Small Press Highlight
In the comic book industry we always tend to talk about the big three: Marvel, DC and Image. In doing so we can sometimes overlook the other publishers and their vast array of titles. Now I’m not talking about something like IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Dark Horse’s Hellboy. When I talk about small press I think of titles that are completely overlooked, small press is such a huge genre of comics and there are so many great stories written and drawn by some amazing people that we prominently feature at our stores. Here are just a few that should definitely be on your bookshelf!
Last Dance - Hanna Schroy
Last Dance is a recently released title published by Iron Circus Comics written and illustrated by Texas native and one of my favorite artists, Hanna Schroy. The story follows Miriam, a prima ballerina who pushes herself too hard and loses everything she’s built her whole life and lost her childhood to build and turns to a seemingly benign spirit to return to the top. It is a story about self obsession, revenge, and how you grow from what you thought was your only path. It is a wonderful middle grade horror book that is an absolute page turner. This is Schroy’s debut graphic novel so I would add this to your shelves now and keep an eye out for her future work!
Lucky Penny - Oni Press
Lucky Penny is a fantastic read for anyone looking for something similar to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s style of storytelling and art. Created by Anath Hirsh and Yuko Ota, the story follows Penny, who if she didn’t have bad luck, she would have no luck whatsoever. With a string of events leading to her losing her job and her apartment on the same day, it becomes a wonder if Penny can break her bad luck streak. Reading Lucky Penny especially in time like now when the whole world feels down on their luck, it reads like a fun sitcom. Laughing along with Penny and her friends as she mismanages and gets tangled in truly unlucky situations while at the same time you can’t help but to root for her luck to turn around. And as soon as something good happens, you find yourself begging the next page to stay that way for her. With art that is very reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim and Seconds it is a title that I feel is worth going back towards and I consider it a small press classic.
heart in a box - Dark Horse
Heart in a Box is a melancholy yet optimistic read that any reader can surely relate to.Created by Kelly Thompson (Captain Marvel, Hawkeye, Jem and the Holograms) and Meredith McClaren (Hinges and Adventure Time) we meet Emma, who has just had her heart broken and wishes for anything to end the pain. As a mysterious stranger comes and promises that he can take away her pain, Emma finds herself in need to make a choice. The protagonist has to deal with emptiness instead of her grief, and in order to fill that emptiness she must travel across the country to collect her heart, forcing her to confront her past and herself. With every being we let into our lives and care for we give a little piece of our hearts to them. Heart in a Box does a great job at showcasing this fact. Without spoiling too much the story is an emotional gut punch from start to finish. With ideas like grief, emptiness and closure on full display. It also begs the question on those that have cause some emotion pain in the past if they can change and feel remorseful about it. You feel for Emma and her journey wanting her pain to end by simply just putting down the book, but continuing to see how she turns out.
You Have Killed Me - Oni Press
Coming off of Lady Killers Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones team up for You Have Killed Me a 1930’s era detective story. Antonio Mercer is the typical private eye; he seems to be the right man for all the wrong cases, case in point when the sister of his former lover comes to him with the case that her sister is missing. He takes the case, getting him tangled up in the same family drama that drove him away, but this time he finds that the family has some skeletons in their closet. Bodies start to pile up as he keeps digging, leaving him no choice but to see it through. I loved reading Lady Killers and to see these two team up again for another period piece narrative was exciting. Joelle Jones’s art lends itself well to Jamie S. Rich’s storytelling and it pulls off an engaging and suspenseful mystery which is never an easy task. The creators do an excellent job at not revealing too much too quickly and once you think you have the answers to it, they throw you a curveball from a completely different angle you weren’t looking at. Highly highly highly recommend!
Lost at Sea - Oni Press
While Seconds is my favorite of O’Malley’s work, Lost at Sea is a hidden gem. The story follows Raleigh, an eighteen year old girl who feels as if she is empty, as she joins her classmates on a road trip of self discovery, afraid of making those connections that will enable her to discover who she really is inside. This is one of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s oft overlooked works, granted a simple coming of age story doesn’t seem as exciting as video game-esque adventures for love, or magical mushrooms that let you go back in time. However I feel like this is one of his most relatable stories, dealing with the idea of not knowing who you are or what you could become. Feeling lost in a sea of uncertainty and uneasiness in life. It is also probably his darkest work as well, as he captures the feelings of being alone, completely lost and to top it off a time when things can feel completely wrong and confusing. It is all raw emotion portrayed here in this book which is why if you love any of his work from Scott Pilgrim to Snotgirl, you should not miss this classic!
This is just a small sample of the many incredible works out there by smaller publishers that more than deserve a read. All of our staff have our favorites and if not these, all of us have plenty of recommendations we’d be happy to share. Come and see us at any of our six Houston area locations!