It happened: it’s 2023. In my mind, it could still be 2019. Time passing feels both like I’m moving through peanut butter and getting thrown into the next year with a rocket launcher. My confusing experience of time was best elucidated when I reread Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. Although his book is outdated in some ways, it made a grand argument for taking comics seriously as an art form. They’re not just silly superheroes, and superheroes can have great, expansive stories in their comics as well. McCloud has a long section about how comics play with time, using panels to divide up time into chunks and go faster or slower depending on the art style. With that in mind, I am committing to reading more comics in 2023 and getting excited about the comics new releases for January.
As is usual for comics, there are a ton of different themes and considerations in the January new releases. The span of genres for comics keeps getting wider. In addition to enjoying all of the IP extensions in comics, I love to read nonfiction comics and memoirs to switch up my reading routine. For the next month, you can hit a ton of genres and get invested in diverse art styles.
Memoir and Nonfiction Comics
Shubeik Lubeik (Pantheon Graphic Library) By Deena Mohamed (January 10)
Aziza, Nour, and Shokry each buy a wish in Cairo, but it’s not as simple as it seems. Despite the magic that surrounds the characters and infuses the world they live in with exciting whimsy, the wishes aren’t as easy to execute. The wish is a magical solution, but all the characters have very relatable and real issues they have to grapple with.
Esther’s Notebooks (Pantheon Graphic Library) by Riad Sattouf (January 24)
Riad Sattouf has been writing comic strips about his friend’s daughter Esther and her life in Paris. They talked every week, and Sattouf made it into an equal parts funny and hopeful story about growing up in Paris. Esther’s life as the daughter of immigrants, and her discovery of the weirder parts of growing up, recalls for me the many joys of reading Calvin & Hobbes as a young girl.
Existing Character Comics
Monkey Prince Vol. 1: Enter the Monkey by Gene Luen Yang, Illustrated by Bernard Chang (January 3)
My beloved Gene Luen Yang (of Avatar comics and American Born Chinese) is writing the latest Chinese American DC superhero. This volume collects #1–6 of Monkey Prince, wherein our hero Marcus Sun starts at Gotham City High School and unlocks his true powers and his superhero self.
Carmilla: The First Vampire by Amy Chu, Illustrated by Soo Lee and Sal Capriano
If you’re like me and ingest every Carmilla-adjacent piece of media released, you’ll be super excited about this comic. The 19th century original vampire finds herself in New York City in the 1990s. A young woman tries to solve a series of murders targeting homeless queer women that no one else seems to care about, and she gets drawn into Carmilla’s world. Instead of a gothic castle, Carmilla owns a nightclub with dark secrets. This is the perfect retelling for fans of all things queer vampire.
Norse Mythology Volume 3 by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell, Illustrated by Galen Showman, David Rubin, and Colleen Doran
The epic quests of the Norse Gods continue on in this new collection, which involves a bunch of great new artists. For fans of the series, this is an exciting addition to the bookshelf. Casual readers who love epic action will also find a lot to love in here, from Thor’s adventures with a giantess to the epic story of Ragnarok.
More Genres and Sundries
I’m Kinda Chubby and I’m Your Hero Vol. 1 by Nore (January 6)
Ponijirou is an actor and trying to make it in an industry notorious for discriminating against people based on their size. Konnosuke is a pastry chef, and he sends Ponijirou sweets. The anonymous care package invigorates Ponijirou to follow his dreams in this sweet story about love.
Why Don’t You Love Me? by Paul B. Rainey (January 24)
The unhappy marriage between Claire and Mark is the starting point for a science fiction story about the roles we’re forced into in life. Neither Claire nor Mark is entirely sure why they’re in their marriage or what to do about their sadness, and they get a look into an alternate reality where they were free to make different choices. It’s a thoughtful story that blends sci-fi and reality extremely well.
Sweet Poolside by Shuzo Oshimi (January 10)
This graphic novel takes on the major discomfort of puberty in middle school with sweetness and comedy. Toshihiko is a boy who has not developed any body hair yet, while Ayako is a girl who feels like she can’t pursue her swimming talent because of an excess of body hair. The setup of lack and abundance leads to an unlikely friendship.
New Year, New Artists
The steady stream of comics from artists and writers around the world will always be exciting to me. Despite the aggressiveness with which time passes, I can always slow down with some beautiful panels in worlds ranging from realistic to fantastical.
If you’re looking for more of the genres I pulled here today, you can find the best graphic memoirs, influential superhero comics, and a list of the best comics of all time to see the breadth of the art form. You can also find a full list of new releases in the magical New Release Index, carefully curated by your favorite Book Riot editors, organized by genre and release date.