Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #156 by Drew Barth
Deep, Resigned New Year
This is another new year. Half of my new year release articles have been written while steeped in plague.
This better be the last plague list.
As we drag our nails along the chalkboard of time, let me talk about some new comics coming soon. I’m dividing things up seasonally this time around just to jazz things up since I need something fun to do while COVID variant news gives me ulcers.
First this year is Kamen Rider: The Classic Manga Collection by Shotaro Ishinomori that, finally, brings together the entire Kamen Rider manga series. Based on the original tokusatsu series of the same name, this is the first publication of the entire manga in English as a nice release for the series’ fiftieth anniversary. This week also sees the first issue of Juni Ba’s Monkey Meat, a new anthology of stories from Monkey Meat Island and the people subjugated by the hell of living under the Monkey Meat Company.
This season will also see the publication of a few new graphic novels from First Second and Dark Horse: Pinball by Jon Chad and Crema by Johnnie Christmas, Dante Luiz, Ryan Ferrier, and Atla Hrafney, respectively. Both of these graphic novels deal with the relatively mundane in extraordinary ways—Pinball goes into the real world history of one of the oldest arcade games while the other is a continent-spanning adventure involving ghosts and coffee.
Also, at the end of the month, we see the return of Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. The last time we saw a new issue of Saga was July 2018, so about six months before this article even started. It’ll be interesting to see how much has changed in that nearly four year hiatus.
Rounding the season out, we see the release of a new series by the team of Si Spurrier and Matías Bergara with Matheus Lopes, Step by Bloody Step. This entirely silent comic centers around a young girl and a giant suit of armor as they walk to Earth, regardless of if they want to stop or not.
The Spring season this year has a slew of graphic novels that look like they’re going to be all kinds of enjoyable, starting with Hound by Paul Bolger, Barry Devlin, and Dee Cunniffe in March. This book centers on the mythological demigod of Irish folklore, Cú Chulainn and the violence that would come to permeate his life.
Later in the month we have the start of Nick Dragotta and Caleb Goellner’s slice of sci-fi strangeness, Ghost Cage. A new limited series, this follows the scientist whose power plant controls all energy on Earth and the creation of his who has to go back into the plant itself for mysterious reasons. This is Dragotta’s first major series since the conclusion of his and Jonathan Hickman’s East of West two years ago.
April sees the release of Anna Haifisch’s Schappi—a collection of short graphic stories in which animals take on the anxieties and problems of people. From lizards to dancing ostriches to weasels, Haifisch looks at the world through the lens of these animals and what they can tell us about our own lives.
Summer looks like it’s going to be graphic novel season with a wide variety of work coming from all over the globe. One of the first we have is Summer Fires by Giulia Sagramola and translated by Brahm Revel, a story of two sisters and their coming of age while growing up in a small Italian town that borders a series of hillside fires.
By contrast, we also have the story of a young teenager growing up in the south side of Chicago and the different degrees of hell that comes with that in How to Make a Monster by Casanova Frankenstein and Glenn Pearce. As a memoir, it looks like it’s going to be an unflinching depiction of growing up segregated and terrified in the 80s.
June also has Cold Bodies by Magdalene Visaggio and Andrea Mutti, a graphic novella that deals with a different branch of the post-YA stories that we’ve been seeing in comics for the past couple years: post-slasher. We follow the survivor of one such slasher incident in their small town in Wisconsin and how the approaching anniversary of the massacre is causing them to see the killer everywhere they go.
Summer is also looking to be the season of Drawn & Quarterly printing older manga for an English audience for the first time with the collection Offshore Lightning by Nazuna Saito and translated by Alexa Frank, and Talk to My Back by Yamada Murasaki and translated by Ryan Holmberg. The former is a collection of works spanning the 90s and mid-10s that looks at the lives of middle-aged men and the children of dying parents. The latter critiques the Japanese middle-class in the 80s and how a family deals with living in these times.
To round out summer, we’re also seeing the first English translation of Linier’s newspaper strip with Macanudo: Welcome to Elsewhere. The strip itself follows more classic comics like Mutts, Peanuts, and Krazy Kat in terms of its ruminations on the nature of the world told through monsters, robots, and whatever else Linier creates.
The year does at least look good for comics. We’ll just have to see if the rest of the world will want to keep with how its going or find some way to improve.
Get excited. Get new.
Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.
Drew Barth (Episode 331 & 485) 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.