Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #104 by Drew Barth

New Year, New Deep, Resigned Sigh

New year, new reminder to check up on your friends. Deep breaths. Drink more water.

Also, think about comics. It’s the beginning of a new year after continuously living through a year that felt like a painful, strange epoch, so we deserve to take a small break from the state of everything by looking forward to things. This year is looking like more digital cons and the like, but your local comic shop is likely still trying to survive, so let’s look at some of the series coming later this year they can order for you.

Starting off since the first couple issues of this came out yesterday is DC’s new event: Future State. Yes, it is another event that will “change the DC Universe forever” like the past dozen. But, honestly, I do enjoy these massive canon changes and reboots since new writers—Ram V, Becky Cloonan, John Ridley, Stephanie Phillips, Mariko Tamaki, Dan Mora, Leila del Duca, and a host of others—can get their hands on characters and a slate of new miniseries gives new readers an easy entry-point into the universe. What’s most fun here isn’t just the new series, but the new anthologies of stories that can help create a much broader sense of where these characters are going in the future. It should be fun.

Next we have Guerrilla Green by Cookie Kalkair and Ophélie Damblé from Boom! Studios in April. This graphic novel centers around an unnamed woman and her efforts to bring more greenery to her city. The story itself is already sounding fun, but when I found out it was based on the concept of guerrilla gardening—gardening without limits on abandoned and private property—I knew I had to get it as soon as possible. From what we know about it so far, it’ll be a story that also leads into a manual about how to garden guerrilla-style in your own city. It’s time to drag the 21stcentury kicking and screaming into solarpunk.

How much are you into sentai and giant robots? If you’ve been reading long enough, you’ll know I am. So James Harren and James Stewart will be bringing us their new series in March from Image: Ultramega. Not only is this going to be a culmination of everything we love about kaiju and series like Ultraman, but it’s going to be working with comics in a fun way as well. Instead of the standard monthly thirty-ish pages, we’ll be getting nearly double that every couple months. It’s providing a nice in-between from the standard monthly model and what November is doing with its releases.

A new graphic novel from Fantagraphics is always good news, and Stone Fruit from Lee Lai looks like it’s going to be the kind of book that I’ll cry multiple times over. Centered on Bron and Ray, a couple that gravitate back and forth from one another as they attempt to repair their broken family bonds while also playing the weird aunts to Ray’s niece. It is the kind of story that already looks like it’s going to be some of the most emotionally resonant work of the year and we still have to wait until May to read it.

Speaking of waiting, we’ll have to wait until June for Pascal Girard’s new graphic novel from Drwan & Quarterly: Rebecca and Lucie In the Case of the Missing Neighbor. After witnessing two men carrying something into a van and hearing that a home health worker in her neighborhood has gone missing, Rebecca puts her eight month-old daughter, Lucie, in her carrier and begins investigating. This looks like it’s going to be one of the more humorous books of the year as we have some hard-boiled detective work coupled with diaper-change stake-outs.

Another Drawn & Quarterly release that’s likely going to be another favorite, Guy Delisle returns with his summer job saga, Factory Summers. This is Delisle’s chronicle of his time working in a paper plant as a sixteen year-old as the industry was increasingly outsourced overseas. He deals with the ire of factory workers as he was able to get his job through his dad as well as a toxic culture that permeated nearly everything in the factory. A different kind of coming of age, this looks like it’s going to be an interesting take on what a summer job looks like.

And finally we have Celestia, the new graphic novel from Manuele Fior published by Fantagraphics. A futurist tale that focuses on the past clinging so desperately to the past that it becomes like a prison and the new generation that will have to lead people in a new way. It’s the kind of graphic novel that feels most pertinent in a time like this. But it is still the story of two characters, Dora and Pierrot, as they leave their home and hopefully push their world in the right direction.

And actually finally, maybe Saga will return this year? It’s less a prediction and more of a hope.

The beginning of the year always brings some new comics into our minds and this year is no exception. We’re likely going to see the results of lockdown free time and stress bubbling up into our stories this year. And next year. And the year after that. And likely for the next decade or two. But now is the time for new comics and hope.

Get excited. Get back to your local shops.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

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.