Zainab Akhtar’s ShortBox is one of the best bets in independent comics, offering a quarterly selection of comics and art prints by some of the industry’s most fascinating cartoonists. (Full disclosure: Akhtar is an A.V. Club contributor.) ShortBox comics have racked up multiple Eisner Award nominations, and Akhtar consistently tops herself as she assembles new line-ups of exceptional creators. ShortBox #11 is available for preorder until July 28, offering stories about traumatized young tricksters, heartbroken artists, a horrifying dental cavity, and two friends trapped in a Swedish flat-pack furniture store.
The A.V. Club has an exclusive preview of Minötaar, Lissa Treiman’s modern retelling of Greek myth set in an IKEA clone, and it’s no surprise that the Disney animator and former Giant Days artist immediately charms the reader with the personality and wit in these pages. Outside of Giant Days, Treiman doesn’t have an extensive library of comic-book work. It’s a delight to see her back in the realm of sequential storytelling, and Minötaar has a concept that allows her to lean into fantastic exaggeration while still keeping the story rooted in a recognizable reality. The recognizable reality of the hellish maze that is IKEA.
This excerpt begins by creating a sense of disorientation with a chaotic layout and flashes of abstraction, so when Treiman shifts back to calmer storytelling, there’s still that undercurrent of bewilderment. Treiman is an incredible humorist, and moments like the missed fist bump showcase her impeccable comedic timing, modulating movement, pauses, and expressions to enhance every beat of the bit. The character acting here is very impressive, and when the skeletal IKOS employee offers Dena and Mel some assistance, Treiman gets to amplify the animated elements even further. It’s rare to get a new comic from Lissa Treiman, so preorder ShortBox #11 to get Minötaar plus four other exciting books.