Best Comic Books 2017

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Postby creationist » Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:11 pm

Our annual holiday tradition, it's time once again for the comic book thread's Christmas ceasefire... where we abandon the partisan battle lines of which X-Man was hotter to take stock of what we've read this year.

Here are some recommendations for anyone who needs a neat gift idea or just wants a way to unwind this holiday season. Turn off your phone, unplug your router, DON'T turn on the television. Trust me. Don't. It's bad. Instead why not take a trip to your local comic shop https://www.comicshoplocator.com/Home/1/1/57/575 support the medium we love and join us with a list of your own. Or you can just pilfer whatever download thread they stick this in.

For my list, I usually concentrate on new-ish titles and try not to repeat myself. I also have weird internal rules about what I consider qualifies towards the medium of comics vs manga, cartooning, etc but the good news is I am in therapy. On the subject of repeats, there actually are a couple for me this year. I really only do that when I consider this year's worth of work to be at least equivalent to the last. In serialized art that's really hard to do. Here's last year's list for comparison: viewtopic.php?t=103241

Amazon links are for the original collection that kicks off the creative team/storyline I'm highlighting. Everything should also be available at https://www.comixology.com/ or in whatever members-only thread magically appears up after this one.

My Favorite Comics 2017:


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10. Shade, The Changing Girl
DC: Young Animal
Begins in "Shade, The Changing Girl Vol. 1: Earth Girl Made Easy"
https://smile.amazon.com/Shade-Changing ... 1401270999

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9. Black Bolt
Marvel Comics
Collected in "Black Bolt Vol. 1: Hard Time"
https://smile.amazon.com/Black-Bolt-Vol ... 1302907328

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8. Crawl Space
Koyama Press
https://smile.amazon.com/Crawl-Space-Je ... 1927668417

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7. The Mighty Thor/The Unworthy Thor
Marvel Comics
Begins in "The Mighty Thor Vol 1: Thunder In Her Veins"
https://smile.amazon.com/Mighty-Thor-Vo ... B01ETWG83W
Collected in "The Unworthy Thor"
https://smile.amazon.com/Unworthy-Thor- ... 1302906674

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6. Silver Surfer
Marvel Comics
Begins in "Silver Surfer Vol. 1: New Dawn"
https://smile.amazon.com/Silver-Surfer- ... 0785188789

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5. The Best We Could Do
Abrams ComicArts
https://smile.amazon.com/Best-We-Could- ... 1419718770

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4. You & A Bike & A Road
Koyama Press
https://smile.amazon.com/You-Bike-Road- ... 1927668409

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3. Batman
DC Comics
Begins in "Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham"
https://smile.amazon.com/Batman-Vol-Am- ... 1401267777

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2. Voices in the Dark
New York Review Comics
https://www.nyrb.com/products/voices-in ... 0954954887

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1. Mister Miracle
DC Comics
Not yet collected.
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Postby buriedinspace » Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:23 pm

I definitely don't have 10 nor a particularly broad pallet at the moment and I haven't read as much as I did 10 years ago. But here are the three Marvel/DC titles I've loved this year:

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The Unbelievable Gwenpool

Super fun, super meta. In the last 6-8 issues it's gone a little deeper into the meta pool and I've really enjoyed that but it's really smart and funny. The Gurihiru art is really nice. I think this is easily best case scenario for 'joke character created for a variant cover gimmick' and I think it laps what you'd think the best case scenario might be.

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Mister Miracle

Co-signed from the OP. Just weird and interesting and compelling stuff. I feel like I understand 75% of what's happening, tops and that is intentional and I'm really fascinated to see the mysteries of the book explained.

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The Mighty Thor

Dauterman and Aaron have just been knocking this out of the park. I will be really upset if the teased events of the current story come to place but if so, it'll be a monumentally great run with this character. Aaron, in general, has managed to put together one of the seminal Thor runs this side of Simonson - kind of the Morrison to Simonson's Claremont, perhaps?
I try to avoid enjoyable romps whenever I can. -Armond White
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:33 pm

Yay. I always find it difficult to rank self-contained graphic novels and stuff with "here's the latest chunk of issues from this ongoing" so, much like last year, I made 2 lists. First up is the top 10 "comic shop" series, mostly ongoings in generally "mainstream"/genre territory. Then there's a top 20 of graphic novels, single issues, and minicomics, representing all the stuff found outside (most) comic shops.

TOP 10 COMIC SHOP SERIES (PART 1)

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10. Giant Days | John Allison & Max Sarin
I was late to Allison's rich, hilarious series about a trio of British college women, but since catching up earlier this year it's become one of my most dependably enjoyable reads whenever it's out. Allison writes these characters so well, his dialogue is always biting and funny, and the characters are so perfectly realized that they feel like real people. Sarin's expressive cartooning adds tremendously to the book's pleasures, matching Allison's creations with lively caricatures whose faces contort to give voice to their over-dramatic, over-sized personae. This is the kind of book I definitely never would have expected to like until I actually read it, but its charm is irresistable.

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9. Redlands | Jordie Bellaire & Vanesa Del Rey
Just 4 issues in, this new Image title - colorist Bellaire's first regular series as a writer - has built a moody, eerie world in a Florida locale where a coven of witches have ousted the racist police and installed themselves as literally the new sheriffs in town. The story seethes with menace and portent, and the moral calculus, seemingly rather simplistic at first, is complicated by the fact that there don't seem to be any characters here incapable of evil deeds. The driving force for the book, though, is Del Rey, who's always been good but has seldom looked quite THIS good. She really gets to stretch out here, infusing swamps and dark country roads with gritty, grainy menace, drawing both supernatural horrors and human evils with a real grasp of grotesqueries and gore.

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8. Silver Surfer | Dan Slott & Mike Allred
Allred was a perfect fit for a Silver Surfer book, and Slott thankfully gave him the perfect material to showcase Allred's vision of this character perfectly as well. Their run ended this year with an appropriately bittersweet tone; despite the glossy brightness of the art, the whimsy, romance, and good humor of this book were always underscored by themes of regret and loss. The cosmic romance of the Surfer and the Earth woman Dawn was seldom uncomplicated by the traumas of the past or the specter of mortality, so it makes sense that the poignant conclusion would hit so hard on ideas about death and getting the most out of life. What a great run, starting out cute and fun, and over time building to some really beautiful emotional climaxes.

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7. The Wicked & The Divine | Kieron Gillen & Jaime McKelvie
Gillen and McKelvie's poppy, apocalyptic take on gods, celebrity, music, and mortality enters a bold new "imperial phase" that basically tears apart the story to date and keeps piling on new revelations and new dynamics between the characters. It's happened so gradually that it's probably easy to underestimate how different this series now seems from where it started; the longterm plotting is impressive, always pushing these characters to new places and shifting perspectives on what's happened so far. But no matter how dramatically the ground falls out from under the characters, again and again, the book's core ideas and its vibrant, glossy aesthetic remain a rock-solid foundation.

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6. Batman | Tom King & various
This year, King's Batman run has coalesced around a surprising central dynamic: the Batman/Catwoman relationship, and Batman's decision to propose to his longtime adversary and love interest. King has had a lot of fun ideas in this run already but his writing of this relationship brings a level of playfulness and sexy noir repartee to the duo that hasn't been this well-done since Doug Moench had Batman and Catwoman enjoying date nights on Gotham's roofs back in the '80s. This year, King concluded his lengthy Bane storyline and paired Joker and Riddler in the "War of Jokes and Riddles," but the Cat has quietly remained the star, culminating in the delightful Joelle Jones-illustrated issues in which Selina duels with Talia.
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:34 pm

TOP 10 COMIC SHOP SERIES (PART 2)

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5. Black Monday Murders | Jonathan Hickman & Tomm Coker
Delays prevented too many issues of this from coming out this year, but oh what issues they were. Hickman's world-building instincts are at their peak here, as is his knack for using insterstitial material to set the tone and provide background info; never before have all the texts and diagrams he includes as spacers in much of his work seemed so necessary and so deeply ingrained in the comic itself. Coker's brooding realism is perfectly suited to the book's police procedural-like examination of the murderous cults behind the world of international finance, but as this year's issues delved further into the eldritch horrors lurking behind the scenes, Coker's real strengths became most apparent. The run so far climaxed with a close encounter with the dark god of money himself, and the offhanded gothic naturalism with which Coker captured this terrifying sequence made it one of the year's most memorable scenes.

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4. East of West | Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta
I'm pretty sure this is one of the series that I mention every year, no matter what. It's been running for years but unlike most series this old, it's never lost its way and Hickman never seems like he's lost sight of what's obviously a long-term plan. If anything, as the plot escalates and the apocalypse looms closer, the book just keeps getting better, especially now that Hickman's brought together some long-separated threads and started focusing on the adventures of Death and his VR-taught son. It's thrilling and epic, but not just that: Hickman's oft-overlooked dark streak of humor has come out more and more even as the narrative gets bleaker. And Dragotta, as always, is the perfect artist for this sci-fi Western's outlandish vistas.

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3. Shade the Changing Girl | Cecil Castellucci & Marley Zarcone
Last year, this book had just started as year-end lists came out, and it already showed tremendous promise. This year, that promise was fulfilled, as Castellucci and Zarcone manage the tricky task of taking a classic run (Peter Milligan's Shade the Changing Man) and building something new and fresh off of that foundation. Their Shade is an interdimensional bird woman with empathy issues who inhabits the body of a comatose teen girl bully, which sets the stage for a rich variety of stories. Weird, goofy, funny as hell, and incredibly smart and insightful about these types of characters and their milieu, this is a great mix of high school comedy, surrealist poetry, and high-concept sci-fi hijinks.

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2. Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses | David Lapham
Lapham's latest "miniseries" just keeps going and going, as what started as a way to fill in events between two of his earliest arcs has expanded into this wild road movie adventure that continually twists and turns in unexpected directions and keeps detouring to spend time with various members of the big cast. That unpredictability is no small feat given that fans already know how the story ends, so it's been a real treat to see Lapham play with expectations and reveal previously unsuspected facets of some of his most familiar characters.

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1. Mister Miracle | Tom King & Mitch Gerads
Probably the most formalist comic I've seen from the Big Two in a while. King builds a mysterious, mind-bending narrative where everything is in doubt and the protagonist can't even trust what he sees. Gerads locks King's repeating, mantra-like narration into a tight grid while experimenting with deliberately overt digital effects. Images skip and stutter like a corrupted TV screen, and the gory haze of battle gets represented by the muddy splatter of blood that obscures entire frames. The whole book is centered on obfuscation and confusion, as the traumatized hero deals with a horrific childhood, an adulthood at war, and his dawning suspicion that he's just being used as a tool by various sides in a neverending war. Only a third of a way through the maxiseries, this is so far shaping up to be one of King's very best works in his already-impressive brief career.
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:34 pm

TOP 20 GRAPHIC NOVELS, SINGLE ISSUES, MINICOMICS (PART 1)

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20. My Pretty Vampire | Katie Skelly
Skelly's first long work in color is a loving tribute to Jean Rollin lesbian vampire exploitation flicks, with a lush but muted color palette perfectly suited to the material. Beneath the languid, elliptical narrative, roiling emotions are barely concealed. Skelly's work is easy to enjoy on a pretty surface level: her figures are immediately appealing in their gracefulness and fragility, their big eyes, the expanses of open space, not a single unneeded line anywhere to be found. But even more than in her previous work, there's a real engagement here with ideas about freedom and control. Skelly's Clover the vampire is an embodiment of dangerous femininity, constantly being assaulted by the attempts of others to limit her, to rein her in, but instead exploding outwards in violent and sexual catharsis.

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19. Voices In the Dark | Marcel Beyer & Ulli Lust
Ulli Lust adapts Beyer's novel about a sound engineer who works with the Nazis, and his occasional interactions with the 6 children of Joseph Goebbels. The story is harrowing and loaded with dread, and Lust does a stellar job of translating its eerie menace into muddy, grim, grotesque imagery. As the book goes on and the war drags towards its final days, the atmosphere becomes more and more oppressive, and Lust's drawing becomes increasingly unhinged, loading pages with dense scribbles or covering everything with a fog of darkness, obscuring images with noisy explosion sound effects. Because the perspective is always locked in on the Nazis, there's continually a sense of unsettling atrocities being committed just off-panel, left unspoken by the amoral, untrustworthy main character or unseen by the children, among whom only the oldest daughter is starting to understand that her seemingly idyllic childhood is not what it seems. Far more than the story, Lust's virtuoso performance is what really propels this forward, as she shifts effortlessly from bright, storybook aesthetics when writing from the children's POV early on, to savage caricature, to the furious, slashing linework and visual confusion as the book descends into horror and dread in its second half.

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18. I Am Not Okay With This | Charles Forsman
A gangly Olive Oyl type struggles with the death of her dad, her still-nascent sexual identity, and the darkness festering inside of her, manifested as a psychic ability to inflict pain on others. Forsman's drawing is at its most cartoony, with a rubbery good humor that creates some sublime tension between his awkward, long-limbed main character and the uncomfortably intense teenage emotions threatening to overwhelm her. Reminiscent at times of Tom Neely's The Blot in the way it uses cartoon iconography to such jarring emotional and psychological effect. This is often quietly funny but the overall mood is a steady ratcheting-up of horror and sadness, all welling up from within, until the gut-punch of the final act.

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17. Alienation | Ines Estrada
A sci-fi minicomic about a young couple living in a future where the world has been environmentally destroyed, corporate brands rule everything, and everyone's plugged into the Internet through brain implants. Over the course of this six-issue serial, Estrada uses the dystopia-by-numbers setting for freewheeling vignettes on technologically driven disaffection, sexuality, and media. Her drawings are loose and often rough, projecting a playful innocence that often butts up against the darker political and emotional undercurrents of the material. Goofy shards of stoner humor and dead-on parodies of media and porn conventions sit side-by-side with harrowing accounts of abuse, PTSD, and social isolation, and the story only gets darker and stranger as it barrels towards its outlandish conclusion.

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16. One More Year | Simon Hanselmann
Concluding Hanselmann's trilogy of Megg, Mogg, and Owl's cohabitation/codependency period, this is probably the darkest and ugliest of his books yet, especially as it focuses heavily on Werewolf Jones and his two pathologically mistreated sons. It's still bleakly funny but there's definitely a sense of hitting bottom here, stripping away more and more of the whimsy in favor of utter abjection. Through it all, Hanselmann's ear for brutally real dialogue and the iconic cartoon quality of his characters add up to yet another memorable entry into this ongoing saga.
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:35 pm

TOP 20 GRAPHIC NOVELS, SINGLE ISSUES, MINICOMICS (PART 2)

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15. Songy of Paradise | Gary Panter
50-something new pages of oversized Gary Panter comics, in proportions similar to massive books like Jimbo In Purgatory, blowing up these scratchy, ragged lines to an epic grandeur that makes each page an immersive experience, an invitation to wallow in the dense seas of lines. It's so great that an artist as punky and raw as Panter continually works at such a large size - and adapts such classical texts - so that there's this intense clash between the subjects, the visual aesthetic, and the presentation. Panter's irreverent tone and goofy humor work to undermine the seriousness of the John Milton morality tale he's adapting, but at the same time it's peppered with modern reference points that highlight the story's underlying themes about power, ambition, and material desires. The real treat though is Panter's versatile cartooning, and especially the way he consolidates various styles within a single panel, alternating between scratchy realism, clean cartoony humor strip drawings, abstract bursts of wild imagery, and all sorts of areas in between.

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14. Spinning | Tillie Walden
Walden shifts from fantasy to a rather intimate autobiographical epic about her youth as a figure skater. Walden's a phenomenal cartoonist with excellent command of body language so naturally it's a pleasure to see her draw at this length, and on a subject that demands close examinations of figures in motion. The story focuses not so much exclusively on figure skating as on all the other things going on in her life in those years: coming out as gay, feeling disconnection from friends and family, uncertainty about her future, encounters with bullies and abusers. It's a quietly affecting book, its impact sneaking up on me across its length. From the moody nighttime scenes with their traces of yellow lights in the dark to the skating sequences with graceful forms against white space to the less stylized everyday moments of Tillie at school, this is all lovely. There's one scene in particular that sums up its grace and charm to me, when Tillie sneaks into her brother's room at night and they stay up watching TV: that's it, but the way Walden draws the faces, eyes wide, huddled close together, the dark all around them, before they both fall asleep cuddled up, is so touching, so real, that it's a memorable image.

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13. Pretending Is Lying | Dominique Goblet
This very distinctive memoir is the first translated work available from this important Belgian cartoonist. Goblet worked on this over the course of 12 years, and incorporated the drastic stylistic changes that happen over time into the structure of the narrative, reworking the early pages with thick oil paints and using the natural yellowing of the paper as an aesthetic element. This is an episodic series of encounters that dwell on Goblet's ambivalent relationships with her parents and her long-time partner, who for much of their early relationship was still embroiled with another woman. Goblet's restless style incorporates bold caricatures and abstract sections, and switches from hyper-detailed, lush un-inked pencils to the density and extreme stylization of the early sections where she piles textural paint onto the pages. The other fascinating thing is how much Goblet pushes herself to the side in her own story. The people close to her frequently treat her in shockingly shitty ways, and yet she's often presenting things from their points of view, subtly engaging in acts of imaginative empathy as she "watches" scenes she couldn't possibly have seen, trying to understand these people who both love her and hurt her. A really inventive and probing take on the memoir genre that sidesteps autobiographical cliches in favor of visual experimentation.

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12. Boundless | Jillian Tamaki
Not strictly new but a great collection of Tamaki's short stories and anthology contributions. The result is a surprisingly coherent suite that explores the ways in which technology and media interact with identity. Her art is stylish, and expressive when she needs it to be, but more often she's aiming for a muted, dispassionate tone. The emotions she's exploring are intense but often hidden beneath seemingly placid surfaces, behind blank faces, behind elegantly blunt metaphors. In one story, a woman finds that she's shrinking, unnoticeably at first but eventually faster and faster until, as she puts it, the objects in her life seem to "reject" her. In another, a woman's relationships all seem to come to a sudden end when her partners betray their deep emotional connections to a dumb old action movie. And then there's the masterful "SexCoven," in which a 6-hour drone MP3 inspires a cult, and "1.Jenny," in which an alternate Facebook triggers a young woman's feelings of inadequacy. Each story is a perfectly structured little rumination on disaffection and disconnection, often ending with a note of ambiguity that leaves many questions and feelings hanging, unresolved but unforgettable.

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11. Crawl Space | Jesse Jacobs
In Jacobs' best book yet, a high school girl finds a portal to a spiritual plane in the laundry machines in her basement, and shares the experience with a friend. Jacobs renders the mysterious other dimension as a rainbow-colored world of malleable shapes and forms, with colors fluctuating wildly between panels and geometric shapes constantly morphing into new arrangements, all set against a solidly rendered, black-and-white physical world. The narrative proceeds in brief scenes spaced out with purely abstract, dialogue-free spreads in which colors and shapes simply dance across the page, acting out mysterious and joyful patterns. In contrast, the human narrative is infused with loneliness, betrayal, violence, and ignorance. Predictably, the more people learn of this strange portal, the more the other world seems compromised and changed by these intruding presences.
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:35 pm

TOP 20 GRAPHIC NOVELS, SINGLE ISSUES, MINICOMICS (PART 3)

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10. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters Vol. 1 | Emil Ferris
Ferris' first GN is crafted to resemble a young girl's sketch journal in a lined notebook, and it is a real beauty to behold: boldly stylized, incredibly fluid in its layouts and experiments with form, with a visual virtuosity that encompasses everything from EC horror cover parodies to meticulously cross-hatched recreations of fine art to hallucinatory dream sequences. Set in the late '60s, it's the story of a girl who imagines herself as a monster, with monstrosity serving as a metaphor for various forms of difference in a restrictive, conformist culture: race, ethnicity, Jewish identity, queer identity, poverty. The narrative is dense and twisting, with noirish mysteries and historical thriller subplots weaving through the quotidian threads of life in a poor Chicago neighborhood. The book is sprawling, kind of all-over-the-place even, but its scattered structure is a big part of its appeal. This is just amazing in every way, a rich and exhaustive reading experience that's constantly jetting off in new directions - visually, narratively, thematically - and yet manages to stitch it all together into a nearly overwhelming whole that's even better than the sum of its parts.

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9. Crickets #6 | Sammy Harkham
Another thick installment of Harkham's '70s trash cinema chronicle "Blood of the Virgin," maybe the best issue he's done yet. The sense of place and character in this story is so well-done, as Harkham traces the progress of a film editor working on lousy sub-B-movie genre flicks and aspiring to become a director himself. It's just so well-observed, nailing these mostly unlikeable, unsympathetic people with dead-on caricatures. Harkham's gestural cartooning has reached new peaks here, his grasp of body language is incredible, and the figures are just slightly exaggerated to lend a tragicomic aura to their every little movement. There's such a sense of comic timing and staging behind scenes like the protagonist's drunken brawl at a party, or the scene where he goes to see his "masterpiece" and gets stuck behind an ungainly couple whose energetic making out looks like a Popeye fight scene, full of twisted limbs and odd angles.

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8. You & A Bike & A Road | Eleanor Davis
An autobiographical travel diary, mostly drawn in a very sketchy diaristic fashion while on the road, documenting a bike trip Davis took across the southern US, from Arizona to Georgia. Davis uses the travelogue form to focus on her own anxieties, ideas about the body and physical exertion, and occasionally to delve into political subtexts, particularly when her close-to-the-border path brings her into contact with immigration authorities or when her trip unexpectedly crosses into a Southern plantation museum. Davis' drawings are looser than usual but her cartooning is as strong as ever, with an incredible flowing line and an excellent grasp of body language behind her fluid characters with all their rounded edges and distorted proportions.

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7. Anti-Gone | Connor Willumsen
A couple of slackers drift on a cushioned boat through some kind of post-crisis future. The world's underwater, police and protestors war in the streets, and leper-like beggars crowd the crumbling cities, but this pair spends their time fishing, absentmindedly arguing, and buying drugs from a comically elaborate menu. Willumsen delivers the sparse, ambling narrative in gorgeously laid-out, deliberately minimalist pages. His tremendous grasp of body language and gesture is only matched by his knack for naturalistic, subtly funny dialogue. But the book's best feature is the way Willumsen plays with comics' visual language, shifting seamlessly from hyper-detailed cityscapes to hazy gray dreamscapes, cartoony shorthand, and sight gags. A baffling, dazzling formalist masterwork.

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6. Iceland | Yuichi Yokoyama
An especially abstract new book from this manga great. A typically simple narrative serves as a vehicle for Yokoyama to indulge in pseudo-abstract examinations of processes both natural and mechanical, and most interestingly, to engage with aural clutter in a purely visual medium. As always, a subtle sense of humor mixes with the disquieting feelings aroused by Yokoyama's dispassionately observed alien worlds.
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:36 pm

TOP 20 GRAPHIC NOVELS, SINGLE ISSUES, MINICOMICS (PART 4)

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5. Windowpane #4 | Joe Kessler
The latest issue of Kessler's risographed minicomic series follows a political fugitive as he hides in the country home of an artist and begins an idyllic affair with her. Kessler's art combines brilliant colors with sketchy, textured drawings that range from scratchy and inky to broad-lined marker minimalism. Each page is gorgeous, and the slightly hazy riso printing adds to the warm, vibrant look. Best of all, Kessler's become much more assured in his storytelling over the years, and here his stylistic verve is very much in service to a powerfully told fable about dissidence, authoritarianism, and the way that the joy found in art and sex can become a tool of resistance.

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4. Mirror Mirror II | ed. Julia Gfrorer & Sean T. Collins
The house anthology of tiny publisher 2D Cloud, with a new editorial team every year. Gfrorer and Collins densely packed this edition with dark, gothy comics revolving around themes of sex and death. It's intense, horrific, often very funny, sometimes surprisingly moving, beautiful, and challenging. One of those rare anthologies that's incredibly well focused aesthetically and coheres into a powerful whole rather than just being a spotty assembly with a couple bright moments like 99% of anthologies. Its gloomy, angry vibe recalls Kramers Ergot #8; this can be similarly abrasive and provocative in the way it delivers images of viscera and violence, and it's also similarly surprising in the way it builds contrasts between some very different artists. The amazing roster contributes an impressively consistent set of shorts: Gfrorer, Simon Hanselmann, Jonny Negron, Carol Swain, Josh Simmons, Al Columbia, Heather Benjamin, even Clive Barker, plus some equally great lower-profile names like Uno Moralez, Laura Lannes, and Sean Christensen.

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3. Education | John Hankiewicz
Disorienting formalist comics that use the elements of comics language to explore movement, memory/nostalgia, and communication. People talk but are never seen, memories are replayed as abstract dances between figures and odd fetishized objects, and repetitions and subtle shifts in perspective constantly call into question what's even going on at any given moment. The way that Hankiewicz's ultra-detailed cross-hatched realism clashes with his use of cartoony symbolism and his more sparsely drawn characters adds to the book's disquieting, wryly humorous surrealism.

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2. Ganges #6 | Kevin Huizenga
Huizenga's epic of internality at long last reaches its conclusion, with Huizenga reaching new peaks of density and visual ingenuity as his protagonist Glenn Ganges' mind races while trying and failing to go to sleep. Throughout all of these issues, Huizenga has been trying to map the way the mind works graphically, following idle thoughts into dense mazes of associations, images, and ideas, and here he takes that approach to its extreme. Pages are packed with information, both textual and visual, as Glenn's mind wanders through memories, thoughts about books he's read, replaying arguments and conversations with his wife, and as he drifts closer and closer to sleep the style becomes more abstract and fluid. I don't think there's ever been another comic that did a completely introspective story this well, taking a subject that would seemingly be anathema to a visual medium and making it one of the most inventive comics around.

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1. Sex Fantasy | Sophia Foster-Dimino
A deceptively simple collection that has only grown richer and more rewarding the longer I've sat with it and thought about it. Foster-Dimino's elegantly straightforward panel-per-page comics start abstract and formal at the start of the book, and gradually move towards greater specificity, more complex emotions, more ambiguous relationships as the book goes on. Each of the super-rare minicomics collected here delivers a potent statement on control, gender, sexuality, and identity, and Foster-Dimino varies her style with each one, experimenting with form and stylization so that the book as a whole is really varied even as it forms a cohesive body of work. There's an incredible rigor and precision to this work, and yet it's also bursting with weird and unexpected humor, and with moments of piercing emotional insight.
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Postby manvstrees » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:47 pm

eta xmas
Flutehampton will turn out to have always been relished by women who dwell in or near to the past. This is where The Little Reptiles were digitally collected. In recent decades it has become a popular photographic background whenever a maverick cop marries a hooker with a heart of gold.
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Postby Wombatz » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:35 am

i've so much to catch up with that i couldn't do a proper best-of. so here's just a hardly original top 3 of titles i'm following:

1. black monday murders. for me this hits all the spots that brubaker hasn't reached anymore for several series. plus best use of the stealthily fashionable doom of capitalism theme.

2. injection. well i'm putting this here on trust since i've been mostly trade-waiting and it's not here yet (contrary to bmm murders, single issues don't fully deliver, this needs the longer arc). what i've seen of recent pages rather suggests the third vol. will be even better than the previous, maybe back up to where the first was.

3. mister miracle. not being a fan of what i've read of king's other work, i'm following this because of recs on this site, and it's amazing so far, thanks! i don't fully trust it yet, though. it's very calculated. i fear in the end the reading experience might be somewhat like replaying a classic chess game for yourself.

also very much enjoyed travel foreman's art in the first trade of the ultimates 2 early in the year.
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Postby smelts » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:55 pm

dropped out of regularly reading about a year and a half ago after almost a decade of regular weekly reading following just about everything I could get my hands on, so pretty stoked for this thread to try and get back on the wagon in the new year

if anyone has any of the graphic novel stuff they can throw in the drop box that'd be rad
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Postby hbb » Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:21 pm

Thanks for taking the time to do these, i don’t know too much about comics but always get great guidance from the hpn threads. Crawl Space,You a Bike and a Road, and Spinning were all big favorites for me this year. There’s a two page spread in Spinning where she tells her music teacher she came out that weekToggle Spoiler that I keep going back to and it makes me cry every time.
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Postby smelts » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:59 pm

Vulture's list came up in my "Suggested Posts" feed today, pretty similar to board sentiments

http://www.vulture.com/2017/12/10-best-comics-2017
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Postby Rainbow Battle Kid » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:01 pm

psyched to read that King Mister Miracle once it's collected
Much Honoured Lord Nefarious wrote:rainbow battle kid you can kindly get the FUCK out of this thread while the adults have actual STAR WARS discussions.
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Postby Mandingo » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:16 pm

Glad you liked Giant Days seven arts!

typical post from me here. I have a ton of stuff to read. Tho right now what's looking like it's gonna be my number one this year might surprise the folks who read the comics thread.
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Postby Mandingo » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:18 pm

kinda surprised that's there been no mention of spy seal. i kinda feel like that's tomassu's best book so far
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Postby Rainbow Battle Kid » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:26 pm

This isn't really NEW new, but non-comic-nerds might wanna check out Moebius - The World of Edena collection that just came out this year. His writing isn't always the best but I ride hard for that dude as one of the best comics artists ever. Cool sci-fi shit that was a big influence on Alien, Fifth Element, etc
Much Honoured Lord Nefarious wrote:rainbow battle kid you can kindly get the FUCK out of this thread while the adults have actual STAR WARS discussions.
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Postby sevenarts » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:28 pm

Mandingo wrote:Glad you liked Giant Days seven arts!


I mainly read this because you were so enthusiastic last year, it really didn't seem like my thing otherwise. Glad I was so wrong.

Mandingo wrote:kinda surprised that's there been no mention of spy seal. i kinda feel like that's tomassu's best book so far


Really? I'm a big Tommaso fan and I like Spy Seal but I enjoyed both Dark Corridor and She-Wolf more. On some level I think I just wish Dark Corridor had been able to keep going for much longer, that's still his best book to me.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:04 pm

I love Tommaso's art. Can't figure out why his books are often boring. You'd think a comic about a secret agent seal would grab your attention a little more
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:07 pm

I still have a few books to catch up on which I think are pretty likely to make the final list. Tillie Walden's Spinning and Connor Willumsen's Anti-Gone chief among them.

As usual, my list is limited to books that started or were released in their entirety in 2017, so they should all make for good jumping-on points.

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20. Warren Ellis & Jon Davis-Hunt – The Wild Storm
Ellis returns to Wildstorm by taking it closer to his abiding interests: rude people, smoking and near-future tech. It's grimier and more run-down than Wildstorm has looked before, but maintains Ellis' pitch-perfect command of action pacing.

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19. Al Ewing & Paco Medina – U.S.Avengers
Ewing really embraces the ongoing continuity mashup that is modern superhero comics, and throws up the most delightful combinations of any writer. Since he finished up with The Ultimates 2, I think this and Thor are the only Marvel books I have left on deck, and like Jason Aaron, Ewing strikes a perfect balance between superhero fun and a sense of stakes. With Royals getting better every week, Ewing is secretly on fire at Marvel right now.

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18. Tom King & Lee Weeks – Batman/Elmer Fudd
A team-up that nobody asked for, executed perfectly, bringing light to Batman and shade to Fudd to great effect.

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17. Matt Nixon & Toby Cypress – Retcon
So the big idea here is that this comic is the retcon of another comic that never existed. Reimagined versions of characters that were never imagined to begin with. In practice, that's mostly immaterial – just an excuse to throw together ideas and designs that only need to have related to each other in some hypothetical past. This is not especially smart, but it's great fun, with Cypress doing the best work of his career.

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16. Garth Ennis & Goran Parlov – The Punisher: Platoon
Delving further into Frank Castle's past, step by step, so far this is still Punisher before it all went wrong, Ennis creating a rollicking, almost lighthearted reminiscence of Frank's first command post.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:29 pm

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15. Declan Shalvey & Philip Barrett – Savage Town
A GN that worships at the alter of Garth Ennis and John McCrea. The savage town is run-down working class Ireland, used as the setting for a violent crime caper. Strong storytelling instincts from Shalvey in one of his first writing efforts, and an incredible sense of place where Shalvey's experience sweats through every pore.

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14. Simon Hanselmann – One More Year
A really filthy good time. These characters are tortured with neglect of themselves and each other. This is the first time I felt I couldn't quite escape the darkness when I put the book down. Completely addictive nonetheless.

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13. Geof Darrow – Shaolin Cowboy: Who'll Stop the Reign
The previous Shaolin Cowboy series was probably the biggest, most pointless trolling and waste of everyone's time that comics has ever seen, so I wasn't expecting much from this. You can still see the obsessive, hand-cramping detail in every panel, so full of filth that it makes Megg & Mogg's house look like the Apple Store, but Darrow is finally starting to use his imagination again. It's a wilfully unpleasant and juvenile imagination, but there are images in this that you'll never see anywhere else.

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12. Various – Mirror Mirror II
With thanks to Sevenarts, this is one of the best anthologies I've ever read. Extraordinary new names and styles, all linked by a compelling sense of death and sex. Even when it doesn't work, it somehow plays to the strengths of the mood as a whole.

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11. Thi Bui – The Best We Could Do
With a limited technique and pallette, Bui perfectly evokes the haze of memory – washed out and with most of the details rubbed away. This solid, serious book tells the history of the author's family as they came of age during the war in Vietnam; a genuinely fascinating and important story.
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Postby Rainbow Battle Kid » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:38 pm

so with allred's silver surfer, am i understanding correctly that they restarted the series numbering but kept the trades numbering going?
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Postby nocents » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:58 pm

dropping a post here so this shows up in my posts

and because i look forward to this thread every goddamn year
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Postby Melville » Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:30 pm

nocents wrote:dropping a post here so this shows up in my posts

and because i look forward to this thread every goddamn year

Same. This thread is how I discovered hipinion.

I haven't read enough from 2017 to make a list. Best books I've read this year have been Inio Asano's Goodnight Punpun (though I'm only through volume 4), Tom King's Vision, Mignola's Alien: Salvation, Eleanor Davis' How to be Happy, and Charles Burns' Last Look. And I'm still digging the ongoing Stray Bullets, Deadly Class, Lazarus, and Paper Girls.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:04 am

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10. Daniel Warren Johnson – Extremity
One of a million sci-fantasy action sagas that seem to flood the market every year, but head and shoulders over most of the rest. The story of two warring clans in floating fortresses and skyships, it somehow has the classic feel of an 80s blockbuster, which I think might be something to do with Johnson’s design for his universe as striking but completely sympathetic to his story. The action is visceral and virtuosic. Excitingly, every issue of this has improved on what’s gone before.

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9. Tom King & Mitch Gerads – Mister Miracle
When I read this, I think a lot about Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle, where Scott has to escape from a trap that is an entire life lived wrong. It was a great idea which Morrison’s super-condensed style couldn’t quite capture. In this series, King is giving that thought room to grow, if not to breathe. It’s noticeable how often in this series Scott starts talking about something being terribly wrong – something that he can’t quite name – before he gets cut off by the start of another dissociative adventure. This series gives voice to a paranoia and dread that has only ever been anathema to superhero comics before.

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8. Eric Heisserer & Raul Allen – Secret Weapons
The best series I’ve read from Valiant and the best new superhero series I’ve read this year. This story operates on the fringes of Valiant’s universe, following a tiny group of low-powered superhumans as they escape from a killer robot. This feels like classic outsider heroics – the kind of story the X-Men franchise should be telling. Brilliantly simple mechanics, explored perfectly, great art, and a small cast who are each equally memorable and who fit together perfectly. Extremely satisfying.

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7. Greg Rucka/Various Writers & Various Artists – Lazarus: X+66
This is mostly a vote of confidence for the ongoing Lazarus series, which I almost dropped near the beginning because it was too boring and is now about my most anticipated release every month. X+66 is a collaborative miniseries telling self-contained stories in the Lazarus universe, where a few super-rich families control vast territories across earth with the aid of augmented champions. This has the great noirish vibe, character work and procedural elements of Rucka’s best comics, combined with a video game-like sense of escalation from chapter to chapter. The read it gives us on the near future seems to become more true with every passing issue.

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6. Olive Booger – Nul
A fantastic, frightening and unique story from the mini kuš! line of art comix. Told in a morass of ugly, misshapen scenes in rigid panels, this is the story of a young man following his crush into a bizarre cult which has no need of him. It reminded me of Hanselmann’s comics, but so interior and so innocent, it’s like a child stumbling into his world of cruelty and not understanding what they find.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:47 am

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5. Kyle Starks – Rock Candy Mountain
Fantastic, breakneck, barrel-of-laughs cartooning from Starks (you should also check out his brilliant GN Sexcastle) about a questing hobo cursed by the devil to be unbeatable in single combat. Starks has tighter comedy instincts than just about any other creator working at the moment, and he’s cramming a ridiculous amount of incident into every issue.

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4. Eleanor Davis – You & A Bike & Road
A sketchy, meditative travelogue from one of the best rising stars in indie comix. Davis’s spacious, calm scenes seem to reflect on loneliness, immigration and feminism almost accidentally, but with great power.

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3. Tommi Musturi – Simply Samuel
Having read this and his brilliant mini kuš! Story Snake in the Nose, Musturi was one of my favourite discoveries this year. His cartooning is fat, bright, breezy and psychedelic, but also has this mania and focus behind it. With comics like this, where the mute protagonist wanders across an ever-changing landscape, you often question if you’re getting less out of it than the artist, but this journey is really a guided one, and the sense of discovery is hugely infectious.

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2. Jillian Tamaki – Boundless
These are pretty much my perfect comics: perfectly paced, nothing out of place, stretching familiar ideas into deeply unfamiliar places. Tamaki’s art has extraordinary grace, and stories like “SexCoven” and the one above place elements next to each other in a way that practically gives me ASMR.

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1. Samplerman – Bad Ball
Difficult to figure out why this had such an impact on me, but I pored over every panel. I guess it’s like surrealism in general – some people just know how to make it work. Samplerman’s mini kuš! book is a continually kaleidoscoping collage of a few different sampled elements – a golden ball, springs, snatches of dialogue – which, divorced from their context, fluctuate and morph wildly and without fixed meaning or structure. To work out if there’s a story being told, I’d first have to decipher what seems to be an entirely new language of comics.
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Postby mascotte » Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:57 am

Post
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:23 am

Creationist, what's good about Black Bolt besides the art? I read the first issue and wasn't enthused
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Postby creationist » Tue Dec 12, 2017 6:09 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:Creationist, what's good about Black Bolt besides the art? I read the first issue and wasn't enthused


That's a hard question for me to answer because I feel like when a comic is really clicking the art and the story are working together in a way that’s hard to separate.

There’s nothing on my list that didn’t at some point reach off the page and fuck me up to the point of tears. Never thought the Absorbing Man would do that to me but here we are.

I would remind you that you were reading the very first issue of someone's very first comic. It’s no Mister Miracle thesis statement. But I bring that one up for a reason, I feel like BB and MM are deeply related… obviously in terms of creative lineage but also in an ontological sense. Both books put a postmodern lens on the Kirby legacy to tell a really personal story, family and trauma and family trauma. On one level Black Bolt feels like a story straight out of the Silver Age, but it has a depth to its fantasy that aside from the incredible art is definitely tipping you off to HUGO writer because there are only a couple of comic creators this skilled with world-building, and then finally it sort of reveals itself on that personal level in themes of nature/nurture, family/chosen family this sort of interior investigation of self that a character like BB is uniquely positioned to provide. I wish BB got just a little bit of MM’s credit.
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Postby sevenarts » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:41 pm

Wow that's a good defense, creationist.

Loving everyone's lists so far. Seems like the main things I haven't read and need to soon are Black Bolt, USAvengers, Extremity, Secret Weapons, and that Samplerman mini (I liked the Olive Booger one a bunch).

Also I second RBK's rec of the Moebius World of Edena collection. Excellent stuff I hadn't read before, I'm really glad they're doing these reissues.
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