I thought I’d share with you some of my thoughts on comics that intrigued me in 2009. I tip my hat to my colleagues, Caleb and Mike, who have compiled similar thoughts. Comics entertain, fascinate and inform us. So, here’s to all our friends who share a love for this unique medium. Please read on:
Mysterius the Unfathomable (WildStorm): This title appeals to me the most for 2009. And, believe me, I go through a lot of comics. You really should find this limited series to be all-around good fun. The story of a bumbling, yet dapper, magician/detective and his trusty assistant set the gold standard with the awesome talent of Jeff Parker and Tom Fowler. The trade comes out March 17! (Read my reviews here and here).
Red Herring (WildStorm): Another winner much in the same vein as Mysterius: the energy and tension generated between a man and a woman, in over their heads, having to depend on each other to survive. Wry humor, plot twists, colorful characters, it’s all here. This limited run by David Tishman, Phillip Bond and David Hahn, is winding up January 13 and the trade will be available before you known it. (review).
The Squirrel Machine (Fantagraphics): Yeah, baby, this is what I debuted with for my Comics Grinder column and for good reason. If you want to know what appeals to me, this is as good as it gets. Aside from the most celebrated titles, it is books like this that truly bring home the level to which the comics medium can take, especially on a regular basis by its creator. Hans Rickheit has been producing work like this for years and he has perfected a certain haunted and exquisite comics style. Take it from me, this story of two very strange brothers is the real deal. (review).
Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf Productions): What a banner year for Top Shelf with the likes of Far Arden and Essex County. Well, for me, the one that won my heart is Swallow Me Whole. Nate Powell’s art and story about two kids who keep floating in and out of reality will have you hooked. Something like this could be taken for granted but, trust me, it’s hard work. To reach the level of skill of Craig Thompson and also retain your own distinct style and voice is remarkable. (review).
The Winter Men (WildStorm): Comics is a serious business and, while everyone is welcome to try to create something, only a few works stick around. This is one of the most offbeat works you’re likely to encounter but because Brett Lewis and John Paul Leon are serious players, you get one of the most memorable comics: a multi-layered crime/anti-superhero tale that is breathetaking. (review).
Rotten (Moonstone Books): You won’t know until you try but Rotten is the comic that does the zombie genre right in more ways than one. Given that a really good zombie story is in some way commenting on our own society, Rotten does this in a variety of interesting ways. Packed with political, pop culture and movie references, and set in the Wild West, it’s definitely something different. By Mark Rahner, Robert Horton and Dan Dougherty. (review).
Spider-Man: The Short Halloween (Marvel Comics): Don’t you love the unexpected one-shot? I want it known that I really appreciate this sort of thing and this one is probably the best of its kind for 2009. Not only is it a welcome concept but it works. Bringing on board the SNL writing talents of Seth Myers and Bill Hader, along with art by Kevin Maguire, we get a wild romp involving mistaken identity and a healthy dose of solid comics references. It’s very good to mix things up like this and I look forward to seeing more of it. (review).
Pope Hats (Ethan Rilly): Coming from the small press as I do, I totally love to see exceptional work that is self-published. From my review: “Who is Frances Scarland? We know she’s what keeps Vickie together. We know she’s loyal to her job, she’s pretty mild-mannered, and she talks to a ghost. Maybe that’s more than enough for a girl of 23 or so. Maybe it’s a perfect picture of someone young who is trying to cope with an uncertain future, just a few steps away from the nearest Zoloft.” (full review).
Nine Gallons (Susie Cagle): Speaking of indie comics, it doesn’t get much more underground than this brilliant comic. From my review: “We roll into the holiday season and more thought is given to those among us who are in need. Whether or not it’s the holidays or The Great Recession, there will always be those of us less fortunate. Susie Cagle’s mini-comic, Nine Gallons, invites those of us more fortunate to take a step into the world of the homeless and consider helping out.” (full review).
The Deformitory (Sophia Wiedeman): And one more small press wonder to consider: a very unusual little fairy tale. From my review: “The book revolves around Delores, a Kafka-like city dweller stuck in the rut of working in an office. Instead of turning into a cockroach, her hands, overworked from typing, turn into claws, each literally with a mind of its own. These claws have faces and they can talk. With cute little eyes, they could pass for muppets.” (full review).
What else would I add to this list? Well, no doubt, there’s plenty more. We here at Newsarama often need to pick up the pace as we bring you reviews as soon as titles are available. And, at other times, we can reflect back on titles and provide even more insight. I plan to come back to titles, keep tracking the latest stuff and provide whatever extra features I can for you. In general, I will follow my heart and do my best to share more thoughts with you in 2010.