Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #1 by Drew Barth

New Year

2019 is already breathing down our necks and I feel the fear. So that means it’s time to dump myself headlong into comics to displace the existential dread of the next twelve months in global warming reporting.

Ha.

Ha.

Ha.

Anyway. 2019 is going to be one of Those Years in comics and graphic novels, particularly because of the weird place it’s going to hold in terms of some rather staple series from Image either ending or winding-down-to-ending somewhere in the year. But that doesn’t mean everything is dying off. Yet. Things are coming back! Things are beginning! Not everything can be awful if the comics are good enough.

Comics to End

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  1. The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson (Image): This is one of those series that I’ve been following since it began and, while I’m sad to see it go, I’m curious as to how it’s going to stick the landing. There’s a lot of threads and a lot of bodies and seeing Killen and McKelvie’s mad magic music end is going to be an event in and of itself.
  2. Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson (Image): Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang have been messing with the 80s teen adventure movie formula in the best way possible. I remember seeing the original teasers for this series when it first came out and it’s gone to places I didn’t imagine possible in the time we’ve had it, so I want to know where it’s going to end up.
  3. The Seeds by Ann Nocenti and David Aja (Dark Horse): This is a shorter series, only two of its four issues are out right now, but it’s one of the most interesting in terms of how it tackles story in comics and what it is as a comic itself. This is one of the first major books coming out of Dark Horse’s Berger Books imprint (so named after legendary editor Karen Berger) and it’s one of the strongest to come from the imprint so far. Ann Nocenti and David Aja work so well together and seeing how excited I was for this book just based on Karen Berger editing it makes me more excited for her imprint as well.
  4. The Wild Storm by Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt (DC): I’ll likely get around to gushing about Warren Ellis at a later period, but he is one of the best living writers making comics. And he’ll continue to be so even after he dies. I know what I said. The Wild Storm is him and John Davis-Hunt going back to the widescreen comics of The Authority and Stormwatch. Just go back to the first issue and look at that nine-panel grid on the first page and know that this is good comics.

To Begin

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  1. The Ludocrats by Kieron Gillen, David Lafuente, Jim Rossignol, and Ricardo Venâncio (Image): Announced some years ago, Kieron Gillen and Dave Lafuente’s new story is finally (potentially) making its debut this year. Gillen himself has referred to it as “an R-Rated Never Ending Story” and I’m inclined to believe him. We’re not completely sure what the rest is going to entail, but with the how long the series has been teased, it should hopefully be fun.
  2. Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward (Dark Horse): Another Berger Book, this has G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) teaming with Christian Ward (ODY-C) for this new science fiction series. We only really have a first cover and a series synopsis, but Wilson’s writing is always solid and Ward’s art promises an almost psychedelic fantasy.
  3. J+K by John Pham (Fantagraphics): John Pham is one of those artists whose work smacks you in the eyes. His cartooning is so distinct and is done with such care and flare that a new piece of work by him is a treat by itself. The fact that Fantagraphics are releasing this volume with a miniature magazine, stickers, and a 5” vinyl record mean it’s going beyond graphic novels into a full sensory experience. I want this book to smell like cotton candy too to complete the experience.
  4. Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim (Drawn + Quarterly): To call Grass a story would be an understatement. Grass deals with a section of World War II history not often brought up in the West: the Japanese Imperial Army’s invasion of Korea. From the looks of it, this will be a devastating graphic novel rendered in Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s delicate black ink that delves into the life of Okseon Lee, a survivor of horrific sex slavery from the Japanese army at the time.
  5. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker (Top Shelf Productions): George Takei recounts his period of imprisonment in an American internment camp during World War II in this graphic memoir. Joined by Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker, Takei takes us back to being a four-year-old boy and having to live through America’s paranoia and scapegoating that feels all too familiar right now. Expect tears.

To (Hopefully) Return

  1. Warren Ellis: Both his series Trees and Injection, with artists Jason Howard and Declan Shalvey respectively, have been on a bit of a hiatus over the past year with other projects coming up for everyone involved. But, according to Ellis’ newsletters, scripts are completed and work is being done. I’m excited. You should be too.
  2. Free Comic Book Day 2019: The yearly event is of course coming back. For those unfamiliar, the first Saturday in May is officially know as Free Comic Book Day, a day in which different publishers bring forth specially made stories and samplers of their various works. This year is already looking massive with Stranger Things, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Doctor Who along with a handful of still secret DC and Marvel stories. This year also has the largest selection of manga of any year that I can remember, so the sampling is going to be some of the most diverse from any year prior. There’s also something called Ghost Hog that I know nothing about but I want in my hands right now.
  3. Saga?: Maybe. Brian K. Vaugh and Fiona Staples never explicitly said when the series would return when they announced the series’ hiatus back in July with their fifty-fourth issue. But after a year, who knows.

Miscellany

  1. DIE, Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans (Image): DIE is a series about a group of friends playing a D&D style tabletop game. Kieron Gillen, in developing the story, also created a new RPG as the basis for the story itself. The full rules of this RPG are coming, according to his newsletter, in the first collected volume of the series. I’ve never had a need to play an RPG as much as I’ve had with this news. Just put it in my bloodstream.

And that’s all I have at the moment. Like I said, 2019 is one of Those Years. And while this list isn’t completely definitive, this is some of the stuff that looks to be the most interesting to me and is some of the stuff I really want to see comics going forward with into the future. As always, there’s going to be more announcement of new series and graphic novels later in the year, there’s probably one happening RIGHT NOW, and I’ll talk about them as my hype for them increases.

Get excited. Comics are happening.


Drew Barth

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

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