10 Comics That Suprised and Delighted Me in 2021
Hi there, trashinistas! As I mentioned last time, I’ve got some fun social-media-centric stuff planned for 2022 as I slow down a bit on the reselling side of things. Some plans are coming together, but more about that later. For now, I’m going to take a little break and look back on some comics that I enjoyed discovering in 2021. Like all the best bookstores, this list has old and new stuff thrown in together, though I do focus primarily on books that I actually purchased in 2021. If you’d like to know more about any of these or have any questions, go ahead and leave a comment. I’ve also added most of these books to a list over at Bookshop.org so you can read more about them or, if you’re so inclined, make a purchase and check them out for yourself! Here’s the list!
Copra: The Ochizon Saga by Michel Fiffe
Ed Piskor said you know a comic shop is good if they carry Copra. I was bummed when I learned that Image is no longer publishing Copra single issues, but at least Fiffe sells them through his Etsy now, so it’s still possible to get them, even though, sadly, there don’t seem to be too many “good comic shops” here in Seattle.
Stray Dogs by Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner
I loved the premise of a Don-Bluth-style murder mystery when I first heard it, and this series, or at least the issues I was able to get my hands on, lived up to the hype. I still don’t know how it ends. I’ll probably read the trade at some point so NO SPOILERS!
Mazebook by Jeff Lemire
I saw a tweet last week that said it well: Mazebook is Jeff Lemire’s best sad dad comic since Essex County. 2021 was the year I decided to just appreciate Lemire like a punk guitarist who knows three chords and writes lots (and lots) of great songs.
Savage Hearts by Aubrey Sitterson and Jed Dougherty
This fantasy rom-com is a lot of fun, and the character design is fabulous. I’d read more comics like this if I knew where to find them.
What’s the Furthest Place From Here? by Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss
Not sure where this one is headed, but I’m along for the ride. I’m still hoping to get my hands on one of the deluxe editions that come with a vinyl record. Maybe I should be annoyed that my pre-order didn’t come through. But, uncertainty and anticipation are part of the fun of collecting, right?
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine
This is a very 2020 book that I read in 2021. If you thought a litany of grievances couldn’t be entertaining, you thought wrong. The single funniest panel I’ve seen this year is in here, too.
Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson
Having a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old, I read a lot of all-ages graphic novels. This one from 2015 is up there with Bone and Smile. In a conversation with Noah Van Sciver, Thompson said his publisher told him that in the current market volume 1 will only really start selling when volume 3 or 4 comes out. Thompson has gone a different direction and doesn’t seem interested in doing another volume. I hope he reconsiders.
The Maxx by Sam Keith
As a collector, I’m exploring the first two years of Image Comics right now. The Maxx seems to hold up best from that era. Also, it might be having a bit of a moment. Or perhaps it’s just coincidence that Thick Lines Pod and Cartoonist Kayfabe both covered it and issues are showing up on lists of record-breaking sales (most recently a Maxx #9 sold for $500).
The Thud by Mikael Ross
This book feels like such a genuine portrait of a community that is too-often ignored. Ross’s cartooning complements the subject well.
Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer’s Road & Usagi Yojimbo: Dragon Bellow Conspiracy by Stan Sakai
IDW has been publishing classic Usagi stories in full color as a series of mini-series, and I’ve thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to explore the back catalog. After becoming familiar with the somewhat slow pacing of Sakai’s masterpiece, I was totally blown away by the action-forward Dragon Bellow story. Bonus points for the brilliant covers by Peach Momoko and David Peterson. This was the most surprising and delightful book of the year for me.
Books still on my “to read” list:
Let’s Not Talk Anymore by Weng Pixin
Monsters by Barry Windsor-Smith
No One Else by R. Kikuo Johnson