Welcome to the first ever installment of Rae’s Recs, a small, weekly comic recommendation that we’ll be posting on Thursdays, mostly for you folks who are looking for something a little more off of the beaten paths!
First, I’ll give you some recommendations for new single issues coming out this week. (Since so many things come out every week, and all of them deserve time, I’m going to limit that part to just two). Next, I’ll suggest some new trade publications. (For those of you who aren’t sure what that means, it’s simply another word for a collected volume or a graphic novel.) Again, new things are always coming out, so I’ll limit that to one or two as well, but open it up to the previous couple of weeks as well so that I’ve had time to read it myself. Lastly, there will be an all ages recommendation. This will have no set time frame, but will feature one comic that’s still in issues, and one comic that’s been published in trade format.
Thanks so much and I hope you enjoy!
Rock Candy Mountain, published by Image Comics and created by Kyle Starks and colored by Chris Schweizer. This comic follows a man named Jackson, a rail-riding hobo expert in post-WWII America. He’s seeking out the big Rock Candy Mountain (you know the one) and is fighting against things like hobo-train-bosses, what seems to be actual devils, and the fact that his goal may not even exist. He’s joined in this first issue by new-to-the-rails and down-on-his-luck Hollywood Slim. The art in this book is beautifully stylized, with colors that are muted by the nighttime. The writing is well-paced and funny. Really, an all-around good read that I’m looking forward to.
Black Cloud, published by Image Comics, created by Jason Latour and Ivan Brandon with art by Greg Hinkle. A story about stories, the stories we tell to both others and ourselves in the forms of dreams and daydreams. Zelda is an outcast of her own world, a world of dreams and the magic that can only be used in fantastic stories. She makes use of that magic to try and get off of the streets in the real world by selling her dreams back out to the people, but in both the dream world and the real world, nothing can be as easy as that. She may be quickly getting in over her head. This first issue is both dark and brilliant, with a use of color that sets aside the real from the unreal and the powerful from the powerless. Another story I’m very excited to see continued.
Published by Dark Horse, Henchgirl is a comic by Kristen Gudsnuk that is (mostly?) a parody of the superhero genre. Mary is a henchgirl working for a gang leader in Crepe City, although she doesn’t actually have any criminal aspirations. Mostly, she just wants to lead a normal life and mistakenly got herself involved in the Butterfly Gang. Once she’s in, though, she’s in, even if she and her friends would really much rather she had a regular job where she can pay taxes. Things take a turn for the dark after she gets caught diverting a nefarious scheme with the help of a new friend. This story is funny and cute, but it also tells a lot of the implications of what can happen when one loses themselves in a job, especially when that job is largely illegal. This begins silly, but quickly turns into a story that takes a look at right and wrong, friends, family, and even the effects power can have on the people that gain it.
Published by KaBOOM!, an imprint of BOOM! Studios, Brave Chef Brianna is created by Sam Sykes and Selina Espiritu. This book follows, you guessed it, a brave little chef named Brianna, the youngest and only girl in her family of chefs vying to win their father’s cooking empire, legacy, and fortune by opening the best restaurant. She’s already at a disadvantage from being the most inexperienced, but when she takes a chance on a place called Monster City, she has to fight against both being an outsider and not quite knowing the laws were real laws. The art in this book is astounding, with creative and fun monsters making appearances all the time. What really strikes me, though, is the manifestation of her anxiety and self doubt into a visual format. It’s something I struggle with often myself, and to see it represented in a way that’s so familiar to me makes me really identify with Brianna, and I hope allows other people to see how those thoughts affect daily life and aspirations. This book’s second issue came out just yesterday, so there is still plenty of time to snag the first two!
Science Comics: Bats, published by First Second and created by Falynn Koch. I haven’t yet met a Science Comic I didn’t like, but this one hit really close to home for me. (There’s a whole page about Austin, TX in there!) I’m always a fan of learning new things, but I’m even more a fan of learning things in a way that is more than just reading facts off of a page. Koch used her graphic novel to impart information to me that I never knew and never would have remembered on my own. Each character is unique while still being just another bat we can learn about and the linear format of the storytelling made it easier to retain the information. If your kiddo likes animals or science, I would highly recommend this book, and if they’re scared of bats at all, I recommend it even more. It dispels a lot of myths about the furry little creatures and gives us a look at how they help us and how we can help them.