New additions to Comics Plus

It’s hard to believe that Spring is almost here, but as I’m sure you can relate, time flies when you’re reading comics. That may explain why this year already feels like it’s gone by in a blur, but when you get to review the kinds of books that cross my desk every month… let’s just say, “Worth it!

The last few month’s selections have skewed heavily towards more grounded/reality-based arenas of storytelling, and we managed to highlight some pretty important books recently, but I’ll admit that it made me smile when scanning the titles of this month’s advisory for a theme I noticed a couple of pretty simple old favorites: Science Fiction and Fantasy. I could bore you all to tears going on about all the similarities and differences between Science Fiction (which is typically allegorical) vs. Fantasy (whose themes are more applicable), and why stories like Star Wars actually belong in the latter category… but instead, let’s just get into it and you can ultimately decide for yourself where you think these new books land.


It’s no big secret that in Comics Plus, “If it’s cute and quirky, it’ll circ-y”— as each of my picks for young readers has already jumped onto the most popular list since debuting on our platform this past month.

First, Secrets of Camp Whatever (Oni Press) joins other fun “paranormal institution” series like Lumberjanes (BOOM! Studios), The Weirn Books (Yen Press), or Crystal Cadets (Oni Press) to explore a magical summer camp so strange you’ll never look at a garden gnome the same way again. Next is Ghost Hog (Oni Press), which I found to be an almost surprisingly sophisticated premise, as this cute graphic novel about the spirit of a recently hunted boar strays into more spiritual themes of life and death, revenge and forgiveness, even attachment and release — navigating them all in ways that belie a subtle wisdom. A very interesting read!

But, I think the title that stood out to me the most this month once again belongs to the fantastical pen of Princess Princess Ever After (Oni Press) and Aquicorn Cove (Oni Press) creator, K. O’Neill. While those titles are definitely great, I think The Tea Dragon Society (Oni Press) is now my favorite of her work. With a more delicate linework, and a subtle manga-influenced sensibility, this quiet story combines the sweet charm of a Miyazaki film with an adorable design sense (especially the eponymous little dragons) that would make anyone want to “collect ‘em all” if you could.


Teens have their own quirky titles to look forward to this month, and Martian Ghost Centaur (Oni Press) feels like a hilarious modern take on a premise that seems like it’s right out of some oddball 80’s comedy (complete with its own evil corporate land-grabber). When your struggling town’s Sasquatch tourism has all but dried up, what could you invent that would be even bigger than Bigfoot? A Martian Ghost Centaur, of course! (it’ll make sense, trust me)

Meteor Men (Oni Press) and Taking Care of God (Yen Press) give us two very different explorations of the strange visitors/alien invasion tropes of classic sci-fi, and Whoever Steals This Book (Yen Press) is the latest manga to join that “paranormal institution” club, while Another Castle (Oni Press) similarly finds itself in the growing sisterhood of fairy-tale trope-inverting comics.

It was the kinetically supercharged The Unlikely Story of Felix and Macabber (Dark Horse) that stood out for me the most, though. Courtesy of the ever-cool Juni Ba, creator of the hyper-weird Monkey Meat (Image Comics) and folklore-inspired Djeliya (TKO Presents), this graphic novel spins a strange “rise and fall of a sports champion” story, told through the bizarre lens of a surreal “monster world”. While Ba’s cartoon influences are on full display, don’t let the weird, gross, and/or cute monsters fool you; this story explores themes of fame, legacy, and violence that any athlete (but particularly those who put themselves in harm’s way for their sport) should consider — even if that sport is battling giant monsters in gladiatorial combat. See? Now you’ll definitely want to read it!


Our YA readers are almost spoiled for choice this month!

Imaginative astronomical backdrops populate Retrograde Orbit (Avery Hill), a fun indie exploration of what it might feel like if your home planet was a place you could only see in the sky, and what you’d risk to return to it. And while the dystopian cyberpunk manga Tomahawk Angel (Dark Horse) is worth the price of admission for its super cool art alone, the hilarious “college humor” strip Just Act Normal: A Pie Comics Collection (Oni Press) was just so wry and witty I found myself chuckling cover to cover. And what seemed at first to be a somewhat typical RPG-inspired fantasy adventure in Total Party Killer (Scout Comics), had a surprise twist ending that actually made me laugh out loud.

Meanwhile, looking back towards the fantasy genre’s origins, the compelling biography Tolkein: Lighting Up the Darkness (Ablaze) is a deep dive primarily into the harrowing military background that went on to shape the character of perhaps the single most important contributor to fantasy literature. The deeply honest autobiographical comic Sunflowers (Silver Sprocket) is a treasure trove of insights into the struggles of a person suffering from bi-polar disorder — a perfect addition to social and emotional learning (SEL) and graphic medicine recommendations. While somewhat text-heavy, it proudly sports newcomer Keezy Young’s very cool art style, and if it had struck a bit more of a balance and included more of it, it probably would have cinched my top pick for this age category.

Instead, that nod goes to the “autobiographical travelog” Follow Me In (Avery Hill). While certainly boasting its fair share of fantastical illustrations, of all the titles in this month’s Advisory, this is probably the most grounded and sobering (pun intended; apologies) of them all. Recapping the highs and lows of the UK-based creator’s life-changing trip across Mexico with her now ex-boyfriend, this graphic novel highlights the artist’s struggles with traveling on a budget, navigating foreign cultures, and her own wavering creativity — while also coming to terms with her partner’s deeping descent into alcoholism, and what that will ultimately mean for the both of them. This one’s worth a read.


For our mature readers, this past month’s releases boasts a particularly intriguing array of manga selections. The gory action in Oneira (Europe Comics) is likely to interest the Berserk (Dark Horse) or Vampire Hunter D (Digital Manga) enthusiasts among us, while the much more sensual Innocent (Dark Horse) is a beautiful, risque piece of historical fiction about one of the most prolific executioners in French history. A study of sex, identity, blood, duty, and death (note the double entendres there), this lavishly illuminated collection is also the first time this story has been translated into English.

For a taste of the “modern classics”, we now have the complete edition of the comic adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s bestselling novel, American Gods (Dark Horse). If you’re not already familiar with this beloved postmodern examination of the power of mythology, then do yourself a favor and go find out what all the fuss was about. Otherwise, rejoice in yet another awesome omnibus to hit our virtual shelves: The Metabarons: The Complete Second Cycle (Humanoids) collects stories from what is arguably (and this is just me arguing here) the greatest sci-fantasy epic of all time. The collective “Jodoverse” (of which the expansive Metabarons is only one part of) is an artistic achievement most of the rest of us comics creators could only dream of emulating. I could easily fill an entire article just talking about my admiration for the various comics and films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, to say nothing of how The Incal/Metabarons were really the spiritual successors of his never-completed, yet still highly influential Dune movie… but I think that’s enough from me for one month.

Honestly, that’s just a small sample of the great comics and manga added to Comics Plus last month. With literally thousands of titles to choose from across a wide range of genres, I could keep writing forever! Be sure to check in every month for more highlights, and browse our expanding list of past Rob’s Advisory selections.

Until next month, here are some more honorable mentions that (mostly for space reasons) didn’t quite make my list, but you may also enjoy checking out:

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Rob Randle is the Production Director for LibraryPass, and has worked in and around the comic book industry in various capacities, including as a book reviewer for the NY Journal of Books, and a judge for various comic book industry awards—the 2006 Eisner Awards, among others. Before joining LibraryPass, he had been the Director of Publishing for iVerse Media LLC since 2010, and prior to that was a purchasing manager for Diamond Comic Distributors where he helped to manage the monthly Previews catalog for close to a decade starting in 2002. Additionally, Rob occasionally does freelance work as a comics creator, and is the author of the critically acclaimed graphic novel Serial Artist. Rob holds a B.A. of Illustration from the Maryland Institute, College of Art (MICA).