I realized I missed writing lists occasionally, and in doing so, doing the fun work of cutting the wheat from the chaff of what I enjoyed. These are my five favorite debuts from the past six months. It’s a strong class.
5. Fairlady by Brian Schirmer and Claudia Balboni. Columbo in New Crobuzon. There’s relatively little direct inspiration for Fairlady. Sure, The art team is influenced by Fiona Staples, and there’s two main characters, but that’s about it for Saga reference points. Fairlady reads like a comic I’d hope Image would publish: A smart architectural conceit (single issue stories, when was the last time we saw that? Fell, maybe?), an art team that can deliver, and a story that rewards re-reading.
4. The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada by Joshua Dysart and CAFU. This won’t be the first time an ex-Vertigo writer appears on this list. The team cook up a farewell mini-series to Imperium, another entry in the “what if superheroes addressed real problems” style of comic, this time, setting its sights on Africa. And true to form, there aren’t a lot of good people here. The nominal good guys include an alien intelligence who joined up because they were promised a gulag for pregnant human women. On the other side, there’s Valiant’s evil megacorp Project Rising Spirit and most of lead character Toyo Harada’s enemies.
3. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. Teenage angst so strong First Second ought to put a warning label on the cover. I think this is Valero-O’Connell’s first big work, and she dazzles here. The characters are drawn so vividly, I felt like I sat down to lunch with them every day for four years.
2. Faithless by Brian Azzarello and Maria Llovet. It’s hard not to look at Faithless and think this could be a 90’s Vertigo comic. Supernatural elements, myth, the Devil, and magic inside a “real” world. I happily devour each issue the night the press email arrives. The team’s committed to making the reader uncomfortable with each passing issue, and that experience keeps me returning. It’s about sex, myth, and power, sprinkled with Azzarello’s just so dialogue. Llovet’s work looks especially good when she’s allowed to draw couture, and there’s plenty of slinking around done all over the comic.
1. When I Arrived At The Castle by Emily Carroll. A gothic horror story supercharged by erotic elements and a delicious twist. There’s many tiny details that I adore: the blood rain, the keyhole scene and the old-school paintings are watching the main character.