Smash Pages’ favorite comics of 2018

See what the Smash Pages’ staff enjoyed reading this past year.

With 2018 winding down, Smash Pages’ contributors take a look back at some of their favorite comics of the year, from Hey Kiddo and Spectacular Spider-Man #310 to Wet Moon and The Secret Voice.

Brigid Alverson

Silver Spoon, by Hiromu Arakawa (Yen Press)
Arakawa is best known as the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, but you couldn’t get any farther from that series than Silver Spoon, a comedy about a city boy who goes to agricultural school in rural Hokkaido. Yuugo Hachiken worked hard and did everything he was told, but he still didn’t get into an elite high school, so he takes what he thinks is the easy way out by going to a school that’s not academically focused—or so he thinks. In fact, the students at Ooezo Agricultural High School are very knowledgeable in their fields, but those fields are things like genetics and animal husbandry. The rubber really hits the road in the practical lessons, though, and Hachiken quickly realizes he is out of his depth when it comes to herding chickens, riding a horse, or fetching a stray calf. There’s a lot of city mouse-country mouse comedy in this series, but it’s also a fascinating look at where our food comes from (at least in Japan), and the different agricultural models espoused by different farmers. In fact, like Hachiken’s classmates, this book is very smart and sophisticated in addition to being endlessly entertaining.

Meal, by Blue Delliquanti and Soleil Ho (Iron Circus)
The idea of eating bugs may elicit an “Eeeww” from most people, but Delliquanti and Ho go beyond the ick factor in this romance about an insect cuisine enthusiast and a chef who wants to start a new restaurant based on the dishes of her youth—dishes that include ants, grasshoppers, and tarantulas. There’s a love story woven in there as well. Yarrow has just moved to a new city in hopes of getting a job in the kitchen of Chandra Flores, insect chef extraordinaire, who is about to launch a new restaurant. Milani, her neighbor, is friendly and helpful but the two have a little trouble making it click. At the same time, Chandra suspects that Yarrow is only into insect cuisine because it’s sensational, while to her, it’s part of her heritage. There’s a lot in this slim volume: Love, food, bugs, and bugs that are food, and the creators even include a couple of recipes at the end of the book.

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Smash Pages Q&A: L Nichols on ‘Flocks’

The ‘Ley Lines’ creator discusses the collected edition of ‘Flocks’ from Secret Acres, music, engineering and more.

L Nichols has been serializing Flocks for years, working on the comics memoir in between other projects, including overseeing the acclaimed quarterly comics series Ley Lines. Flocks is out now in a collected edition from Secret Acres. Also out now is the new issue of Ley Lines, which is written and drawn by Nichols. Nichols and I have met at various shows over the years but never sat down to talk.

Flocks is an immense achievement, but it’s also striking how well Nichols made the individual issues stand on their own and how well they work as chapters of a book — and how well it comes together into a thoughtful and emotional story arc. It is one of the best of the year, but also deserves a place among the very best graphic memoirs ever made. We spoke recently about Beethoven, engineering and religion.

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Comics Lowdown: Judge Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra passes away

Mark Waid sued, and gets a new job! Vertigo prepares for NYCC! Plus Ryan Ferrier, Jason Lutes, John McCrea and more!

Passings: Carlos Ezquerra, 2000 AD artist and co-creator of Judge Dredd, has passed away, the Guardian and the Hollywood Reporter both reported this week. The 70-year-old artist was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010, and the disease returned this year.

“It is difficult to put this into words, but we have lost someone who was the heart and soul of 2000AD. It is no exaggeration to call Carlos Ezquerra one of the greatest comic book artists of all time, and his name deserves to be uttered alongside Kirby, Ditko, Miller, Moebius and Eisner,” reads a statement issued by 2000AD. “Yet this doesn’t really do justice to someone whose work was loved by millions and has had an influence far beyond the comic book page. From Judge Dredd to Strontium Dog, from Rat Pack to Major Eazy, Carlos has left us with a legacy of stunning and distinctive work that was and always will be 2000 AD. He has been one of the pillars, producing the same dynamic, enthralling and arresting art we always loved him for. We thought we had many more adventures to come from the master, so we are devastated to discover we were wrong.”

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