2014 COMIC RECOMMENDATIONS

AMBER LOVE 19-DEC-2014 I already made a substantial list of comics and OGNs that I loved this year which featured female leading characters or well-balanced teams. My book of the year is definitely PRINCESS UGG by Ted Naifeh and Warren Wucinich at Oni Press. And Oni Press is my publisher of the year, again! So what about books that don’t feature female leading characters? I did read some of those too. There were even collections so large, I didn’t get through them completely but sampled enough to know that I like the work a great deal. Don’t forget other things I’ve already recommended on the other list like GENIUS, LAZARUS, PLANET GIGANTIC, VELVET, THE FADE OUT, ODDLY NORMAL and things I tweet that I might forget to blog about in greater detail. Follow @elizabethamber and @ComicFusion for regular recommendations.

PRINCESS UGG

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The first volume of PRINCESS UGG was released in November so you shouldn’t have any problems finding it or asking your local shop to order it. Oni Press is also listed in Diamond so if you have a retailer for your comic shopping, try there first. If not, the Oni site has a convenient shopping interface.

DOBERMAN

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I found myself recommending DOBERMAN a lot since it premiered. It’s what you would want if an 80s action movies that doesn’t take itself too seriously would be like as a comic. This is different than something like DEAD MAN’S PARTY which is dramatic and has a serious tone. DOBERMAN has those buddy cop, silly moments like LETHAL WEAPON and DIE HARD. As of right now, only 4 issues are out so you probably would need to get them as individual floppies and board them up for giving as a gift. Darby Pop is a partner of IDW Publishing so your local shop can order it through Diamond.

OH JOY, SEX TOY

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Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan whip out some brutally honest reviews of sex toys, comics on sex education and even spotlight performers/directors of the sex industry. They cover all that in an accessible, funny way. The webcomic continues but there’s a large volume collected already. There were some special guest artists that contributed also. I kept failing to mention how much I loved this graphic novel when I would recap this year’s books. I guess because it’s non-fiction and not a single arc of a story, I would forget. But the comics of each toy or topic are covered thoroughly in probably around ten panels on average. Moen’s art is fluid and easy to follow the reading direction on something that isn’t confined by boxes of panel frames. She also makes a point to feature every kind of body type, gender and sexual orientation. The only thing I haven’t seen in their pages, which are by far the most diverse, is anyone with disabilities. I’m sure if I drop Moen a line about that, she’ll work it in because she’s extremely open-minded. The toys are “play tested” by Moen and Nolan personally so figuring out something like how things would work for differently abled bodies might not work or might come off as presumptuous, but I’d like to see them reach out and have some guests give their opinions.

BLACK SCIENCE

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Rick Remender, Mateo Scalera and Dean White have created a science fiction that I not only don’t hate, but I actually love. There are two volumes in trade by Image Comics and the series continues as an ongoing. Every issue has a race against the clock plot in the bigger continuous arc about these space explorers trying to get home. They run into every kind of problem leapfrogging through dimensions including deaths of characters and meeting alternate universe versions of themselves.

TREES

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Warren Ellis had been disappointing me for a few years and now I’m all warm and fuzzy for his talents again because of TREES. He and Jason Howard. There are four stories, I think, going on simultaneously in the TREES books. The people are connected by this common element of “trees” that are alien structures which simply appeared one day. Their appearance altered everything about how the world interacted with each other even though, there was no evidence of their purpose or effects directly caused by them. Country boundaries were redrawn to be closer to or further from the structures; cities became defined based on how people were reacting. One city features a prominent art school where a character who left his small village goes and has his eyes opened to everything out there including a world of people of non-binary gender and sexual orientations. Another woman tolerates her abusive boyfriend because money is tight but she eventually meets an eccentric man that is about to change her life. I can’t find that TREES has been collected into a tpb yet but there are eight issues out so far.

ATHENA VOLTAIRE

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Right now, Dark Horse Comics has the ATHENA VOLTAIRE Compendium as their Editor’s Pick. The hardcover came out this week and I’ve seen people tweeting their support with pictures of the books they got at their local comic shops. Creator Steve Bryant has been working on this book for years and pulled out all the stops with his Kickstarter. Now it’s available to everyone through Dark Horse and Diamond Distributors.

DR. GOYLE

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The first volume of DR. GOYLE hasn’t been collected in a trade yet but you’ll be able to get that next year. You can still get the individual issues at Hound Comics though. This is a fun all ages book that has Scooby-style adventures and mysteries to solve. Creator Mark Stegbauer does a lot of promotions for his own commissions to order through the mail or to pre-order for conventions. Plus there is Kickstarter tie-ins for seeing releases quicker and bonus content. I enjoyed his other webcomic a lot too, PUB DREAD which was a bar scene of supernatural characters.

GUNS OF SHADOW VALLEY

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This web series turned hardcover has been around for years developing a strong fanbase. Dave Wachter, James Andrew Clark and Thomas Mauer are fiercely creative team. It’s great to see them on other projects too. Clark is a musician. Wachter has been doing some IDW work like GODZILLA and BREATH OF BONES. Mauer’s name is seen often on top quality comics. GoSV is a supernatural western about a band of misfits that come together. Frank Kelley may be the star of the team but the Sheriff is probably my favorite. The hardcover of 240 pages was also a Kickstarter project that is now available to everyone. It’s also a unique presentation because it’s a landscape layout as opposed to the typical comic layout you’re probably used to. You can order it through Amazon. The hardcover came out through Dark Horse.

THE PEOPLE INSIDE

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I did a thorough review of Ray Fawkes’ THE PEOPLE INSIDE earlier this year. This book took me by surprise at the openness and welcoming feeling of different relationship styles. I’m not going to repeat everything I loved about it since you can check the post. It’s another Oni Press highlight of the year for me.

MARCH: BOOK ONE

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The book based on the real life of Sen. John Lewis was something I read last year but due to the current discourse in America and the horrific injustices of the system, I think anyone who didn’t already pick it up needs to do ASAP. Get enough copies to give out for the holidays too. It’s a gorgeous composition of difficult subject matter. The artistic and writing team is Andrew Aydin  and Nate Powell, published by Top Shelf. I believe they have digital, hard cover and soft cover editions. BOOK TWO is available for pre-order so you should check with your local comic shop if it’s the right time to do that because pre-orders help retailers a lot.