Zodiac Starforce, Space Dumplins and a comic about Edward Snowden
Every week I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, 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.
Zodiac Starforce #1
By Kevin Panetta and Paulina Ganucheau
Dark Horse Comics
With its title and costume designs that look inspired by Jem and the Holograms and Rainbow Brite, Zodiac Starforce seems like it would be just an average entry in the growing list of comics made for tween girls. However, this new mini-series has a few things that elevate it up a couple notches. One is the outstanding art from newcomer Paulina Ganucheau. She’s a recent Savannah College of Art & Design grad and, in her major comic debut, handles all the art including the coloring. Her style is bright, fresh, and pops in a way that is sure to appeal to its target audience.
Another positive is the way Ganucheau and writer Kevin Panetta approach this story. They have surprisingly imbued this comic about a super team of sixteen-year-olds with a rich and intriguing backstory that is only hinted at in the first issue. When we are introduced to the characters, Zodiac Starforce has actually long since disbanded, and the girls have moved on to dating, school, and other quotidian things. It isn't until an evil force starts causing trouble that the team has to get back together. This is a book that has the chance to be the next Lumberjanes for tween girl readers.
By Ted Rall
Seven Stories Press
Sandwiched between an Academy Award-winning documentary and an upcoming Oliver Stone film, the fascinating story of Edward Snowden is now available in comic form as told by controversial political cartoonist Ted Rall. Beginning with a comparison of George Orwell’s 1984 to the current rise of the surveillance state in 2015 America, Rall explores the early life of the former CIA employee as well as the details of his leaking of classified NSA data to the public in 2013. Rall has recently found himself embroiled in his own surveillance issues after the Los Angeles Times fired him when the LAPD produced an audio tape from a 2001 exchange with a police officer over a jaywalking incident that seemed to contradict a blog post Rall wrote about that event this past May.
By Craig Thompson
Violet is a young girl who lives with her parents in a trailer home in space. When her school gets eaten by a giant space whale she is overjoyed, but this complicates things for her hardworking parents who can’t get her into any school due to costs and her dad’s mysterious criminal record. When he disappears while on a dangerous job, Violet goes off on an adventure with a chicken named Elliot to rescue him.
Space Dumplins is a new book from esteemed graphic novelist Craig Thompson (Blankets), and it is his first work aimed at a younger audience since his first book, Goodbye Chunky Rice. Coming off of Habibi, which is a sprawling epic about religion, sex, and castration, this looks to be a creative departure for Thompson that is drastically more lighthearted and accessible.
Rules for Dating My Daughter
By Mike Dawson
Mike Dawson is a cartoonist who, for most of his career, has focused on longer graphic novels like Troop 142 and Freddie & Me rather than shorter, web-friendly comics. When his last book, Angie Bongioliatti, failed to make an impression on the market, he wrote a reflective and now-infamous essay about the difficulties of finding an audience for your work. As often happens whenever cartoonists open up about issues involving sales, Dawson received a lot of flack from certain corners of the internet, but it also sparked interesting conversations about the viability of graphic novels in today’s market.
As a result of that essay, Dawson began shifting gears towards making shorter comics that have indeed found an audience. These comics, many centered around the topic of being a dad, appeared in places like Slate, The Comics Journal, and The Nib and were widely shared on the web. My personal favorites include Dawson’s ruminations on gun control, animals, and the title comic of this collection, Rules for Dating My Daughter, which is a truly great comic about parenting.
Dawson is also creating new work for this print collection that he is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund. The cost of entry for a print copy is actually very affordable. Check out the campaign here.
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Omnibus
By Eiji Otsuka and Hosui Yamazaki
Dark Horse Comics
The long-running horror manga Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service first hit the States in 2006. The striking design of its covers made it stand out among other manga series on the shelves. Now, with 14 volumes available in the U.S. and about six more that have only been released in Japan, Dark Horse is giving the first three volumes the omnibus treatment for new readers who want to jump aboard.
The title of the series refers to a company started by five graduates of a Buddhist college in Tokyo, one of whom has the ability to converse with the dead. They figure out a way to carry out the last wishes of the corpses’ spirits and are paid for their duty in karmic returns (their first client leaves them a winning lottery ticket).
The students form a quirky ensemble that includes a hacker, a dowser, an embalmer (most bodies are cremated in Japan so she doesn’t get much work), and a guy who wears a felt hand puppet that channels the voice of a foul-mouthed alien. The art by Hosui Yamazaki is detailed and crisp and, amidst the humor, there are definitely some viscerally graphic scenes that will stop you in your tracks.