10 Most Anticipated Graphic Novels & Comics of 2013

Books Features Graphic Novels

Expect big things for comics in 2013. Expect the industry to dive further into the disruptive innovation that last year only touched on. Expect big-name creators to hopscotch feverishly between entrenched properties and creator-owned passion projects. Expect more QR Codes and sinking-ship investments to design comics that were meant to be read on screens and monitors. Expect the comics on your screens and monitors to do things you’ve never seen a comic book do before. Expect more comic book movies from indie books you’ve never read but probably should. But most importantly, expect amazing stories from talented creators.

Paste is still taking weekly jaunts to the comic shop to continue our favorite narratives from books like Saga, Hawkeye, and Batman, but we’re even more excited for the next wave of titles and graphic novels. The following list of Paste’s Most Anticipated Comics of 2013 takes the entire topography of the comic landscape into account, ranging from classic superheroes to indie cookbook memoirs. No matter your tastes or history, the few comics already announced hint at a landmark year of experimentation and expansion. Happy reading.

10. East of West
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Publisher: Image
Release Date: March 27
Jonathan Hickman concocts winding stories packed with serpentine layers of foreshadowing and intrigue. If the rumors of his weighty pitch bibles weren’t enough, the scribe has proven himself on elaborate runs of Marvel’s Secret Warriors and Fantastic Four. There’s meat behind the man’s stories. The only thing cooler than the aforementioned is when Hickman steps away from mainstream properties, takes off his all-ages gloves, and wreaks hyperviolent havoc in incredibly creative ways. If the anarchy of watching celebrated scientists and military leaders conspire against each other in The Manhattan Projects wasn’t enough, Hickman’s new “dystopian sci-fi western” about a war between the US government and the Horsemen of the Apocalypse should do the trick. Prepare for more post-modern mind-blowing fun. (SE)

9. Jupiter’s Legacy
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Frank Quitely
Publisher: Image
Release Date: April
Paste recognizes and understands your concerns. Yes, these days Mark Millar seems more content to drum up hyperbole in the preproduction trenches of Hollywood than write comics scripts, and when he does, glacial doesn’t begin to describe their frequency. And, yes, we also know that artist Frank Quitely has an even more tumultuous relationship with deadlines than Millar. That said, it’s Millar and Quitely on a science fiction epic. How could you not want to see that? Millar functions best when he ushers rusty Silver Age concepts into the present with mad scientist snark, a trick he learned well from ex-mentor Grant Morrison. Paired with Quitely’s Escher layouts and crackly textures, this tale about trust-fund superhero kids could pack a metric ton of cool…even if we only see one issue this year. (SE)

8. Sex
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Publisher: Image
Release Date: March 6
Joe Casey loves washed-up superheroes. Look no further than his work on Wildcats 3.0, Automatic Kafka, and Butcher Baker The Righteous Maker for a gonzo, Behind the Music-take on the capes crowd. Now Casey plans to show what happens when the capes come off, both literally and figuratively, in his gritty new series, Sex (not to be confused with Matt Fraction’s other upcoming Image series Sex Criminals, though we’re excited for that too). This new ongoing with art from European artist Piotr Kowalski stars recently-retired hero Simon Cooke and his transition from traditional do-gooder to adrift hedonist. Though the title is uncompromisingly blunt, Casey’s writing is anything but, with a surgical focus on moral boundaries and mid-life calibration. This will probably be the smartest comic you’ll ever have to hide from your parents. (SE)

7. Lost Cat
Writer/Artist: Jason
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: June
Even collections of previously-published work by Jason are worthy of notice, but Lost Cat looks to be one of the longer stories of his career. The cranky Norwegian has seemed to soften a bit as he’s aged, and the description (detective searches for potential soulmate) goes along with that impression. But in Jason’s case, the finished product can differ vasty from whatever expectations the descriptions of his work create. (HB)

6. The Wake
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Sean Murphy
Publisher: Vertigo
Release Date: TBD
As Scott Snyder explained to Paste in his Comic Relief feature, The Wake is about “this frightening discovery with a creature found in the depths of the ocean and its connection to all of these aspects of ocean and sea-faring mythology over the years, from sirens to mermaids to sea serpents….It’s claustrophobic, bottom-of-the-ocean terror, and then it has this huge post-apocalyptic element to it that I knew would be expansive and robust.” Add in Punk Rock Jesus artist/writer Sean Murphy’s hyper-kinetic, moody compositions, and there isn’t one part of this equation that doesn’t make us jitter with nostalgic B-movie adrenaline. Sold. (SE)

5. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
Writer/Artist: Lucy Knisley
Publisher: First Second
Relase Date: April
After following Lucy Knisley’s early promise through years of growth and development, it’s easy to even be excited about her occasional online strips, let alone nearly 200 pages of narrative work. Saveur.com was smart enough to hire her to do comics on gustatory matters, and even French Milk, her first book, was overwhelmed with culinary pleasures. This is nothing new, but it should be an interesting entry in the genre of memoir comics. Plus: recipes! (HB)

4. Trillium
Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire
Publisher: Vertigo
Release Date: Summer
Jeff Lemire takes the concept of star-crossed lovers to its most literal conclusion with his new miniseries about a botanist from the future and a 1920s explorer rending time and space to find love. Though Lemire made a smooth transition to the superhero genre with strong runs on Animal Man and Justice League Dark, he shines the brightest when he writes and pencils original stories. If anything can be gleaned from the author’s past creator-owned work, like the recently-concluded Sweet Tooth or his Top Shelf graphic novel The Underwater Welder, it’s this: the characterization will be achingly beautiful; the art will swim in gorgeous, lonely vistas of negative space; some character you’ve become emotionally attached to will probably die; you’ll cry; and then you’ll cry some more. (SE)

3. Multiversity
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quitely, Others
Publisher: DC
Release Date: TBD
Comics should probably cool it with the alternate reality hoo-hah, especially now that regular DC comics feel like Elseworld versions of themselves. Grant Morrison’s Multiversity doesn’t just get a pass, though—it’s easily my most anticipated superhero comic of 2013. No other writer understands the fundamental appeal of superheroes as well as Morrison, and few can write deep, multi-layered comics that are both fun and insightful as well as he can. Add in a roster of world-class artists, including long-time collaborator Frank Quitely, and Multiversity becomes far more interesting than the average crossover of archetypes and thinly-veiled analogues. (GM)

2. New School and 3 New Stories
Writer/Artist: Dash Shaw
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: April
In a few short years, Dash Shaw has proven himself a restless artist, committed to pushing what comics can do and what his own talents can accomplish. Of late, he’s focused more on animation and filmmaking than on static sequential visual art, so it’s nice to see him return with two works, no less: the former a sizable original graphic novel and the latter a 32-pager. (HB)

1. The Sandman 25th Anniversary
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Publisher: Vertigo
Release Date: TBD
There are a few of us out there who hold Watchmen in the highest esteem, but truly believe Neil Gaiman’s sprawling postmodern opus The Sandman to be the apex of the mainstream comic book art form. In 75 issues, Gaiman used classic literature and myth as a canvas for his take on a dysfunctional family of anthropomorphic deities and the lives it touched. So when Vertigo announced that Gaiman would unite with Batwoman artist J.H. Williams III and his surreal layouts, the world rejoiced. The prequel celebrates the comic’s 25th anniversary, taking protagonist Morpheus to the unspoken battle that left him depleted before being captured by an amateur mystic in the first issue. Call this a dream come true. (SE)

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