Emanata: Fifteen Excellent Things Happening in Comics Right Now

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Lightning round time. Fifteen things that make me happy about comics right now, in no particular order:

1. Jim Woodring made a seven-foot-tall nib pen called Nibbus Maximus. Then he drew with it in public. Jim Woodring also has a book called Congress of the Animals coming out this spring. If you are wise, you will not miss it.

2. Jenn Manley Lee’s fine webcomic “Dicebox” (that’s an image from it up top) has been growing long enough that there’s going to be a 300-page book collection of the story so far. Go thou and pre-order it.

(More on TIME.com: Emanata: Life Drawings)

3. Cathy Malkasian’s Temperance came out in the middle of last year, and I still don’t know quite what to make of it, which is probably a good sign. It’s a graphic novel about a walled city whose inhabitants have been misled by patriarchal lies to believe that the whole city is actually a mighty ship on an ocean of fire preparing for the final battle of an enormous war; it’s narrated by a tree which is cut down near the beginning of the book and turned into a wooden leg, then a doll that comes to life. It’s lovely to behold, rather difficult, terribly sad, very frustrating in some ways, and absolutely worth looking at.

4. Excellent new comics-related Twitter feed: Comics LongReads (links to long articles about comics).

5. Also, have you noticed that a certain Daily Planet reporter has a fake Twitter? Extra points for the sweet Kurt Schaffenberger icon.

6. Kate Beaton continues to invent new forms of cartooning–in this case, the four-panel strip whose first panel is an old Nancy Drew book cover. And her Hark! A Vagrant strip is going to be collected by Drawn & Quarterly. There are not-infrequent days when I think she may be the funniest artist in North America.

7. Joe Alterio has relaunched Robots and Monsters, a project in which he and other artists draw, well, robots and monsters, to donors’ three-word specifications. The money from donations goes partly to the artist, partly to Doctors Without Borders; artists involved include Gary Panter, Molly Crabapple and Jeannine Schafer.

8. The ongoing wave of reprints of fascinating long-lost comics shows no signs of abating. There’s a new publisher called Picture This Press that’s reprinting work by early 20th-century illustrators and cartoonists; their first three volumes are devoted to E.T. Reed, Frederick Richardson and Eugene Zimmerman–the last of these a new edition of a 1910 book of how-to tips and professional advice called Cartoons and Caricatures, or Making the World Laugh.

9. Speaking of long-lost-and-reclaimed comics: Five months ago, I whined here about eight comics I wanted to see reprinted. Since then, reprints of two of them have been announced: DC’s reprinting Sugar and Spike (in a high-end hardcover edition rather than a little-kid-friendly format, but hey, it’s Sugar and Spike, I’m going to stop complaining now), and Fantagraphics is doing Barnaby.

10. There’s a new and welcome trend of very tightly focused comics Tumblrs: Superheroes Lose (comics covers depicting superheroes in abject defeat); Unmasquerade (panels in which heroes or villains remove their masks); A Nice Cup of Comics (panels in which somebody is drinking tea); A Moment of Moore (something Alan Moore-related every day).

(More on TIME.com: Emanata: Ten Comics We’re Still Waiting For)

11. Not entirely unrelatedly, the reliably entertaining Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun! blog recently pulled off a brilliant bit of self-mocking/selection of very specific comics images: 365 Days with the Guy Freaking Out on the Cover of Action Comics #1.

12. Steve Ditko is still making comics–some of the most eccentric, idiomatic, deeply felt and uncompromising work of his career, totally divorced from anything else that’s happening in the medium. He’s basically writing and drawing a bimonthly 32-page comic book at this point. It’s not easy to read, but it’s fascinating as one of the all-time great crowd-pleasing cartoonists doing work that doesn’t has to please anyone but himself.

13. Craig Thompson’s long-awaited Habibi has finally been scheduled; it’s due out this September!

14. It may just be a side-effect of the in-the-works Judge Dredd movie, but a whole lot of nifty material from the long-running British weekly comic book 2000 A.D. is finally coming back into print–not just the Dredd books, but serials like Strontium Dog and Al’s Baby and Bad Company that I wouldn’t have counted on seeing again in any form other than on yellowing newsprint.

15. How awesome is it that the legendary Japanese cartoonist Osamu Tezuka’s work is (finally, slowly) appearing in print in America? The most recent volume Vertical has published is the intense family tragedy Ayako; next up is The Book of Human Insects (a.k.a. Human Metamorphosis), due out in July.

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