July comics preview: an ode to EC Comics and a follow-up to an Eisner Award-winning DC Black Label miniseries

Epitaphs From The Abyss, The Nice House By The Sea, You And A Bike And A Road, and more comics you need to read this month

July comics preview: an ode to EC Comics and a follow-up to an Eisner Award-winning DC Black Label miniseries
Image: Fantagraphics

Welcome to The A.V. Club’s monthly comics preview, where we recommend new books to check out over the next few weeks. This month, we’ve got five exciting picks, including new series from Image Comics, DC, Oni Press, Drawn & Quarterly, and Fantagraphics.

The Domain #1 – Chip Zdarsky, Rachael Stott, Eren Angiolini (July 10)

Chip Zdarsky writes and draws a comic, Public Domain, about the everyday struggles of a veteran superhero creator, his family, and his legacy as an artist and a father. In that Eisner Award-winning series, the central superhero idea is in the process of being reimagined for a new generation. That product is The Domain #1 (Image Comics, on sale July 10), a superhero book that is both a straightforward genre piece about three best friends who gain extraordinary powers from a UFO and a metacommentary on its companion title. Artist Rachael Stott and colorist Eren Angiolini are both well-versed in superheroes with past credits at Marvel and DC, and this series gives them the opportunity to create a new superhero world from the ground up, even if the seeds were technically planted in another book. One of the challenges of telling stories about fictional talents is showing actual skill in the art they create. The Domain has Zdarsky and team going above and beyond to legitimize the figures in Public Domain, making the whole endeavor a fascinating exercise in character development.

Epitaphs From The Abyss #1 – Various Authors (July 24)

EC Comics is one of the most influential publishers in comic-book history, pushing boundaries with horror and crime stories that infamously became fuel for raging paranoia surrounding the negative impact of comics on children in the 1950s. There were Senate hearings, a conservative Comics Code was implemented across the industry, and EC perished. 70 years later, Oni Press has dug up EC’s grave and revived its spirit with a new publishing line, kicking off with Epitaphs From The Abyss #1 (Oni Press, on sale July 24). The horror anthology features a mix of comic veterans and newer voices, with stories from Brian Azzarello & Vlad Legostaev, Chris Condon & Peter Krause, J. Holtham & Jorge Fornes, and Stephanie Phillips & Phil Hester. Oni’s commitment to honoring the signature style of EC Comics is admirable, most prominently by replicating the eye-popping cover design, as well as by bringing on letterer extraordinaire Richard Starkings to replicate the iconic “Leroy” lettering style of the original stories. And if you can’t get enough EC Comics, check out the second anthology, the sci-fi-centric Cruel Universe, in August.

The Nice House By The Sea #1 – James Tynion IV, Álvaro Martínez Bueno, Jordie Bellaire, Andworld Design (July 24)

2022’s The Nice House On The Lake was a massive hit for DC’s Black Label, winning the Best New Series Eisner Award and establishing the imprint as an outlet for top-tier original concepts, not just established superheroes. That first series was a phenomenal display of creative collaboration with every element in elegant sync, and writer James Tynion IV, artist Álvaro Martínez Bueno, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and letterer Andworld Design are all back for a second 12-issue horror miniseries with a new cast, a new house, and a new body of water. The Nice House By The Sea #1 (DC Comics, on sale July 24) brings 12 strangers together at an idyllic coastal retreat to escape the end of the world. Moving away from a group of friends toward strangers significantly changes the personal dynamics within the house, essentially turning the story into The Real World: Apocalypse. The location is as important as the characters here, and the seaside home gives Bueno a vastly different array of architectural and environmental details to incorporate into his art. The results are stunning.

The Wendy Award – Walter Scott (July 9)

Readers of Walter Scott’s Wendy comics have seen the titular character work her way up from the trenches of the art world to reach a decent level of recognition and respect, despite her slew of self-destructive tendencies that manifest in hilariously awkward situations. The Wendy Award (Drawn & Quarterly, on sale July 9), the fourth book in Scott’s series, checks in with Wendy as she settles into her cozy new life in Toronto, just in time for a global pandemic to disrupt everything. Scott’s satire of the art industry has always been incisive and unforgiving, and the circumstances of the last five years provide a fresh assortment of issues to dig into and rip apart, from growing corporatization of awards to parasocial relationships developed through digital channels. Scott depicts it all with a stripped-down visual style that showcases his acute comic timing and extreme character expressions. He doesn’t get bogged down in the details, giving his work strong forward momentum that keeps the laughs coming fast and hard.

You And A Bike And A Road – Eleanor Davis (July 2)

The A.V. Club named Eleanor Davis’ You And A Bike And A Road (Fantagraphics, on sale July 2) as one of the best comics of the 2010s, but it’s been out of print since the shuttering of Koyama Press. With the extended reach of Fantagraphics, hopefully this vital diary comic will find its way into many more hands. Chronicling Davis’ experiences during her solo bike ride from Tucson, Arizona, to Athens, Georgia, the book is a showcase for the evocative minimalism of Davis’ cartooning, whether she’s capturing the shifting landscapes around her or bringing vivid life to the people she encounters. Her personal journey across these southern states reveals a lot about the country, and her observations are just as meaningful now as they were in 2017—maybe even more so given how conversations around social prejudice and immigration have intensified in the past seven years. Davis explores these topics with vulnerability and empathy, and the directness of the diary format makes this an especially powerful look at an artist trying to find clarity and purpose in a world full of injustice.

Join the discussion...