Mail Call | John Ridley makes his Marvel debut in January

A round-up of news from Marvel, IDW, Top Shelf and more.

Mail Call is a roundup of the announcements we’ve received from comics publishers in our mailboxes recently. Hit the links for more information.

Academy Award winner John Ridley has several projects in the works at DC right now, but DC’s not the only publisher he’s doing work for. Marvel has announced that the writer of 12 Years A Slave will have a story in Wolverine: Black, White and Blood #3. The anthology series will feature short stories about the popular mutant, told in black and white … and red. Jorge Fornés is the artist on his story.

“I can think of no better way to kick off my writing relationship with Marvel Comics than by contributing to a truly fantastic anthology series centered around Wolverine,” Ridley told Marvel.com. “Equally exciting is having the story illustrated by Jorge Fornés. I look forward to writing more stories set in the Marvel Universe, and with their roster of iconic characters.”

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Mail Call | Fantastic Four take a ‘Road Trip’ in December

A round-up of news from DC, Marvel, Image and more.

Fresh from saving the Earth from being destroyed by the sun in Empyre, the Fantastic Four will get a much-needed vacation in a one-shot by new Iron Man scribe Christopher Cantwell and artist Filipe Andrade. It’s titled Fantastic Four: Road Trip, and it features family fun, a station wagon … and a Reed Richards experiment gone wrong.

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Koren Shadmi’s ‘Bionic’ coming from Top Shelf this fall

The boy-meets-cyborg story will arrive in October.

Top Shelf will publish Koren Shadmi‘s next graphic novel, Bionic, in October. The coming-of-age tale details the romance between Victor, a geeky teenager, and Patricia, a girl who becomes a cyborg after an accident.

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Chris Gooch heads ‘Under-Earth’ in his next graphic novel

New graphic novel by the promising young talent will arrive from Top Shelf Comix in October.

Top Shelf has announced that the next project by Chris Gooch, Under-Earth, will arrive in October. The 560-page graphic novel is about inmates in an underground prison who “struggle to build meaningful lives in a broken system.”

The publisher released the Melbourne-based cartoonist’s impressive debut, Bottled, in 2017. It’s an unsettling graphic novel about Millennial life and a disintegrating friendship; this one, however, is tackling a different subject.

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A girl and her bear: Top Shelf announces ‘Kodi’ for summer

Jared Cullum’s gorgeous graphic novel arrives in August.

Top Shelf Comix has announced a new project for August — Kodi, the story of a girl and her Kodiak bear.

It’s by Jared Cullum, whose previous work includes the 35th anniversay Fraggle Rock miniseries fand Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Giants, both from Archaia. He’s not only an illustrator but also a painter (see his website for some samples), and his work with watercolors is very impressive. In fact, he has several water color tutorials on his YouTube channel, if you’re looking for something new to try during life in quarantine.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan

The duo discuss their latest graphic novel, “An Embarrassment of Witches,” now available from Top Shelf Comix.

An Embarrassment of Witches is the new book from Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan. Goldstein has made a name for herself in recent years with her comics like House of Women and The Oven, but before those books came out, Goldstein and Jordan made the webcomic Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell, a colorful romp about life in Brooklyn where mythological creatures and minor deities live next to artists and hipsters, and the protagonist is dealing with a karmic deficit and trying to save his immortal soul.

An Embarrassment of Witches is very much a related project, mixing the fantastic and the mundane in different ways. The book is about the friendship of Rory and Angel, two longtime friends after college, each of whom are foundering in different ways that strain their friendship. It’s about relationships and changing relationships with parents. It’s also about interdisciplinary magicks, botanical alchemy, and combines these elements in a way that makes the world feel new and fantastic, but is always about character and emotional above all.

I met Goldstein and Jordan years ago at Webcomics Weekend and was thrilled to talk with them about their new book, which I think is the best work they’ve done to date.We spoke recently over email.

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Top Shelf to publish Pat Grant’s ‘The Grot’ in May

The creator of ‘Blue’ returns with a new graphic novel about greed and environmental calamity.

Since the release of his well-received debut graphic novel Blue back in 2012, Pat Grant has been busy working on his dytsopian follow-up, The Grot. He’s been serializing the comic online and creating single issues, and come May you’ll be able to get your hands on a printed collection, courtesy of Top Shelf here in the U.S.

Grant is one of several literary cartoonists in Australia who have been catching people’s attention recently and what I’ve read of the webcomic is really strong. So this is one to watch for in May.

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Kochalka’s ‘Monkey vs Robot’ celebrates its 20th anniversary

A collection with new material will arrive from Top Shelf in June.

It was 20 years ago that James Kochalka showed the world what would happen when the monkey faced off with its natural enemy, the robot. To celebrate the anniversary of that confrontation, Top Shelf Comix will collect Kochalka’s original story, its sequel and an all-new chapter into one giant softcover.

Monkey vs Robot: The Complete Epic will arrive in June, with a new, final chapter that brings this long-running feud to its natural conclusion: Monkey Vs. Robot in Love. They’ve also added color to the entire saga — just like the original Star Wars trilogy.

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‘New Kid’ wins the Newbery Medal

Several graphic novels were honored at the American Library Association’s annual Youth Media Awards.

The American Library Association recognized several graphic novels this past weekend as part of the 2020 Youth Media Awards at their Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. These included the prestigious Newbery Medal, which has been given out since 1922 to “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children;” the Coretta Scott King Book Award; and many others.

The winner of this year’s Newbery Medal was New Kid, the graphic novel by Jerry Craft that was published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. It also won the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award. It’s interesting to note that these aren’t in a “graphic novel” category or anything like that; The Newbery Medal is the highest honor the ALA gives out every year, and this is the first time a graphic novel has won it outright.

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