Yearender: Looking Ahead To The Most Exciting New Comics Coming In 2017
It’s the end of the year! We’ve made it through 2016, a year of departures, returns, arrivals, civil wars, and young animals. Valiant was building up Faith, Top Shelf completed its March, and Mike Mignola wrapped up Hellboy’s grand journey. Mildred Louis sent the Agents of the Realm off on further adventures, Wonder Woman celebrated her 75th anniversary, and Bleach reached its final chapter. It’s been another staggering year for comics everywhere.
So where does that leave us for 2017? As we hit the end of the year, so we reach the ComicsAlliance Yearender once more. Read on; there are so, so many great comics waiting for us all next year!
Warren Ellis is set for a busy year, as he’ll be curating a line at DC, similar to the Gerard Way ‘Young Animal’ imprint --- except this one is going to be Wildstorm. Jim Lee and Brandon Choi’s Image Imprint was acquired by DC several years ago, but has struggled to make it a long-term deal within its publishing plans, and not for lack of trying. This new relaunch will start with The Wild Storm, a series with Jon Davis-Hunt that begins in February.
That’s not the Ellis project I’m most excited for in 2017, though: that would be Finality, a webcomic that reunites him once more with frequent collaborator and digital comic revolutionary Colleen Doran. Coming through LINE Webtoon as part of a 26-part serialized murder mystery, this seems like a keen way to pair Ellis’ storytelling ability with artwork from one of the most eclectic and brightest talents in the industry. Doran can change her style entirely to suit a project, and it’s tremendously exciting to think about what that might mean for Finality.
Afar by Leila del Duca and Kit Seaton is scheduled for release in March 2017, after being announced at Image Expo 2016. Del Duca has established herself as an inventive, unpredictable talent through her work on Shutter --- but also a prolific one, who has worked on several other projects alongside the long-running series. This sees her in the writing role, with Kit Seaton on art, and interestingly this is planned for release as an original graphic novel --- something Image could definitely put out more of.
Lionforge has been producing a number of comics written by people of color, but 2016 saw it make steps to put that work into a bigger spotlight. The biggest of its plans is a new line of superhero comics that starts in April, kicking off with Catalyst Prime, the Free Comic Book Day offering from the publisher, from writers Christopher Priest and Joe Illidge, and artists Marco Turini and Jessica Kholine. This strikes me as a tipping point for Lionforge; if it can pull this off and bring even one or two compelling, well-designed characters out of this issue, then its year is set.
Due in June next year, Jen Lee’s next project is Garbage Night, published through Nobrow. This follows 2015’s Vacancy, and is set in the same post-apocalyptic wasteland - and, indeed, features the same characters as her earlier work. Once again we follow Simon, Cliff, and Reynard, three animals who are brought together into a single space and have to learn to work alongside one another, in the process externalising all their internalized conflicts and fears through Lee’s incredibly expressive, smart use of body language and space.
The TV sitcom Fresh off the Boat is launching as a comic series on Free Comic Book Day, with writer Gene Luen Yang at the helm. No artist has been announced for the book thus far, which is always disappointing, but I wanted to draw attention to this one primarily for how much reaction this stirred from comic fans online. Specifically, I saw that a lot of Asian-American writers, artists and critics particularly happy to see the series recognized in comic book form, as it’s been a showcase for a wealth of Asian-American acting talent across the last three seasons. For that reason - and with Yang writing --- hopefully we’ll see an Asian-American artist also onboard the series, to provide another showcase for young talent.
Drawn & Quarterly is set to have a busy June, with a collection of Jillian Tamaki’s comics called Boundless. Running at close to 250 pages, this will bring together some of her work across the last few months at various outlets, including her short comics at Hazlitt, like the one that provides this collection with its name. Tamaki has been prolific of late, and this collection promises to present a range of different styles, approaches, and ideas from the cartoonist.
One of the biggest announcements in 2016 was for Dark Horse's graphic novels based on The Legend of Korra, set after the culmination of the series --- meaning it will explore Korra and Asami as a romantic couple on top of continuing their adventures. Co-creator Michael DiMartino is writing the series and --- get this --- Irene flipping Koh will be artist. That’s an incredible choice for the series, which will be split into three graphic novels known as “Turf Wars.”
Tillie Walden has been one of the breakout stars of 2016. With a string of print and digital comics published across the course of the year, she’s established herself as one of the dominant creative storytellers in comics, and she has no plans to slow down in 2017. September sees the release of Spinning at First Second, an original graphic novel that draws on her own background as a young competitor in the world of figure skating. At over 400 pages, this is her longest work to date, and is described as being about “trying to cope with her sexuality, her identity, the world around her and the trauma of growing up. She loses herself on the ice, and must find a way out.”
Finally, the next project from Iron Circus Comics will be Tim’rous’ Beastie, an anthology edited by Amanda Lafrenais and published by Spike Trotman. With submissions just about to close, full details of this one will be announced in mid-January, although we do know that this is going to be filled with stories about small lives in giant worlds. By that, I mean this is going to be a collection of stories about anthropomorphic animals. KC Green and Sloane Leong are among the already announced cartoonists participating.
Have a great 2017, everyone!