After a little bit of a break from this column, it’s time once again to look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics in Comics Disassembled, led by a fun team up that’s just getting started.
1. DSTLRY and Kodansha, Doing Interesting Things
We knew that there was a relationship between manga giant Kodansha and the up-and-coming comics publisher DSTLRY, as the former (or at least Kodansha USA) was an early investor in the latter. Now, that financial relationship has crossed over into the creative side, while, you know, maintaining one foot on the financial one. It seems that the two houses and their artists will create covers for one another, starting with The Flowers of Evil’s mangaka Shūzō Oshimi delivering the above piece for the third and final issue of Becky Cloonan and Tula Lotay’s Somna at DSTLRY.
While it’s the first, it won’t be the last, as this will be an ongoing exchange program. I’ll be interested to see how that program works the other way, as variants aren’t quite as typical for manga as they are for single issue title’s like Somna. Perhaps artists like Cloonan, Lotay, and others will provide regular covers for manga volumes? That sounds unlikely, but I suppose that’s one thing we’ll discover later about this budding partnership. But what I’ll say is this: This is a smart move by DSTLRY. While Kodansha’s value is less clear, I like this. It’s unconventional, like much of what DSTLRY is doing, but it’s a fun way to expand your potential audience and to expose people to other artists. I’m not sure if a cover from Oshimi is enough to get manga fans to try and read Somna, particularly considering that this is the final issue and DSTLRY famously does not do reprints or offer digital issues outside the initial week. But it’s an interesting idea, and I can see the logic there.
I’ll be watching this one, and I hope to see this relationship expand down the line. Building a connection between two major parts of the comic book world – manga and direct market comics – isn’t just wise, but arguably a necessity for those who want to see a stronger future in the comic shop space.
2. ShortBox, Closing Up (and Offering Deals)
As you may or may not know, comics publisher ShortBox — one of my absolute favorites, and home to my favorite comic of 2023, Lucie Bryon’s Ocean — is nearing its end. Zainab Akhtar’s closing up shop on February 29th, and she’s doing everything she can to move as many comics as possible in advance of that. Unsurprisingly, that means sales, with the two discounted items this week being Hana Chatani’s Pass the Baton and Lissa Treiman’s Eisner-nominated (and one of my own Comics of 2019) Minotaar, both of which are going for £5. That’s a screaming deal for great comics, and one you should go after. But with ShortBox closing up shop, let me emphasize this for you: You should do everything you can to get what you can from them while you can.
What’s available can be found here, but here’s a quick, not exhaustive rundown of what’s worth reading: everything. Okay, that’s pretty exhaustive. So, I’ll give you some specific recommendations based on what I’ve personally enjoyed from what is available:
- Homunculus by Joe Sparrow
- Cuckoo by Joe Sparrow
- I See a Knight by Xulia Vicente
- Don’t Go Without Me by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
- Minotaar by Lissa Treiman
- Sobek by James Stokoe
- Beneath the Dead Oak Tree by Emily Carroll
Those are the ones I’ve read and can wholeheartedly recommend for any and all comic fans. But the rest are no doubt killers as well. With ShortBox heading out, there’s no better time than now to celebrate its wonderful run as one of the best to do it. If you’re in the market for some great comics, get on this now before it’s too late.