Mental Floss

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Rich Barrett
Robert Wilson IV/IDW Publishing
Robert Wilson IV/IDW Publishing / Robert Wilson IV/IDW Publishing

Every Wednesday, 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. The Life After

By Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo
Oni Press

A comic about religion in the surveillance age

At the start of The Life After, a young man named Jude breaks the monotonous routine of his life, forcing his way off the bus he takes every day to chase after a woman he’s never met. What seems like a romantic moment of a guy getting up the nerve to meet the girl of his dreams quickly turns into an even bigger moment that begins to reveal Jude's world for what it really is. When he then meets deceased novelist Ernest Hemingway, the only other person who sees the world for what it truly is, that's when the comic really gets started.

Joshua Hale Fialkov is looking to tell a story about religion - being watched over by a higher power - in the surveillance age and he sets it in an afterlife where everything is a false, Matrix-like construct with faceless individuals monitoring and orchestrating every move. When he deals with big concepts about life and death, Fialkov manages to do it with a sense of fun and adventure. He is a respected writer whose star has been on the rise. After stints writing for DC and Marvel, Fialkov has been focusing on creator-owned works like his digital comic The Bunker, released through Comixology’s Submit program. Here he is working with the artist known as Gabo (real name Gabriel Bautista), whose cartoony but detail-oriented style helps balance the theological heaviness with a sense of sci-fi fun.

Here’s a preview.


2. Benson’s Cuckoos

By Anouk Ricard
Drawn & Quarterly

A comic that's like 'The Office,' but with funny animals

Anouk Ricard is a French cartoonist most known for her award-winning series of children’s graphic novels, Anna and Froga. Her first graphic novel intended for grown-up readers is the office place comedy Benson’s Cuckoos.

Describing the comic as "The Office with funny animals" feels a little reductive, but there truly are a lot of similarities. It takes place within a company that is populated by comically disgruntled employees who work for a hilariously inappropriate boss. There’s even a budding office romance between Sophie (a dog) and Richard (a duck) that has as many false starts as The Office’s Jim and Pam. We are introduced to the cuckoo clock company through the new guy, Richard, as he tries to become accustomed to his eccentric co-workers. When he finds out that the guy he was hired to replace has gone missing, Richard realizes things are even stranger than he first thought.

Anouk Ricard’s humor is dry and subtle and she draws in a straightforward and simple style that manages to make these animals seem familiar.

Drawn & Quarterly has some preview pages here.


3. Knuckleheads Vol. 1: Fist Contact

By Brian Winkeler and Robert Wilson IV with colors by Jordan Boyd

A bro with newfound superpowers has to put down the Xbox controller to save the world

In Brian Winkeler and Robert Wilson IV’s Knuckleheads, a slacker named Trevor K. Trevinski is granted superpowers by an alien who gives him a weapon called the “Crystal Fist” (it looks like a pair of brass knuckles made out of ice). What does Trev do with his newfound power? Mostly use it to play Xbox and get free Netflix. That is, until a giant Kaiju shows up and starts wrecking the city. Trev and his roommate Lance then find themselves unexpectedly propelled into action.

This previously digital-only comic draws its inspiration and humor from TV series like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the British comedy Peep Show. It becomes an ensemble comedy once Trev saves a drunk British girl named Emma and a pizza delivery guy named Guy who both wind up sticking around for the adventure. Also, there's a dog with whom Trev’s Crystal Fist allows him to hilariously communicate. The humor is laden with pop culture references that may end up dating it, but it is refreshingly snappy and quite funny.

With this first collected print volume hitting comic shops via IDW Publishing, they are just the latest success story to get their start through Monkeybrain and the latest to see a widely released print collection come out thanks to the close relationship between the two publishers.

Here’s a preview.


4. We Go Forward

By Shen Anigansen
Owl Turd Comix

A look at life within a side-scrolling video game

Webcomics inspired by video games are so prevalent these days that it’s easy to disregard them. However, We Go Forward, which artist Shen Anigansen posted to his Tumblr this week, is profound and touching. It draws on a common trope in side-scrolling video games — the fact that you can’t go backwards — and creates a clever and even sad little story from it.

It’s a quick read and beautifully drawn in a really pleasing 8-bit style so go read it now.