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The He-Man Effect: How American Toymakers Sold You Your Childhood

Brian “Box” Brown (First Second)

Ignatz Award winner Brown returns with another cultural history told via wry comics, this time taking on the wave of nostalgia for the 1980s, when Reagan-era deregulation opened up marketing to minors, and TV shows scripted to sell ushered in childhood-as-consumerism along with GI Joe and My Little Ponies. Get the kids out to run around and read up.



Tracy Butler (Iron Circus)

Hijinks aplenty go down at Mitzi May’s 1927 speakeasy, though not always as easily as the bootleg liquor. The venue is hidden under a café in St. Louis, and, by the way, the matron and all the patrons are cats. Butler’s hit webcomic crawling with feline flappers and mouser mobsters promises wily escapism into a historically detailed and profoundly weird world, with dynamic art and nonstop mayhem purring along.


The Last Count of Monte Cristo

Ayize Jama-Everett and Tristan Roach (Megascope)

This Afrofuturist adaptation of Dumas’s classic revenge tale “feels big-screen ready,” per PW’s starred review. The high drama features imprisoned seaman Quabbinah Dantes, who crafts a cunning plot to escape imprisonment and outdo and outwit those who betrayed him. The familiar plot is reset against a techie apocalyptic landscape done up with dayglo coloring. Acrobatic artistic sequences keep the story fresh even for a tale told many times—but never quite like this.


The Last Gay Man on Earth

Ype Driessen, trans. by Lenny Kouwenberg (Street Noise)

Ype’s boyfriend wants him to take a vacation—but what if he’s too afraid to get on the plane? This relationship squabble grows extra campy and surreal, and even the robot vacuum cleaner has an opinion as the spat spirals into an existential crisis. In a kind of comics-as-selfies experiment, Driessen’s elaborate fotonovela style presents scenes pose by pose, staged with real-life snapshots dotted over by word balloons. How it all goes is, well, up in the air—and for comics fans bored with the usual, it’s certainly something different.


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