Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I only had $15, I’d walk out a happy camper despite only having one book, because that book is 20th Century Boys, Vol. 22 (Viz, $12.99). While your typical American comics fan may have no idea who Naoki Urasawa is, he is in my mind undoubtedly the best cartoonist working today. Twenty-two books in and he hasn’t let up, delivering comics’ example of long-run storytelling perfection a la Sopranos. Friend is one of the most terrifying villains I’ve seen in comics in some time, and the mad assemblage of childhood pals out to stop him are some of my most treasured fictional friends.
If I had $30, I’d come back to comic stores on an American tip, starting off with Godzilla: Half Century War #2 (IDW Publishing, $3.99) by James Stokoe. I missed this when the first issue came out, but since then I’ve found it and relished its pure cartooning chaos. The first issue was an ideal debut, and I’m interested to see Stokoe take Lt. Murakami to Vietman in the ’60s for the ongoing war on Godzilla. After that I’d get the satisfying chunk, Dark Horse Presents #16 (Dark Horse, $7.99). I’ve been repeating the same praises every month, so let me try to spin it differently. This new issue, I have little idea what’s in it besides the return of Crime Doesn’t Pay; there’s a new series by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray in it I have heard nothing about, but DHP has re-built its track record of excellence and I’m fine spending $7.99 sight unseen. My final pick would be Daredevil #18 (Marvel, 2.99). Chris Samnee is quite different than the original artists on the book, but is excelling with Mark Waid in a new way — and that’s good. Instead of aping what had gone before, Samnee assuredly gives us his own style that would make any true fan of art in comics smile.
Oh ,wait, I found some money. I know, I’ll buy Memorial, Vol. 1 (IDW, $24.99). I missed this in singles, and this hardcover looks like the perfect chance to me to make up for past mistakes. These covers by Michael WM Kaluta really get my heart beating, and I’ve been wanting to read more of Chris Roberson on his own. The preview on IDW’s website gives me the impression it’s got down-to-earth personality amidst a fantasy world, and reminds me of classic supernatural fiction like A Wrinkle in Time or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
If I had $15 this week, it basically would go towards DC’s Zero Month again; this is the week I’ve been waiting for, with Justice League #0 (Geoff Johns and Gary Frank telling the new Shazam origin), Sword of Sorcery #0 (the long-awaited — and I promise I am not being sarcastic about that — return of Amethyst) and DC Universe Presents #0 (new chapters of OMAC and Mister Terrific, two books I actually find myself missing from the first wave) all coming out (all DC; JL and SoS are both $3.99, and DCUP is $5.99).
If I had $30, I’d expand my gaze to two books I’m very much looking forward to. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto are the draw for me in the new Ghost series (Dark Horse, $2.99), considering that I’d never read the original incarnation from the ’90s, while the new Womanthology: Space series (IDW, $3.99) gets the nod because I love anthologies and liked the original Womanthology enough to want to see more.
When it comes to splurging, I feel myself immediately drawn towards the Memorial HC (IDW, $24.99), even though I did read the series in singles. And yet … I’m still tempted, dammit.
I don’t have any money this week, having blown most of it at SPX, but IF I had $15, my first choice would be the final issue of Gilbert Hernandez’s zombie series Fatima: The Blood Spinners. It was a real joy at the show last weekend to hear Hernandez talk about this comic (apparently an attempt to do the “strong female action hero” properly) and his work in general. He’s just a fantastic cartoonist and really underrated these days, I think.
It’s not even Halloween yet, but with the rest of my cash I’d at least check out the Adventures in Cartooning Christmas Special by Andrew Arnold, James Sturm and Alexis Frederick-Frost. My daughter’s a real fan of these all-ages “make comics” quasi-activity books, so I’d get a copy for her and put it in her stocking come December.
If I had $30, I already have a copy but I might get a second copy of The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra. It’s the newest entry in the Toon Books catalog, and their longest comic to date and oh man is it a doozy: a surreal fantasia involving a brother and sister traversing an odd, Alice in Wonderland style dreamscape in a highly detailed art style that calls to mind Tony Millionaire or Winsor McCay. Assuming this is Nytra’s first book (I haven’t seen anything else he’s done) it’s a helluva debut.
Splurge: Pouring over a cartoonist’s sketchbook work doesn’t always yield buried treasure, but Comic Sketchbooks: The Private Worlds of Today’s Most Creative Talents looks like a fascinating book, featuring work from a murderer’s row of talented cartoonists, including Seth, Joost Swarte, Carol Tyler, Bill Griffith, Robert Crumb, Charles Burns and many, many more.
If I had $15, Supergirl #0 ($2.99) would be the first item I’d grab. I mentioned before how much I’m loving this series and that the zero issue fits organically as the next, logical installment of the larger story the series is telling. I’m very excited about it. I’m also excited for the third installment of Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific ($3.50). I’m always glad for new Atomic Robo. Next, I want Snarked! #12 ($3.99), the final issue to Roger Langridge’s charming and funny series inspired by Lewis Carroll. I’d finish off my shopping with Wonder Woman #0 ($2.99), which I will be catching up with before #13 comes out, so help me, Hermes.
With $30, I’d quickly add Ghost #0 ($2.99) because of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto. Then, I missed out on the expensive Womanthology: Hero hardcover, so I’m eager to check out the much more affordable Womanthology: Space #1 ($3.99). I’d wrap up with both Godzilla comics this week: Half Century War #2 ($3.99) and the fifth issue of Duane Swierczynski and Simon Gane’s ongoing series ($3.99).
Like Chris Mauntner, I highly recommend The Secret of the Stone Frog, but – also like Chris – I’ve already read it. So my splurge for the week would be Classics Illustrated Deluxe, Volume 9: Scrooge ($11.99), which collects adaptations of two of Dickens’ Christmas ghost stories: the famous one, but also “The Signal-Man,” part of Dickens’ short story collection, Mugby Junction. I’m a sucker for adaptations of A Christmas Carol and from the cover, this looks like a good one.