Here’s another new category! The anthology is so important to comics. In the US, back when newspaper strips were all the rage, publishers started collecting these cartoons into big, single issues to sell to kids. The collecting of disparate strips by a great variety of artists into a single publication created, by the very definition of the word, an anthology. But don’t think that this is s strictly American idea. Across the globe publishers have been reaching readers with anthologies for over a century. Our staff cast votes in this category that circled the glob, and below you will find the three we ranked highest of all!
3. Dark Horse Presents
(Paul Lai) February’s Dark Horse Present #7 was actually the 200th issue of this behemoth of American comics anthologies. In the summer of 2014, DHP retooled into a fourth iteration, a more compact assortment (around 48 versus 80 pages). Mike Richardson chalked up shortening DHP to making things easier on themselves, but I suspect the market-savvy publisher recognized the changing role of the comics anthology in a time when digital platforms and online retail make exploring off the beaten path so much easier. The new DHP still has the big name re-appearances to draw diehards, like Sergio Aragonés’ Groo or a Hellboy short. But at a sticker price that matches the rest of the comic rack, DHP is making its flagship experience more accessible to all: prepare to discover something you never knew you wanted. Three highlights this year whose premises wouldn’t have compelled me to buy them in a monthly book, but rode in on the creators’ and DHP’s credibility into my “Intrigued…Must Read” column: Brendan McCarthy psychedelic but thematically homespun “Dream Gang,” Alex de Campi and Jerry Ordway’s scary-tragic “Semiautomagic,” and Palmiotti, Gray, and Kuhn’s Taken in the Netherworld “Wrestling with Demons.” DHP still excels at serving up unexpected, off-the-beaten path stories that may not be your style, but might just win you over.
(Matt Garcia) Oh man, people, if you aren’t picking up “Island” from Image Comics, you are truly missing out on some original, imaginative, unique, and thrilling stories available in comic shops. Curated by Brandon Graham (“King City”) and Emma Ríos (“Doctor Strange”), this magazine anthology has filled a niche that our industry so desperately needed, showcasing extremely talented cartoonists who might not necessarily have enormous audiences (Gael Bertrand, José Domingo Tessa Black, among many) as well as more esoteric and eccentric creators with distinct, unique voices (Farel Dalyrmple, Simon Roy, Ludroe).
Each issue falls between 80 to 112 pages and, at $7.99, it’s an enormous bargain (seriously, some trades aren’t as packed as any one of these and cost twice as much, *Marvel*). The stories have so far blended science-fiction, fantasy, skateboard punk, music, and farce, revitalizing some dormant worlds (Dalrymple’s “Pop Gun War,” Graham’s “Multiple Warheads”) and introducing plenty of new ones. Each story might not be for everyone, but that’s okay, because there’s so much available, it’s impossible not to be caught up with something. Hopefully, Ríos, Graham, and company are able to continue introducing us to such a wild and varied and creative bunch of stories in the next year.
1. Weekly Shonen Jump
(Mike Romeo) It fills me with such joy to see that Weekly Shonen Jump earned the top spot! Not only is this anthology the best deal in all of comics (over 200 pages a week for under $30?!), but is contains some of my favorite ongoing series. I’m talking about stuff like “Food Wars” and “One Punch Man,” stories that make me think differently about what comics can be, both in terms of subject matter and type. For example: of the two series I just mentioned, the former is about an Iron Chef styled culinary high school, and the latter is an absurdist comedy about an unbeatable super hero who is bored out of his mind by winning. Sure, there are also fan favorites like “Bleach” and “One Piece,” as well as a vampire hunter drama (“Seraph of the End”) and a battle tactics series (“World Trigger,”) but there have also been alarmingly good stories about table tennis (“Takujō no Ageha”) and a long running, shojo-esque romance story (“Nisekoi.”)Continued below
Not only is this weekly magazine good now, it’s been producing world-class comics for decades. Beloved series like “Dragon Ball,” “Death Note,” “Yu-Gi-Oh!,” and “Naruto” all had humble beginnings as WSJ serials. Add to that the millions of copies sold each week across the globe, and it’s plain to see what a juggernaut this anthology is. Heck, even the majority of comics covered in our Manga Club series have sprung from this magazine! If you’re not already taking reading “Weekly Shonen Jump,” take it from us and give it a go.
Mike Romeo – Like I said, I was really surprised to see “Shonen Jump” do as well as it did. I mean, I figured it’d be on the list, but to land at #1? That’s something else! Equally surprising was seeing “2000 AD” fall short of making the list; it came in just behind “Dark Horse Presents.” All in all, I think it was exciting seeing this list come together, and I’m really glad we included it this year.
Brian Salvatore – When we talked about doing this category, I wasn’t sure if people would respond to it, because – for reasons I don’t quite understand – American audiences still haven’t gotten on the anthology bandwagon. I was very happy to be proven wrong. I also hope that the Big 2 can see what magic can come from anthologies, and next year we can have even more competition in this category.