Superior Showcase #3

By Dustin Harbin, Brian Maruca, Laura Park, and Jim Rugg
32 pages, black and white
Published by AdHouse Books

After the fun of AdHouse Books’s Project: Superior, an anthology where independent and alternative artists tackled superheroes, it was easy to see why publisher/editor Chris Pitzer brought about Superior Showcase, a series of comics which lets more comic creators tackle the genre as they see fit. And while I’ve certainly enjoyed both Project: Superior and the issues of Superior Showcase, it’s the latest issue of the showcase book that really grabbed my attention, thanks to one story in particular.

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Johnny Hiro #1-2

By Fred Chao
32 pages, black and white
Published by AdHouse Books

Every now and then, I hear people talking about the idea of going away from single issues of comics (in favor of strictly longer-form graphic novels) and I think to myself, “Would that really be such a bad thing?” What always makes me come to my senses, though, is coming across a comic that uses the single-issue format perfectly. And so, with that in mind, another book to add to that list is Fred Chao’s Johnny Hiro, one that can best be summed up as 32-page bursts of sheer fun.

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Project: Romantic

Edited by Chris Pitzer
256 pages, color
Published by AdHouse Books

Themed anthologies are a tricky proposition. First, you’ve got to have a theme that readers will find interesting enough to want to read. Next, it needs to inspire creators without constricting them so much as to make it unworkable. Last but not least, it needs to avoid being one-note, with the same basic idea getting retreaded by every story in the collection. I think all of that is why AdHouse Books’s Project: Romantic is one of my favorite anthologies to come out in a long while; it avoids all of the pitfalls associated with themed anthologies while hitting numerous highs.

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Noble Boy

By Scott Morse
32 pages, color
Published by Red Window; distributed by AdHouse Books

I have a horrible confession to make; despite having seen a lot of and appreciating classic animation, I know very little about the people behind the scenes that created the works in the first place. That’s why Scott Morse’s Noble Boy seemed like such a dream made true, with his biography of animation great Maurice Noble hopefully illuminating people like myself into his life.

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Bumperboy Loses His Marbles!

By Debbie Huey
96 pages, brown and white
Self-published; distributed by AdHouse Books

This may sound strange, but I felt like I knew Bumperboy even before I read Bumperboy Loses His Marbles! Maybe it’s because for a while now I’ve had friends who’ve been telling me how cute Debbie Huey’s mini-comics are. Maybe it’s all of the great pictures from the Bumperboy website, with a little cardboard stand-up of Bumperboy posing with various people and places all over the world. Or maybe it’s just because Bumperboy looks so cute?

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Process Recess: The Art of James Jean

By James Jean
224 pages, color & black and white
Published by AdHouse Books

If you’ve been to a comic book store lately, you’ve probably seen a cover by James Jean. Jean’s covers are some of the most striking in the industry, gracing books like Fables, Green Arrow, and Batgirl. When I heard that he had an art book about to be released by AdHouse Books, whose design sense is always a selling point on each and every book, I instantly knew that this book would be a winner.

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Skyscrapers of the Midwest #1

By Joshua Cotter
56 pages, black and white
Published by AdHouse Books

For better or for worse, a familiar theme in comics seems to be about the trials and tribulations of childhood. Most of the time you see the subject matter coming a mile away, resulting in good but still fairly predictable stories. Maybe it was the imaginative title of Skyscrapers of the Midwest, or perhaps the cute anthropomorphic cats that make up its cast, but I have to say that in many ways this is one of the few books that genuinely surprised me in quite a while.

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Sequential

By Paul Hornschemeier
256 pages, black and white, with two-color
Published by AdHouse Books

Think back to the first time you tried to do something that requires talent, something that over the years you’ve improved at greatly. Are you cringing? That’s a reaction that most of us have; when you’ve gotten good at something, it’s tough to look back at those earlier, faltering steps. I think that’s what initially intrigued me so much about the new Sequential hardback collection. Paul Hornschemeier’s comics like Mother, Come Home and Return of the Elephant completely enchanted me, so a chance to see his earliest self-published book made me wonder: was Hornschemeier always this good?

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One Step After Another

By Fermin Solis
40 pages, black and white
Published by AdHouse Books

The world of comics is getting smaller, and that’s a good thing. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have imagined that having Spanish comics translated into English would not only be happening on a regular basis, but getting to the point of it being little more than a footnote in the release of a book. One Step After Another‘s hook isn’t that it was originally published in Spain, but that it’s just a genuinely good comic.

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Return of the Elephant

By Paul Hornschemeier
48 pages, two-color
Published by AdHouse Books

One trait that all of my favorite comic creators share is that I never really know what to expect. I’ve just learned that’s true with Paul Hornschemeier, someone who’s quickly moved his way onto that select group. His first issue of Forlorn Funnies was an inventive and humorous mixture of genres and styles, while Mother, Come Home was a meticulously crafted story of loss and remembrance. I thought that maybe I could expect what to get out of his new comic Return of the Elephant. I was wrong.

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