Entertainment

For Under-the-Radar Comics, It Was an Extremely Good Week

With fantastic releases from small publishers and offshoots, this week in comics was one of the best of the year.
October 14, 2016, 6:50pm
Panel selection from The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story. Illustrated by Andrew C. Robinson. Screencap via the author

This week’s comic roundup steers clear of conventional superheroes, but the stories and comics covered are some of the best of the year. In The Fifth Beatle, the beginnings of the Beatles’ rise to stardom is documented with a careful specificity. In Band for Life, a VICE alum brings her years of experience in the punk band Coughs to a world of colorful monsters. Durgo Bann is a rough-hewn, frenetic comic about an interstellar cop with beautiful visuals. And the newest Doom Patrol is so good it feels like it’s cheating in the game of “comics.” Some weeks the comic haul is so bad—full of boring Green Lantern comics and sexist crap from “edgy” indie publishers—that it’s hard to find four good pieces to recommend. But this week’s best of the week truly are great.

The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story

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Cover for The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story. Illustrated by Andrew C. Robinson. Photo courtesy of Dark Horse

This graphic novel by Vivek J. Tiwary and Andrew C. Robinson tells the story of Brian Epstein, the Beatles first substantial manager and the de facto creator of Beatlemania. This collection of comics has been out for a few years, but this week sees a softcover trade paperback release with a bonus sketchbook, notes from the creators, and a section on Beatles memorabilia. If readers are into the Beatles and don’t already own these comics, this is the version to pick up. Tiwary’s writing is clever, nuanced, and surprises in a story that could have been told drably, and Robinson’s artwork is beautiful, moving smoothly through washed out painting and hard-lined comic illustration.

Band for Life

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Cover for Band for Life. Illustrated by Anya Davidson. Photo courtesy of Fantagraphics

Band for Life was a long-running comic serialized on VICE, and now it’s finally been collected into a graphic novel by the fine folks at Fantagraphics. It follows the exploits of a group of bandmates in a noise rock band, and the world is full of colorful monsters. This comic has an immediacy and a realism to it that transcends the wild setting, and Davidson’s color work is a perfect match with the subject matter.

Durgo Bann #1

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Cover for Durgo Bann #1. Illustrated by Christopher A. Geary. Photo courtesy of Want Machine Inc

Durgo Bann is the kind of comic that could only be made by a small press. The team of writer Stephen Cadigan and artist Christopher Geary are truly in sync in this issue, with Cadigan’s wild writing perfectly captured by Geary’s unhinged artistry. The story centers around an alien policeman, who’s planet just discovers Earth, but this wild, painted comic is more about the symbiosis between artist and writer. Recommended for comic writers looking for their dream artists, and vice versa.

Doom Patrol #2

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Cover for Doom Patrol #2. Cover illustrated by Nick Derington. Photo courtesy of DC’s Young Animal

Checking back in with Gerard Way’s reboot of the cult classic Doom Patrol on its second issue, and it’s clear that Way knows exactly how to steer this ship. Another classic Doom Patrol character is re-introduced, everyone’s favorite robot-man gets his brain plugged back in, and a cute cat named Lotion runs away. This comic is unfolding carefully, revealing the complex and enigmatic structure underneath. Though it’s too early to officially call it, this may be one of the most artfully constructed comics ever written. Highly, highly recommended (but read issue #1 first).

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Panel selection from Doom Patrol #2. Cover illustrated by Nick Derington. Screencap via the author

What were your favorite pulls of the week? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @CreatorsProject.

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