The 10 Most Interesting Comics of January

Rich Barrett
Joe Ollmann/Drawn & Quarterly
Joe Ollmann/Drawn & Quarterly / Joe Ollmann/Drawn & Quarterly

Each month, we round up the most interesting comics, graphic novels, webcomics, digital comics and comic-related Kickstarters that we recommend you check out.

1. The Abominable Mr. Seabrook

By Joe Ollmann
Drawn & Quarterly

William Seabrook was a writer who gained renown and success by traveling to locales considered exotic and unknown to most white people during the ‘20s and ‘30s. He once tasted human flesh in order to write about cannibals in West Africa (though because he believed that the natives had given him ape meat, he ate human flesh in France after he purchased it from a hospital). But his true claim to fame was bringing the idea of the Haitian zombie to a wide audience. Seabrook’s interesting life was scandalous and disturbing for its time. He had a penchant for bondage and alcohol and would eventually drink himself to death.

Cartoonist Joe Ollmann has been working on this exhaustive biography of Seabrook for over 10 years. Almost every page is drawn in a dense, nine-panel grid and Ollmann packs in as many excursions, marriages, benders, and kinky dalliances as he can. It’s a compelling look at an interesting literary figure who is mostly forgotten today.

2. Beowulf

By Santiago Garcia and David Rubin
Image Comics

This visually stunning graphic novel is the latest adaptation of the famous poem. Spanish writer Santiago Garcia and artist David Rubin are faithful to the original but depict it with a modern visual style full of ultra-violence, gory details, and dynamic page designs. There are moments that come filtered through modern Hollywood horror and action films like Alien, Predator, and 300, in an effort to evoke the modern association of the word epic. Rubin, currently the artist on Dark Horse’s Ether, is an inventive and exciting artist who is about to become a superstar in the States. This book was originally published back in 2013 in Spain and is seeing its first English-language release this month.

3. Love is Love

By various
IDW and DC

Writer Marc Andreyko organized a star-studded assortment of writers and artists to create one- to two-page stories with an LGBTQ focus for this anthology benefitting the victims, survivors, and families of last year’s Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. DC Comics and IDW have joined forces to publish it, meaning we get an interesting mix of mainstream and indie creators telling some heartfelt stories about coming out, acceptance, and dealing with the truth of this tragedy; some of the stories feature familiar DC superheroes. The contributions range from heavy-handed to heartbreaking and profound. The contributors include big name comic creators like Mark Millar, Gail Simone, Jason Aaron, Jason Latour, and Jonathan Hickman as well as some comics-friendly celebrities like Patton Oswalt, Taran Killam and Damon Lindelof.

4. Superman Vol 1: Son of Superman

By Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Doug Mahnke and Jorge Jimenez
DC Comics

DC’s “Rebirth”—a relaunch of all their titles that aimed to overwrite 2011’s “New 52” relaunch—has largely been a critical and sales success. This month, the first batch of Rebirth-branded trade paperback collections hit stores, and most of these books are really worth checking out, especially if you’re a longtime DC fan who has been turned off by the direction the books have taken over the years. Unlike with a reboot, this relaunch is continuing the current status quo but with a tonal change to re-embrace the classic feel of DC’s style of super heroics. Of all these titles, Superman has the heaviest lift to make since DC had literally killed off Superman leading up to this relaunch. In this new book, they attempt to replace him with an older version of the character, transported from the multiverse along with his wife Lois and their son, Jonathan. This new Super-family is now attempting the trick of slipping into the lives of their deceased counterparts without anyone else realizing what’s up. Where this is all going and how DC makes it stick will be interesting to watch.

5. Resist!

By Various
Desert Island Bookstore

The first comic of the Trump era is a true work of political expression distributed for free during the Inauguration and the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Resist! is a 40-page tabloid curated by Françoise Mouly, famed art editor of The New Yorker and co-creator of the influential 1980s alt-comic Raw. Mouly’s daughter, the writer Nadja Spiegelman, collaborated with her and Gabe Fowler of Brooklyn’s Desert Island Comics to sort through over 1000 submissions they received after a post-Election call for entires. The comics and illustrations chosen are from mostly female artists (contributions selected from male artists are pushed to the back in a section called “The Man Cave”) that include comics legends like Lynda Barry, Alison Bechdel and Roz Chast. Finding a copy may be tricky at this point, but if you’re lucky, your local comic shop may have one.

6. Loose Ends #1

By Jason Latour, Chris Brunner and Rico Renzi
Image Comics

About 10 years ago, a four-issue series called Loose Ends began publication through small press publisher 12 Gauge Comics. It was a “southern crime romance” by a young creative team led by Jason Latour, an artist who was making his first attempt at writing a comic. The final issue was never released, but Latour and Rico Renzi would soon go on to create the popular Spider-Gwen character for Marvel, and Latour would team with writer Jason Aaron to create the award-winning Southern Bastards, southern gothic crime that seems born out of this book in many ways.

Now, the series is finally being completed and re-released to a wider audience through Image Comics. The book’s artist, Chris Brunner, is a talented but still mostly unknown creator who will surely turn some heads and make a name for himself when more people check this book out.

7. Libby’s Dad

By Eleanor Davis
Retrofit Press

Eleanor Davis is prolific at creating short comics that pop up in various small press anthologies and one-off publications like this one which comes through Retrofit. It is a beautiful minicomic about that age when you’re still a little too young to fully grasp the world around you. The story takes place during a pool/slumber party at the house of quiet, somber Libby. Her group of friends can’t help but buzz about a rumor they heard involving Libby’s dad pulling a gun on her mom. The comic is told from the point of view of Alex, the youngest and most impressionable of the group and is drawn in a crayon-like manner that captures a nostalgic, child-like simplicity.

8. Supergirl: Being Super #1

By Mariko Tamaki, Joëlle Jones, Sandu Florea and Kelley Fitzpatrick
DC Comics

Thanks to the success of the new TV show, there's room in the market for multiple books with varying takes on Supergirl. This new four-issue series, written by Caldecott Medal award winner Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Eisner Award nominated artist Joëlle Jones, brings some YA-style teen drama with an origin story set outside of normal DC continuity that avoids all the typical Kryptonian setup. Kara Danvers knows there is something different about herself—especially during a memorable scene involving a super-powered zit—but she is more concerned with normal teenage girl stuff like yearbook photos, high school track and hanging out with her friends than being a superhero. This type of superhero story—removed from the intricate web of continuity and crossovers—is what companies like DC need to do more of in order to bring in the kind of audience that loves the Supergirl TV show.

9. Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation

By Damian Duffy and John Jennings; adapted from the novel by Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler’s 1979 novel Kindred is a classic work of sci-fi literature about an African-American woman who is transported through time from her suburban home in the 1970s to a pre-Civil War plantation where she encounters her ancestors: a white plantation owner and the black woman he has made his slave and concubine. Damian Duffy, an academic who has written about underrepresentation in comics, and John Jennings, an African-American artist and educator, have the honor of adapting this work into a new medium for potentially a new audience.

10. Adventure Time: Marshall Lee Spectacular

By Melanie Gillman, Mariko Tamaki, S.M. Vidaurri, Trungles, Asia Kendrick-Horton and Audrey Mok
Boom! Studios

As an added incentive for Comixology’s new “Unlimited” subscription service, the premier digital comics company is launching a line of original comics. The first of these books is a one-shot from Boom! Studios popular Adventure Time comics featuring Marshall Lee, the gender-swapped version of one of the show’s stars, Marceline. This comic features three stories by a group of diverse, up-and-coming creators led by award-winning writer Mariko Tamaki.