BKV's Favorite Comics of 2023 (so far)
SPECTATORS - Part 59
Was last week the most hectic of your life?
Brian here, and mine sure felt like it, especially with the potential WGA strike now just hours away. For the past few months, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to work on a still-unannounced film with one of our greatest living directors, and while I’ll hate to have to step away from that project, I also fully support my Guild and their very reasonable aims, and I’m more than ready to dust off my sign from 2007 and walk those picket lines with my fellow writers this week.
If you’re interested, I can keep you in the loop about this Hollywood nonsense from my admittedly limited P.O.V., but for now, let’s get to what you’re really here for: COMICS, starting with several new pages of Spectators from my incomparable collaborators artist/co-creator Niko Henrichon and letterer Fonografiks, as voyeuristic ghosts Val and Sam learn more about the individual who unleashed a nuclear attack on Future Anaheim.
I’ve been having nightmares about the possibility of something like #LEADERBOARD ever since I saw my first hashtag, so thanks for letting me share some of my long-simmering disquiet with you.
At least Niko’s artwork is absolutely beautiful though, huh?
Speaking of my outrageously generous friend, every single month, Niko personally sends out a page of his invaluable original art to one of you paying subscribers from The Tower, and the randomly selected winner of the above beauty is… Dorina!
Congrats, and if you weren’t selected this month, good news, there are a few pages of early Spectators art still available for purchase over at Essential Sequential. And Tower members get an additional 10% off any purchase with the secret code we revealed at the end of this post, so if you’re a fellow art collector, membership really does pay for itself.
With Trad Moore selling all the original pages from his first issue of Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise for hundreds of thousands of dollars (!!!) last week, and the recent sale of Marjane Satrapi artwork from Persepolis by respected auction house Sotheby’s, is contemporary comic art finally being recognized alongside more nostalgic fare from our medium’s past…?
Yeah, I have no idea.
But guess what? The mystery of that original Al Jaffee Fold-In page I showed off last week has been SOLVED thanks to loyal readers of Exploding Giraffe!
Straight on the case, Tim Leong did some journalistic legwork, writing:
On a lark I reached out to Doug Gilford, who runs madcoversite.com. He said: “This never made it into the magazine.”
He then asked former art director Sam Viviano, who said, “It was done as a promotion for the Brøderbund CD-ROM set. It was not, to my knowledge, printed in the magazine. If memory serves, they were printed on stand-alone card stock.”
And then reader Tommy Thrash dug up exactly what I’ve long been searching for, visual proof that this image was indeed published (as an ad, but still!), including the long-lost text for Al’s Y2K gag:
Tommy already politely declined a prize, but I’d like to send both gentlemen something for their help, so our intern Genesis the Exploded Giraffe will be reaching out for your mailing addresses soon, huge thanks again for the very satisfying answer.
How towering is your stack of unread comics, Tower?
A while back, I had to obnoxiously “retire” from writing blurbs, as I fell way behind on reading for possible quotes that I’d promised to give other creators if I ended up liking their work.
Still, I fucking LOVE comics, and though I can’t always read them right when they come out, I did a lot of catching up while traveling a few weeks back, and read quite a few excellent new books I thought you might enjoy, too.
I realize this year is barely a third over, but what the hell, here comes…
BKV’S FAVORITE COMICS OF 2023 (SO FAR)
The usual caveats: these are just what books I happened to have picked up, finished sometime this calendar year, and (crucially) still remember today.
If you’re a creator and your comic isn’t included, it’s probably just because I haven’t gotten to it yet, or because you happen to be a friend, colleague or family member, as was the case with some of the creators behind these three excellent (and coincidentally Hulk-related) books:
That’s Clobberin’ Time by my We Stand On Guard collaborator Steve Skroce (the deeply unsettling cover to his second issue is an all-time classic), the gorgeous Hulk: Grand Design by my Cartoonist Kayfabe pal Jim Rugg, and the breathtaking IDW Artist’s Edition of Kevin Nowlan (has anyone done more for original comic art than editor Scott Dunbier?), which happens to feature the complete 8-page Hulk story by talented writer/terrible brother David Vaughan:
Ugh, Nowlan even hand-lettered it. I’ll never stop being jealous.
Anyway, I’ll be giving away my own copy of that $150 masterwork to one lucky Tower member who comments in this week’s chat thread, but first, let’s get to my wholly arbitrarily numbered list of faves:
10) ORGANISMS FROM AN ANCIENT COSMOS
If you’re a fan of fearless films like Bone Tomahawk, you’ll want to check out this graphic novel from its writer/director, S. Craig Zahler.
While he’s admittedly a novice artist, Zahler is obviously an extremely gifted visual storyteller, and I really enjoyed this uncompromising sci-fi/horror tale.
9) NEOFOREST, Volume One
I wasn’t familiar with creators Fred Duval or Philippe Scoffoni, but this terrific cover caught my eye, and the interiors (set in “a neofeudal city that arose after the end of the world”) are somehow just as beautiful.
8) PEEPEE-POOPOO #420
I love the hilarious comics of cartoonist Caroline Cash, whose work I first discovered after she kindly included a hand-written note with my order from Quimby’s Bookstore.
Anyway, I ordered her killer follow-up to PeePee-PooPoo #69 from Silver Sprocket, and one of their cartoonist-employees ALSO included a sweet note for me:
Too awesome, thanks, Sarah Maloney!
From Marvel’s Darth Vader: Black, White & Red #1 (an anthology that also features great stories from my friends Torunn Grønbekk and Jason Aaron), “Inescapable” is a silent 12-pager by living legend Peach Momoko.
It’s a wonderfully creepy little Star Wars tale whose last page imagery made me gasp aloud like a weirdo.
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