The number of comics coming out this year that I’m absolutely salivating over is absurd. New Image series from Brandon Graham, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Brubaker and Phillips, Gillen and McKelvie, Joe Keatinge, not to mention the fourth Casanova series (with back-ups written by Michael Chabon). The conclusion of Blade of the Immortal, more Jeremiah, more Lone Wolf & Cub, new Lone Wolf & Cub, Samurai Executioner. First Second releasing Battling Boy spin-offs and new Farel Dalrymple comics. Humanoids releasing Weapons of the Metabarons, and, for the first time in English, Metabarons Genesis, Final Incal, and After the Incal. Barbarella comes back in print for the first time in 40 years, with a new script from KS Deconnick. Emily Carroll makes her print debut, and Bryan Lee O’Malley releases his first new comic since the conclusion of Scott Pilgrim. Skandalon, Lumberjanes, Bee and Puppycat, Steven Universe, Moon Knight, American Vampire Second Cycle, Wytches, the list goes on and on. And that’s not counting the art books and books about comics. I narrowed that list of things I’m excited to down to just five. They’re not in any particular order, and only represent what I was feeling at the moment. But really, between new series, new original graphic novels, reprints, and translations 2014 is gonna be a killer year for comics, so it was difficult to choose poorly.
Scott Pilgrim and Lost at Sea cartoonist Bryan Lee O’Malley brings us the story of…well…we’re not really sure. The only information that O’Malley has released about the book is that its main character’s name is Katie and it revolves around the titular restaurant. O’Malley will surely bring his inventive and unique brand of humor to the book, and it will no doubt recall the nuanced storytelling of his previous work. The little art from the book that’s been released should win over everyone still hesitant after the invocation of Scott Pilgrim.
- Final Incal/After the Incal
The Incal is an intricate combination of Star Wars, Dune, and the tarot, and it is one of the most revered comics ever created. Humanoids released a new printing of the book—its first in nearly thirty years—a few years ago, and subsequently published its prequel, Before the Incal, and its spin-offs, Technopriest and The Metabarons. But its sequels After the Incal and Final Incal have never been published in English before. Illustrated by Moebius and Ladronn respectively, After the Incal and Final Incal are both canonical sequels to The Incal. They occupy the same narrative space, somehow telling the same story two different ways so that they’re both official continuations of the story of John DiFool. The artistic pedigree of these comics doesn’t get much better, and I’m eager to see them collected later this year in Humanoids traditional, over-sized (read: gorgeous) format.
From Brandon Graham, the man behind Image’s Prophet, and Emma Rios (who will be writing)—as well as a growing roster of artists—8House will be a series of mini-series. They will exist in a shared universe, and Graham describes it as sort-of blown up version of the Prophet back-ups. The art they’ve revealed from the series is absolutely stunning. Graham and Rios will be dropping the first four minis this year, but the plan is to involve more writers and artists, and to give them complete ownership and control over their creations. Graham’s Multiple Warheads and Prophet have been great, and it’ll be interesting to see what he and all the people who come aboard are able to accomplish with something like this.
The only reprint on the list, Escapo was originally self-published by Paul Pope in the early ‘90s and it’s been out of print for over a decade. This makes it very difficult to find a copy of, and for all the Pope fans this coming back into print is a triumph. Escapo is the story of an escape artist trying to escape death, and, from what I’ve been able to see of it, it features some of Pope’s best art. And publisher Z2 promises that this edition will feature over 50 pages of new material, including a 2-page alternate ending that has previously only been printed in the French edition and pin-ups from artists like Dean Haspiel.
- The Wrenchies
From First Second and It Will All Hurt cartoonist Farel Dalrymple, The Wrenchies is about a group of demon slaying kids in a post-apocalypse future. Dalrymple has cited a diverse array of influences, which include A Wrinkle In Time, Fight Club, The Brothers Karamazov, the art of his friends Tom Herpich and Brandon Graham, and the films of David Lynch and Werner Herzog. Dalrymple is a consistently inventive and mesmerizing cartoonist whose work I always enjoy. I’m excited to see what he can do with 300 pages devoted to a single story. And First Second has a history of releasing quality books, so all signs point to The Wrenchies being one of 2014’s best.
~ Shea Hennum ~