Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Best Comics of 2016, No. 1

Finally. Illness, working two jobs, conference prep, and at last, here is the rundown for 2016.
16. BRIK
15. Agony
14. Dr. Strange
13. The Drawing Lesson
12. The Children of Captain Grant
11. Backstagers
10. Bombshells
9.  The Complete Wimmen's Comix
8.  Paper Girls
7.  Art Ops 
6.  Electric Sublime
5.  Black Widow
4.  Scarlet Witch
3.  Dr. Fate
2.  Faith

And here is the number one comic of last year.
Gene Ha's MAE is a delight that is, at once, all the things I like in a good comic. It's creator owned, originally self-published (through a Kickstarter campaign that included a lovely retrospective of Gene's 25+ year career in comics and illustration), currently in a successful run from one of the bigger publishers, Dark Horse, has a strong female protagonist, and is an exciting delight to read and to see!
From Gene's web page: "Once upon a time in Indiana… a 13 year-old girl named Abbie Fortell disappeared. Her younger sister, Mae was left behind to finish school, take care of her ailing father, and build a life without her sister. Eight years later Abbie has returned, claiming she’s found a doorway to a world of adventure and monsters. These tales are hard to believe — at least until the monsters show up too…"
The Kickstarter was followed by the first story arc of 6 Dark Horse issues, which concluded in November of 2016. The next arc is due in spring, and as Gene is scheduled to grace MNCBA's Spring Con (hooray!), may be available in time to have a chat with him about it.
Full disclosure: Gene has been a casual friend (and serious supporter of mine on Facebook) ever since I modeled for the character of Irma Geddon, who Gene drew as part of Alan Moore's Top 10 series in the America's Best Comics imprint from DC.
Ahem. Back to the book.
The book has just shone in every page. Gene has always been an articulate, well-spoken and just plain fun guy. That exuberance for life is the core of MAE
My only sadness concerning the book, and it's a minor one, is that the last issue of the first run was penciled and inked by someone other than Gene, Pauline Ganucheau. Her credentials, ranging from Star Trek to The Magic World of Gumball, are quite impressive. She's clearly a professional, and does a wonderful job, but she ain't Gene. I read issue 6 without looking at the credits, and from page one, it seemed the art was - well, just not the same. Oh, it worked fine, but I really hope Gene returns to full creative chores with the next story arc.
MAE is good, smart storytelling, integrated with compelling, imaginative and beautifully rendered art. I hope we're all still talking about new issues as they come out a year, two years, five years from now, and more.
Next: back to my art, I think... hmm...

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