The annual comic book clusterfuck that is Comic-Con International has finally come to an end. While there were plenty of big-budget entertainment announcements down in San Diego, the comic book industry itself tends to linger in the shadow of the massive, monied television and film industries that so often adapt their works.
There are already plenty of articles breathlessly extolling the virtues of the Star Wars preview or the next season of The Walking Dead, and while those may indeed be very fine things, this is not that article. Instead, I'm going to focus on something you don't hear nearly as much about once the sun has set on San Diego: the cool and interesting stuff that's happening in the world of actual comic books.
The relentless and occasionally nonsensical email blasts sent to press during Comic-Con are infamous, like a fire hose that shoots random superhero names and mediocre interview opportunities instead of water. While the following is not technically about a comic book, it's close enough (and hilarious enough) that we're going to pause and observe it regardless.
I became aware of this particular press release when a friend forwarded it to me with the note, "What the fuck is this PR. Is this literally a promotion for THE CONCEPT OF PAPER?????"
Indeed it was. Specifically, it introduced a new "character" that it described as a "founding father" of the comic book industry. This hero had a name: PAPER (all caps).
From the release: PAPER is a massive 8-foot sheet of paper that got unveiled earlier today and will now interact with Comic-Con fans. You can see a photo below, and while the costume will fit in with the thousands of event-goers dressed in extravagant costumes, it's also a reminder from Domtar about the vital role paper plays in our lives.
This is what the distant future of superheroes looks like: where the endless hunger for spandex-wearing demigods has exhausted every possible character permutation with monkey-typewriter thoroughness, and all that remains are household objects, possibly wearing capes.
The Legend of Korra comic
The Legend of Korra TV series recently ended its four-season run with a finale that confirmed what many fans had long hoped: that the relationship between Korra and Asami was not just friendship, but also a budding romance. Now—much like Avatar: The Last Airbender before it—the story will continue in a graphic novel series that will focus squarely on the Korrasami relationship. The show's co-creators will both be involved, with Michael Dante DiMartino writing and Bryan Konietzko consulting on art, though no lead artist or publication date has been announced.
Joss Whedon's Twist
When he's not making movies and television shows, Joss Whedon has often dabbled in comics, from his acclaimed run on Astonishing X-Men to his hit-or-miss work on the Buffy books. Still, when he announces that he's launching an all-new original comic book series, you pay attention. At Comic-Con this year, Whedon introduced us to Twist. While details are scant, Whedon says "it deals with the most important moral question facing us, which is: Why isn't there a Victorian female Batman?"
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
If you haven't been reading Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, the Marvel superhero book about a college girl with mutant squirrel powers from artist Erica Henderson and writer Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics fame, then you've been missing out. You'll also have the perfect chance to get on board in October, when the series relaunches with a new #1 issue that North promises will involve "a new year of school, moving off campus, and fighting a HYDRA cyborg."
A metric ton of Vertigo comics
Vertigo Comics has long been the cape-free, mature readers arm of DC Comics, publishing critical hits like Sandman, Preacher and V for Vendetta. But the imprint has been on the wane as of late, with a dwindling slate of books and no new series published last year. All that changes this fall, when a dozen new Vertigo comics are hitting the stands. Highlights include The Twilight Children, a superteam up between industry legends Gilbert Hernandez and Darwyn Cooke, and New Romancer, a Silicon Valley romance about a dating app programmer who brings her dream man to life only to discover he's the 19th century poet Lord Byron.
I'm not going to pretend that I've ever really cared about Blade—or rather, this is the most I've ever cared about it. Along with a lot of other Marvel titles (see also: Squirrel Girl) Blade is relaunching in October. The new book will focus not just on Blade, but on an all-new character: Blade's daughter, a 16-year-old girl from Oregon named Fallon Grey. The father and daughter will ultimately team-up and presumably fight vampires together, which kind of makes me imagine Blade as Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And I am ok with that.
Raina Telgemeier's Ghosts
Though her name may or may not be familiar, Raina Telgemeier is one of the best-selling comic book creators working today, thanks to the success of her graphic novels aimed at young women: Smile, Sisters, Drama and her adaptations of The Babysitters Club. Her latest, a YA book called Ghosts about a young woman moving to a spoooooky seaside town, was just announced for a fall 2016 release.
The return of Milestone
Superhero comics have had a racial diversity problem since… basically ever, thanks in large part to its most iconic heroes being created as white dudes by white dudes between the '30s and the '60s. Back in 1993, Milestone Media arrived on the scene as comics publisher a different take; founded by black artists and writers, it imagined a fictional world that was full of black superheroes. Although it's been largely defunct since the late '90s, DC Comics announced that Milestone is coming back, and its world—Earth M—will soon be folded into the larger DC Comics multiverse with help from Milestone co-founders Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle, and Reginald Hudlin.
Over the Surface
In the airforce of the (fictional) Solveran armed forces, female pilots are not allowed! But that won't stop young Ava Lefevre, who dogfights her way into their ranks anyway. Things get complicated when she learns that there's more to her country's war with the neighboring Isolestra than meets the eye, and gets tasked with putting down the increasingly popular resistance movement. Both written and illustrated by Natalie Nourigat, this Oni Press book has a very pretty nine-page preview over here.
More subversion of princess culture awaits in Another Castle, where the savvy Princess Misty gets kidnapped. Although she's more than capable of rescuing herself, she learns that she can't escape without running afoul of a rigged monstro-patriarchal system that would punish her kingdom's citizens for her escape. Naturally, she "conspires with the citizens of the castle to bring a regime change." It's written by Andrew Wheeler with illustrations by Paulina Ganucheau, who also provides the art on the upcoming magical girl book Zodiac Starforce.
Lady Killer by Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich asks an important question that will resonate with anyone who liked watching Betty Draper handle a shotgun: What if a picture-perfect 1960s housewife was also an assassin? Inspired partly by vintage advertising, this miniseries about a homemaker who kills for cash is coming back for more in 2016, where we'll see the fair Josie Schuller relocate to Florida with her family, and presumably murder a lot of people there.
While this also does not strictly qualify as comics, it's just so great: Civil rights icon, congressman and graphic novel writer John Lewis cosplayed as himself at Comic-Con, recreating the same outfit he wore during his famous 1965 march in Selma.
I had the opportunity to recreate what I wore on March 7, 1965 and march with some amazing young people. pic.twitter.com/0zjGj4jv86
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) July 12, 2015