Mental Floss

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Rich Barrett
Alberto Ponticelli/Huffington Post
Alberto Ponticelli/Huffington Post / Alberto Ponticelli/Huffington Post

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.

1. Living Level-3

By Joshua Dysart, Alberto Ponticelli, Jonathan Dumont, Pat Masioni and Thomas Mauer
Huffington Post

In 2007, writer Joshua Dysart travelled to Uganda where he spent a month visiting AIDS hospices and interviewing child soldiers to research a comic he would create for DC called Unknown Soldier. This level of commitment and his penchant for writing politically minded comics led to him being invited by the World Food Programme to travel with them to Syria and Iraq to write a comic that would document the struggle of bringing food security to refugees in both countries.

Dysart reunited with his Unknown Soldier artist Alberto Ponticelli to illustrate this story about a fictional aid worker dealing with the fallout from ISIS's takeover in areas of Iraq. The result is a four-part comic running this week on the Huffington Post called Living Level-3 (the name refers to the most severe classification for a humanitarian crisis; the WFP is currently dealing with five simultaneous L-3s in the world). In addition to the comic, Dysart is blogging about his experience in Iraq.

2. American Monster #1

By Brian Azzarello and Juan Doe
Aftershock Comics 

In Brian Azzarello and Juan Doe’s American Monster, a severely scarred and nearly faceless soldier returns from war and cleans up a small town full of drug dealers and corrupt politicians. What sounds like a well-and-good premise for a rote action flick promises to reveal murky levels of pathos and moral ambiguity as we learn more about this man.

Azzarello broke onto the scene with the classic thriller 100 Bullets and soon became a mainstay at DC Comics where he is currently co-writing the 3rd installment of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight series. He’s joined on this book by artist Juan Doe, who is probably a new name to most readers despite his 10 years of making mostly covers for Marvel and DC. This could be a breakout book for both him and the publisher, Aftershock Comics, which is new to the scene but pulling in some big name creators for its books.

3. The Envelope Manufacturer

By Chris Oliveros

Last year Chris Oliveros, founder of the prestigious Montreal-based publisher Drawn & Quarterly, surprised the indie-comics world by stepping down from his role in the company to focus on making his own comics. Oliveros got into comics 25 years ago as a self-publishing cartoonist, and he now comes full circle with a self-published graphic novel (that will be distributed by Drawn & Quarterly) called The Envelope Manufacturer.

The book is about a small business owner dealing with the stress of staying afloat amidst a changing economic landscape, a subject that somewhat mirrors Oliveros’ life and career. He began this book as a series of comics back in the early days of Drawn & Quarterly before getting caught up in the machinations of running a company. His first order of business after retiring from D&Q was to revisit and completely redraw it as a 104-page black-and-white graphic novel. Oliveros has a subtle, European-influenced cartooning style that is simpatico with the stable of D&Q cartoonists he has worked with in the past; just looking at the cover of this book brings to mind the entire history of that company.

4. Frank in the 3rd Dimension

By Jim Woodring

Jim Woodring has been making surreal, wordless comics starring Frank since the 1990s, and now he’s taking the character to a new level with a 3D book called Frank in the 3rd Dimension. This 26-page hardcover promises a series of scenes that contain “150 layers per drawing in order to round and 'sculpt' each image into full, volumetric 3-D.” In this age of digital comics, this is a book you will need to physically interact with in order to appreciate. At 63, Woodring is one of the great cartoonists to come out of the early days of Fantagraphics, and he is still prolific to this day, working with the publisher to bring his weird and innovative comics to life.