Each week, The Creators Project seeks out the best and brightest from the comics industry.
Matthew Rosenberg’s incredible child-heist indie, 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, hits shelves next week, and his Rocket Racoon series starts up for Marvel the week after. So, what does he read in between long hours spent writing comics? “I read a lot of stuff, maybe a crazy amount,” he explains to The Creators Project. His picks for the best comics he’s recently read include indie standouts and big studio releases, including Heartthrob Volume 1, “I'm a sucker for a good crime / romance story, and this one has a ton to love. It's a real weird take on the genre, it's gorgeous and fun, and there are a lot of Fleetwood Mac references in it.”
He also calls attention to Poe Dameron Volume 1, “I am a sucker for all things Star Wars and the Marvel Star Wars books are so unbelievably good across the board. I'd be reading them even if they were awful, but these just have a great sense of adventure and excitement.” Plus, Nailbiter #27 “I really love what Josh [Williamson] and Mike [Henderson] are doing with Nailbiter. I don't normally go for serial killer stories, but they manage to keep it fresh. But this issue also has a backup story called 'The Outfit' by Tee Franklin, Juan Ferreryra, and Taylor Esposito, that I thought was truly creepy and fascinating. It's Tee's first published work and I think she is going to make a big splash in comics next year, and this didn't disappoint. It's hard to get really uncomfortable in four pages, but they did a great job.”
As for the comic industry as a whole, Rosenberg thinks, “it's doing well both creatively and business-wise. Obviously there are some growing pains, or maybe lack of, right now. But there are a ton of good books coming out and I feel really confident that you could put most literate people into a comic shop and they would come out with books they'd enjoy. That's the real litmus test for me. Are there books for everyone right now? I think the answer is clearly yes.”
Reviewed this week: Hawkeye starts a new run with a new title character in the purple suit, two heartfelt indies, and a great manga chapter in the middle of an epic story.
Kate Bishop is the new Hawkeye, and she’s taking her impeccable aim, self-deprecating humor, love of “nice abs,” and detecting skills to Venice Beach, where she’s set up a new private investigation firm a lá her friend Jessica Jones. With her acrobatic feats of dexterity set against artist Leonardo Romero’s laid-back California vibe, and with the sun soaked purple-against-orange color art of Jordie Bellaire, the comic really stands out on this week's shelf. As the story goes, it deals directly with the current: issues of online harassment, stalking, and the invasion of personal space. Writer Kelly Thompson seems to be telling a larger story here about the power of boundaries, and who knows, maybe a few stalker-trolls skimming the racks will pick up this issue and learn a little humanity.
Sunday in the Park with Boys features a main character named Janey as she talks about how she’s grown increasingly lonely and isolated. And though she shares the same name with the creator of the comic, it's unclear whether the reader should ascribe this character as a one-for-one stand-in. The dialogue of the book plays out between the main character and inanimate objects or imaginary beings. As Janey stares out into the ocean, a mermaid asks, “why don’t you see your friends anymore?” A teddy bear asks, “what are these scars on your back?” This call and answer device elevates the feeling of empty solitude that worms its way through the book, it gives the reader a story to hold onto while reading something that is inherently diaristic. The resulting book will haunt you with its loneliness, but shines through gloom as a work of shoe-shuffling beauty.
Fairy Tale is a long-running manga series from creator Hiro Mashima that started as a story about a woman who wanted to join the titular Fairy Tale, a club for powerful wizards. Instead, she ends up with a bunch of pirates, and goes on adventures. At this point in the story, characters are recovering from a huge battle, and readers learn a bit about the background of a war between dragons from the east and west. The artwork is high quality, and the storyline is engrossing enough to fold readers right into the 514th chapter of this tale. Though it feels a bit like an exposition dump, it still features engaging plot progression.
Muddlers Beat is a webcomic, created, written, and drawn by Tony Breed, that’s now been collected into its first volume. It follows the life and times of a group of friends who navigate everything from nonmonogamy, transgender dating, donating sperm, imposter syndrome, and the death of a pet. The series reads like a grown-up, LGBTQ+ Peanuts at its most heartfelt, with each character’s personality shining through and steady from panel to panel. Tony Breed deals with major issues in a compassionate (and roaringly funny) way that leaves the reader with a nuanced view.
What was on your pull list this week? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @CreatorsProject.