August is a great month for comics, especially if you’re a fan of branching out from capes and tights comics (not that there’s anything wrong with superheroes!), One of my favorite graphic novels of the year, The Wendy Project, publishes this month, as do quite a few others that I’m definitely looking forward to checking out.
I had some trouble deciding what to include on this list — after all, new volumes of Paper Girls and Ms. Marvel release in August (and Ms. Marvel’s volume, thankfully, is post-Civil War), but in the end, I wanted to focus as much on beginnings and endings as I can. If you (like me) enjoy reading complete stories, comics can be really difficult. Even reading trades can feel like you’re not getting the whole story, as they stand on their own less and less. But hopefully you’ll feel like the comics I featured on this list really do tell their own stories, even if they’re part of larger narratives.
The Wendy Project - Melissa Jane Obsorne and Veronica Fish (Super Genius, August 1)
Okay everyone, pay attention because this might be one of the best graphic novels of 2017. This small, unassuming book contains the journal of 16-year-old Wendy Davies, who gets into a car accident on a warm summer evening with her two brothers in the backseat. Her youngest brother, Michael, doesn’t survive. But Wendy is convinced that Michael is alive — he’s just gone to Neverland. What will Wendy do to get him back? This book is gorgeous and moving; Fish’s art provokes such strong emotions. I can’t say enough good things about this book, and I hope everyone gives it a chance.
Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! Vol. 3: Careless Whisker(s) - Kate Leth and Brittney L. Williams (Marvel, August 1)
R.I.P. to this wonderful series that centered, above all, the importance and delight of female friendship. But Leth and Williams were able to bring their series to a wonderful close that you can read about in this third and final volume of the series. It features Patsy Walker, Trish to those of you who saw the Netflix series Jessica Jones, as she deals with a bout of bad luck, a girl gang, and problems with her own best friend. While I’d love for Marvel to release this series in one glorious hardcover volume, I’ll be content with my paperback trades ... for now.
Twinkle Stars, Vol. 3 - Natsuki Takaya (Yen Press, August 1)
Have you heard of Fruits Basket? It’s become a huge manga sensation in the United States, and now Yen Press has been bringing creator Natsuki Takaya’s other manga to us. Twinkle Stars’ third volume releases this month; the series features Sakuya Shiina, who is the president of an astronomy club at her high school, who begins to fall for a mysterious boy named Chihiro. Takaya has multiple manga series currently being published in the United States, and one thing (of the many) that’s nice about them is that they’re very different from one another. If you like one, you’ll probably like them all, but you won’t feel like you’re getting the same thing over and over again.
My Pretty Vampire - Katie Skelly (Fantagraphics, August 8)
A sex-positive graphic novel featuring a lady vampire? I’m definitely curious about this. It features a young woman named Clover who was turned into a vampire four years ago and longs for the life she once had. Her brother is terrified that Clover will hunt humans, given her undead state, and keeps her locked up. But Clover refuses to live in a cage for the rest of her life. Skelly’s drawing style is reminiscent of manga, and she uses vibrant colors to tell her story. I have a feeling this will be a hit with a lot of people who want to see more types of stories told about women in comics.
Black Panther, Vol. 1 - Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel, August 15)
“But Black Panther, Vol. 1 already released!” you might be saying to yourself, and you’d be correct. This is just another part of the confusing way series comics operate. This is a hardcover special edition of Black Panther containing issues 1–12, so the equivalent of the first three paperback volumes. I love these hardcover omnibus editions (I have the Ms. Marvel ones); they make an excellent gift for others, or to just have on your shelf. A warning: The paper quality in these isn’t really any better than in regular trades (why, why, WHY), so don’t buy this if you’re expecting high-quality paper! (These things matter to book nerds, after all.)
SLAM! Vol. 1 - Pamela Ribon and Veronica Fish (BOOM! Box, August 15)
ROLLER DERBY! Who doesn’t want to read more comics about roller derby? While I have no interest in actually participating in a roller derby league (I’m kind of a wuss when it comes to physical pain), I love that there’s more and more media about it. The first volume of this series centers on two young women, Jennifer and Maisie, who become fast friends at a roller derby league orientation, but aren’t sure what will happen when they’re drafted to rival teams. Will their friendship survive? You’ll have to read this to find out.
Babes in Arms: Women in the Comics During World War II - Trina Robbins (Hermes Press, August 15)
In addition to being a celebrated cartoonist in her own right, and one of the founders of the comix movement, Trina Robbins is also a comics historian, documenting the history of women in comics. (If you haven’t read The Specatcular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson, she’s featured quite a bit in there.) In this anthology, Robbins collects Golden Age comics from female creators that supported the World War II war effort. This hardcover volume looks beautiful, as well as chock-full of interesting information, and I can’t wait to dive in.
Fantasy Sports 3: The Green King - Sam Bosma (Nobrow Press, August 22)
I really enjoyed the first volume of Sam Bosma’s fantasy series, about two explorer mages named Wiz and Mug who get themselves into trouble, and sports are the only way they can get out! The art blends a manga style with the form of Bande dessinée (Franco-Belgian comics). If you’re looking for comics for a younger audience, or to read with a child, this series is a great pick; kids will love the bright colors and stunning graphics of this series. But personally, as an adult, I also found this comic adorable and entertaining.
Yowamushi Pedal, Vol. 6 - Wataru Watanabe (Yen Press, August 22)
I'm a die-hard fan of professional cycling (that's bicycles, not motorcycles), so I was ridiculously excited when I found out that there is a sports manga about cycling. Sports manga hasn't been incredibly popular in the United States in the past, but it's getting more and more attention as it's increasingly available in English. I personally love Yowamushi Pedal, about two boys in high school who are part of a cycling club. Even if you don't know anything about cycling, this series explains the mechanics of the sport well, and you'll become invested in the story. As for me, I'm glad this is releasing in August because it can fill the hole in my heart that always develops after the Tour de France (although the Vuelta de Espana, or Tour of Spain, is right around the corner!).
Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection, Vol. 2 - Various Creators (AH Comics, August 30)
This incredible indie anthology focuses on comics from indigenous writers and artists. I’m a huge fan of anthologies generally because they’re a fun way to find new-to-me writers/artists/colorists/etc. The Moonshot anthology in particular is great because it showcases authentic indigenous stories, something that isn’t prevalent enough in mainstream comics. I don’t know the bookstore release date of this anthology (it may very well be August 30 as well), but I know it’ll be available in comics shops on that date. (Don’t get me started on book market vs. direct market, but often comics go on sale later in bookstores than in comics shops.) Anyways, if you want to make sure you get your hands on this, preorder it from a comics shop!