September 2020 doesn’t even feel like a real thing. Still, even as Diamond lies bleeding out and dying on the publishing floor, comics are going to continue coming out. This month features a myriad of esoteric and wild rides, with titles that are sure to appeal to a wide range of readers. So let’s get started!
10. The Catcher in the Umbrella
A Dark Horse comic just wouldn’t be a Dark Horse comic if there wasn’t a spinoff. Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, and I.N.J. Culbard contribute to this story about Séance, whose going all Holden Caulfield, Umbrella Academy style.
You Look Like Death #1
Written by Gerard Way & Shaun Simon
Illustrated by I.N.J. Culbard
Published by Dark Horse
The first Umbrella Academy spin off series! When 18-year-old Séance gets himself kicked out of the Umbrella Academy, and his allowance discontinued by Hargreeves, he takes to a place where his ghoulish talents will be appreciated. After a magical high on a vampire-drug-lord’s stash, Klaus needs help, and doesn’t have his siblings there to save him.
9. Unto the Breach
Once upon a time, Marvel Comics was a different publishing company known as Atlas Comics. In this collection that ranges from 1951 to 1960, Michael J. Vassallo complies a cornucopia of combat comics. It also features about 16 stories that haven’t ever been reprinted. Definitely a piece of comic history here.
Atlas at War
Written by Hank Chapman, Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby
Illustrated by Russ Heath, Joe Maneely, Jerry Robinson, Gene Colan, Joe Sinnott, Bernie Krigstein, Andrew Bellman, Norman Steinberg, Paul Reinman, Alan Evans, Gil Evans, Jerry Robinson, Werner Roth, Steve Ditko, Jack Davis, Sam Kweskin, Mort Drucker, and John Severein
Published by Dead Reckoning
Atlas at War! collects fifty hard-hitting stories from Atlas Comics, the company that became Marvel Comics and published more war titles than anyone in the industry between the years 1951 and 1960. Comics historian Dr. Michael J. Vassallo has chosen the best of the best, many of which are coming back into print for the first time, from sixteen different Atlas war titles and featuring the artwork of twenty different artists giants of the genre, including Russ Heath, John Severin, Bernie Krigstein, Joe Maneely, Jerry Robinson, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby. Each page has been meticulously restored from its first printing by comic art restorer Allan Harvey.
8. You’ve Been Ghost Tea’d
Reimena Yee weaves this tale about how growing up also means growing apart from your friends. “Séance Tea Party” follows a young woman’s last ditch attempts to cling to her past, only to be disrupted by a ghost.
Séance Tea Party
Written and Illustrated by Reimena Yee
Published by Random House
Growing up sounds terrible. No one has time to do anything fun, or play outside, or use their imagination. Everything is suddenly so serious. People are more interested in their looks and what others think about them than having fun adventures. Who wants that? Not Lora. After watching her circle of friends seemingly fade away, Lora is determined to still have fun on her own. A tea party with a twist leaves Lora to re-discovering Alexa, the ghost that haunts her house – and Lora’s old imaginary friend! Lora and Alexa are thrilled to meet kindred spirits and they become best friends… but unfortunately, not everything can last forever.
7. Something to Laugh at in Case You get Diarrhea at Barnes & Noble
First it was a self-help book for parents to understand what the modern teenage girl was going through in school. Then it was a legitimately great movie. Then it was a musical. And now it’s a comic book. Hopefully Arianna Irwin and Alba Cardona are focused on solving only the problems in front of them, rather than trying to launch together some expanded “Mean Girls” universe.
Mean Girls: Senior Year
Written by Arianna Irwin
Illustrated by Alba Cardona
Published by Insight Comics
Following the iconic Mean Girls movie and Tony-nominated musical comes the original comic sequel, Mean Girls: Senior Year! Cady, Regina, and the rest of the gang are back and ready to take on senior year in this all-new comic that is so totally fetch! Cady learned her lesson and is swearing off drama. It’s all about good grades, SAT prep, and college applications from here on out – but the new transfer student Megan Moretti isn’t about to let Cady stay focused. Megan is determined to rise to the top of the popularity food chain and become a new Plastic, so Cady, Regina, Gretchen, and Karen have to band together to stop this queen bee wannabe from turning the school inside out all over again.
6. Down the Old Town Road
James Otis Smith and Kadir Nelson compile several stories centered around Old West Black heroes. This sounds more educational than Buster Scruggs, but nevertheless, it still features history that has undoubtedly been forgotten and undeniably needs to be represented.
Black Heroes of the Wild West
Written by James Otis Smith
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Published by Toon Books
True stories from the Wild West, but not like you’ve seen in the movies. This graphic novel by JAMES OTIS SMITH celebrates the extraordinary true tales of three black heroes who took control of their destinies and stood up for their communities in the Old West. Born into slavery in Tennessee, Mary Fields became famous as “Stagecoach Mary,” a cigar-chomping, cardplaying coach driver who never
missed a delivery. Bass Reeves, the first black Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi, was one of the wiliest lawmen in the territories, bringing thousands of outlaws to justice with his smarts. Bob Lemmons lived to be 99 years old and was so good with horses that the wild mustangs on the plains of Texas took him for one of their own.
5. Camp Revelations
I really wish we could get more queer-focused comics that aren’t for younger audiences. I also hope that Mike Curato doesn’t drag out his main character’s realization and revelation until the last several pages, Love, Victor style. Anyway, I thought the title was funny and I’m sure this book will reach someone for whom it will mean a lot.
Written and Illustrated by Mike Curato
Published by Henry Holt
In this graphic novel, Aiden goes to summer camp and learns to navigate his feelings about being gay.
4. Yet Another Dark Spot of American History
It’s Kindred, except with a Japanese girl in a WWII Japanese-American internment camp.
Never forget, America rounded up Japanese citizens and threw them into prisons for no other reasons than they were Japanese. Because if nothing else, America is good at vilifying the other and then using their fears and overactive imaginations to strip those people they fear of their humanity with systemic organizations devoted to crushing the broken.
Abolish the police.
Written and Illustrated by Kiku Hughes
Published by First Second
A teenager is pulled back in time to witness her grandmother’s experiences in WWII-era Japanese internment camps.
Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II.
These displacements keep occurring until Kiku finds herself “stuck” back in time. Living alongside her young grandmother and other Japanese-American citizens in internment camps, Kiku gets the education she never received in history class. She witnesses the lives of Japanese-Americans who were denied their civil liberties and suffered greatly, but managed to cultivate community and commit acts of resistance in order to survive.
Kiku Hughes weaves a riveting, bittersweet tale that highlights the intergenerational impact and power of memory.
3. A Whole New World
Identities crash in Ryan Inzana’s “Ichiro.” Dealing with being sent to live with his grandfather and constantly torn between two conflicting ethnicities, Ichiro suddenly finds himself in a fabled other world. This comic was Asian/Pacific American Young Adult Literature honorary and it’s the kind of story that opens some young eyes to a different culture while making others feel more welcomed and represented.
Written and Illustrated by Ryan Inzana
Published by ETCH
Raised by his Japanese mother, Ichiro idolizes his dead American father, and struggles to fit in. When his mother decides to visit Japan, Ichiro is left with his grandfather, in a country he doesn’t know. Grandfather becomes Ichi’s guide, sharing Japan with him. But one night, a monster drags Ichi away into the domain of the gods! Now, he must face his fears and learn about the nature of man, of gods, and of war. He also learns there are no easy answers – for gods or men.
2. Literarily Maddening
Top Shelf turns out this surreal journey from Andi Watson. Book tours lead to hellish landscapes lead into dark journeys of the mind and soul. There’s a lot of opportunity for comics to show a character gradually going bananas, and Anti Watson has the abstract, retro, and stylish eye to make it all very much worth the trip.
The Book Tour
Written and Illustrated by Andi Watson
Published by Top Shelf
A page-turning, Kafkaesque dark comedy in brilliant retro style, this graphic novel watches one man try to keep it together while everything falls apart.
Upon the publication of his latest novel, G. H. Fretwell, a minor English writer, embarks on a book tour to promote it. Nothing is going according to plan, and his trip gradually turns into a nightmare. But now the police want to ask him some questions about a mysterious disappearance, and it seems that Fretwell’s troubles are only just beginning…
In his first book for adults in many years, acclaimed cartoonist Andi Watson evokes all the anxieties felt by every writer and compresses them into a comedic gem of a book. Witty, surreal, and sharply observant, The Book Tour offers a captivating lesson in letting go.
1. Hoop Dreams
Sloane Leong’s work has always pushed against the boundaries of the page. The images, the colors, the emotions she conjures offer an experience with each and every book. Nominally, this story is about basketball, and I’m willing to bet that Leong will find some energy and esoteric captivation in the game. And I’m willing to bet that, under her pen, this story will become something even more.
A Map to the Sun
Written and Illustrated by Sloane Leong
Published by First Second
One summer day, Ren meets Luna at a beachside basketball court and a friendship is born. But when Luna moves to back to Oahu, Ren’s messages to her friend go unanswered. Years go by. Then Luna returns, hoping to rekindle their friendship. Ren is hesitant. She’s dealing with a lot, including family troubles, dropping grades, and the newly formed women’s basketball team at their high school. With Ren’s new friends and Luna all on the basketball team, the lines between their lives on and off the court begin to blur. Sloane Leong’s evocative storytelling about the lives of these young women is an ode to the dynamic nature of friendship. Available in softcover and hardcover editions.
Well, that was fun. Be sure to let us know what you’re excited for in the comments.