Happy Tuesday, comic fans! Welcome back to not just another issue of our RVA comic exchange, but the big issue number two-oh. That’s right, we’re back in trade paperback format!
This week we’re hanging out on the west coast as we talk to California based web illustrator and Archie aficionado Sara M. Lyons, who is giving us some of her current favorites that she is loving. After that, I have some manga and graphic novels to keep you busy wherever the air conditioning is on those balmy ninety degree days. Oh, summertime.
On to the comics!
I promise you that you have seen Lyons’ work, because you are reading this right now on the internet. Touting herself as a professional weirdo, Lyons’ work is based on cute, kitschy illustrations with a slight retro flair to them. Her work is all over the internet in every way, and if nothing else — if you have seen a cutely drawn set of hands doing the “whatever” symbol ala Amber from Clueless above a banner proclaiming, “Whatever Forever”? That is hers.
Lyons has collaborated with various brands such as Urban Decay and Urban Outfitters, and most recently the top dog of them all — she had a collection with the classic comic brand, Archie, as part of the Betty and Veronica line of merchandise. Unsurprisingly, she has an Archie favorite to recommend, among some others.
Maneaters, by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk
“One of my favorite new comics – unabashedly feminist, incredibly earnest, really smart, and surprisingly scary,” said Lyons. “I love the vision of a dystopian near-future where a mutation of toxoplasmosis means that mere menstruation can turn girls and women into ferocious big cats hellbent on violent destruction. Any comic with a tween/teen girl as the main character has my attention, and the tongue-in-cheek take on toxic masculinity here is so clever.”
Snotgirl, by Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung
“I like that this comic turns old-school Katy Keene-style “glamour model” comics on their head,” said Lyons. “On the surface, it’s a story about a painfully hip LA influencer and her squad of fashion blogger frenemies, so of course it’s loaded full of gorgeously drawn female characters and great outfits, but the creepy mystery at the core of the story makes it so much more than just a shallow comic about hottie Insta-babes. Leslie Hung’s drawings of women are so beautiful and expressive – I love the way she draws hands.”
Love & Rockets Vol. IV, by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez
“Few comics have been as influential on me as Love & Rockets – I discovered it during the initial run of Vol. II back in 2001 and I’ve been hooked ever since,” said Lyons. “Los Bros Hernandez are true living legends, and the Vol. IV stories have been everything I could have wanted and more. This incredibly fleshed-out universe has been a part of my comics life for so long that I feel like I’m part of the family. I hope they never stop.”
Jughead: The Hunger Vs. Vampironica, by Frank Tieri, Pat and Tim Kennedy
“Anyone who knows anything about me knows I’m an Archie Comics diehard, and the Archie Horror imprint has never disappointed me once,” said Lyons. “Jughead: The Hunger and Vampironica have both been doing a great job continuing Archie Horror’s legacy of juxtaposing surprisingly scary, dark horror tinged with that campy, old-school Archie wit, and this new miniseries that will pit vampire Ronnie against werewolf Juggie is sooo promising. There wasn’t enough Jughead in #1 for my taste, but I’m awaiting #2 with bated breath!”
“MAD was my introduction into the world of comics outside Archie as a young kid, and I started subscribing again for the first time since the late ’90s when I heard about the revamp starting with the new issue #1 last summer,” said Lyons. “I love the new roster of artists (like my buddy Luke McGarry!) who’ve been added to the old guard of MAD icons (like absolute legend Sergio Aragones). MAD is still so damn good. Better than ever. Absolutely brutal. I can’t believe my parents let me read it when I was a little kid. I hope little kids all over the country are reading it now. ”
I like the summer and all that it brings – warm weather, good food, and good shows (check out our weekly show column for more on that). However, when it gets upward of the 90s, as Virginia is wont to do, I find myself scrambling to sit by the oscillating fan with a good graphic novel or manga. Here are a few that I have on my list of interest this week.
Smashed, by Junji Ito
I’m very choosy with my horror in films (I tend to watch dark comedies like the Scream franchise if that tells you anything), but in graphic novels? Bring it on.
What originally drew me to Ito’s Smashed was two things. One: the cover immediately made me think of the Parasyte manga of my nineties youth by Hitoshi Iwaaki. Two: Junji Ito is one of those authors right now who can’t touch anything without it turning to gold, so it must be good. Smashed is a collection of short stories by Ito that truly show off his work, and is perfect if you are trying to get your feet wet in horror manga.
Spice & Wolf, by Isuna Hasekura and Keito Koume
I love a good travelling-through-the-woods story, and if it’s light and quick? Excellent. While a story about a merchant hanging out in the woods trying to sell some furs does not sound the most enticing, it’s how each of Kraft Lawerence’s transactions play out, and the adventures in between, that make this story. It’s a lengthy enough series, but each of the volumes has enough closure that if you only wanted to invest in one or two, then you’ve hit the jackpot.
Sheets, by Brenna Thummler
Sheets is debatably the most kid-friendly thing I will ever recommend to you, but hear me out. It is also the most adorable, and one of the most interesting. Marjorie finds herself handling her family’s laundry business, only for (naturally) ghosts to appear. But are they there to scare the shit out of her? Not really – she’s pretty low on their list. They’re there for therapy, to process how they died.
As we sweat it all away this summer, trust and believe I will keep you covered with the best stories to read while you blast that AC bill and invest in the best that paper fans have to offer. And let me know: what is your go-to beach or river read? What keeps you occupied while you get that tan?
‘Till next time, comic fans!
Top Image: Sara M. Lyons (via Facebook)