Happy 2022! Mostly A 2021 Wrap Up, Part 2!
Welcome back to Part 2 of “Happy 2022! Mostly A 2021 Wrap Up!” Continuing here now because I don’t know how to edit myself or manage my time! Yay! : /
Here I’m going to do a round up of some of my favorite TV shows and Comics of 2021, as well as a brief look back at my own work this year.
And since we showed off something new (the logo!) in part 1, only fair that we show off something new in part 2 as well. I THINK this is the first time I’m showing you a BLACK CLOAK panel with actual text? EXCITING. Means we’re getting REAL close, guys! <3
As far as the recommendations below, as noted in the previous post, please check for ratings/trigger warnings on media yourselves before indulging. I never know how much of that I should do, but I ingest a lot of dark/complicated stuff and I know not everyone wants that. So please check before diving into any of these recommendations!
Okay, well, I’m going to have to speed this up as I said the movie section was short and then wrote SO MANY STUPID WORDS (guess what? I did it again here).
While I mentioned in the previous post that I didn’t watch a lot of great movies this year, I DID watch a ton of television and a lot of it was EXCELLENT. Like I did with the movie section, I’m just going to highlight a bakers dozen that I really want to talk about (new in 2021 only) and then below that, some other notable shows I enjoyed that you might also want to consider.
THE SEX LIVES OF COLLEGE GIRLS (S1 — HBO MAX) — Man, I really hate the name of this show. I think they were going for “lean into the raunchy” thing — or maybe a “reclaim sex comedy from the men that love them kind of thing”? IDK… but it ends up really undercutting the intelligence and comedy of this show. I suspect a lot of people that would really like this show will pass it by due to the weird title and that’s a shame. This show is funny, it’s smart, it’s diverse, it’s sex positive and empowering, and I fell head over heels in love with all of these women VERY quickly. I think it opened very strong and got better with every episode up to a point. The last few episodes were my least favorite, but they were still strong. Y’know, I loved SEX AND THE CITY in the beginning… it felt like nothing else I’d ever seen before as a woman watching other women on television. But over time SATC became a grotesque twisted monster of what it once was (live long enough and you become the villain?) — and the movies only made that worse — crass, commercial cash grabs that were honestly just… disgusting to behold. For all these reasons I’m not really interested in the SATC reboot or rehash or sequel or whatever you want to call it. I can’t say it’s out of touch since I’m not watching it, but for my money, if you want to see something modern that deals frankly with the real lives (and the sex lives) of women - THIS is the ticket. 4/5
TASKMASTER (S12+ — YOUTUBE/AMAZON PRIME) — Adam and I discovered TASKMASTER early in year 2 of the pandemic thanks to our friend Ted — and I don’t want to be dramatic, but it maybe saved our lives. We’re obsessed with it now and it’s like a delicious salve for the horrors of the world…or maybe some kind of wonderful comfort food? Something in that general area. It brought us so many laughs and so much joy, in such a shit year. If you like dry British comedy even a little bit, I urge you to check this out — it’s sort of a game show, but mostly a comedy show. There are TWELVE seasons of this available — and while quality varies a bit — all the seasons are pretty damn great. AND as a bonus there are two seasons available of the New Zealand version of the show. And while NZ Season 1 is one of my least favorite seasons of them all, NZ Season 2 is arguably the best season of ALL of them (#DAVIDCORREOS4EVA!) It can be a bit tricky to hunt down the episodes (we had to buy a few that weren’t available on YouTube) but if you’re even medium good at YouTube you can find most of them pretty easily and free. 4/5
SHADOW AND BONE (S1 — NETFLIX) - Adam and I watched this pretty early in the year and we really enjoyed it, and it basically blew away everything else in this genre that we tried to watch this year (except ARCANE). It’s just really smart, creative, well-balanced fantasy/sci-fi. Adam has a really low tolerance for YA stuff and I felt this handled those more YA-ish elements deftly and kept viewers like him engaged throughout, which is just one of the many reasons it’s a terrific adaptation. Powerful writing, excellent diverse cast (including leads! Imagine that!), terrific direction and SFX/visuals make for a beautiful series overall. Season 2 is already greenlit and I can’t wait for more. Bonus points that one of my favorite writers Eric Heisserer (ARRIVAL) is the showrunner, and writer/comics legend Christina Strain (GENERATION X, RUNAWAYS, MAGICIANS, a billion other things!) is one of the writers on the show. 4/5
SQUID GAME (S1 - NETFLIX) — This one came out nowhere, huh? Wowed us with intriguing visuals and then absolutely destroyed us with its emotional center and pitch perfect social commentary. It’s slightly alarming to see people watch this show and not get the messages it’s trying to impart, especially since this is not exactly subtle television. But I suppose that happens with anything powerful like this that is really widely ingested. It was an incredible watching experience for us — just locking you in from the jump and never letting up. I really had only one complaint — which is that in the back half of the series — when the VIPs are introduced, the writing is suddenly… very bad. To be clear, I think the VIPs as concept is absolutely solid — powerful, rich, older, (frequently) white men basically run the world and do most of the worst shit on earth — so I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t be the baddies, they should — rather I think the way they were written was too cartoonish and it broke some of the powerful stuff they were otherwise doing. Had they been played more seriously/realistically, I think it would have worked better (and been even more grotesque and horrifying). I can see the argument that it was pitched similarly to the rest of the show, but for me it didn’t work — all that dialogue felt VERY off to my American/English ears. But YMMV! 4/5
INSECURE (S5 — HBO MAX) — I miss this show already. I think the ending was a little soft here (just in the sense of, I was enjoying episodes 4-7 SO much and then 8-9-10-ish they were trying so hard to wrap things up for everyone, that it lost some of its spark for me). But I appreciate that they did take real time and consideration to leave these characters in places that made sense and that felt good. As someone that truly fell in love with all of these characters (especially Issa and Kelli) it was a great comfort to have them handled so carefully in the end, even if I preferred the bigger laughs of the middle of the season. But it remains a fantastic portrait of modern black women, their friendships, and a sort of unexpected love letter to L.A too. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do now that it’s over. I think maybe I need some kind of support group. T_T 4.5/5
RESERVATION DOGS (S1 - HULU/FX) — What a delightful fucking surprise this was. Really beautiful and moving, emotionally complex (and shockingly dense) and yet, legitimately funny. Beware if you are expecting just lightness though — because there are some seriously dark themes here — but all of them are sensitively and deftly handled, which means they land very powerfully and with purpose. This is one of the most talented casts of actors (especially the young leads) that I’ve ever seen. I literally cannot wait for what Season 2 might bring. If you haven’t tried this yet, get on it! 4.5/5
THE OTHER TWO (S2 — HBO MAX) — Why does nobody know about this show?!?! It’s SO GOOD. Season 1 was on Comedy Central (and is also excellent - and both seasons are on HBO MAX now). I don’t know how to describe it other than… flat out funny. Like every episode has legitimate laugh out loud moments. And it’s a show that feels very fluid — like it’s not afraid of making choices and pushing its characters in new directions that will maybe break the show… or maybe just be amazing and hilarious (reminds me of BARRY in that way maybe)? They maintain an incredibly tricky balance between comedy and drama — but they make it feel effortless. I hope everyone watches this so we get MANY more seasons. 4.5/5
SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (HBO MAX) — This was absolutely devastating. It’s so good that I’m not sure anyone in a vulnerable relationship should watch it. It’s highly relatable and that’s probably what makes it so devastating. Before you ask, no, I haven’t seen the original yet — TV or Film versions. It’s been on our list a long time, and it’s now been moved up the list dramatically. But I honestly wanted a bit of time between watching the two since I loved this modern version so much. Career best level performances by both Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac — absolutely mesmerizing. TBH the only thing that I didn’t love about this were the intros and outros (featuring the actors preparing to begin shooting) — but it’s a minor complaint at best. 5/5
ARCANE (S1 — NETFLIX) — This was a huge surprise for me. I don’t really play immersive video games because my self-control is shit and I’d never write anything significant again… so my knowledge of League of Legends is that it’s a cool game that millions of people love. But holy hell did I love this TV show. I think a lot of the narrative is pretty paint by number when it comes to story tropes, etc. — but it’s a great example I think of how you can make even those things we’ve all seen a million times before incredibly powerful and moving if you execute them correctly (and having GORGEOUS animation doesn’t hurt). Seriously, the animation is incredible. I have a long gestating comics project and this series looks like my dream of what that project should look like. Le Sigh! So gorgeous! I think it feels like a video game in all the best of ways (incredibly cool action scenes, character design, etc.) and Adam and I were both really effortlessly drawn into this world (terrific world building!). We deliberately watched it slowly so we wouldn’t finish too quickly — always the mark of a great series! All the voice work is terrific as well but I have to call out Hailee Steinfeld’s Vi as especially great. I love her so much here. Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson from DICKINSON, Vi from ARCANE, AND Kate Bishop from HAWKEYE all in one year? That is some god tier stuff, guys! 5/5
MARE OF EASTTOWN (HBO MAX) — Ah, my heart truly lies in Detective and PI fiction. I ache for great detective stories and this was one of the best I’ve seen in a while (maybe THE best since UNBELIEVABLE?) It’s a heartbreaking and fascinating story that has a ton of twists and turns, but none of them feel unearned or out of the blue. The brass ring in detective fiction is to keep the viewer guessing throughout — for viewers to have theories and ideas and be totally invested, but to not be able to “figure it out” until the final moments. And then, when they see it all revealed — kick themselves for not figuring it out earlier — i.e. all the pieces WERE there, but they were just complicated enough that few could manage to put them together. This is obviously INCREDIBLY HARD to do. Most detective stories vacillate between being too easy to figure out, and being literally impossible (i.e. nobody could have possibly guessed the reveal because it was not properly set up and came out of nowhere). So getting that right alone is… sorta everything. Mare of Easttown has it. And then it has a perfect cast, incredible writing, powerful performances… it’s GOT IT ALL. 5/5
SUCCESSION (S3 — HBO MAX) — God. Did anyone NOT watch SUCCESSION this year? I felt like everyone I knew was talking about it and that was… REALLY FUN! With streaming we really seem to have lost the “water cooler” aspect of talking about shows (although some of that is also that there’s simply so much content) and with Succession S3 this year I really felt like it was the first time in a while that everyone was talking about a show at the same time. I missed that. And Succession continues to be an absolutely brutal and shocking and sometimes hilarious show full of characters that I mostly hate but also sometimes can’t help loving — and then am immediately punished for thinking that maybe they’re “the good one” — spoiler alert — they’re not. Nobody in this show is good! I also want to give a weird recommendation. After finishing Season 3, I went back and watched the S1 E1, just out of curiosity. And long story short… I rewatched the whole goddamn thing (all three seasons!) and if you can find the time, I highly recommend it. If you’ve just finished S3 you can probably get by with just re-watching S1 and S2, but I found it even more engrossing and impressive to re-watch the earlier seasons. And it really highlighted for me how smart and careful the writers are being with these characters and stories and the cyclical nature of it all. Fascinating. Also a great re-watch for writers everywhere — the voice of SUCCESSION (and some of the characters specifically) is just so specific and fascinating. 5/5
MAID (S1 — NETFLIX) — This left an indelible impression on me. I burned through it fast and I think about it all the time. There’s a device used throughout the series (though it’s more prominent in the early episodes) where they do literal math on the screen of how much money our vulnerable lead character has — and it’s one of the most effective narrative devices I’ve ever seen. But I don’t even really know how to describe this show — it’s a story of one woman (and her child) and her survival through all kinds of trauma and abuse — but it’s also the story of a lot of other women (from all walks of life) that she comes into contact with in her attempt to rebuild her life. There are men here too… and I think they are pretty fairly rendered and that’s heartbreaking too. The first time a woman helped our lead character with no hidden agenda or motivations — I burst into tears. Kindness can do that. There’s a lot of horror here but it’s littered with lifelines of kindness and thus I cried repeatedly while watching this show. Every woman I’ve talked to that watched this show (from my mother to my neighbor to my bff, etc.) has loved it and connected to it on a profound level. I’m not kidding when I say indelible impression — I don’t know if the show will ever leave me tbh. It’s a punishing watch in many ways but there’s a lot of hope in it — the hope of getting free, of overcoming, of changing, of new starts and never giving up. 5/5
THE EXPANSE (S6 — AMAZON PRIME) — Oh my beloved Expanse. What on earth will I do when you end? One of my favorite TV shows of all time, and certainly my favorite this year. Every season is a bit different — for example S1 has a sort of detective vibe mixed with Sci-Fi, but later seasons pivot away from that. For me, all the seasons are excellent except for S4 which is a huge misfire, but they really impressively got things back on track in S5 — which was a punishing season full of emotional turmoil (in the best way!) I openly wept in the finale and I suspect I will do similarly before this ends. The cast is mostly “unknowns” but they’re incredibly talented and the show is wonderfully diverse - and is especially great at featuring women of color — Drummer, Naomi, Bobbie, and “Krissy” being four of the best characters in the entire series. Fuck, what am I going to do when this ends! There are only two episodes left! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Ahem. Okay. I got myself together. ANYWAY. If you like Sci-Fi and haven’t seen this show, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. It belongs on ALL of those Best TV of All Time lists. It’s certainly on mine. #DRUMMER4EVA 5/5
Also notable and very much worth your time:
Y THE LAST MAN (S1 - HULU) - Sorta devastated this one doesn’t look like it’s going to continue to be honest. It took a few episodes for me to warm up to it (I think some of that is just simply that I already know the story from the comics and initially they were hewing pretty close to those beats - so a lot of the things that would be surprising for viewers, for me, not so much). But I really fell in love with the characters (355, Dr. Mann, yes, even Yorick), and I think they made VERY smart choices in the changes they made (very necessary ones), and especially when Dr. Allison Mann enters (episode 5-ish?) the show really begins to understand what it is and leans into it beautifully. There are some missteps (Hero’s storyline only sorta works and is the most frustrating for me despite Olivia Thirlby continuing to be a badass in every single thing she’s in) that keep it from being a Top 10 show for me, but it easily makes a Top 20 of the year for me. ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (S1 - HULU) - I understand the name of this show, it totally makes sense, but I trip on it every. single. time. That feels like a flaw. Anyway, this was fun. I think it peaks early, which is a shame, but it’s still a fun little mystery. Steve Martin and Martin Short are so watchable together — their characters are perfectly constructed and hilarious. Performance wise I think Selena Gomez is unfortunately the weak link here… but that’s really only because Martin and Short are so effortless together? WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (S3 - HULU/FX) — Another great season. I think, not my favorite season? Which is why it doesn’t make the Top 10, but it’s still eminently watchable. And does a great job of pushing its characters forward and not letting them stagnate — maybe this season more than any of the others before. I can’t believe I was skeptical of this when I first heard they were making it into a TV show. What a fool I was! #NADIA4EVA. THE HANDMAID’S TALE S5 (HULU) — So, I initially loved THT, but then toward the end of S3 (?) I got annoyed with it and moved on. But I came back this year and caught up and I think, while not as good as the first season or two, it’s still really powerful and has leaned away from the things I didn’t like in S3. It’s definitely pushing into new ground here — some of which I’m worried about. But I think it’s still really watchable and sometimes brilliant — and considering the political climate in this country, kind of necessary viewing. THE MORNING SHOW (S2 — APPLE TV) — I don’t know why nobody is watching this? Or maybe they are and just aren’t talking about it? It tackles really uncomfortable and complicated subject matter (Me Too stuff - for example) and it’s not so much that I think they’re doing it SO brilliantly… it’s just that I don’t see anybody else even really trying? Or at least not trying to really show how complicated this shit is — and showing a lot of different perspectives — rather than picking a high ground and throwing stones. Even though the cast is great, I still feel that either Aniston or Witherspoon is miscast (they’re too close in age for them to completely make sense in their roles — mostly I lean toward Witherspoon isn’t young enough for her role and so it breaks the formula a little bit?) but it’s no deal breaker. If you’re interested in super complicated stories with no clear “right answer” you should check this out. HACKS (S1 — HBO MAX) — What an awesome surprise. I wasn’t in love with the first episode of this but it just gets better and better and better as it goes. Truly funny and sharp and unflinching, it’s a sometimes bizarre but super rewarding watch. Bonus points because one of my favorite (and most underappreciated) actors — Paul W. Downs — not only plays a fun role here but is the co-creator! WANDAVISION (S1 — DISNEY+) — It made me cry. More than once. Not sure we need to say more than that? HARLEY QUINN (S1 & S2 — HBO MAX) — I don’t know why I waited so fucking long to watch this show but it’s so good that I basically never want to write Harley Quinn (and crew) because this is perfect and… I can’t do better than this?
I read fewer comics this year than most years and a lot those read were for work, so not necessarily what I would seek out on my own (and also not something I can easily talk about here - at least not now). It all comes out to a couple hundred comics and probably about another 20 - 25 graphic novels read. A very light year for me overall. But it still absolutely obliterates my book reading, which was nearly nothing. Shameful. Definitely have that on the list of things to do better on this year. So I’m just going to hit a few that really blew my mind since this is so long already and I’ll try to do better at calling these things out over the year as I go, instead of in one big lump at the end.
WONDER WOMAN: HISTORIA: THE AMAZONS (DC BLACK LABEL) — A stunning feast for the eyes by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phil Jimenez, and Clayton Cowles. Colors by Hi-Fi, Arif Prianto, & Romulo Fajardo Jr. It’s truly a visual smorgasbord — every inch covered in beauties and horrors. Wildly creative in new expressions of characters so known to us that they make up the modern archetypes on which we rely (often without even knowing it). And the words — cutting and cruel in their truth, powerful in how they lay all that bare. I LOVE IT. Honestly, it’s the Amazon story my soul has been crying out for… for literal decades.
THE NICE HOUSE ON THE LAKE (DC BLACK LABEL) — Rarely has a number 1 issue hit me as hard and excited me as much as the first issue of James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martinez Bueno, and Jordie Bellaire’s first issue of TNHOTH (lettering by Andworld Design). Mind-blowingly beautiful, perfect tonal pitch, incredible hook…just a home run of an issue. It does literally everything right. And while I haven’t loved every single thing in the five issues that have followed it this year, I have loved ALMOST every single thing. It’s my favorite Tynion project so far and given his output (in the past two years alone!) that is… HIGH PRAISE. If you like horror even a little bit, I urge you to check it out. It’s a bunch of absolute rock star creators playing at the highest level. I can’t wait for more.
WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE (IMAGE) — It’s annoying when your good friends put out books this good and then you have to quietly seethe in the corner with your jealousy. But ANYWAY, let’s talk about WTFPFH, Matthew Rosenberg, Tyler Boss, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou newest creator-owned together. It’s so damn good! It’s got this incredible apocalyptic world-building, terrific characters, pitch perfect art and colors, all centered around a delicious (and possibly terrifying — anytime there are people in animal masks I’m terrified, okay?) mystery. If you’re familiar with Rosenberg and Boss’s 4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK (and you should be, it’s brilliant!) then I think you’ll really like this too. They’re very different stories, but it just feels like your favorite band playing an all-new album together, y’know? Only two issues are out right now, so there’s plenty of time to catch up if you missed this when it first released. Get on it!
THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE CARTOONIST (DRAWN & QUARTERLY) — I’ve been a fan of Adrian Tomine almost as long as I’ve been reading comics and this is one of my favorite things he’s done. I love a good autobiographical story… and cartoonists doing it this well is even better. Tomine is a master of indie comics and has been at the top of his field for a looooong time and yet everything he does always feels new and passionate to me. This is no exception — Insightful, beautiful, and sometimes cringe (lots of us make these mistakes — too relatable! Ahhhh!) Tomine’s clean tight style is so controlled but feels so easy and effortless, the damn thing reads like butter. If you like indie comics or autobio comics, I urge you check it out!
HUMAN TARGET (DC BLACK LABEL) — Wow. There are a few versions of what a perfect comic book looks like to me, and this Greg Smallwood Mid-Century Modern masterpiece is absolutely one of them. This is a book where every single little element is considered and perfectly chosen. Tonally on point from cover to title block to font to credits page to story to art to colors to EVERYTHING. It’s perfect. And hell, I love the story too. We’re only 3 issues in, but each one has been absolutely terrific. I love when Tom King does these incredibly clever and emotional deep dives into “lesser” characters. Before this book I couldn’t have given two shits about Christopher Chance/Human Target. Now I couldn’t be more invested. That’s the power of a terrific book from an all-star team. This is perfect detective noir meets superheroes by Tom King, Greg Smallwood, an Clayton Cowles and I hope you’re ALL reading it!
CATCH & RELEASE: A MURDER BOOK STORY — This gorgeous black and white crime story is my favorite thing Ed Brisson has done in a while — and that’s saying a lot as I’m a big fan of his work. But he really is so at home in devastating crime stories. With gorgeous, understated, but effortless feeling black and white art from Leandro Estherren and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou bringing deft lettering full of personality, this one is a home run. The core of this story is a really human tale that feels just a little too relatable (we all fuck up!), which is what makes it all the more devastating as things unfold. Estherren’s art is a real breath of fresh air too - incredibly detailed and perceptive in its storytelling, without ever losing that looseness that makes it feel alive. I’d read hundreds of pages of this stuff. Get to work, guys!
HELLIONS (MARVEL) — When you read as many superhero comics as I do, it’s pretty hard to stand out from the pack. But boy do I love it when someone takes a lot of weird misfit characters, jams them together and then throws them into equally bizarre scenarios and it somehow becomes the best (and funniest) superhero book I’m reading. Like that’s some A+ game right there. Zeb Wells, Stephen Sergovia, David Curiel, and Ariana Maher make a hilarious and terrifying book that has NO RIGHT to work the way it does…and yet, are these my favorite characters now? I mean, maybe we shouldn’t go that far, but I never cared a damn about Sinister, Nanny, Orphan Maker, Greycrow, Wildchild, OR Empath… and yet, I love them all now? I literally cried about some of the shit these people went through (the Kwannon and Havok stuff is good too I just already liked them). And I honestly never thought anyone could make me like Mr. Sinister, but under Zeb Wells he’s maybe my favorite X-Men villain? WHAT?! I know, I know! Some of Zeb Wells lines chilled me to the bone…and two pages later I was howling with laughter. WHAT IS THIS WITCHCRAFT?! The art team handles it all with such style — pivoting from horror to comedy effortlessly. I will miss this fucking book, you guys.
DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL (DC) — I love a good alternate reality story. I especially love it with big well-established characters — seeing them twisted into “what if” shapes is endlessly interesting to me. So Tom Taylor, Yasmine Putri, Arif Prianto, and Wes Abbott’s DKOS could not be hitting my sweet spot more. It’s beautiful and devastating (like most things Taylor writes) and it re-forms the characters in wonderful (and often much appreciated!) ways. Putri’s art is lovely and powerful, and it feels pretty solidly “traditional superhero style” which helps all the characters stay really recognizable, despite their tweaks in this new world. Putri is also incredibly nimble — pivoting effortlessly between Taylor’s humor/heart and his shocking violence — a must for any artist working with Taylor I’d think! There are only three issues out so far (it’s a 12-issue Maxi Series) and my only complaint at this point is that 12 issues is way too little. Gonna need more of this plz.
SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN (BOOM) — Here’s a confession about how good SIKTC is: even though I loved every issue, when the main/first story ended and I saw that the next arc was exploring Erica’s origin story, I thought I was probably done. Even though it was one of my favorite reads of the year, I’m so bored of origin stories, that just the idea of it made me want to check out. But because the book has been a NEVER MISS BADASS OF A BOOK, I decided to try the first issue (by James Tynion IV, Werther Dell’edera, Miquel Muerto, and Andworld Design). And thank the gods I did… because holy shit I loved it. I think I even loved it more than the original Erica story? Like…how is that possible? Well, part of it is that Tynion manages a story that, despite being an origin story, still feels unique and important; but the larger part is that Dell’edera took his art to even greater heights in this story — really exploring his style a little bit — his young Erica is impossibly adorable and vulnerable and yet as fierce as the grown woman we know her as today. So Tynion, Dell’edera, and Muerto are some kind of magicians, guys, because this origin story just locked me into Erica and the world of SIKTC even harder than before — and that is REALLY hard to do in indie comics. Hats off to this team for one of the best creator-owned books of 2020 AND 2021. Amazing stuff.
NEWBURN (IMAGE) — Everyone should be talking about this book from Chip Zdarksy and Jacob Phillips. P.I. stories are hard. You know what’s harder? Done-in-one P.I. stories that absolutely nail it. This book is that. Centered around a P.I. called Newburn who is connected in some way to the mafia, this is smart as hell detective fiction. The first issue includes Newburn recruiting a whip smart assistant who he busts trying to get one over on him (it’s so good!) What can you say about Phillips art? It’s gorgeous and evocative and perfectly fitted to this book. Truly one of the best P.I. books I’ve read in A WHILE and definitely the best one I’ve read that manages to tell complete, devastating, and wholly satisfying stories in a single issue. And then doing it all over again next month. You all need to be reading this!
And what about me? Well, while this year was a nightmare in so many ways, professionally, it was actually a great year for me. Which is weird to say. But it’s what I’ve got to cling to, so I’m clinging to it!
Here’s a snapshot of the books I wrote that published in 2021.
Pictured: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #77 and #78 (Sara Pichelli Cover); BLACK HAMMER: VISIONS #5 (Leonardo Romero Cover); BLACK WIDOW #5 - #12 (Adam Hughes Covers); CAPTAIN MARVEL #25 - #34 (Jorge Molina Cover, Mahmud Asrar Variant Cover, Stephanie Hans Variant Cover, Marco Checchetto Cover, Cary Nord Variant Cover, Marco Checchetto Cover, In-Hyuk Lee Variant Cover, Iban Coello, Iban Coello, Simone Bianchi Variant Cover); DEADPOOL #10 (Gerardo Sandoval Cover); DEADPOOL NERDY 30 (Ed McGuinness Cover); HEART IN A BOX (Meredith McClaren Cover); IT’S JEFF! #1 - 12 (Gurihiru Covers); SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH #5 (Veronica Fish Cover); SILVER COIN #2 (Michael Walsh Cover); and WOLVERINE BLACK WHITE & BLOOD #4 (Khary Randolph Cover).
Looks like a lot (and it is) but 14 of those 39 are shorts (IT’S JEFF!, DEADPOOL: NERDY 30, and WOLVERINE: BLACK, WHITE, & BLOOD) and 1 is a new edition of my graphic novel HEART IN A BOX. And considering everything 2021 threw at us, I’m pretty happy with 24 full length books publishing. I wish it could be more, but though my quantity was certainly diminished this year, I still felt really good about overall quality. And given the year we all had, that ain’t bad.
So yeah, I wrote a bunch of comics, those books got on a bunch of “best of lists,” we won an Eisner (!), and thanks to Substack I’m on the verge of launching a bunch of creator-owned stuff that I couldn’t be more excited about, and partnering with some of the best in the business to do it. Though things have been rough, that’s a pretty great end to the year. I feel proud and happy about it.
But I’m also very much aware how much I owe all of that to YOU - the last bit especially as we dive headlong into this year of new creator-owned books. I’m excited and scared and nervous and elated and I’m so glad you guys are going on this journey with me. It’s always a bit less scary when you have friends with you.
So here’s to 2022 and may it be better than the last couple years for us all. Love you guys. <3
Arcane was my surprise show of the year. Heard so many things about it and give it a try and… wow. Had no clue about anything going into it. Favorite animated project of 2021 easily. Seems like Hailee Steinfeld is everywhere these days (and killing it in each role).
Thanks for sharing your top stuff from 2021. Caught myself nodding vigorously in agreement with some of it and am curious to check out the rest. Your work for sure buoyed big chunks of the year for me, so thanks for that!