Yikes, there’s a lot of heavy hitters out this week. From old to new. Indie to mainstream. Black and white to two-tone, to hyper-color. There’s something for everyone this month. Stop hating and get with the program!
Ritual Three: Vile Decay- It can seem blasé (read: lazy) to say that someone is an “exciting” artist. What does that really mean? Are they doing something new or different? Does the art itself illicit an excited energy? Are you so excited when you see something new by that artist that you want to vomit? If you’re talking about anything by Malachi Ward, the answer is yes to all of the above. Known for working on the Brandon Graham mega-project, Prophet, and for the notoriety gained from The Scout put out by Study Group Comics (which is seriously one of the best independent publishers in the business. you can read their stuff online for free. do it. you’d be an f’in fool not to). This new stand-alone sci-fi weaves together a grandmother’s recollection to her grandson about how the world simply went bad. Ward’s settings and characters are gracefully drawn, with an element of Charles Burn’s other (but still similar) worldly eeriness. I’m getting a little comics hyphy just thinking of it being in my hands this time next week. And if you’re in the NYC area, he’ll be attending a release party at Bergen Street Comics on June 25th, so you can gush in person!
Judgment Day- Joe Orlando is often lauded as the nicest man in comics. He’s been passed for a while, so I can neither confirm nor deny this praise. But what I can tell you is that his technical skill, editing abilities, breadth of work throughout the industry’s formative years, and the subsequent influence that he left on everyone that ever picked up one of his comics, is true to the core. Anything of his you can find is worth a look, but Fantagraphics has included his EC work, some of the first professional comics stories he did. Most of the stories in this collection are scripted by Al Feldstein, and they highlight Orlando’s most prolific sci-fi stories; including the titular story that spoke out against the racism of the early ‘50s in which these stories were published. Orlando is true comic book history, and his work is legendary.
Amazing World of Gumball #1- Truth time, I’ve never watched Gumball. It’s been on Cartoon Network for about 5 years, and I’ve had no TV for about 6, so there’s that. But it’s new form just had comic book life breathed into it by Frank Gibson (who I’ve written about previously for his work on Baby Fiona and Cake, and Tiny Kitten Teeth), and one of my all time favorite web cartoonists, Tyson Hesse. He does this little thing called Boxer Hockey, and when I started reading it about two years ago I never thought I would get so emotional about a stupid little comic about a group of friends who play a field hockey type game in their underwear, essentially using frogs as pucks. But I did get emotional, and I still read certain panels that make me misty eyed. Whether it’s Nickelodeon studio work, or little cartoons of his poodle on twitter, no one has made cute cartoons that have had as much of an influence on me than Hesse has. Sometimes you follow an artist to whatever project they work on, whatever the story is, and Hesse is one of those artists.
Pirates in the Heartland Vol 1: Clay Wilson- If Joe Orlando and his contemporaries set precedence’s for the future of superhero and action comics, S. Clay Wilson is without a doubt a parallel of that mark in the alternative comics world. R. Crumb, who is cited as every other alt cartoonists main influence, lists Wilson himself as his great comix influence and contemporary. Hailing from the middle of nowhere, sometimes called Nebraska, Wilson ended up in San Francisco after an army stint, and quickly unleashed the underground art scene with his wild dreams and nightmares of gore, sex, body parts and general bedlam. This first of three hardcover volumes attempts to catalog his comics that appeared in publications like Zap, Pork, Insect Fear, and Arcade Magazine. Part biography, part retrospective, part collected chronicles of a comic legend, this is a huge undertaking that pays off in every way you could expect, and a million ways you couldn’t. Stay tuned.
New Avengers Annual #1- There’s a lot of simple reasons to pick this book up. Frank Barbiere is writing it. Marco Rudy is doing the art. And it’s all about DR. STRANGE! Everyone’s favorite world-saving, evil magic slaying, sorcerer is staring in his own book. He’s heading back to his Himalayan roots to help some techno-monks (the name of my new hip-hop crew) defeat an evil they summoned that’s beyond their control. It’s oversized Dr. Strange, I think that’s all you really need to know…