research, so this made me feel hopeful that the field of comics can expand to include more research-based nonfiction graphic novels.
Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist’s Journey (Kakukaku Shikajika)
Seven Seas Entertainment
Higashimura’s autobiographical manga series is a dedication to her old deceased art teacher who mentored her throughout high school and helped her in college. It is also a reflection of her regrets—the things she wished she could have told him when she wasn’t young and immature. Higashimura balances both humor and sadness to create a compelling, engaging story of mentorship, love, and human relationships.
The Tenderness of Stones
New York Review Comics
Not unlike Donald Barthelme’s The Dead Father, Fayolle considers a father—this one dying rather than dead—through a fabulist lens. The book opens with the burial of the father’s enormous lung, and proceeds from there, detailing, with honesty and wry humor, the slow dissolution of a patriarch. Fayolle is a French cartoonist who is particularly adept at visual puns, which she accomplishes with a distinctive poeticism.
The River at Night
Drawn & Quarterly
Following a bizarre, almost Beckettian premise—our eponymous character, Glenn Ganges, spends 200+ pages unable to fall asleep—The River at Night is as formally inventive, and philosophically thought-provoking, as anything from Chris Ware or his ilk. However, unlike Ware, Huizenga achieves high-mindedness without getting mired in drudgery, or leaving the reader with a depressing pit in in their stomach. That’s Huizenga: complex and smart without the hangover.
A great compilation of Brinkman’s old works. Killer characters and neat perspectives are in full effect in this book.
Hannah K. Garden
I’ve known Hannah for over 15 years. She’s probably been making comics for about a decade, and I’ve been trying to get her on The New Comics almost since I started it. Her comics (which do not actually have the formal title included above) can be found on Instagram or Patreon, and when she’s done making each one, Hannah puts them in a bowl on her kitchen table. Her comics are about her husband, her pets, recovery, life in the Catskills, and about making comics that you put in a bowl when you’re done with them. In many ways, her life is my creative ideal.
Hieronymous & Bosch
Paul Kirchner has the dubious honor of being one of the first comic creators whose style I had memorized, as he illustrated many of the He-Man comics I read as a kid. Rediscovering him as an adult, I’ve grown to love his bizarre body of work. H&B’s one-page gags read a little like Antonio Prohías’s Spy vs Spy cartoons, but Kirchner’s formal command sees the titular sinners wander through an architecturally meticulous Hell that uses Looney Tunes logic to warp the laws of physics (and good taste) around them.
For those who knew him (and I was one of them), Ed Siemenkowicz was a central figure in indie comics — an artist who created community wherever he went. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the year he turned 40, Ed resolved to make a graphic novel about it, but died before it was finished. As a testament to Ed’s legacy, one hundred and fifty artists worked on finishing the art for the project, now available for free online.
One thing I noticed when compiling this list was how often our contributors talked about comics that give them hope. I think hope is a good thing, and a much needed thing, in these dark times. Ed inspired hope, and creativity, in everyone who met him. It’s only fitting that this book does the same.
Here’s to the comics — and to the people — who keep giving us reasons to be hopeful.
The New Comics will be back in 2020 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.