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.
By Tony Cliff
Tony Cliff // First Second
Animation and comics have obvious similarities, and it's natural for many creators to successfully bounce back and forth between the two industries. You can usually pick out a comic drawn by an animation pro based on its emphasis on stagecraft and the fluidity of the action. Tony Cliff’s background in animation is apparent when flipping through pages of his Delilah Dirk series, which has a Disney-like feel to its lighting, character design, and set pieces. This week, the sequel to Cliff’s 2013 hit Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant hits stores with the continued story of two unlikely friends chasing adventure across 19th century Europe.
In Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling, the brash, thrill-seeking Delilah and her level-headed, loyal companion Selim are humiliated by a traitorous British solider. To exact her revenge, she must go undercover as her true self, the daughter of British aristocracy, something that was unknown to her friend Selim. This is another delightfully illustrated entry in the series, full of vivid action sequences and great attention to historic detail, but the book’s true strength is in its depiction of the friendship between Delilah and Selim, who are opposites in every way. Their interactions are comical and heartwarming, and Delilah’s hot-temper is perfectly complemented and kept in check by Selim.
2. LUCKY PENNY
By Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota
Lucky Penny, the new graphic novel by writer Ananth Hirsh and artist Yuko Ota, first appeared on the duo’s popular anthology webcomic, Johnny Wander. It's a light romantic comedy about a 20-something named Penny who we first meet on a really bad day in which she loses both her job and her apartment. But that’s okay, she just moves into a storage unit and takes a job at a laundromat where she has to take orders from a 12-year-old kid whose parents own the place. Things start to look up, however, when she meets a cute, shy boy named Walter who works at the local community center.
The pacing of the jokes, the touches of magical realism, and Yuko Ota’s manga-like artwork may make some think of it as a Scott Pilgrim knock-off. While the inspiration is obviously there, Ota’s work is so rich, detailed, and funny that it deserves consideration on its own merit.
By Kaitlyn Narvaza
Kaitlyn Narvaza // LINE Webtoon
LINE Webtoon has their finger on the pulse—not only of what young readers (particular women) want to read, but also of how webcomics should be presented and monetized. The South Korean portal has been around for 13 years, and over time it has evolved its presentation format to adapt to new technologies and reader preferences. Starting from static horizontal comic strips, they first shifted to semi-animated Flash-based comics and then to pioneering the long, vertical format seen in many of today’s webcomics, adding sound effects and animation that are triggered by scrolling. Traditionally huge with Korean audiences, they’ve recently expanded their influence to the West with English translations of some of their most popular comics, and have even snagged a license deal with LucasFilm to produce their own Star Wars comic.
An enormous financial success, LINE Webtoon pays all its creators, secures licensing deals for them, and ensures that they retain the copyrights on all their work. They also make an effort to give new talent an opportunity to find an audience with their open platform called Discover. Their first big breakout star of that program was 21-year-old San Diego State University student Kaitlyn Narvaza, whose debut comic, Where Tangents Meet, became a global hit.
Now 22 years old, Narvaza is returning as a featured cartoonist with a new comic called Siren’s Lament. This dreamy romance is about a young florist named Lyra who is saved from drowning by a merman. When she makes a deal that goes wrong for both of them, they both become part-human and part-siren. Narvaza draws in a manga-influenced style and uses the vertical scroll of the page to great effect—she even incorporates an original soundtrack that gently plays while you read along.