If there’s one thing that’s changed in the word of comics, for both readers and critics, it’s the huge market shift towards digital over the last decade. As comics have become more and more mainstream, from superheroes on our cinema screens to award winning graphic novels in book stores, the medium has embraced the potential of digital distribution in a way that took many by surprise.
As an ex-bookseller, comics as physical objects are something I’ve been quite stubbornly defensive of. But as an avid webcomic fan, and someone rapidly running out of space in my house, I was starting to come around to the idea of digital comic reading. I’d tried a Kindle for reading books and it hadn’t quite stuck – yet another piece of tech to lug around – but the iPad seemed pretty attractive, with the added bonus of being able to read full colour comics on a screen that did them justice. And the iPad mini looked particularly tempting.
So I figured, why not give one a whirl?
The first English translation of the acclaimed French graphic novel, Snowpiercer (Le Transperceneige), is published in the next few days by Titan Comics and I was lucky enough to get one of the early review copies in order to write the main review for The Independent on Sunday earlier this month.
Snowpiercer is without a doubt one of the greatest sci-fi comics ever created, and a personal favourite of mine. I'm thrilled that it was given such a high place in the paper, and that the editor picked one of my favourite pages to illustrate the print version.
It's time for an always subjective Best of the Year article, but I thought I'd do things slightly differently this year - mostly because there were so many great comics out in 2013!
There are no doubt some real gems that I've missed, and reading the various Best Of lists presents a great opportunity to stretch my reading muscles. Perhaps I can provide an equal service for some. And so instead of a numbered list, which doesn't really work within an entire medium that spans so many forms and genres, I present my very own awards. Tongue firmly in cheek, but nonetheless, these Comic Book Grrrl Awards are highly prized indeed - and redeemable for one Sailor Jerry's and Coke if you can find me.
Earlier this year, Soaring Penguin Press published the first complete English translation of Régis Loisel’s classic French series of bande dessinée, Peter Pan, a dark prequel to the JM Barrie fairy tale that pushes the boundaries of Neverland’s sinister origins.
Loisel’s magnum opus, six volumes long and published from 1990 to 2004, is clad now in green crocodile skin print with tiny Tinker Bell flying across the cover leaving a trail of pixie dust in her wake.
A very adult tale, this Peter Pan has won critical acclaim and fame in native France where Loisel’s Clochette – Tinker Bell – is as familiar a sight as the Disney starlet. Yet with its arrival on our shores many UK reviewers were left shocked by the sexual and vulgar content – most notably perhaps by Tinker Bell’s voluptuous appearance, and Peter’s insults towards her in the first chapter – “bitch!” “slut!”.
But this prequel to JM Barrie’s classic, to the play and to the Disney animated feature, is perfectly in keeping with all of its predecessors – the final line from Barrie is after all the sinister, “and thus it will go on, so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless.” By taking the subtext out of the shadows and into the spotlight, Loisel’s Peter Pan is infinitely more enjoyable.
A few recent reviews of mine, coincidentally all animal themed! Featuring the third in the animal rights action comic Liberator by Matt Miner and Javier Aranda, the all ages kickstarted A Piggy's Tale by Tod Emko and Ethan Young, and the wonderful Astrodog by Paul Harrison-Davies.
A striking cover from the tremendous Ben Templesmith has garnered Liberator #3 all kinds of attention. If you’ve not been reading this fantastic debut, read on…
...I enjoy stories with unreliable narrators as you’re never quite sure what is about to unravel next, and it gives earlier sequences a whole new dimension. It works well with this tightly plotted book, with connecting scenes rather than your typically linear storytelling, and the dual narrative introduced in #3 is very intriguing.
A loveable pup, a street smart cat, and a magical pig – here is a comic that really grabbed my attention!
...But what really seals the deal, from both Emko and Young, is the real heart that has been put into each character. With very little exposition or long screeds of narration or dialogue, these are characters that the reader immediately knows and loves.
Of the many comics I picked up at the recent Lakes International Comic Art Festival, there was one comic in particular that caught my eye as I turned around one of those giant rooms. A small little book, nestled amongst publishers large and booming, that shone out with a cover that immediately made me smile: Astrodog.
Seeing that I had tuned out the rest of the world in those thirty seconds, my boyfriend knowingly weighed himself down with my bags while I went for a closer look. I had not seen Astrodog before, I had missed itsprevious outing in webcomic form at the hands of creator Paul Harrison-Davies, and the glorious colours jostling upon the pages called to mind an old favourite of mine with a similar, yet completely different premise: Hendrik Dorgathen’s Space Dog.
What is The Bunker? A brand new comic from the writer of I, Vampire,The Ultimates, Tumor and last week’s Hunger that is guaranteed to get your mind racing. The Bunker will be available through ComiXology and the main website.
I mentioned before, cheekily, that Ballistic was perhaps the new Saga. You can put The Bunker up there with them, I guarantee it.