2023 is 80% comics


It's been raining here in California. Wet and occasionally haily. But we've been spared the worst of it.

I assume you can tell by the covers which of these is not comics? Weirdly, probably the best cover of the five. And my second-favorite read.


001) The Dark Room by Gerry Duggan & Scott Buoncristiano, finished January four

A fun little horror comic that's more fun than horrifying, though it is filled with scary images and stuff. But ultimately, it's more an action story with eldritch horrors as the macguffin.

two days that may or may not have been contiguous

002) The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander, finished January 6

This alt history imagines a world where we learned to talk to elephants early enough to make them work in radium factories. It's a poetic weaving between the time of that factory and the modern day as humans and elephants still struggle to get alone and the ancient myths elephants tell one another.

It's a beautiful little book. And very little. You have time to read it.

two or three days

003) Rose by Jeff Smith and Charles Vess, finished January 10

This prequel to Bone is surprisingly dark. I mean—it makes sense; it's setting up everything that will happen in Bone—but it's kinda rough. Even though much of the writing is fun and the action is bright.

one sitting

004) Acting Class by Nick Drnaso, finished January 10

Even though this, like Drnaso's previous work, has been racking up accolades, I somehow didn't hear about it until less than two weeks ago when I read a review on The Bulwark. Its criticism had a big effect on my reading but I also agreed with it page by page.

This is a work of paranoid magic realism and it's upsetting and disconcerting and excellent. Reality cannot withstand it's pressures.

There is one line I wish hadn't been in the book (the one about "a recruiter" and "the organization") which I felt made things a bit too mundane just as things were spiraling out of control. I can imagine an argument for why that's a good choice, but I disagree.

But I would not call any other panel in the entire book a misstep. I was absolutely sucked into this book and both nights I read it I stayed up waaaaaay too late.

Recommended for your next existential crisis.

  two noncontiguous days

005) Red Scare by Liam Francis Walsh, finished January 11

I picked this book up from the library because it was historical and looked like Tintin, which is right up the boys avenue. None of them have read it. So I finally sat down and read it. Not what I expected!

One, it does this thing I'm getting a bit tired of (where I last saw it) is using the 50s as a metaphor of intolerance and then letting it lurch into smallminded people turning to violence all at once. It's fine but ugh. Enough already.

Two, this took a couple of science-fiction turns I didn't anticipate either. I was expecting something "realistic" and this is pure science fiction. Which was great! That heightened the story enough to ameliorate some of my complaints about part one.

Three, there were some interesting complications to characters you'd normally expect to be simpler. The protagonists parents, for instance.

Anyway, cool book! I have a couple complaints but they're subjective and I have no hesitation suggesting you check it out for your kids to ignore!

one evening


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