Comics I Enjoyed in 2017

blog, comics, review

Here are five comics I read this year which I enjoyed:

Taking Up Space by Adam Meuse

Taking Up Space by Adam Meuse
This minicomic juxtaposes the true stories of an art school project about how much literal space we take up, and of Adam’s brother’s suicide. The two stories would each be less compelling (if no less important) without the other. This short comic skillfully illustrates how much of our lives are spent trying to process the events we live though, or that we don’t.

 

from Takin em Down by Ben Passmore

Ben Passmore’s comics for The Nib
The Nib is a pretty good publication overall, and in particular I enjoy Ben Passmore’s comics. This year he had two long-form comics run at The Nib: Whose Free Speech? Black Lives Matter, the ACLU and Respectability Politics, and Fighting for a Better History. It seems as though when discussing matters of social and political importance, most people force everything into a false binary. Either that, or they pick a point right in the middle of the two most commonly espoused party lines and wonder why all the capitalists can’t just get along. Ben actually thinks about issues and presents them from his own point of view, which has not been purchased or predefined by anyone else. Plus, I love his cartooning and coloring. Visually speaking, he’s one of my favorite artists working.

 

from You & a Bike & a Road by Eleanor Davis

You & a Bike & a Road by Eleanor Davis
This is a bicycle travel memoir in which Eleanor Davis devotes herself to not just to bicycling across the country, but to learning more about who she is, plus how she fits into this world, this life, this country at this particular time. I love her art. The people she draws are so bulky and strange, yet so elegantly perfect, not just in this beautiful and emotionally harrowing memoir, but in everything I’ve seen from her.

 

by Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton’s Twitter Comics
Kate Beaton, of course, is the creator of Hark, a Vagrant! as well as many delightful comics about her family which she posts to twitter. In late 2017, she drew comics about her relationship with her sister Becky, who is pursuing treatment for cancer. Each comic went up with a link to a fundraiser to help fund the ongoing pursuit of a cancer-free life for Becky. Every few days during the period when she posted these, I would log into twitter and read the comics. I don’t think there was a single day when Kate’s love for her sister and her family didn’t shine through with such brilliance that I teared up. I’ve wondered how I would have reacted so strongly to these comics if I didn’t know the reason behind them, but this is a case where the art, the artist, and the intent are all so intertwined that I’ve come to the conclusion that wondering about such things is stupid, formalistic nonsense. (Direct link to fund)

 

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris
Did you think maybe I would be too cool for school? That I might not mention this book just because it’s on every almost every other comic list out there? Well, you were wrong, and in this one case, the world is right, and this comic is as great as can be. There’s no reason for me to tell you what this comic is, because the internet is full of My Favorite Thing is Monsters book reports. Go look them up if you need to. I will say that I met Emil Ferris briefly at SPX this year, and watched her interact with fans in a friendly and delighted way which seemed to me to be deeply rooted in kindness, which makes me happy for her for all the praise she has received for this book. I’m eagerly awaiting volume 2, and I’m hoping it gets done in time for its scheduled release date next year, but the first volume took a while. The fact is, I’ll wait as long as I need to.

 

Other comics I liked in 2017 (for series listed, some part of the series was published or republished in a new format in 2017):

Alack Sinner by José Muñoz and writer Carlos Sampayo
Bad Machinery by John Allison
Boundless by Jillian Tamaki
Garage Island and Plaguers Int’l by Max Huffman
Giant Days by John Allison, Max Sarin, Liz Fleming, and Whitney Cogar
Kaijumax by Zander Cannon
Marathon Training 2017 by Jim Rugg
Master Keaton by Naoki Urasawa
Octopus Pie by Meredith Gran
Pantheon: The True Story of the Egyptian Deities by Hamish Steele
Pope Hats by Ethan Rilly
Super Itis by Richie Pope
Viewotron by Sam Sharpe & Peach S Goodrich
X-Men: Grand Design by Ed Piskor

TEENAGE GENDER NEUTRAL TURTLES ASSETS Chapter 4, Part 3

blog, comics, teenage gender neutral turtles

TGNT BLISTER AUBREY TGNT BLISTER BAILEY TGNT BLISTER JESSE TGNT BLISTER PAT

TGNT SOLD OUT

I really enjoy doing fake logo designs, signs, packaging, internet pages, memes, etc., etc. for use in my comic, Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles. Sometimes when I feel stuck on starting a page, I go draw one of these to get started. It’s a good way to get moving. These blister packs were something I put together because I was totally stalled out. I realized after finishing how I could use them and that got me moving again. I drew up one to use as a template, then dropped in the character drawings and names from These guys appear in one panel of Chapter Four! Part of my style is clearly “lots of super simple talking heads panels occasionally interspersed with one very detailed panel.”

Read the comic here:
Start at Chapter One | Read Newest Chapter

TEENAGE GENDER NEUTRAL TURTLES ASSETS Chapter 4, part 2

blog, comics, teenage gender neutral turtles

TGNT DOLLAR x1

TGNT MEOW MEOW

TGNT RADISH

I really enjoy doing fake logo designs, signs, packaging, internet pages, memes, etc., etc. for use in my comic, Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles. Sometimes when I feel stuck on starting a page, I go draw one of these to get started. It’s a good way to get moving.

Here are a couple of book covers and some money that appear very briefly (and at a very small size) in chapter four! Since they’re done, I can easily drop in there again if it makes sense in the future!

I think my favorite part is actually the “TEEN READS” slug up in the top right of the radish book cover.

Read the comic here:
Start at Chapter One | Read Newest Chapter

TEENAGE GENDER NEUTRAL TURTLES ASSETS Chapter 4, Part 1

blog, comics, teenage gender neutral turtles

TGNT JOHN BODEGA

TGNT LOTTERY

TGNT NEW WORLD HORS D

I really enjoy doing fake logo designs, signs, packaging, internet pages, memes, etc., etc. for use in my comic, Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles. Sometimes when I feel stuck on starting a page, I go draw one of these to get started. It’s a good way to get moving.

These things all appeared in one panel of Chapter Four!

Read the comic here:
Start at Chapter One | Read Newest Chapter

Comics I enjoyed in 2015

blog, comics, review

Back when I used to own a comic store, I sometimes posted an annual list of my favorite comics. Recently, one person asked me if I was going to do it again, and being a complete ham hock, that was all the encouragement I needed. I probably didn’t read as many comics this year as I did in most years when I owned the store, but I still read a decent amount. Because we have ten fingers and made up a number system based on that, people like lists of ten things, so I picked ten things to list. They are all things that were published in some form in 2015, either new or as reprints. Let the countdown commence.

10. DEMON
by JASON SHIGA
Self-published.

Demon #15 cover, taken from shigabooks.com

Demon #15 cover by Jason Shiga

A science fiction story about a completely amoral and seemingly immortal jackass. There was a point at which I thought the story should have ended, and it took a few issues for Shiga to win me back over. At this point I just respect how ridiculous he has gotten with it. There’s a lot of awful, evil, and gross stuff in here. It’s also funny. I subscribe via Patreon to the self-published risographed comic issues which Jason Shiga ships out every month. You can also read it at his website, and First Second is going to publish it at some point too.

9. THUNDERPAW
by JEN LEE
Self-published.

Thunderpaw page by Jen Lee

Thunderpaw page by Jen Lee

Thunderpaw is an ongoing webcomic with limited animation and a limited palette which tells the story of two little dogs who are terrified by the fact that the world has ended. The postapocalyptic setting is evocative and spooky, and the emotions of the characters seem real. Plus, Jen Lee is a hell of a cartoonist. You can read the comic at thunderpaw.co. Nobrow published a comic this year by Jen Lee called Vacancy, which is also worth checking out.

8. NEWDINI
by RICHIE POPE
Self-published.

Newdini cover by Richie Pope

Newdini cover by Richie Pope

I met Richie Pope at SPX and picked up a copy of his comic, Newdini, which is about a guy who disappears. I wanted to know more about the character, but that would have ruined the intriguing aspect of the story. Very well put together. The phrase “economy of line” is a cliche, but it came to mind when I looked at the art. There are no extra lines here. It looks like Pope sold out of the physical copies of Newdini, but it’s available digitally here.

7. TENNELL LEFFITT MAN DETECTIVE
by MAX HUFFMAN
Self-published.

Tennell Leffitt Man Detective page by Max Huffman

Tennell Leffitt Man Detective page by Max Huffman

I have known Max Huffman for a long time now! He shopped in the comic book store I used to own when he was a kid. Now he is a man and a very promising cartoonist. My favorite thing to date by Max is Tennell Leffitt Man Detective. There doesn’t seem to be much of it so far. It’s about a detective who is a man. Is this six-page comic all there is? Is there more coming? I don’t know, but I really liked it. You can read it here, or buy a comic in which it is included here (paper) or here (digital).

6. MASTER KEATON
by NAOKI URASAWA with HOKUSEI KATSUSHIKA & TAKASHI NAGASAKI
Viz Media.

Master Keaton volume 4 cover

Master Keaton volume 4 cover

I have been a big fan of Naoki Urasawa’s comics since the original Viz release of Monster. I also loved Pluto, and 20th Century Boys was good, too. At this point, I’m probably in for anything by Urasawa. Master Keaton is a series of detective stories starring an archaeologist-slash-insurance investigator, who also happens to be a kind yet unflappable badass. The stories in these books are fun, and whenever one is released, I read it and enjoy it!

5. FANTASY SPORTS
by SAM BOSMA
Nobrow Press.

Fantasy Sports cover by Sam Bosma

Fantasy Sports cover by Sam Bosma

This was one of my favorite comics when it was a black and white minicomic in 2013, and it’s one of my favorite comics now that it’s been released as a full-color minicomic in 2015. In this modern masterpiece, a couple of fantasy adventurers play basketball… for their lives! Sam Bosma has recently posted some images from the in-progress Fantasy Sports 2 online, and I’m very excited to read that book when it comes out.

4. BAD MACHINERY
by JOHN ALISON
Oni Press.

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Lonely One page by John Allison

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Lonely One page by John Allison

I doubt I’d have read Bad Machinery if it had been a prose book, or watched it if it had been a movie. I probably would have seen that it was about a bunch of British school children and decided to skip it. However, I decided to read the comics because I was drawn to John Allison’s cartooning and his colors. I continued reading because of the credibility with which he has infused the world in which his characters live. It’s a consistent and believable place, despite the ridiculous things that happen there. There are four books out now from Oni Press, which collect stories which previously appeared online, and I have enjoyed them all.

3. SOUTHERN BASTARDS
by JASON AARON & JASON LATOUR
Image Comics.

Southern Bastards page by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour

Southern Bastards page by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour

I love good crime fiction, and I love good stories set in the south, and this is both. Jason Aaron and Jason Latour know the south, and they know how to tell a twisted and entertaining story. I think this is the only ongoing mainstream comic (It’s creator-owned, but I think we can count Image as mainstream) I’m still picking up in single periodical issues, because I can’t wait to read the next chapter.Plus, Latour is one of the finest cartoonists working now. The art in Southern Bastards is amazing.

 

2. SUPERMUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY
by JILLIAN TAMAKI
Drawn and Quarterly.

Supermutant Magic Academy page by Jillian Tamaki

Supermutant Magic Academy page by Jillian Tamaki

Supermutant Magic Academy is a collection of comic strips by Jillian Tamaki which she initially posted online. It starts as a bunch of gag strips about kids at the titular school, but by the end of the book, she has woven everything together into a story that is both hilarious and profound. Her issue of Frontier was really good too!

1. SPACE RIDERS
by ALEXIS ZIRITT & FABIAN RANGEL JR
Black Mask.

Space Riders cover by Alexis Ziritt & Fabian Rangel Jr

Space Riders cover by Alexis Ziritt & Fabian Rangel Jr

I met Alexis Ziritt several years ago at Heroes Con when my pal Chris Pitzer (Chief Dad at Adhouse Books) pointed across the aisle and told me I should pick up his Mekano Turbo minicomic. I bought the last copy Alexis had, and became an instant fan. Years later, I was one of the six people in the country who preordered Space Riders, which means I was able to read it multiple times while everyone else struggled to get a copy of the second or third print of the first issue. Look at the cover I posted above. There’s a skull spaceship flying through an outer space made out of sloppy-yet-controlled brushwork and psychedelic colors. Is that not enough for you? Okay. The main character is named Capitan Peligro. His crew are a religious baboon and a sexy Sorayama robot lady? Do you need more than that? Well, you can’t have it. If that’s not enough to make you want to read it, I respect your choice, as well as the differences between us that make us individual human beings, but it’s clear there’s no reason for me to put anything else into this relationship. Farewell forever.

SPECIAL BONUS SECTION:
TOP TWO COMICS I MADE THIS YEAR

2. BOO/MEOW
by ANDREW NEAL
Self-published.

Boo / Meow panel by Andrew Neal

Boo / Meow panel by Andrew Neal

Boo / Meow is a short comic I published online and printed as a mini-comic. It’s a very sentimental cat and ghost comic. It has gotten a pretty solid reception on tumblr, where it has been liked and reblogged 2800-something times. You can read it on tumblr or here on my website.

1. TEENAGE GENDER NEUTRAL TURTLES
by ANDREW NEAL
Self-published

Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles cover by Andrew Neal

Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles cover by Andrew Neal

Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles is the comic I started in November. I’ve posted 24 pages online so far, in the form of 8 page chapters. The first three chapters make up the equivalent of a nice fat comic issue, and I think they really give an idea of where I’m going to go with this.In the first three chapters, we meet a daddy blogger named Arthur Minor, who has a big idea involving his kids and Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles toys. We see some of the consequences of his big idea, as well as excerpts from several episodes of the Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles TV show. You can read it at Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles dot com (link to chapter one)!