Most of the time, trying to find a comic or two to buy in a given week is very hard. This week, it wasn’t at all. I’ve been looking forward to The Wicked + The Divine ever since it was announced. And now that it’s finally on shelves, I can tell you why.
One of the pleasures of getting into comics–and any medium, really–is identifying creators whose work most resonates with you. It’s the fun part, where you go to your library and scour its hopefully well-stocked comics section, checking everything you can out and requesting more from other branches.
You learn what you like and what you don’t. You gain an appreciation for how comics are different from any other medium. You delight in all the radically different kinds of stories that can be told by them. You remember the names of the people who told them.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find a creative team that you love, one that works together frequently and consistently tells stories that you enjoy. For me, one of those teams is that of writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie.
Gillen and McKelvie are often described–by themselves and by others–as a pair that makes comics like pop songs. Their stories, from Phonogram to Young Avengers to this weeks The Wicked + The Divine #1, are ones that are boldly, helplessly, passionately about exactly what they say they’re about. They’re stories that don’t care for subtlety as much as they do about feeling alive, if only for one dance.
They don’t give a damn about being remembered, but while they’re here, you’re not going to ignore them.
The Wicked + The Divine is both the purest form of that ethos they’ve built up over nearly a decade of collaboration, and it’s also weirdly restrained in a way that feels mature and measured. It’s a title that knows it won’t be ignored, and it’s settling in to tell an assured story in its own way.
A lot of that comes from the contributions of the rest of the creative team–the colors from Matthew Wilson are remarkable, and the work of designer Hannah Donovan has done a lot to give the whole venture a strong visual identity–the reading experience starts with the front cover and ends with the back one. It’s elegance makes most books on the stands look sloppy.
There’s been a lot of hype for this book, and all of it is deserved. If you go into a comics shop and only have cash for one book, your $3.50 will be well spent on The Wicked + The Divine.
Sex Criminals #6 also came out today. Now, there’s not much I can say about Sex Criminals that hasn’t already been said (and if no one’s told you about it go buy the first trade or borrow it from a friend. It’s fantastic), but I want to take a moment to talk about why you should buy this particular book as it comes out and not wait for a trade.
It’s the letters page. The Sex Criminals letters page is one of my favorite things in comics right now, for lots of reasons. The obvious one is that it’s absolutely hilarious–mostly because it shows how truly essential Chip Zdarksy is to the book’s sense of humor–but the other is because that’s where the book walks the walk.
Sex Criminals is lauded not just for being a great story well told, but for being a thoughtful, mature, look at sex and sexuality, a safe place in an industry that is often a mess of problematic sexual politics. When it hit stands, the response was overwhelming. People wrote Fraction and Zdarsky in droves.
Readers were connecting with the story in a very real way, and wrote in to share and laugh and confirm the one great truth the story is anchored in: we’re all alone together.
Every issue of Sex Criminals comes with pages and pages of letters. They’re a joy to read, and they don’t get published in the trade paperbacks (they are included on the digital versions if you buy from Comixology, though). Sex Criminals is a comic that’s worth buying; anyone will tell you that.
UPDATE: Commenter BrianMc weighs in with another, more cost-effective option for buying Image books digitally:
“One need not buy Sex Criminals digitally from Comixology. Image is selling its books DRM-free, multiple format, for 50 cents under the paper cover price, via ImageComics.com.”
But there’s this extra reason that makes making a monthly trip to the comics shop or download on Comixology worth the higher expense: it’s that wonderful reminder that there are people like you out there. People who love comics, and love seeing that they’re full of stories that are a little bit like their own.
As always, support your local comic shop if you can, patronize your local library if you have one, and say hi on Twitter if you like.
Be back in a week.