From mystery-solving teens to the silliest ‘Walking Dead’ appearance yet, here are the can’t-miss comics from this year’s annual giveaway.
Saturday is this year’s Free Comic Book Day, the annual event where participating retailers offer the choice of over 50 special issues released by more than 30 publishers, all with the intent of luring readers into trying something new.
There’s a lot of variety in what’s available, including DC’s Wonder Woman issue, setting up the character’s origin in advance of her new movie, Marvel’s Secret Empire — aimed, seemingly, at existing readers, in that it’s a middle chapter to the already ongoing storyline — and Archie’s Riverdale, written by staff from the CW show itself. Indeed, there’s so much on offer that you might wonder what, if anything, is a must-read.
Wonder no more: just read on and find out what five books should be on top of your pile Saturday. And for those with a more advanced sense of curiosity, a full list of releases can be found here.
Bad Machinery: Free Comic Book Day 2017 (Oni Press)
The concept behind John Allison’s Bad Machinery is simple: six British high school kids solve mysteries that tend towards the surreal rather than the scary — think Scooby Doo meets Monty Python — but where the series excels is in the execution, and this preview of the upcoming Bad Machinery: The Case of the Forked Road is a wonderful showcase for his smart dialogue and wonderfully expressive cartooning.
Drawn & Quarterly Presents: Colorful Monsters (Drawn & Quarterly)
Both of D&Q’s releases for Free Comic Book Day are strong stuff (The other is a preview of Guy Delisle’s amazing non-fiction book Hostage), but this collection of material from international comics aimed at kids is effortlessly charming. Of particular note is the excerpt of If Found… Please Return to Elise Gravel, which feels like accidentally uncovering the greatest (and silliest) sketchbook of all.
Hilda’s Back! (Nobrow Press)
By the end of next year, if there’s any justice, Luke Pearson’s Hilda will be a household name, thanks to an upcoming animated adaptation for Netflix. For now, there’s this sneak peek at the next book in the series about a young girl with blue hair and a thirst for adventure, and her long-suffering — but still supportive — mother, which manages to feel like a lost classic almost immediately. The issue also has a preview of Jen Lee’s Garbage Night, a new twist on end of the world dystopian fiction that reads like BoJack Horseman meets The Last Man on Earth.
I Hate Image (Image Comics)
Less a sampler of Image’s line-up than a loving savaging of it, Skottie Young takes Gertrude, the star of his own I Hate Fairyland series, through a number of other fan-favorite Image titles, including Saga, Bitch Planet and The Wicked + The Divine in a suitably disrespectful fashion. There’s only one comic on Free Comic Book Day that is willing to make fun of Robert Kirkman’s dialogue in The Walking Dead, and this is it. (Not to mention, Kirkman himself makes a cameo at one point… not that it ends well.)
World’s Greatest Cartoonists (Fantagraphics Books)
One of the leading publishers of alternative comics brings the thunder with this anthology of unseen work by a host of creators including Dash Shaw, Jason, Matt Furie, Hip-Hop Family Tree creator Ed Piskor and Emil Ferris, who shares a ten page cut scene from the critically acclaimed My Favorite Thing is Monsters. Never mind catching up on where Fanta’s leading lights are at; this collection is a great primer on contemporary alternative comics in general.