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CLA Annotations 2015


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Our annual top 10 list of best graphic novels for 2015. Presented at the California Library Association's Annual Conference by Jack Baur, Berkeley Public Library and Amanda Jacobs Foust, Consultant.

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CLA Annotations 2015

  1. 1. In the Library With a Comic Book Presents: Favorite Graphic Novels of 2015 by Jack Baur, Casey Gilly, and Amanda Jacobs Foust CLA Annual Conference, November 7th 2015 Note! This list is totally subjective and far from exhaustive! Did we miss your favorites? Let us know! Need more suggestions? Just ask! Reach us at Listen to the podcast at! Kids Allegri, Natasha (auth., illus.), Jackson Garrett (auth.) and various illustrators. Bee and PuppyCat. KaBoom!, 2015. 128p. 978-1608864874. Adorably bizarre, borderline nonsensical, and utterly charming, Bee and PuppyCat is a wonderfully strange book in the spirit of Adventure Time (which Allegri has also worked on). Bee is an unemployed 20-something who is at her wits end when she meets the mysterious PuppyCat who quickly becomes her best friend and introduces her to a cosmic temp agency. Bee takes a series of odd jobs from TempBot that take her to the far reaches of the galaxy, though don’t completely free her mundanity of her own life. The world Allegri has created is cute and quirky, and will definitely appeal to young fans of “magical girl” shojo manga like Sailor Moon or Kitchen Princess. The distinctly older heroine make this title appropriate for Teen collections as well. Camper, Cathy (auth.) and Raul the Third (illus.). Lowriders in Space. Chronicle Books, 2015. 112p. 978- 1452121550. Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria are three best friends who spend their days working on cars at their local car dealership. The trio decides to enter a lowrider competition in order to win the cash to open their own shop, but the only parts they can afford come from the old airplane factory. Of course, when they turn the key in their new ride they are blasted into space on a magical journey through which they are able to customize their car with stars, moon dust, and the like, and enter the competition. This is a true gem of a comic book. Raul’s artwork is dynamic and impressively drawn using red, blue and black ball point pens. Camper employs so much Mexican-American slang that the book is practically bilingual, with helpful footnotes to explain the language to readers of all ages. All-in-all, Lowriders in Space offers a fun blend of science, culture, and fun. Camper and Raul the Third have created an educational and out of this world read, and we’re thrilled that more volumes have already been announced. Holm, Jennifer L. (auth), Matthew Holm (illus.). Sunny Side Up. Graphix, 2015. 224p. 978-0545741668. The sibling duo behind Babymouse, Squish and Comics Squad thoughtfully tackle some heavy issues in their newest collaboration. Sunny is spending her summer in Florida with her Grandfather in his Florida retirement community. She’s bored and lonely despite being lovingly cared for. She’s also haunted by the memory of
  2. 2. some incidents with her older brother that took place before her “vacation.” However, through a developing friendship with Buzz — the son of the immigrant family who maintains the retirement community — and an introduction to the world of comic books, Sunny is eventually able to overcome her bad feelings and more confidently confront the difficulties in her family. Matthew’s spare artwork and the pastel coloring from Long Tail Kitty creator Lark Pien delicately capture the heat of summer. Through Jennifer’s relaxed writing and pacing the reader is allowed to identify and process their own thoughts and feelings about the complications of substance abuse in a close family relative. By turns light and serious, this is a unique book that will serve many members of your community. Jamieson, Victoria. Roller Girl. Dial Books, 2015. 240p. 978-0803740167. The second 12-year old Astrid sees a roller derby match, she knows she is destined to be a derby girl. She signs up for a summer camp where she can learn the ropes, but right away runs into some stumbling blocks: almost all the other girls in the camp are much older than her, and her best friend with whom she has always done everything would rather go to ballet camp with the preppy girls. Alone, Astrid works to overcome her insecurities and hits the rink build her skills in the hopes of living up to her derby idol, Rainbow Bite. A pithy blurb for this book could read “Raina Telgemeier for jocks,” Jamieson injects tween angst with the sense accomplishment that can come with working hard and striving for glory. Bright, fun, and uplifting. Lawson, JonArno. Sidewalk Flowers. Groundwood Books, 2015. 32p. 978-1554984312. A stunningly beautiful, silent graphic novel about a young girl on a walk with her distracted dad, picking flowers as they travel through their town. The pages are mostly black and white at first (the girl’s red coat jumping out from the background) but as she goes along picking and gifting flowers along the way, her simple acts of joy and kindness bring color to the world around her. The book touches on the issue of mortality when the girl stops to place flowers on the body of a bird, creating a brief opportunity to let young readers reflect on how we remember and celebrate the dead. It’s a sad little moment, but as it falls in the course of this otherwise light story it doesn’t bog the book down. Overall the book is full of great little details of the girl’s town and community, and young readers will want to walk with her again and again. Lucke, Deb. The Lunch Witch. Papercutz, 2015. 180p. 978-1629911625. Grunhilda comes from a long line of witches but, in today’s world, her magical abilities are undervalued and her witchcraft doesn’t pay the bills. Faced with certain starvation, she hits the job market and it turns out that witches make outstanding lunch ladies. Grunhilda’s luck takes a turn for the worse when a student discovers her witchy secret and blackmails her into using her spells for good, which angers the ancestors. A great amount of thought and consideration went into the development and design of this book. The pages are printed to look greasy and stained, as if it had been left too long in a cafeteria or witch’s house. The color scheme is a range of swampy green-ish grays, and the artwork has a casual feel that adds a gothic touch. Lucke’s storytelling is concise and shot through with dark humor reminiscent of Roald Dahl. Naifeth, Ted. Princess Ugg. Oni Press, 2015. 120p. 978-1620101780. Princess Ulga isn’t your typical fairy tale princess. Instead of a refined, boy-crazy fashion plate, Ulga has lived a practical, rough and tumble life -- outdoors, hands-on, with plenty of fighting! But in honor of her Mother’s dying wish, Ulga goes down the mountain to attend Princess Academy. There she finds herself in an unfamiliar world of mean girls only interested in marrying the right prince. Despite being at odds with nearly everyone
  3. 3. Ulga won’t quit and is determined to stick it out. The storyline has roots in both Norse mythology and medieval fairy tales, and features plenty of female protagonists and fun action. Pien, Lark. Long Tail Kitty: Come Out and Play. Blue Apple Books, 2015. 80p. 978-1609053949. At long last, Pien returns to Long Tail Kitty (2009) with five new stories that introduce new friends. Long Tail Kitty embarks on whimsical adventures focusing on life and friendship in a way that is full of charm and magic. Pien’s straightforward art and lettering combined with her thoughtful use of color and creative panel designs will make this a favorite bedtime story. Stevenson, Noelle (auth.), Grace Ellis (auth.) and Brooke Allen (illus.). Lumberjanes vol. 1. BOOM! Box, 2015. 128p. 978-1608866878. Friendship to the max! The Lumberjanes are brave and hilarious scouts whose forays into the woods around their summer camp quickly reveal supernatural adventures. This winning new series stars a group of girls who represent a wide range of cultures, body types, interests, and orientations. The plots are simple and fun, and full of messages about being interested in the world around you, confident in your own abilities, and always trusting in your friends. So much more positive the catty drama that typifies so many books of this genre! Girls and guys will both be clamoring for future volumes. Thompson, Craig. Space Dumpins. Graphix, 2015. 320p. 978-0545565417. After two tremendously popular (and just plain tremendous) books for older readers, the creator of Blankets (2003) and Habibi (2011) brings his gifts for sensitive storytelling and imaginative design to kids comics. Violet’s dad has a job refining the poop of space whales into a valuable fuel that powers most of the galaxy. But dad is away on a secret mission when a dangerous spill of whale diarrhea threatens Violet’s sector, so she sets out to find him with an epileptic chicken and an ill-tempered Lumpkin as her companions. If this all sounds insane, well… it kind of is. But thoughtful characterizations, fascinatingly detailed illustrations, and sharp commentary about energy security keep the story grounded and engaging; the scatological weirdness provides a Captain Underpants-esque hook for young readers. It’s a book that is every bit as deep, as thoughtful, and as gorgeously unique as you’d expect from Thompson. Teens Aaron, Jason (auth.) and John Cassaday (illus.). Star Wars : Skywalker Strikes. Marvel, 2015. 160p. 978- 0785192138. After reading the first issue of this new, canonical series, Jack leaned back and said “So THIS is what it feels like to be excited around Star Wars again!” After decades of bad prequel movies and inconsistent comics by small- time creators, Marvel’s re-launch of Star Wars (after reacquiring the license from Dark Horse) by two of the industry’s biggest names serves as one hell of a mission statement. Taking place right after the destruction of the first Death Star (so between the original Star Wars movie and Empire Strikes Back), this series opens with Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie attacking an Imperial weapons factory. After a fretful encounter with Darth Vader, Luke goes off to learn more about the Jedi Knights while Leia wrestles with her new leadership role in the rebellion. Every aspect of this book -- the plot, the dialogue, the art, and the pace of the action -- is spot-on, expertly capturing the look and feel of the classic movies. As you read you can hear a young Harrison Ford delivering the pitch-perfect dialogue over the clash of lightsabers. By expanding the story of the classic Star Wars movies, Aaron and Cassaday deliver an exciting book that deals equally in nostalgia and the anticipation
  4. 4. of the new film adventures. Also check out Keiron Gillen and Salvador Larocca’s contemporaneous Darth Vader (2015) series, which is every bit as good as this. Both are necessary purchases. Aaron, Jason (auth.) and Russell Dautermann (illus.). Thor: Goddess of Thunder. Marvel, 2015. 136p. 978- 0785192381. Thor has become unworthy of his beloved and magical hammer Mjolnir and is now known as Odinson. A woman, her identity unknown, proves worthy of the hammer and is transformed into a new Thor! Facing an attack from the Frost Giants and their allies, she is now positioned to protect the Earth, even if she must also endure challenges and conflict from Odinson. Aaron’s writing is deft and action-packed while Dautermann’s art is fluid and vivid. The character development around the former Thor and the ways his family, friends and colleagues cope with his loss of Mjolnir and his title is compelling and surprising. But the star of the show is the new Goddess of Thunder, who is a fascinating character in her own right. The mystery of her identity is sure to keep Marvel fans intrigued. Beaton, Kate. Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection Drawn and Quarterly, 2015. 160p. 978- 1770462083 Back in 2007, Beaton began a web comic combining her loves of historical figures, classic literature, and Shakespeare, mashing them up to confront life in modern times. With her combination of razor sharp, often surreal humor and expressive cartooning, the web comic was an instant hit. This is the second collection of her comic and it does not disappoint. Hilariously funny, smart, and satirical, Beaton examines literary tropes, feminism and pop culture. Beaton’s mastery of history is approachable, and her cartoons educate without condescending. This series will work well in either Teen or Adult collections. Cloonan, Becky (auth.), Brendan Fletcher (auth.) and Karl Kerschel (illus.). Gotham Academy vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham. DC Comics, 2015. 150p. 978-1401254728. Gotham Academy takes the usual tropes of a mystery set in a “special” boarding school and sends them for a spin around Planet Batman. Olive Silverlock can’t remember what happened over the summer, but she knows it was something traumatic. Despite the unsettling holes in her memory, she’s still starting a new year at Gotham Academy where she’s tasked with providing freshman Maps Mizoguchi (the younger sister of her estranged boyfriend) an orientation to the school. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a Gotham City boarding school, complete with secret passageways, a haunting, secret society, and visits from weirdo benefactors like Bruce Wayne. Olive is a compelling protagonist and Cloonan piles on the mysteries in the plot. Meanwhile Fletcher’s art spotlights appealing character designs and manga-inflected style. An enjoyable read for teens, sans the baggage of decades of DC continuity that can bog down other titles. Frakes, Colleen. Prison Island: A Graphic Memoir. Zest Books, 2015. 192p. 978-1942186021. Colleen and her family grew up in unique circumstances. Her parents worked in prisons and their longest assignment had them both living and working on the last prison island in the United States. The island was restricted to prisoners, employees and families -- a tiny community connected to the mainland by ferry. Growing up in these circumstances provided its own challenges; they had to take precautions so that escaped prisoners couldn’t use their pool toys to reach the mainland, and getting a pizza delivered was nearly impossible. The artwork here is spare and intimate, cleverly employing a “jumpsuit orange” palette. Frakes’ storytelling is similarly straightforward, drawing equally on memory and research. She treats all of her subjects with sensitivity and fairness, providing a balanced and compassionate view of the challenges prisoners and
  5. 5. prison staff often face when trying to work together. This is the rare book that addresses prison life that you could hand to a teen who has a relative serving time. Morrison, Grant (auth.) with various illustrators. Multiversity. DC Comics, 2015. 448p. 978-1401256821. Visit the many different worlds of the DC Universe with the inimitable Grant Morrison as your guide! This collection of stories does contain an overarching narrative about a cosmic menace that poses an existential and ideological threat to every world of the DC Universe, but honestly that’s not why you read this it. You read it because Morrison — widely regarded as the foremost craftsman, rule-breaker, and thinker in all of superhero comics — is having his way with 75 years of comics history and working with some of the most gifted artists in the biz. In a series of standalone chapters, you’ll experience a world where superheroes are narcissistic celebrities; a sideways re-telling of Watchmen; a fourth-wall shattering meta-comic in which the reader is both the savior and the destroyer; and A FREAKING NAZI SUPERMAN. These stories represent some of the best single issues of comics to hit the stands in decades, told with a wit and verve that are unparalleled. No reader is going to understand it all, but every reader will find something to thrill them. North, Ryan (auth.) and Erica Henderson (illus.). Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Marvel Comics, 2015. 2 volumes, ongoing. Doreen Green is Squirrel Girl and she’s starting college in her first solo series. She has to navigate moving into her dorm, bonding with her roommate, maintaining her secret identity and balancing her workload while maintaining her superhero duties. Luckily, she’s great at saving the world. Her enthusiasm and can-do attitude combined with her intelligence and love of all things squirrel help her emerge from every conflict victorious. In this delightful and fun series, North brings a silly sense of humor and his habit of adding hilarious, nearly illegible footnotes to every page. Meanwhile Henderson compliments the story with oddly flat but light- hearted and expressive art. Doreen in particular is carefully presented with a realistic body, but all of the characters are thoughtfully and adorably drawn. Vol. 1: Squirrel Power. 2015. 128p. 978-0785197027. Vol. 2: Squirrel You Know It’s True. 2015. 112p. 978-0785197034. Remender, Rick (auth.) and Jerome Opeña (illus.). Avengers: Rage of Ultron. Marvel, 2015. 112p. 978- 0785190400. The unexpected return of Ultron finds the Avengers much different than their past encounter, while Ultron’s plan to eradicate life on Earth remains unchanged. Remender’s storyline focuses on the tensions between Hank Pym (Ant-Man) and The Vision as they struggle to overcome Ultron’s plan of destruction, but also focuses closely on the responsibility and dynamics of fatherhood. Vision and Ultron are both cybernetic consciousnesses created by Pym, so when Pym suggests that Ultron need be destroyed and strives to justify radical measures, Vision is understandably upset. In addition to these heady concerns, this book soars in delivering classic Avengers action, with fan-favorite characters bouncing off of each other in thrilling ways. This is a fun, fast read for fans of the recent Age of Ultron movie looking for more. Tamaki, JIllian. SuperMutant Magic Academy. Drawn and Quarterly, 2015. 224p. 978-1770461987. Collecting the strips of Tamaki’s long running webcomic, this hilarious and surreal graphic novel follows the lives of high school students at a prep school for gifted and magical teens. Wavering between existential melodrama, budding romance, quiet intergalactic adventures and supernatural academics, a cohesive story
  6. 6. develops that sees the teens through a school year. While the nerd culture jokes will appeal to fans of Harry Potter and X-Men, the story captures all readers thanks to Tamaki’s utterly twisted humor and instantly relatable characters. SuperMutant Magic Academy has been the winner of two Ignatz awards and this volume includes brand-new comics, never before published. Zdarsky, Chip (auth.) and Joe Quinones (auth.). Howard the Duck, vol 0: What the Duck? Marvel, 2015. 112p. 978-0785197720. Zdarsky, the artist behind the mega-successful and wildly funny Sex Criminals, dips his beak in to some more family-friendly fare. The feathered hero opens up a new private duck… er, private dick agency and immediately runs a fowl… er, AFOUL of some of dangerous villains, intergalactic collectors, and geriatric kleptomaniacs. Throughout it all, Howard’s cynical and self-aware sense of humor and Zdarsky’s non-stop punning keeps the action fast and funny. It’s interesting that Marvel’s two most enjoyable and accessible series right now are this and Squirrel Girl, both charming and humorous piss-takes of their otherwise deadly serious superhero books. Here’s hoping this sense of fun proves to have some legs… and wings! Adults Brubaker, Ed (auth.) and Sean Phillips (illus.). The Fade Out. Image Comics. 2015. 2 volumes, ongoing. Hollywood, 1948. A dead starlet. A studio cover-up. Nothing is as it seems. Screenwriter Charlie Parish knows that Valeria Sommers didn’t commit suicide, because he was there. Passed out drunk, but he was there. Now he has to untangle what happened that night while also keeping his own secrets. Longtime collaborators Brubaker and Phillips have teamed up once again to produce what may prove to be their greatest work. Brubaker is never better than when he is working with a noir setting and he flawlessly grounds his fictional characters and settings by incorporating historical details and real-life Hollywood lore. Phillips moody artwork sets the tone and compliments the story perfectly. The third and final volume is due next year. Act 1. 2015. 120p. 978-1632151711. Act 2. 2015. 120p. 978-1632154477. DeConnick, Kelly Sue (auth.) and Valentine de Landro (illus.). Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine. Image Comics, 2015. 136p. 978-1632153661. In a world run by the patriarchal Fathers, women who don’t conform to rigorous social standards of dress, beauty, and etiquette are labeled “non-compliant” and sent to a hellish off-planet prison. Fan-favorite DeConnick combines tropes from women-in-prison exploitation films, dystopian sci-fi, and a heavy dose of feminism and delivers it with a powerful and careful voice. The plot constantly twists and turns to reveal new complexities at each page, carried by de Landro’s inspired art. All the women of Bitch Planet are written and drawn as unique individuals, none more so than defiantly fat Penny Rolle, who loves herself just as she is, thank you, and is ready to fight to stay that way. There is nothing subtle about this series; it is purposely loud, angry and in your face in all the right ways. A must-buy for libraries with proudly “non-compliant” patrons.
  7. 7. de Campi, Alex (auth.) and Carla Speed McNeil (illus.). No Mercy. Image Comics, 2015. 120p. 978- 1632154439. A service trip to Central America goes catastrophically wrong for a group of students traveling abroad the summer before they start college. Within hours of touching down, their bus crashes in an isolated area and the survivors must make hard decisions about how to survive while maintaining their own secrets and alliances. What could be a typical coming of age story quickly devolves into horror as de Campi does not hesitate to brutally portray death and destruction while maintaining a brisk storytelling pace. McNeil’s artwork is energetic and colorful which calls the shocking violence into stark relief. More installments are on the way. Gillen, Kieron (auth.) and Jamie McKelvie (illus.). The Wicked + The Divine. Image Comics. 2014-2015. 2 volumes, ongoing. Every 90 years, a cross-cultural group of gods known as the Pantheon is resurrected. For two years, they are the biggest stars on the planet. And then they die. In the year 2014, near the beginning of the latest Recurrence of the Pantheon, Lucifer is framed for murder and Laura, a twentysomething fan, wants to find out why. The Wicked + The Divine (known as “WicDiv” to the series’ fans) is the latest collaboration by the team behind Phonogram and Young Avengers (2013-2014) and here they are really letting loose. By mapping gods from across human history on modern rock stars, Gillen gets to explore the 21st Century’s obsessive fascination with fame and power while also delivering a grand, cosmic mystery and a sprawling cast of diverse characters. McKelvie’s clear artwork is in top-form as well. He has an unparallelled eye for design, from the characters’ fashions to the experimental layouts. WicDiv is definitely worth every reader’s devotion. Vol. 1: The Faust Act. 2014. 144p. 978-1632150196. Vol. 2: Fandemonium. 2015. 168p. 978-1632150196. Kirkman, Robert (auth.) and Paul Azaceta (illus.). Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta. Image Comics, 2015-present. 2 volumes, ongoing. The writer of The Walking Dead brings us a different kind of horror epic. Kyle Barnes has always been haunted by insanity and violence, and has all but given up on having anything resembling a normal life. But then, a chance encounter points to a chilling explanation: demonic possession! It seems that demons are drawn to Kyle, and he possesses a unique ability to fight them. With the help of the unorthodox Reverend Anderson, he struggles to help others suffering at the hands of evil, but is now also in the crosshairs of even darker forces. Outcast is a book whose horror simmers. Kirkman’s gift for characterization is in full effect here, and he devotes a lot of pages to fleshing Kyle and his family out into believable people. Artist Paul Azaceta brings a dark palette and deft pacing to the story, further drawing out the tension. I love the little call-out panels that Azaceta employs throughout, drawing the reader’s attention to little details and reactions. This is a series that’s taking its time getting going, but it has enough sinister thrills to keep readers enthralled. Soon to be a television show, so jump on now! Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him. 2015. 152p. 978-1632150530. Vol. 2: A Vast and Unending Ruin. 2015. 128p. 978-1632154484. Luce, Ed. Wuvable Oaf. Fantagraphics, 2015. 264p. 978-1606998168. Set at the unlikely junction of San Francisco’s gay scene and its heavy metal scene, Wuvable Oaf is an equally unlikely love story. Oaf is a large, hairy, gay man who is obsessed with cats, Morrissey, and heavy metal. He’s also endearingly naive about the ways of love, and while many men desire him sexually (he’s a prototypical
  8. 8. “bear” in the parlance of the scene) Oaf is really looking for romance. Enter Eiffel, the diminutive but forceful lead singer of the speed metal band Ejaculoid. Oaf falls head-over-heels and soon is hitting the road with the band on their big tour. There’s also some stuff about demonically-possessed cats and Oaf’s secret identity as a beloved luchador. It’s all very weird and idiosyncratic, obviously representing the obsessions of creator Ed Luce, who has been self-publishing the book for nearly a decade. It’s also occasionally explicit, though without ever being porny. Mostly, it’s just so full of charm and fun that mature readers of all orientations are sure to find something to love. McCloud, Scott. The Sculptor. First Second, 2015. 496p. 978-1596435735. McCloud is a treasure in the world of comics. He’s the creator of the groundbreaking Understanding Comics, a warm and charming advocate for taking comics seriously as an art form, and a restless experimenter in his own right. The Sculptor is the first long-form narrative work he’s done in more than two decades, and it’s clear that every moment he’s spent thinking about how and why comics work has gone into this book, as each one of its nearly 500 pages has something fascinating happening on it. The story about the titular sculptor who makes a Faustian bargain -- the ability to manipulate any physical material in exchange for only 200 days of life -- lets McCloud muse on the power of artistic expression, legacy, and the balance between creating and living. It’s a thoughtful and moving work of comic art by the medium’s foremost theorist. McGuire, Richard. Here. Pantheon, 2015. 304p. 978-0375406508. One space, millions of years of history. Here is a bold experiment in comics and a completely unique work of art in that the reader’s field of vision never changes, but panels are used to indicate events happening decades or centuries apart all occurring in the same, fixed space. Imagine a movie in which the camera stays perfectly still but ghosts of events flicker in and out of the frame and you’ll get the idea. The result is simple, sublime, and surprisingly accessible. Not a book for everyone (plot is nonexistent and the jumbled chronology makes following the characters difficult) but rewarding for those with an interest in the art of comics. Snyder, Scott (auth.) and Jock (illus.). Wytches, vol. 1. Image Comics, 2015. 144p. 978-1632153807. Doing horror in comics is hard. The writer and artist have a limited control over the pace that readers get information, making the cultivation of suspense a challenge and jump scares a near impossibility. So leave it to the all-star team of Snyder and Jock to deliver what is probably the most frightening comic of all time. The Rook family moves to the town of Litchfield, NH to get a fresh start after the disappearance of a bully made teenage daughter Sailor the subject of suspicion in their old home. But the Rooks soon find themselves under the sway of the wytches, ancient and terrible creatures who can give you anything you want… for a price. Brought to life through the dizzyingly psychedelic art of Jock, Wytches is a masterpiece of horror. Suburbia, Liz. Sacred Heart. Fantagraphics, 2015. 312p. 978-1606998410. In a town strangely devoid of adults, a group of teenagers are left to fend for themselves (and fight against one another), largely ignorant of the mounting dangers around them. This is an incredibly odd book steeped in a definite punk rock, ‘80s alt-comic sensibility. Suburbia’s black-and-white illustrations are simple but expressive, filled with just enough small details to highlight both the banality and the strange sense of dread. Her large, diverse cast of characters are a little too recognizable as a bunch of kids so concerned with parties and hook-ups to care too much that their friends keep turning up dead. The story has an oddly magnetic power that pulls the reader in and builds to a staggering conclusion. Not quite Lord of the Flies, not quite The X-Files, not quite Sixteen Candles, Sacred Heart is wholly relatable and utterly unique.