The Most Anticipated Comics of 2019, Part 2

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9781626722590_LauraDean.jpg Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Mariko Tamaki is taking over corners of the YA and middle-grade graphic novel market, and it’s something a lot of readers, young and old alike, should be happy about. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is the perfect next read for fans of Love, Simon and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, a book about young love and struggling to figure out what it means. What makes Laura Dean particularly special isn’t just that the titular character is in a relationship with another girl, Frederica, but also that Rosemary Valero-O’Connell is providing the art. Valero-O’Connell has worked on Lumberjanes and has a bright, detailed style that’s soft enough to suit a romance story but unflinching enough to handle the less-fun parts of being a teenager in love. Freddy struggles not just with Laura Dean and their constant breaking up, but also with trying to unravel why everything else is falling apart around her, and who is to blame. It’s exactly the sort of book that a lot of teens need to read to feel a little less alone, a good gateway graphic novel for fans of Netflix’s new glut of romances or a stepping-stone for readers ready to graduate from graphic novels like The Baby-Sitters Club adaptations to more complicated, nuanced stories. Caitlin Rosberg

UnderTheMoonMostAnticipated.jpeg Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale
Writer: Lauren Myracle
Artist: Isaac Goodhart
Publisher: DC Ink/ DC Comics 
Release Date: May 7, 2019
No pressure, Lauren Myracle and Isaac Goodhart, but Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale is one of the first DC Ink titles to be made available to readers. Catwoman has been enjoying a resurgence in attention and popularity in the last few years thanks in part to two subsequent solo titles defined by Genevieve Valentine and Joëlle Jones, and her role as fiancée and foil in Tom King’s Batman. Under the Moon turns back the clock to Selina Kyle’s past, taking a look at the way a 14-year-old girl might grow into the woman she becomes. Writer Lauren Myracle has enjoyed prose success with, among other projects, the Internet Girls series, written in a format to mimic the texts and messages shared between three close friends. She has a handle on what it takes to write a compelling story about young women struggling to find and define themselves under external pressure, which is an exciting prospect for a Catwoman book in particular. Isaac Goodhart’s art has been featured in the DC New Talent Showcase and Top Cow’s Postal series, and it should be intriguing to see him work on something a little less gruesome and a little more teen-friendly. Caitlin Rosberg

IslandBookMostAnticipated.jpg Island Book
Writer/Artist: Evan Dahm
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Evan Dahm’s Rice Boy was one of the most unique and enjoyable books of 2018, but his work flies under the radar for a lot of readers. He has several long-running webcomics to his name, most of them a bit unfamiliar to even regular webcomic readers. His characters are only sometimes humanoid, but the stories he tells are deeply emotional and sympathetic, linked by overarching themes of acceptance, friendship and hard work. Island Book starts when a monster arrives at the titular Island, and after Sola bravely stands in the creature’s way, she is shunned by the rest of her community. Upset and afraid, she takes to the ocean to try to find answers and comfort that is no longer available to her at home. Island Book is aimed at middle-grade readers and will hopefully unlock new worlds and exciting adventures. With a rich bibliography already available, Dham is an ideal author for young readers to get hooked on. Caitlin Rosberg

GrandAbyssHotelMostAnticipated.jpeg The Grand Abyss Hotel
Writer: Marcos Prior
Artist: David Rubin
Publisher:Archaia/ BOOM! Studios
Release Date: May 29, 2019
The biggest draw of The Grand Abyss Hotel is David Rubin’s art. Rubin’s rough, gritty, electric style in books like Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil and Ether: The Copper Golems is enough to get the books into readers’ hands and instill trust that the story will keep them there. Writer Marcos Prior and Rubin worked together to build a world that’s not so different from our own, a satire of what western democracy has turned into in the era of social media and 24-hour news cycles. Satire is infamously difficult to nail, especially in the absurdist modern way, where it’s all too easy to mistake satire for endorsement. But Prior and Rubin have some interesting ideas about what kind of hero it will take to fight corruption, and the impact individuals can have on systemic problems. As long as they don’t fall into the trap of both-sides-ism, The Grand Abyss Hotel could be a provocative read; regardless, it will be damn pretty. Caitlin Rosberg

HowITriedToBeAGoodPersonMostAnticipated.png How I Tried to Be a Good Person
Writer/Artist: Ulli Lust
Publisher: Fantagraphics 
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Lust’s Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life was a speedy rush of 400-plus pages that laid out the wild years of her youth. It didn’t need a sequel because it was complete in and of itself, but How I Tried to Be a Good Person is the part two you didn’t know you wanted. There was always danger lurking in the first book, and it was a real coin flip as to whether it would jump out when you passed a corner; Lust presented it with impressive neutrality, neither regretting nor celebrating her past decisions, and we can likely expect more of the same flaying without flagellation in the next volume. Hillary Brown

WhenIArrivedAtTheCastleMostAnticipated.jpg When I Arrived at the Castle
Writer/Artist: Emily Carroll
Publisher: Koyama Press
Release Date: June 19, 2019
Emily Carroll has an ability to put things alongside one another that make your skin crawl, which is why she’s so successful in the horror genre. Something that seems traditional has weirdly modern, somewhat ugly lettering, and the way those things rub against one another creates a tectonic plate effect. Her full-bleed pages and limited palette, her incongruous close-ups, her weird shading and her unexpected teeth all surgically peel back your skin. It’s exciting to imagine the possibilities for this sexy vampire story from Koyama. Hillary Brown

PlateTectonicsMostAnticipated.jpg Plate Tectonics: an Illustrated Memoir
Writer/Artist: Margaux Motin
Publisher: Archaia/ BOOM! Studios
Release Date: June 2019
Margaux Motin’s name may not be familiar on this side of the Atlantic, but she’s a well-known French comic artist with a list of successful books as well as accessories like calendars and diaries that feature her designs. Plate Tectonics is the story of Motin’s divorce and her attempts to balance newly single motherhood with the demands of her work, not to mention her return to the world of dating. More and more American publishers are recognizing the wealth of talent available in France, and Motin’s newest book continues the tradition of funny, honest, sometimes difficult autobiographies by women. Fans of Lucy Knisley or Pénélope Bagieu should pick up this book, either for themselves or for a friend who might need a laugh and some reassurance that they’re not alone in the struggle to get through a big change. Hopefully this book will herald even more of Motin’s work becoming available in the U.S. Caitlin Rosberg

TeenTitansRavenMostAnticipated.jpg Teen Titans: Raven
Writer: Kami Garcia
Artist: Gabriel Picolo
Publisher: DC Ink/ DC Comics 
Release Date: July 2, 2019
A staple of many iterations of the Teen Titans and Titans, Raven is a character who can be difficult to get right. Her flat affect and initially standoffish nature can lead her to seem cold and unsympathetic, but she’s also exactly the kind of superhero that young women especially can relate to. Her difficult relationship with her father and her struggle to define herself are nearly universally understandable, even if your average teenager doesn’t have to deal with a demon dad. Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo are both uniquely suited to work on this book. Garcia co-created the Beautiful Creatures series along with Margaret Stohl, who wrote the YA Black Widow novels and a two volumes of the Captain Marvel comic, so Garcia has a close collaborator on hand to help her navigate the shift to comics. Picolo’s Teen Titans fanart went viral several times in recent memory and he had a clear connection to these characters even before he was hired to work on this book. It’s hard to imagine a better character to attract new YA readers, or a better team to do it. Caitlin Rosberg

KramersErgot10MostAnticipated.png Kramers Ergot 10
Writers/Artists: Various
Publisher: Fantagraphics 
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Sammy Harkham’s occasional anthology is set to arrive again this year, after a three-year gap. Slimmer than its predecessor by a good bit, it promises 18 different contributors, including Harkham, Anna Haifich, Noel Frieberg, Adam Buttrick, Archer Prewitt, Andy Burkholder, Lale Westvind, Will Sweeney, Dash Shaw, James Turek, Rick Altergott, CF, Aisha Franz, Kim Deitch, Ron Regé Jr. and John Pham. Does that sound intriguing? Or mystifying? Or both? It’s likely the latter. Hillary Brown

AdventureZone2MostAnticipated.jpg The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited!
Writer: Griffin McElroy, Travis McElroy, Justin McElroy & Clint McElroy
Artist: Carey Pietsch
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: July 16, 2019
Tres Horny Boys are back and ready for even more mayhem in the second volume of First Second’s graphic novel adaptation of the popular “The Adventure Zone” podcast from Maximum Fun. Written once more by the McElroy family—oldest brother Justin, middlest brother Travis and babiest brother Griffin, along with their dad Clint McElroy— and illustrated by Carey Pietsch, Murder on the Rockport Limited! adapts the second arc of “The Adventure Zone: Balance” and follows Taako, Magnus and Merle on an Agatha Christie-inspired train heist. It’s tough to adapt anything into a comic, but especially to go from an audio-only medium to a visual-only one, but Pietsch in particular knocks it out of the park. Her work on the first volume, Here There Be Gerblins, demonstrated a knack for translating the McElroys’ particular brand of humor into visual goofs that are just as funny, and personally I cannot wait to see Pietsch’s take on Rockport Limited!’s climactic heavy bean battle royale. C.K. Stewart

BadGatewayMostAnticipated.png Bad Gateway
Writer/Artist: Simon Hanselmann
Publisher: Fantagraphics 
Release Date: July 16, 2019
The year 2018 passed without a Megg and Mogg book from Hanselmann and, as a result, felt a bit incomplete. How else are we to get through these trying and deeply messed up times without the mirror that Hanselmann sneakily holds up in the guise of stoner comedy? Bad Gateway promises the inevitable darkness that the books have been slowly drifting toward, which doesn’t sound like much fun but probably somehow will be. Hillary Brown

TheMagiciansCover.jpg The Magicians: Alice’s Story
Writer: Lilah Sturges & Lev Grossman
Artist: Pius Bak
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: July 16, 2019
Lev Grossman’s 2009 novel The Magicians makes its comics premiere under the BOOM! Studios banner this year, with Lilah Sturges, author of Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass taking up writing duties with Grossman and Adventure Time veteran Pius Bak on art. The team won’t be retelling any old stories from the novels or Syfy show; this first graphic novel, aptly titled The Magicians: Alice’s Story, puts a new character in the spotlight. Sturges, who’s followed the series in all its iterations, said in the initial announcement statement that she sees Alice as a quiet main character whose decisions resonate throughout the rest of the universe. Even though she doesn’t get a lot of attention, Sturges considers Alice hugely important for the world of The Magicians, and this graphic novel should help readers understand just how important. Josh Hilgenberg

BlackMageMostAnticipated.jpg The Black Mage
Writer: Daniel Barnes
Artist: D.J. Kirkland
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: August 13, 2019
The Black Mage was one of six Oni Press open submissions titles to be picked up by the publisher in 2016, and just based on the premise and D.J. Kirkland’s involvement alone, I have been itching for the chance to read it since the announcement. Written by Daniel Barnes and illustrated by Kirkland, Black Mage follows young wizard
Tom Token, the first black student ever to be admitted to an all-white wizarding school. If you’ve been less than impressed by the lack of diversity in some other notable wizarding-adjacent works as of late, Black Mage is a graphic novel that’s absolutely worth checking out. Kirkland’s colors in particular are sure to impress—he has a buoyant, vivid style that’s amazingly well suited to a story of young magicians. C.K. Stewart

EmpressCixtisisMostAnticipated.png Empress Cixtisis
Writer/Artist: Anne Simon
Publisher: Fantagraphics 
Release Date: August 13, 2019
Simon’s fierce, dangerous Song of Aglaia was one of the finest and subtlest works of 2018. How nice it is to see her expanding that universe of weird critters in this new book, based on the reign of the Chinese empress Cixi (who appears briefly in the film The Last Emperor). Ruthless despot? Effective reformer? We likely won’t get a tidy answer, but we will get to hang out in Simon’s world some more. Hillary Brown

9781626721623.jpg Pumpkinheads
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: August 27, 2019
When YA favorite Rainbow Rowell began her foray into comics with Runaways, it wasn’t a big surprise to her fans that she knocked it out of the park. Pumpkinheads is Rowell’s next adventure, an original graphic novel with artist Faith Erin Hicks, and it’s bound to be a must-read for fans of either creator. Hicks is probably best known for Adventures of Superhero Girl and the recently concluded The Nameless City trilogy which she both wrote and illustrated, but she has worked with other writers before to great success. Due out just at the end of summer, Pumpkinheads is the story of two friends who have spent the last four years working at the best pumpkin patch in the world, deep in the middle of Nebraska. Deja and Josiah have spent two months together every year, but as their senior year of high school starts up, they both have a lot of decisions to make about how they’ll spend their last fall together. Knowing both Rowell and Hicks, the characters’ plans will probably go out the window almost immediately, and both adventure and shenanigans will ensue. Caitlin Rosberg

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