Comics/Graphic Novels

Comics A-Z: The Arts from Undercut to Zoomorphic

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S.W. Sondheimer

Staff Writer

When not prying Legos and gaming dice out of her feet, S.W. Sondheimer is a registered nurse at the Department of Therapeutic Misadventures, a herder of genetic descendants, cosplayer, and a fiction and (someday) comics writer. She is a Yinzer by way of New England and Oregon and lives in the glorious 'Burgh with her husband, 2 smaller people, 2 cats, a fish, and a snail. She occasionally tries to grow plants, drinks double-caffeine coffee, and has a habit of rooting for the underdog. It is possible she has a book/comic book problem but has no intention of doing anything about either. Twitter: @SWSondheimer

It’s been a minute since I wrapped up Heroes A–Z and I figured it was time to start another adventure. This time we’ll go alphabetically through the arts, finding a graphic novel or comic that represents a different aspect of that gigantic and intimidating bucket. Ready? Alright, got my oxygen tank on and diving in 3…2…1…

U: Undercut

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search by Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru, Michael Dante DiMartino, and Brian Konietzko

If lockdown has taught us anything besides the importance of wearing masks and hand hygiene, it’s the artistry involved in a good haircut, especially an undercut that doesn’t look like you let your cat lick random patches of the short bits off while you followed along with a dull butter knife. If you wanna rock it like Sokka does, even as he and the rest of Team Avatar risk life, limb, and Azula to help Zuko find his long-lost mother in the wake of Fire Lord Ozai’s defeat, leave the styling to the professionals.

Momo is not one of them. No matter how hard he tries to convince you.

V: Violin

Given volume 1 cover - Natuski Kizu

Given by Natzuki Kizu

Well, I’m finally cheating and using a book twice. It’s been a good run. And I think we can all agree an exceedingly dramatic, virtuoso violin player who’s part of the will they/won’t they saga of our sweet bassist Haruki and not-entirely-ready-to-settle-down drummer Akihiko (who can’t seem to quit his roommate with privileges even though a part of him is clearly drawn to Haruki as more than a friend and bandmate). What is it about guys who can make strings sing and the troublemakers who hit stuff with sticks and lust (and also, possibly, love for at least one and maybe both of them)?

W: Watercolor

Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson

Watercolor has never been a popular medium for comics, even back before digital became prevalent. If anyone was going to pull if off, however, it was Jill Thompson—and pull it off she did in Beasts of Burden, the story of a seemingly lovely small town haunted by dark beings and darker secrets, protected by a team of canine paranormal investigators. So adept are they at their jobs, they even get to team up with Hellboy! Look out cannibal frogs! The Beasts of Burden Hill don’t need opposable thumbs to take you down.


Witch Doctor Vol. 1 by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner

Fair warning: Witch Doctor is a horror book and it is a gross horror book. It’s gross in a fun way if that makes sense but if you don’t like blood and gore this one probably isn’t for you. If you are okay with that stuff, I highly recommend the series; it’s quirky, hilarious, terrifying, and as utterly unpredictable as its titular character, Vincent Morrow. Apocalypse? He has a vaccine for that. Maybe. Son possessed by a demon? He can cure that. Probably. Never mind the other patients in the waiting room, they’re harmless. Mostly.

Yeah, it’s that kind of comic. And it’s a total blast.

Y: Yakitori

Japanese Cooking with Manga: 59 Easy Recipes Your Friends will Love by Alexis Aldeguer, Maiko-San, and Ilaria Mauro

According to the description, Japanese Cooking with Manga started as a notebook passed between friends with each adding notes and doodles about their takes on various dishes and the gatherings that came together around them.

From that humble beginning, Aldeguer, Maiko-San, and Mauro chose the most beloved recipes, the ones that fueled the best gatherings and conversations, and created a cookbook that home chefs with any level of skill can use to explore Japanese cuisine alone or with a crowd. Each recipe is accompanied by notes on Japanese culture and traditional preparation, along with manga-style drawings that make Japanese Cooking with Manga as enjoyable as it is functional.

Z: Zoomorphic

Mermaid Saga by Rumiko Takahashi

In Japanese legend, eating the flesh of a mermaid grants the recipient eternal youth and life, but immortality may not be the blessing it seems at first. While some few are permitted to retain their humanity, others find that once they’ve stolen from a mermaid they begin to lose themselves, becoming feral, lost souls whose hearts may beat and who may continue to breathe but who have lost what it was they were willing to harm, or kill, to keep.

Volume 1 of Mermaid Saga contains three tales: A Mermaid Never Smiles, The Village of the Fighting Fish, and the first part of Mermaid Forest.

Please be aware that these stories are not for the kiddos.

Hey, look at us! We made it through another round of A–Z! Where to next? Villains? Cities? Food? If you have any topics you’d like to see me have a go at, drop your suggestions @BookRiot on Twitter!