BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
The guest-creator period of Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, DC and TSR’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the latter half of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle’s Batman comics, the death and return of Superman (and the “Reign of the Supermen” that came between), the first few issues of Spawn from upstart publisher Image Comics – these were my introduction to a medium that 14-year-old me would be surprised to discover I’m still writing about on the Internet 25 years later (but not as shocked as he would’ve been by the very existence of the Internet, of course).
Another thing I found at the time was a TV show that was seemingly on a good four hours every weeknight, between the end of cross-country practice and the time I took my bath, thanks to syndication and the explosion of cable channels: Saved by the Bell.
If you read about comic books on the Internet, and I have reason to believe you do, then chances are you’ve seen a lot this year about Lumberjanes.
And there’s good reason for that. First, the monthly series from BOOM! Studios is the sort of book many talkers-about-comic have been saying we need more of forever: It’s full of strong female protagonists, and it’s the work of strong female creators. (It’s a comic book about a group of awesome ladies, by awesome ladies!)
Second, and more importantly, it’s really, really good. It’s the story of five teenage best friends who occupy the Roanoke cabin of their Girl Scouts-like summer camping organization — April, Jo, Mal, Molly and Ripley — and their discovery of, and battles, against all kinds of weirdness in the woods around them. In the first, eight-issue arc they became involved in a contest between Greek gods, fighting three-eyed woodland creatures, yetis, dinosaurs and giant lightning bugs in the process. All that while earning merit badges.
Why do I bring this up? Well because if you’ve been reading about Lumberjanes and haven’t yet sampled it, this week’s issue is a pretty great jumping-on point.
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Here’s a bit of unwelcome news: Just as I’m enjoying the first trade of It Girl & The Atomics, Jamie S. Rich announces the series is coming to a close with Issue 12, due out in July.
The special issue will feature art by It Girl regular Mike Norton (Battlepug) as well as Chynna Clugston Flores (who drew the stand-alone Issue 6) and Natalie Nourigat (who will also be contributing to Issue 10, out in May).
Here’s how Rich broke the news on his blog:
Yes, you read that right. We’re wrapping up the first It Girl and the Atomics series with #12. There were a number of factors contributing to the decision, but it was the right one to make and the right time to do it. Hopefully the twelve issues we did will stand strong as a complete series whether I ever make it back to do more or not. (I have a few ideas for stories, but it will all be a matter of timing.) I wrote #12 special to cap off everything that had come before, which is why I corralled all the artists from the series to give it one more go.
It Girl was a spinoff of Mike Allred’s Madman Atomic Comics, which Rich edited (and therefore knew intimately). It stood well enough on its own, though, that I, a complete newcomer, was able to pick up the collected edition of It Girl & The Atomics and thoroughly enjoy it. And my colleague Michael May had some nice things to say about that standalone Issue 6 recently.
So what’s next? Rich doesn’t sit still for long, and in addition to his hint of more It Girl in the future, there’s this: “Expect more collaborations between myself and Image in the future. This door is closed, but we’re opening up a couple of windows.” Hmmm.
And with It Girl & The Atomics #9 in stores this week, we still have a bit more Atomic goodness to enjoy.
A few months ago, I wrote about how much I was enjoying Jamie S. Rich and Mike Norton’s It Girl and the Atomics. I dinged it on characterization, but now that I’ve had a couple of more issues with the characters, I need to walk that back a little. I still want to know more about It Girl, but Rich and Norton are working on that each month. I was hasty in wanting to know everything about her in the first four issues. Guess that’s just how much I dig her.
I’m not here to talk about character development, though; I’m here to talk about fill-in issues, specifically It Girl #6. Fill-in issues are a fact of life with monthly comics, especially these days as artists work more meticulously than they used to. But even back in the day you’d run into an issue where the regular story would take a break while the editor ran something out of his rainy-day files. Now, fill-ins are better planned. And if they’re planned well enough, they’re just as enjoyable as the main series.
I admit that I wasn’t looking forward to It Girl #6. My impatience with getting to know the characters was showing and I didn’t want to zoom out into space to see what was up with the drummer of Madman’s space band. I wanted the next It Girl adventure, damn it, and Rich and guest-artist Chynna Clugston Flores were going to have to convince me that they weren’t wasting my time. If you read the title of this post, you know that they weren’t. I loved the issue and here’s why.