Another story might end with a genetically engineered man-monster fighting an army led by an evil Nazi scientist, but that's merely where Monsters begins. Windsor-Smith, who cut his teeth drawing fantastically detailed pulp comics decades ago, has bigger fish to fry: what is the nature of human evil? When does trauma take root? Are our lives determined by fate or chance? Windsor-Smith tackles these themes on a grand scale--over three-hundred enormous pages packed with hand-drawn art that took years to produce. The result isn't a masterpiece, but something else--the stone-hewn, uncompromising testament of a statesman artist.
There have been plenty of stories at this point about the promise and peril of musical genius. What sets Blue in Green ahead of the pack is the way that its art works in synergy with its writing, transforming what could have been a fun throwback to Vertigo horror comics into an experience with genuine flow and texture. It's a comic that captures how it feels to both hear and play music, one of the hardest things to do in a non-musical artform. For that alone it has my recommendation.
Le Nguyen’s debut graphic novel is full of tenderness and love. The Magic Fish follows Tiâãen as he navigates young adulthood--his interactions with the world, his parents, and his friends made complicated by his uncertainty about whether to reveal his secrets. An immigration narrative, coming-out story, and the retelling of a fairy tale all in one, Le Nguyen's work reminds us how powerful story telling can be against the pernicious dangers of self-doubt, bigotry, and identity crises.