The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Rich Barrett
Luke Pearson/Nobrow Press
Luke Pearson/Nobrow Press / Luke Pearson/Nobrow Press

Each week I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, Kickstarter, and the web. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.

1. Hilda and the Black Hound

By Luke Pearson
Nobrow Press

The 3rd volume in Luke Pearson’s award-winning children’s graphic novel series.

What I should probably do here is let my 6 year old daughter write about Hilda and the Black Hound because she is obsessed with it right now. That’s not to say I’m not obsessed, either. It’s a fun, beautifully illustrated graphic novel.

Luke Pearson is relatively new to the comics world, but in just a few short years he's released 3 books in his all-ages Hilda series in addition to more adult fare like his 2012 graphic novel Everything We Miss.

Hilda and the Black Hound is the 3rd volume in the “Hildafolk” series put out by UK publisher Nobrow. The Hilda books follow the exploits of a smart, blue-haired girl who lives in a village called Trolberg with her mom and her antlered pup named Twig. Pearson expertly mixes fantasy elements with familiar everyday stuff—for instance, in this volume, Hilda joins the scouts and has trouble completing the tasks she needs to do in order to earn her badges. Meanwhile, the town is being terrorized by sightings of a giant black hound and Hilda meets some troll-like creatures called Nisses that live in the spaces behind couches and bookcases where all your missing socks and homework seems to end up. 

Nobrow has a little photo gallery of some pages here.


2. The Leg

Written by Van Jensen; art by Jose Pimienta

A graphic novel about a disembodied, sentient leg on a quest to save Mexico. What else do you really need to know to buy this?

Legendary Mexican president Santa Anna (sometimes referred to as the “Napoleon of the West”) lost his leg in battle during the Pastry War with France in 1838. Apparently, he ordered the leg to be buried and given a full military funeral. When he was thrown out of office and exiled, the leg was dug up and paraded through the streets before eventually being lost forever.

In The Leg, Van Jensen and Jose Pimienta tell the story of the return of Santa Anna’s leg. Set in 1938, the disembodied limb, clad in a leather boot, goes on a quest to defend Mexico against a dangerous new supernatural threat. It mixes history, magic, surrealism, and Spaghetti Westerns into a enticingly weird, tongue-in-cheek tale of revenge and honor.

Jensen first wrote this story over a decade ago while still an undergrad in college. He took a history class that introduced him to the story of Santa Anna and wrote a script that sat in his drawer for years. Jensen is now a successful comic book writer, and when he first met artist Jose Pimienta, the story of The Leg came up. Pimienta grew up in Mexico and encouraged Jensen to let him bring the book to life. Once thought as too weird to publish, the book is benefiting from the emergence of Kickstarter. Jensen and Pimienta are well on their way to meeting their fundraising goal.

Learn more about The Leg and consider helping to get it funded.


3. MPH #1

Written by Mark Millar; art by Duncan Fegredo
Image Comics

A fresh new take on super-speed.

Mark Millar, who became a superstar writing edgy superhero books like The Authority and The Ultimates, branched out into creator-owned comics back in 2004. He had the unique idea of publishing a variety of books—all through different publishers—under his own personal branding of “Millarworld.” Those original titles included Wanted and Kick-Ass, which eventually became popular feature films. Millar has recently returned to using that “Millarworld” name for MPH, which was released this week.

MPH is actually a reworking of a concept (originally called Run) that was supposed to be part of the 2004 line but never materialized. The 5-issue mini-series is a contemporary take on the idea of super-speed. Millar excels at taking classic superhero concepts and giving them a fresh spin. He tends to steer clear of idealized heroism when exploring these types of tropes, so here we get an incarcerated drug dealer as our protagonist whose superpower comes from from popping pills.

>Millar is joined by veteran artist Duncan Fegredo, who originally made his name drawing classic DC Vertigo books in the 1990s like Enigma and Kid Eternity, is perhaps best known as his period as the regular artist on Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. In MPH's first issue, he and Millar pull off a spectacular scene showing speed from a first-person vantage point where the flickering of a fluorescent light (which flickers 100x a second) is like a strobe that turns on and off every few minutes.

You can read that exact scene as well as the opening pages in this preview.


4. Nobrow 9

By Various
Nobrow Press

A gorgeous collection of wordless illustrations and comics.

I’ve written before about British publisher Nobrow Press and their penchant for beautiful, design-oriented graphic novels and art books. Their self-titled annual anthology bridges the gap between both worlds by mixing comics with illustrations in two halves of one book.

The theme of this year's volume is “Oh so quiet,” and the comics portion is made up of wordless strips while the other half is a two-page spread of illustrations. Cartooning and illustration are often conflated and, while they’re obviously related forms of art, they can require some different disciplines and skills. When you take away the words from comics it becomes even more interesting—and harder—to discern the differences.

All of the work contributed uses the same four-color palette, which gives the book an aesthetic cohesiveness you don’t normally see in anthologies. Contributors include Joseph Lambert, Jamie Coe, Hellen Jo, Natalie Andrewson, Leo Espinosa, Roger Demuth, Kali Ciesemier, and more.

Nobrow has a preview here.


5. Invincible #111

Written by Robert Kirkman; art by Ryan Ottley and Cliff Rathburn; colors by John Rausch
Image Comics

If you’ve ever been a fan of Robert Kirkman’s Invincible, you won’t want to miss this issue.

One thing I probably don’t do enough with this column is highlight individual issues of a comic that is deep in a long run. Invincible #111 is probably not a good jumping on point for new readers, but longtime fans of the book that have been away for a while may want to come back now and check out what happens in this crazy issue.

Invincible is Robert Kirkman’s superhero comic, and it predates his other, more famous book, The Walking Dead, by a few months. It has been running since 2003 and Ryan Ottley has been providing the art since the 8th issue.

Coming off issue #110, which showed a super-powered woman-on-man rape scene and raised a little bit of controversy among readers, this new issue takes the shock and violence level up a few notches to a pretty uncomfortable and disturbing level. I can’t get into any of the plot details without spoiling anything, but there appears to be a major turning point for the direction of this book.

There are some non-spoilery preview pages here.