Start your new year with new comics! Or slightly old comics that you may have missed toward the end of 2012. It was a busy time, after all, no one expected you to head to the comics store every Wednesday like clockwork. But don't worry, we've got a diverse array this time out, including jokey webcomics, a hilarious sketchbook, a mini-collection for film buffs and one of the most genuinely heartbreaking comic books in recent memory.
Don't Go Where I Can't Follow by Anders Nilsen (with Cheryl Weaver). Drawn & Quarterly
I usually know more about these titles from bigger name cartoonists going into them. I can't say whether the element of surprise was a good thing for Anders Nilsen's latest. A swift change from the epic mini Big Questions, which was loving compiled into a massive volume by D&Q roughly a year and a half back. Don't Go Where I Can't Follow is a swift emotional kick the the chest, that will make you bawl your eyes out to the point of dehydration or immediately phone up a loved one who hasn't received the sort of attention they deserve. Or, more probably both.
There are photographs here and love notes and sketches and comics contained herein. It's a hard thing to read, a great deal of whose difficulty comes, ultimately, in knowing just how impossible it must have been to write.
Eat More Bikes by Nathan Bulmer. Koyama Press
This might be the perfect comic for the internet age -- one-liners built into six-panel strips, crafted with sketchy artwork. Like 140 character Twitter jokes understood to be scripts for full-page comics. Sure, 30 seconds more attention span required for consumption, but, you know, pictures. On occasion, Nathan Bulmer even has the audacity to ask us to sit through a full two page spread, but don't worry too much, he'll, more often than not, spend the final panel tearing it all down, as is perhaps demonstrated with one of the best single issue comics openings in recent memory, The Noseless Great Moral Cats, a false start intended to trick parents into buying this sick funny stuff, a page after a crown of thorn-wearing Jesus is busily bleeding on a baby lamb.
Ticket Stub by Tim Hensley. Yam Books
I'd by lying if I said I didn't have to do a bit of online research, to make sure this was the same Tim Hensely -- you know, the one who gave us the Archie-in-depted adventures of umpteen millionaire teenage playboy Wally Gropius. Same guy, it turns out (and not the Blue Chair Records Americana recording artists with slightly better SEO). Ticket Stub culls the nine issue run of Hensley's 90s mini of the same, drawn during the cartoonist's time as a close-captioned writer. The pages are filled with drawn stills from a diverse array of films, sketched as stories in their own right and retaining all the strangeness of a truly odd job indeed.
Sell Your Boobs by Lisa Hanawalt
If it weren't for people like Johnny Ryan, Ivan Brunetti and Ken Dahl, I might not know what a truly, truly terrible person I am. Lisa Hanawalt is in that rare company -- cartoonist who can make me laugh out loud uncomfortable on a crowded train. Sure she's all fancy now, hanging out at those fancy New York Times illustrator parties, but she still throws us horrible human beings some bones, like the mini Sell Your Boobs, a little yellow-paged sketchbook full of gags I'd genuinely feel bad about myself describing to you here.
There are no animals wearing typewriter hats, but plenty of the lists we've grown to love and some earnest, but contextually hilarious life drawing, as well as a few pages that wonderfully appear to have been drawn using a crayon with the wrong hand. And, of course, the obligatory page of horse drawings. Sell Your Boobs is a small and light thing, but it's a helpful assurance that all those fancy pants newspaper parties haven't robbed her of her ability to make the rest of us feel bad for guffawing around small children.