These Are a Few of my Favorite (Comics) Things (from 2012)

Tel-Tales #1 by Dan Zettwoch (Mini-comic)

Tel-Tales is a beautifully put-together mini (~3×5 inches) that relates an anecdote that took place at the Old South Central Bell building in Louisville, Kentucky in the early 1970s.As you can expect from any Dan Zettwoch book, there are some really neat things going on in the packaging department. It has a silk-screened cover with matching red endpapers. Fully over the top, though, is the giant fold-out gatefold that introduces the story’s main character, the rooky “8-board”operator. The cover of the book is (unbelievably!) made from an old phone company analog punch card.

Get it here.

Prophet: Book I, Remission by Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milogiannis & Brandon Graham – Image Comics (Trade Paperback, Collected Serialized Comics)

One of my most frequent grouses in years-past comics-wise has been the relative paucity of solid science fiction genre comics from the big publishers. 2012’s Prophet‘s a big step in the right direction. Graham, the writer, pulls of the amazing feat of making a book with multiple visually identical characters work–and work in a way that smooths out the usually jarring practice of switching artists with each installment.

Buy it here.

Little Art Reference Things (Tumblr Blog)

OK, so this is probably only of interest to you if you make comics, but I picked up a bunch of good drawing tips in 2012 from this Tumblr account that reblogs drawing tutorials. It’s not comics-specific, but most of what’s there is applicable to comics-making.


Blacklung by Chris Wright – Fantagraphics (Graphic Novel)

Wright’s cartooning style is pretty idiosyncratic; you either love it or you don’t. For me it’s the former by a long shot. This is a really really amazing book. If I had to pick a few comparable books as signposts, I’d grab maybe Melville’s Moby Dick and Christophe Blain’s Isaac the Pirate series. The prose writing–the actual use of words and language–in Black Lung really stands out unlike anything I’ve read comics-wise in a while.

bookcover_blacklBuy it here.

Battle Zoo by Brad McGinty (Webcomic)

In a post-apocalyptic world ruled by cats and dogs, humans slave in kitty litter mines. That should give you an idea of the general tone of this comic. Brad McGinty’s background in animation is really shines this strip’s many, many (many!) action sequences. Also: features more drawings of entrails than the vast majority of comics being made today.


Read it here.

A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics: Choosing Titles Your Children Will Love by Scott Robins and Snow Wildsmith – Krause Publications (Comics Reading Guide)

Comics has needed a book like this for a long time. Best Kids Comics is a wonderful guide to the vast world of great kids comics (a world that’s largely invisible to much of the adult comics-reading population, as far as I can tell), assembled by two librarians who specialize in exactly that, and arranged sensibly by age/reading level then subdivided by genre.

W7921cover.inddBuy it here.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki – VIZ (Box Set, Manga)

Until 2012 Hayao Miyazaki’s epic manga masterpiece had never been presented in the U.S. in a satisfying format. This beautiful two-volume hardback box set from VIZ corrects that. I sincerely love Miyazaki’s film work, but this book makes me wish he’d done a few more comics along the way.

2012-11-06-VIZ-Media-Releases-Nausicaä-of-the-Valley-of-the-Wind-Deluxe-Manga-Box-Set-Box-SetBuy it here.

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe – Harper (Non-fiction Comics History)

This book got mixed reviews in the comics intelligentsia blogosphere, but I really loved it. Among the common complaints was moving too quickly through the ’50s-’60s Marvel history, but honestly I’ve read about that stuff many times before from many other sources and I was glad it focused on later years. I was reading Marvel books in the ’80s, but had no idea what was going on behind the scenes. Now I do.

marvuntoldBuy it here.

Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden – First Second (Studio Comics Textbook)

This is the follow-up volume to Abel and Madden’s great Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. As with that earlier Tumblr account on my list, this will only be of interest to you if you’re into making–as well as reading–comics. If that’s the case, though, definitely pick this up. It expands on some things that were only touched upon in the earlier volume and introduces several more advanced techniques.

Screen-shot-2012-05-15-at-4.31.05-PMBuy it here.

Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia (Webcomic)

People make a lot of how adults are rarely shown in this teen/high-school melodrama, but to me that just reflects the mindset one’s in at the age the characters in the story are–and it’s a testament to Liz Suburbia’s writing that I find this story so compelling, given that I’m so far removed from that mindset age-wise. The artist here is obviously a Jamie Hernandez acolyte as you can see from her beautiful artwork and the presentation here is how I think we’ll be seeing a lot of comics from now on: continuous, vertically-scrolling “chapters” that work great with phones, tablets, Tumblr, etc.

subRead it here.

Making a Living in Manga by Deb Aoki (Online Article)

This five-part article in the About.com Manga section is ostensibly a look at how/if there’s a viable comics career path for North American Manga artists. It’s actually of much broader interest, though; it contrasts the very different comics cultures of North America and Japan and looks at why things that work well in one place may not work so well in the other.

mangaStart reading here.

“Corpse on the Imjin” and Other Stories (The EC Comics Library) by Harvey Kurtzman – Fantagraphics (Collected Comics Stories)

Prior to 2012, the only way you could get all of the Kurtzman-drawn stories from Two Fisted Tales and Front Line Action was to buy the full collections or track down the individual issues that had the stories in them. As of this year, though, Fantagraphics has started collecting the old E.C. war stories by artist, which to me makes a whole lot more sense–particularly since I’m more of a Kurtzman devotee than a full-fledged fan of those two series.

corpseBuy it here.

Shannon Smith Reads The Invisibles (Blog/Online Project)

Late in 2012, comics-maker/-blogger Shannon Smith stared re-reading Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles issue-by-issue and blogging about it. Shannon’s writing is great and The Invisibles is one of of my favorite series. The only thing not to like about this project is that I’m too darn busy to read along and join in.

shannonRead it here.

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