PUBWATCH: BOOM! Studios, September 2018

PUBWATCH: BOOM! Studios, September 2018

Wow, can you believe it’s already been a whole month since we last checked in on our BOOM! Studios Pubwatch? Well, have no fear, loyal WWAC readers, for I have not yet forgotten the sacred Pubwatch oath that I swore last month, so here I am with an update on all things BOOM! Explosive News

Wow, can you believe it’s already been a whole month since we last checked in on our BOOM! Studios Pubwatch? Well, have no fear, loyal WWAC readers, for I have not yet forgotten the sacred Pubwatch oath that I swore last month, so here I am with an update on all things BOOM!

Explosive News

The biggest news this month is on the license comics front, where BOOM! announced two huge franchises that have found a home in the BOOM! family.

Debuting in July 2019, BOOM! Studios will release The Magicians: Alice’s Story, the first in a new line of original graphic novels set in the universe of Lev Grossman’s fantasy novel series. (The series also inspired a Syfy original series, but this first graphic novel, at least, is set in the book universe.) Alice’s Story promises to “expand the mythology of The Magicians, the first novel in the series trilogy, through the perspective of lead character Alice Quinn before she joins Brakebills and embarks on an epic journey in the magical land of Fillory.” It will be written by Lilah Sturges, with art by Pius Bak. This is pretty big news, since this will be the first comics take on the Magicians universe.

The cover for Alice's Story, featuring a dark-haired girl holding a ball of flame between her hands as she stands at the center of a split tree whose insides seem to be full of gears

But that’s not all! BOOM! Studios has also acquired the license for Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, which has long been held by Dark Horse Comics. The announcement was more of a teaser than a glimpse of any specific plans—it merely stated that BOOM! had acquired the license, but not when it would (or could) start publishing new Buffy comics, or who any of the creative teams would be. Still, massive news, and a potential hit to Dark Horse. We’ll let you know more as soon as we know ourselves.

A teaser poster featuring Buffy illustrated in pink and yellow, holding a stake in one hand and a smartphone in the other. The caption at the top reads "High School is Hell"

These Imprints are Lit

While BOOM’s output in August was more or less evenly divided between the publisher’s four imprints, September was much more heavily loaded in favor of the eponymous BOOM! Studios and KaBOOM! imprints, with BOOM! Box and especially Archaia having a more modest output. Across for the four imprints, BOOM! published thirty-eight total titles, of which twenty-two were single issues, fifteen were trades or original graphic novels, and one was a “discovery adventure” picture book.

BOOM! Studios had the largest output of the four imprints, with seventeen titles. This number may have been somewhat inflated from August by the month-long WWE: NXT Takeover event, in which BOOM! published a new one-shot each week. Leaving the WWE comics aside, BOOM! Studios had one #1 this month, the first issue of the five issue Low Road West miniseries, which I’ll talk more about below. September also marked the final issue (#12) of the critically-acclaimed Mech Cadet Yu by Raúl Angulo (colorist), Simon Bowland (letterer), Takeshi Miyazawa (artist), and Greg Pak (writer).

The kid-focused KaBOOM! imprint also had a pretty good month, with twelve titles, including the first issue of the five issue Over the Garden Wall: Hollow Town miniseries by Kiki J. Díaz (colorist), Mike Fiorentino (letterer), Celia Lowenthal (writer), and Jorge Monlongo (artist). The mostly-silent graphic novel Petals by Gustavo Borges (writer/artist) and Chris Peter (colorist) was a particular standout.

The tween- and teen-focused BOOM! Box, on the other hand, had a relatively anemic seven titles released in September. Lumberjanes (#54) and Giant Days (#42) continue to perform well for the imprint, so it’s not in danger anytime soon, but with Fence (#10) soon switching to an original graphic novel format, I wonder if BOOM! Box’s days of single issues might be limited. September did have one major new release, though, in the form of Welcome to Wanderland #1 (of 4); more on that soon.

Finally, odd duck out Archaia continues to chug along, publishing books from the Jim Henson franchises and not much else. This month we had the latest issue of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation (#7), a hardcover collection of a couple of Labyrinth specials, the Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: A Discovery Adventure picture book, and Tony Millionaire’s Sea Monsters Coloring Book. And… that’s it. I love Archaia’s output, and their books are often stunningly beautiful, but I worry they just aren’t putting out enough content to last as a standalone imprint.

Okay, on to the mini-reviews!

Mini-Reviews: Were they THE BOMB or did they BOMB?

Cover of Low Road West #1 showing five teenagers walking along a torn-up road in a post-apocalyptic landscape

Low Road West #1

Jim Campbell (letterer), Flaviano (artist), Phillip Kennedy Johnson (writer), Miquel Muerto (colorist)
BOOM! Studios
September 6, 2018

After the first issue, I’m not quite sure what to think of Low Road West. It starts out as a fairly standard post-apocalyptic story about teenage refugees fleeing west across the United States after an unexplained (but highly destructive) war breaks out, but it veers into the magical by the end of the issue as our protagonists discover a strange house in the middle of a patch of land where nothing seems to die forever. There’s a lot of potential here, but it will all depend on the execution of future issues. Muerto’s color palette—which leans hard into yellows and oranges when showing the post-apocalyptic landscape before shifting to cool cyan tones inside the house—is a particular standout.

Cover of Petals, showing a child fox in clothing collecting wood alongside a bird in a magician’s outfit

Petals

Gustavo Borges (writer/artist) and Chris Peter (colorist)
KaBOOM!
September 13, 2018

This short, almost entirely silent graphic novel about anthropomorphic animals struggling to make it through a harsh winter is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. Our protagonist is a young fox who meets a bird magician while out collecting firewood for his sick father. But the magician isn’t just good at helping to gather wood for the fire: he also happens to have a flower that can help cure the plague making everyone in the area sick. Unfortunately, the bird is also sick and there’s only so much flower to go around… Borges’s art is truly charming, and I especially loved how he manages to make the bird look simultaneously like a magician and a plague doctor.

Welcome to Wanderland cover showing Bellamy and Riot on a log ride in Wanderland park with a castle in the background

Welcome to Wanderland #1

Nimali Abeyratne (colorist), Jackie Ball (writer), Ed Dukeshire (letterer), Maddi Gonzalez (artist)
BOOM! Box
September 6, 2018

Bellamy Morris (Bel) knows practically all there is to know about the Wanderland amusement park: its history, the secret routes that let you get around without dealing with crowds, and even which lightbulbs need to be replaced. In fact, she knows it so well that… it’s starting to get boring. Until, that is, she finds a secret door leading to a world where Wanderland is real and the amusement park’s princesses (both good and evil) fight over a magical kingdom. Except the real Princess Lark Meadowstone (or is it Riverstone?) is quite fed up with playing by the rules and is now going by the name Riot. But maybe, with Riot’s help, Bel can find a way home. The book was genuinely fun, sort of a touch of I Hate Fairyland for the tween set. Highly recommended if you’ve ever wished the world you realized was not-quite-so-magical actually was magical.

C.P. Hoffman
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