Last week saw my interview with rising star Ales Kot published at The Guardian, where we tore into new horror noir Wolf and the very angry Material, particularly on matters of systematic racism.
“My honesty gets me in trouble,” Kot allows, “but my take is that if they can’t handle me at my realest, they don’t deserve to have me anyway. Which maybe sounds privileged, but it’s not – I turned down plenty of gigs when I had nothing in my bank account and was very sick, without a home, staying at my friend’s studio, not knowing what to do, or where I would be in a month, or if I would even be alive. Turning down work that does not feel right continues to be crucial for my attainment of the kind of career and life that I want.”
It's no secret that when my life was turned upside down last year by bringing home a tiny, adorable, paper-chewing puppy, that I swiftly made the switch to reading almost all of my comics digitally, and went so far as to rescue/donate my single issues to charity.
Aside from the ease of having my entire library at my fingertips, I've been really impressed by how many comics are available digitally, including indie titles. I first came across Sequential at the Edinburgh Book Festival and since then it's been a regular destination for me when I'm looking for something different.
Right now - and until August 1st - Sequential is celebrating its two year anniversary with a big 50-90% off the print price sale across over 350 titles from the likes of Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, SelfMadeHero, Blank Slate, Avery Hill, Secret Acres, Koyama Press and more.
And okay, I LOVE top ten lists. Not as anything objective, but the chance to see what everyone else is reading that I might be missing out on. So, without further ado, here's my pick of ten titles from the sale to feast your eyes upon.
(NB - each title has a short preview at the Sequential links.)
Panel Mania has been renamed First Look and continues as normal twice a month - this time around it's an exclusive preview of Norwegian's finest!
Jason's upcoming If You Steal, complete with hitwoman Frida Kahlo and 50s horror comic pastiche.
The multi-award winning Jason has been consistently publishing at least one critically acclaimed hit per year since the turn of the century, with 2014 the only omission. Fans and critics are awaiting this new collection with keen anticipation, not least due to the alluring title in the original Norwegian: Frida Kahlo’s Parrot.
If You Steal collects eleven new stories, with a definite if extensive focus on pop culture pastiche. A 50s horror comic styled take on Van Morrison’s Moondance, Frida Kahlo as a hitwoman (as seen on the cover), the JFK assassination conspiracies concluded, Santo and his greatest challenge, a heist story with touches of Magritte… Jason casts his net wide, threading these disparate comics into one seamless tapestry with Nostradamus at the helm.
With his signature four panel grid, simple anthropomorphic animal characters, and ligne claire minimalism throughout, Jason’s work is often at risk of being discounted on sight. Yet the uncomplicated surface gives way to complex layers that hold far deeper meanings.
Jason is the master of haunting comics that wriggle into the reader’s brain and very often break their heart. If You Steal is a tad lighter than some of Jason’s previous works but it is still a tremendous example of the power of amplification through simplification – he forges a world so universally recognisable one cannot help but be captivated completely.
Jason’s entire oeuvre is published in English by Fantagraphics and is absolutely essential reading for any fan of comics, art, pulp fiction, or silent/near-wordless narratives. From the earliest Hey, Wait… through I Killed Adolf Hitler and Athos in America, each is an instant classic. If You Steal, complete with Chet Baker, Night of the Vampire Hunter, 50’s style big bug horror fare and all, is no exception.
The web sensation hit the books market last month to enthusiastic acclaim, and today's Independent on Sunday carries my large review of one of my favourite complete comic stories of all time.
This review was great fun to write, and it was fabulous to see artwork from Nimona adorning the sunday papers!
"Nimona though is where it all began, and where Stevenson’s most pure artistic expression is to be found. What begins in simple panel layouts and shark jokes, turns through expressive colour palettes into playful design and incredible characterisation that matches the dark evolution of the story. Stevenson has prioritised accessibility above radical composition, with simple but effective transitions and easy to follow dialogue bubble paths. This is perhaps why Nimona is as popular with new comic readers as it is with long-time fans."
Of late, I've kept my comics coverage pretty positive. Because comics are pretty darn awesome. But sometimes comics do in fact break your heart. And sometimes you have to take a stand and say, "this is not okay".
The second issue of Airboy by James Robinson and Greg Hinkle hit the shelves yesterday. I really enjoyed the first issue - I have a weakness for stories about writers struggling to write, and the author-insert technique was interesting - so naturally I read the second issue. Here's where I messed up: I didn't see anything wrong with this very transmisogynistic comic, despite it using slurs that I abhor.
Thankfully, I was pointed in the right direction. Hopefully I can help point others towards that direction as well.
[Warning: contains quotes and images of transphobic slurs]
Originally published in issue 278 of the British Science Fiction Association's critical journal, Vector, earlier this year, my second column offers a crash course in science fiction webcomics.
Featuring FreakAngels, Gunnerkrigg Court, Ava's Demon, Thunderpaw: In the Ashes of Fire Mountain, Destructor, Titan, Terra, Dicebox, and I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space, hit the jump for the full article!