Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill (Amy Diegelman)
The new webcomic from Katie O’Neill (creator of Princess Princess Ever After) is possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen. And I’m a kid’s librarian. Already set to be published by Oni Press, Tea Dragon Society takes place in a world where dragons are tiny, beautiful, high-maintenance pets whose bodies grow tea leaves. The charm and depth of O’Neill’s art and world building have clearly grown since she began Princess Princess and after only the first chapter (eleven pages) the new comic is already endearing and engaging. I can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Joyride Vol. 1 by Jackson Lanzig, Collin Kelly, Marcus To, and Irma Kniivila (Emma Nichols)
Joyride is set in a future where Earth is “protected” by a dome shutting it off from space and a gun pointed at the planet from the moon. It’s controlled by a corporation-like government that just wants to protect its people. But Uma Akkolyte doesn’t buy this, and she wants out. So what else is a teen to do but make friends with an alien and steal a spaceship? What follows is a hilarious and dangerous series of adventures. The art is awesome, the characters are three dimensional, and the story is so good I couldn’t put it down. And we’re only four issues in! The moral of our story so far? Earth sucks, space rocks, let’s dance.
The Hunt is kind of what I needed after emerging from my Stranger Things binge this summer: Orla, an Irish teenager who can see changelings for what they really are (spoiler: they are not cute), and move back and forth between our world and theirs), is desperately trying to save her family from these creatures, but everyone around her thinks she’s disturbed. The story is compelling, the art is creepy and as with Stranger Things, I am very worried about all these characters. (This book also has a slight Hellblazer vibe, if John Constantine were a teenage girl with art skills rather than magic.)
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Megan Cavitt)
Yeah, I know you might be tired of hearing about this comic from us by now, but I was asked for the best comic I read in October, and far be it from me to lie to the readers. Ballister Blackheart is a supervillain with a strong code of ethics; Nimona is a shapeshifter with a badass haircut. Together, they commit crimes! It’s funny for a while, and then BUCKLE UP FOR FEELS. (Bonus points for canonical hero/villain queer pairing.)
This French series, picked up on a whim during a Comixology sale, rides at the top of my list of sailing adventure stories. I frequently got lost in Bonhomme’s maritime settings (ports, seas, beaches, islands, ice floes, decks, cabins) and Chedru’s colors. I enjoyed spending time on this comic’s whaling ship, where the story is carried by the heart contained within the rowdy but loyal crew, its not-completely-salty captain, and the eponymous Indian orphan who just came aboard.
The Beauty #1 by Jeremy Haun, Jason A. Hurley, John Rauch (Jamie Canaves)
Well this was different and interesting with a perfect we’ll-end-here-so-you-won’t-be-able-to-resist-picking-up-the-next-issue. There’s a new STD that turns infected people into society’s ideal of beauty which has caused people to split into two camps: those who are intentionally becoming infected to be beautiful and those who view it as a disease that needs to be stopped. I can’t ever say no to a procedural and this is written from the point of view of the detectives trying to stop the spread of the disease and figure out the damage it actually causes so I am looking forward to some binge reading of this series.
Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill (Jessica Pryde)
This darling little comic (and it’s really little; you can read it in less than an hour) is an all-ages gem about two princesses: one who likes to do the saving and one who needs it. After the event that begins their adventure, the two trek across the kingdom, saving others in turn and coming to their own conclusions about themselves. Since it’s such a short story, I won’t say anything else to give the story away. But I will guarantee a HEA. Aside from the story, the art is delightful. The characters are designed perfectly, and the story doesn’t need too much text to follow. My only criticism is that it was too short; since it’s aimed at young readers it fits perfectly into the pages it was given, but I’m still dreaming of their continued stories.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Danika Ellis)
I had been saving this book for the October readathon and I’m so glad I did. I picked this up late in the day, and I had to sit in wonder for a minute at the piece of art sitting in my hands. The cover is textured. The pages are glossy. The colours are bright. And each page is so carefully put together that I feel like I could open it at random and want to get whatever I saw there framed. The stories themselves were delightfully creepy: not quite horror, but disconcerting. They’re open-ended enough that I sometimes felt like I didn’t “get” the endings, but I still loved every story. This might just become an every October reread.
Smile by Raina Telgemeier (Kristina Pino)
One of the perks of being a teacher is I can swap books with my students and get them excited about reading. I’d missed this release and just never got around to it until a student lent it to me in hopes he’d have someone to talk about the book with afterwards. That’s a good enough reason for me most of the time, but I also already knew I was going to love reading this story about a girl who’s going through those young teen years, making realizations about her so-called friends and the way people interact with each other, all the while navigating her social life with braces. The story spans over a few years, and by the time she’s getting into high school, she figures out that confidence looks good on anyone, and your people will find ya when they inevitably notice. What better message to share with my young pupil?
Snow White by Matt Phelan (Swapna Krishna)
I’m all for fairy tale retellings, so when I heard about this retelling of Snow White set in Depression-era New York, I knew I had to read it. I loved Phelan’s stylized art; his muted colors serve the time period very well, making it feel grim and dark. The story is a bit vague, but it works really well. Phelan allows the reader to fill in the blanks, using physical space in his story to further the narrative. It’s excellently done; I highly recommend it both for people who love fairy tale retellings as much as I do and for people who enjoy seeing how picture and words work together to tell stories in comics.
I went into Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love with literally no expectations (other than that Deadman would probably appear), and I was absolutely blown away. It’s a gothic mansion romance by way of the best of 1990s Vertigo, but with a thoroughly contemporary sensibility. It is queer as fuck, and is pretty much a masterclass in one panel of how to integrate trans and non-binary characters without making it feel like a “very special episode.” Go read this comic already, it’s astoundingly good.