If you’ve ever been curious about what BOOM! and their imprints KaBOOM!, BOOM! Box and Archaia put out into the world, this overview should give you a snapshot of their range.
Ah, BOOM! Bar readers, when last did we speak? January. Forgive me. In apology, I bring you February through June, all at once. We’ll take a short overview of that lengthy period, concentrating on feature-length reads over regular monthly issues. A lot of these titles (though not necessarily these specific volumes) have received coverage here on WWAC. Those have been linked for your edification.
Softcover Collections (“Trade Paperbacks”)
Backstagers, Volume 2
Lumberjanes, Volume 8
Adventure Time Sugary Shorts, Volume 4
Joyride, Volume 3
Victor LaValle’s Destroyer (A complete collection, including six issues, as opposed to the usual four.)
Kong of Skull Island, Volume 3
The Woods, Volume 9 (final volume)
Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock Omnibus
Adventure Time Comics, Volume 4
Giant Days, Volume 7
WWE: Then. Now. Forever., Volume 1
Steven Universe, Volume 2
Lumberjanes: Bonus Tracks
The Amory Wars: Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume 2
Adventure Time, Volume 17 (This Adventure Time series is different to the series Adventure Times Comics! Isn’t that helpful! Haha, no.)
Cyanide & Happiness: A Guide to Parenting by Three Guys With No Kids (Really more of an OGN, but not really a “novel.”)
Fence “Discover Now,” Volume 1 (A rush-out collection with little additional content, which BOOM! does for high-selling issue comics with clear target audiences, like Mech Cadet Yu.)
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Volume 5
Heavy Vinyl (formerly known as Hi-Fi Fight Club) complete collection
Goldie Vance, Volume 4
Adventure Time/Regular Show complete collection
The Unsound complete collection (six issues)
Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original, Volume 3
Peanuts, Volume 9
Rugrats, Volume 1
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Rangers & Zords poster book
Misfit City, Volume 2 (final volume)
Mech Cadet Yu, Volume 1 (“proper release” version, with making-of backmatter)
Adventure Time 100 Project (a covers art collection, benefiting the Hero Initiative)
Planet of the Apes colouring book
Sisters of Sorrow (collects the complete limited series: four issues)
Over the Garden Wall, Volume 4
Giant Days: Extra Credit (A collection of back-ups, bonuses, and minis, outside of the regular Giant Days issues. Why is it called this though? American name for English story.)
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Archive, Volume 1 (“Experience the morphinominal, remastered collection of the original Power Rangers comics from Marvel, Image, Papercutz, and Hamilton Comics—all collected in one volume for the first time ever.”)
The Complete The Killer (Hitman slice of life— review coming soon)
That’s a pretty big list! Let’s look at OGNs, hardcovers, and specials, and then chat a lil bit about this.
Original graphic novels, released in softcover since January:
The Expanse: Origins (This is listed as an OGN, but the ad copy describes it as containing material “collected in print for the first time.” Presumably it was online content previously.)
Rust, Volume 4 (final volume)
Capture Creatures (Not an issue collection, but not labelled as an OGN.)
Bodie Troll (“Bodie Troll wants to be a fearsome creature, but in truth he’s downright adorable.”)
The Amazing World of Gumball: Scrimmage Scramble
Girl in the Himalayas (“When Vijaya, a young human, is brought into the sanctuary for her protection, some immortals fear her presence may lead to their ruin.”)
Garfield: Search for Pooky
Nuclear Winter (“It turns out surviving nuclear winter is hard … but surviving your twenties is even harder!” The background world-building doesn’t always seem to make perfect sense, but if you want a cute, compromised romance in an environmental demi-apocalpse … this is that!)
Dodo (“When Laila’s parents split up, Laila doesn’t understand why her life has changed, and why her dad never comes by anymore.” Then Laila meets a Dodo, and must contain its terrible behaviour. Nuanced catharsis on paper—may be suitable for children, but most likely most helpful for adults caring for troubled children.)
Adventure Time OGN 12: Thunder Road
Wild’s End, Volume 3 (This is called “volume three” but is a graphic novel … just like prose fiction, I guess! Anthropomorphic animal earth vs alien invaders, with a purposeful and charming aesthetic whose rhythm matches that of the dialogue. A very strong showing)
Grass Kings, Volume 1. (This collects the first six issues of what was finally a fifteen-issue series. It just finished at the end of March.)
Grass Kings, Volume 2 (This collects issues 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.)
Pizzeria Kamikaze (“Presented for the first time in full colour”)
March of the Crabs, Volume 3 (final volume)
Irredeemable Premier, Volume 5 (reprints, final volume; collects eight issues; Irredeemable 32-37 and Incorruptible 25-26) (Incorruptible ran for four more issues)
Saban’s Power Rangers Artist Tribute
Charlie Brown (only $14.99!)
Planet of the Apes Archive, Volume 3: Quest for the Planet of the Apes
Jim Henson’s Power of the Dark Crystal, Volume 2
Mouse Guard: The Black Axe B&W (A black and white edition of the third volume of Mouse Guard. This is a limited edition book, over-sized, which is reflected in the price: $99.99! “Matching the page size of Petersen’s inked pages and featuring vellum overlays mimicking his process of conveying weather effects, this gorgeous edition brings readers as close as possible to holding the series’ original artwork.”)
Lumberjanes to the Max Edition, Volume 4
Persephone (“Persephone may be the adopted daughter of the famous magician Demeter, but she struggles to find her place alongside such a force of nature.” Possibly the Feb-June PUBWATCH stand-out, in gorgeousness.)
About Betty’s Boob (“Betty lost her left breast, her job, and her guy. She does not know it yet, but this is the best day of her life.”)
The Complete Crimson (A staggering $125 RRP on a twenty-four issue collection—if you like vampires and are rich, this is your jam.)
Backstagers 2018 Valentine’s Day Intermission
Regular Show 2018 Special
Adventure Time BMO Bonanza Special
WWE: Wrestlemania 2018 Special
Rugrats: R is for Reptar 2018 Special
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2018 Annual
Garfield 2018 Vacation Time Blues
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Anniversary Special (Celebrating 25 years since the debut of the Power Rangers concept)
What are they like?
Around a third of the softcover collections feature queer characters in primary roles—Lumberjanes x2, Backstagers, The Woods, Giant Days, Steven Universe (as far as I know; I also can’t speak for the Adventure Time releases), Fence, Heavy Vinyl, and Misfit City—the majority of which is pitched to a teenaged or pre-teen audience (The Woods is for older teens and Giant Days is about university students). Several of these have now finished monthly publication: Heavy Vinyl can be bought in a single volume, Misfit City within two, and The Woods is a longer read with nine. Fence and Dodge City have sprung up in their wake; the former collected in “Discover Now” emergency format, the latter still a monthly title that hasn’t yet hit the point of collection. Abbot, a five issue mini that ended on March 13 (it should still be on shelves) and also has not yet reached collection, is an adult book with a bisexual lead that, though they have a different approach and subject matter, perhaps caters to the edge-hungry The Woods reader. The Killer and Sisters of Sorrow lack the queer themes, but provide plenty of murder.
Around half of the releases are licensed properties, which leaves the other half to be writer-owned. This split is spread evenly throughout the collection/OGN/hardcover categories but the majority of the specials are licensed. The only original property to receive a Special in this period was Backstagers.
The vast majority of collected titles feature magical or science-fiction genre elements. Those that don’t skew towards intrigue and often include dream sequences or general flamboyance that give these technically mundane stories the same aesthetic presence. A lot of BOOM! titles prioritise interpersonal relationships and youth communities: Giant Days, Fence, Heavy Vinyl, Misfit City, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, The Woods, Peanuts, Lumberjanes, Backstagers, Nuclear Winter, and Mech Cadet Yu, as well as the array of licensed adaptations of children’s cartoons.
There are also several titles which feature the navigation of family by their young protagonists: Mech Cadet Yu and Power Rangers especially stand out, though family ties are also important at various points in in Goldie Vance, Misfit City, Heavy Vinyl, Rugrats, Giant Days and so on. And complicated families from the perspective of a daughter is of primary concern in original graphic novel releases Persephone and Dodo.
For the drier adult reader, Grass Kings and Sons of Anarchy provide similar themes through a different lens. Victor LaValle’s Destroyer is the hardest to place, a sci-fi with a muted palette, but its familial themes (which are heavy) would probably be best enjoyed by older readers: the destruction and survival of a black family after the death of its son by police gunfire is stitched into a futuristic, militarised Frankenstein tale.
The majority of the covers stay within a pink/teal/apricot colour triangle, and the vast majority shy away from shiny-looking colours, preferring a very soft, gentle, chalky finish.
Many BOOM! titles are lettered by Jim Campbell, whose fine work appears on writer-owned and licensed titles both. Ed Dukeshire turns up from time to time, always as far as I can tell on licensed books, and occasionally a new name will crop up, including. Aubrey Aiese on Lumberjanes and Dodge City, for example, or Deron Bennett on Betty’s Boob and Persephone (both publications from the Archaia imprint, which deals more in “bookstore” type GNs and may, therefore, have a different contributor pool or creative team-building methodology). Rare letterers to spot (fifty points each!) are Mike Fiorentino, Colin Bell, and Simon Bowland.
And that’s about that!
Come back in July, for all the July comics!