For this round of reviews, I thought I’d take a look at my pull list from AstroKitty Comics & More. These days I have (for me) a surprisingly long pull list of titles that come out regularly. As I mentioned in an earlier post, most of these titles are relatively new, even if the creators have been around for a long time. The best thing about looking at my pull list is to see that all of these comics excite me, and I’m really glad whenever I get the latest issue to read!
Reed Gunther (Image) is the newest addition to my list, added at the same time I dropped The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Men, which never really gelled for me. After four issues the characters seemed less defined than in the first issue, and the writers just kept heaping more characters and concepts into the mix. I was bored and uninterested in the title. In stark contrast to that is Reed Gunther, a comic I’ve been following ever since Astrokitty owner Joel Pfannenstiel suggested it, in part because of the appreciation creators Shane and Chris Houghton showed retailers who supported it. It’s the all-ages story of a bear-riding cowboy, with plenty of old west action, a monster now and again, nicely developed characters from Shane and some really fluid cartooning from Chris. I realized that I was enjoying this comic so much more than Firestorm— or many of the other comics I pick up on a whim– that I wanted to be sure I didn’t miss any future issues.
Mud Man (Image) was touched upon in an earlier post and, while it’s only a couple of issues old, has me intrigued. I’ve always appreciated writer/artist Paul Grist’s simplified drawing style and bold page designs, but it’s been fun to get in on one of his series from the beginning. So far it hasn’t required any knowledge of the past continuity from Jack Staff, either. Even if he involves those characters in a future storyline (and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did), this clean starting point is a nice way to kick things off.
Spongebob Comics (United Plankton/Bongo) is another comic I’ve written about previously, as well as a comic I added to my pull because I was enjoying it so much. Especially once DC debuted their 52 new titles, I was afraid Joel would have to scale back on the depth he stocked other titles like this… so onto the pull list it went. I never really watched Spongebob on TV, but the cast of indy creators that are involved with this book (including James Kochalka, Dave Roman, Stephen Destafano, Mark Martin, Jacob Chabot, and others) make each issue a lot of fun! The stories often have a game-like structure that is especially unexpected in a kids comic.
Snarked (Kaboom!) is the latest title from Roger Langridge, whose work I first discovered (and enjoyed) in Fred the Clown. This series is based on Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark” (which was included in the #0 preview issue), yet has plenty of slapstick and intrigue. He’s got a great batch of characters, his usual playful cartoon stylings, along with nice rhyming captions (no easy feat, given my experience with that technique)!
Rachel Rising (Abstract Studio) was a title I put on my pull list as soon as I heard of it, having appreciated both Terry Moore’s writing and distinctive drawing style in the past. This murder mystery series has grabbed me from the beginning, and I’ve been able to keep up-to-date with it, something I wasn’t able to do with his previous SF series Echo.
Action Comics (DC) is the sole title remaining in my pull from DC’s “new 52” relaunch. Grant Morrison’s version of Superman early in his career has been really enjoyable for me; together with artists Morales, Kubert, et al., these stories have definitely lived up to the title’s name! The only downside to the title are the “bonus” backups by Sholly Fisch; they don’t really add anything to the events in the main story, and thanks to inattentive editing when the stories do overlap, they don’t even present those scenes in a consistent manner.
Both Buffy Season 9 and Angel & Faith (Dark Horse) were also titles I added to my list after finishing Buffy Season 8 (which took me a long time to get through, reading the bulk of that series after it was completed). So far these stories have been a lot tighter and have held my attention better– I actually want to read them as soon they come out rather than waiting for an arc to be completed. They’ve had nice cliffhangers which make me want to read the next issue, and the ongoing arc in Angel & Faith has me in its grip as much as the tv show ever did!
Sergio Aragones Funnies (Bongo) is another title that I enjoyed so much I needed to never miss an issue! Everyone who’s ever read an issue of Mad magazine is familiar with Sergio’s work, but having a full comic in which to stretch out shows new sides of this legendary artist’s range. Each issue usually has an original fiction comic, puzzles, and a long autobiographical comic, too. Even knowing (more or less) what’s going to be in each issue, it’s still a joy to dive into it!
Futurama Comics (Bongo) is a solid, if unspectacular title. While less essential since the show came back with such strong new episodes on Comedy Central, it’s still true to the characters and plays with SF and comic clichés in a nice way, such as the recent steampunk story in #57.
Savage Dragon (Image) continues to fascinate me in the way it captures Erik Larsen’s dogged determination to write and draw his own character in his own way. I started following the title about 10 years ago, at a time when Larsen was writing it as a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek comic which appealed to me more than its blood & violence beginnings. By the time he steered SD back into a more violent direction, I was hooked on his real-time aging of his characters, his wide and varied cast, and the sense that he would take the comic in whatever direction he wanted, beholden to no company-wide editorial planning (even if it meant writing his title character out of the comic)! It really captures the spirit of an individual artist crafting a comic, not a product assembled by committee. It may be over-the top stereotypical superhero action, but it’s a blast!
You may notice an absence of Vertigo or other critically-lauded fare in my pull list. I find that a lot of titles I enjoy (Y the Last Man, iZombie, The Sixth Gun) really do read better as trades than as single issues, so I tend to read them in that fashion. Unfortunately for Astrokitty, though, I also tend to not collect them and so just read them from my local library.
But that’s a topic for another time…