Erin’s Best Comics of 2009!

 Posted by at 8:01 pm  Comics, Reviews
Feb 172010
 

Jellaby In the City (Jellaby v.2) – Kean Soo

The cutest monster of all time returns with his friends Portia and Jason! I love Kean Soo’s art, which is cheerful and engaging in addition to being SUPER ADORABLE. The threesome continues on their quest to return Jellaby to his mysterious home, this time exploring the streets of Toronto and meeting some rather suspicious characters. I can’t wait to see where this series ends up!

Tales From Outer Suburbia – Shaun Tan

This new book from Shaun Tan is just as awesome as The Arrival, which I’ve discussed before. Here, he showcases even more amazing artwork in a variety of styles. There’s the gorgeous pencil work from his previous books, plus pen & ink, collage, colored pencil, and paints. Tan’s
strange-but-almost-real stories keep pace with his clever, skillful art, and make this book great on the first or the fiftieth read.

Locke & Key Vol. 2 Head Games – Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

Locke & Key continues to be one of my favorite current series, and the second volume is more spooky & tension-filled than the first! Here we learn more about the Locke kids and their father’s mysterious ancestral house. Strange things keep happening, there’s a new kid in town who seems eerily familiar, and the discovery of another magic key reveals
some…interesting family abilities. I really started to get attached to the characters in this story arc, and I had that
“LOOK-OUT-IT’S-RIGHT-BEHIND-YOU!” feeling from start to finish. When a horror comic can make your palms sweat & your heart pound without an ounce of gore, it’s got to be good!

Wednesday Comics – various writers & illustrators

As a Paul Pope fangirl, I expected to like the 12-week run of Wednesday Comics over the summer, but there were some pleasant surprises within its newspaper-sized pages! The new “Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth” story was even more engaging than Pope’s “Strange Adventures”. Kyle Baker’s “Hawkman” was epic and I loved the bright, sixties-style art for “Deadman” and “Green Lantern.” I just loved the whole idea and its execution. It was interesting to see how different writers & artists handled the page
size and serial format. You can pick up a full 12 issue set in the store right now, or if you–like me–aren’t sure how to store the newsprint without wrinkling it, you can wait for the upcoming hardcover collection, which I’m sure will be beautiful.

The Fart Party Volume 2 – Julia Wertz

Fart Party 2 is a little bit more serious than the first volume, but no less hilarious. There are still plenty of jokes about bikes, beer, and cheese. I’m super picky about humor, but I think this is one of the funniest series we carry in the store, plus it’s written by a lady, which is awesome!

Heavy Liquid and 100% – Paul Pope

Yes, yes I have a bit of a Paul Pope obsession, but his art is so great! Let me convince you. 2009 saw reissues of two Pope books: Heavy Liquid, a story from early in his career, and 100%, which mysteriously went out of print about 18 months after its release. Heavy Liquid is terrific because it’s much simpler work in terms of both line and color. Comparing it to post-Batman-Year-100 Pope shows just how his style has evolved over the years. It’s a great noir-ish story about a boy and a girl and a drug deal gone wrong–in The Future. Who doesn’t love The Future?

100% is a brief tale about six lives in a familiar-looking Future New York. The story and characters and imagery are filled with the energy and grit and hope of the city. That’s why Pope’s comics are great–no one else captures that movement and anticipation in every inch of ink.

Oishinbo – Tetsu Kariya

2009 is the year that Oishinbo made its way to the US, and it was worth the wait! This food-themed manga is very popular in Japan, for good reason. Each volume discusses a different element of basic Japanese cuisine. My personal favorite in the series, which makes me hungry every time I read it, is Ramen & Gyoza. The story follows a newspaper crew as they learn about the cultural history, ingredients, and preparation of traditional noodles & dumplings. Did you know that if you boil noodles at
too high a temperature, it roughens their surface and alters the flavor? Yeah, that’s how intense these books are. If you love any kind of food, you’ll love the details and the precision in Oishinbo. You may want to put your favorite Japanese restaurant on speed dial before you sit down to read, though. Just writing this review made me hungry!

Sweet Tooth – Jeff Lemire

Sweet Tooth is hands down my best new series of 2009. The setting is the post-apocalyptic United States. The apocalypse has come in the form of some kind of sickness that has killed off most of the population and produced a new generation of children with various animal mutations. The eponymous main character, for example, sports an impressive pair of antlers, as well as the almond-shaped eyes and broad nose of a deer (though to be honest, the nose may just be a trademark of Lemire’s–see Essex County). The story begins deep in the woods, where Sweet Tooth and his ailing father live in seclusion, in order to protect the boy from
sinister forces that remain in the real world. Once his father is gone, Sweet Tooth is forced out of the forest and towards… well, we’re not quite sure yet, but it’s going to be really fun finding out. Jeff Lemire is an equally talented artist & storyteller so this comic has been a joy to read and look at month after month.

I also have to endorse three of Andy’s picks on my Best of ’09 list:

Asterios Polyp – Totally worthy of the list just for the story or art alone. Both together make this a book that will definitely become a classic of the genre.

DMC – I have never before experienced the sensation of cringing uncomfortably and laughing at the same time, but I’m willing to brave it for this series. So offensive it’s hard to endorse, but so funny I can’t put it down! You’ve been warned.

20th Century Boys – Urasawa is a master of raising the hairs on the back of your neck. Without being overtly scary or gory, without any of the usual horror tropes, he manages to create the pervasive feeling that SOMETHING IS VERY, VERY WRONG HERE. I look forward to every volume!

–Erin Gumbel

Chapel Hill Comics
316 W Franklin St
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

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