Merry Christmas, comics fans! I hope the gift that you were hoping to see under your Christmas tree was…reviews of Lion Forge comics! Because my December Pubwatch happens to fall on Christmas!
In fact, if you felt like you hadn’t heard any Lion Forge news from us in a while, you’re right! We moved the Pubwatch dates around a bit, which means that it has been almost two months since I’ve updated you, but never fear! You’ll be able to catch the Lion Forge Pubwatch on the fourth Tuesday of every month going forward.
And without further ado, let me unwrap some reviews for you!
Rodney Barnes (writer), Selina Espiritu (artist), Kelly Fitzpatrick (colorist)
December 19, 2018
As you may already be aware from my last pubwatch, I love Quincredible. I love that it’s aimed at teenagers but still has incredible nuance when it comes to ethics. Quin is spending a lot of time thinking about what it means to save the world and I really appreciate that. Like issue #1, there continues to be tension with the police and the political climate of the world at large. We’re starting to see Quin come to terms with the fact that it’s not always obvious what “doing the right thing” really means. I think teenagers absolutely are smart enough to chew on these kinds of moral quandaries and I’m glad that Quincredible is giving them that credit, since some YA stories don’t.
Issue #2 does a fantastic job at being a superhero origin story. Quin’s power is invincibility and he’s worried that isn’t enough to make him a proper hero—he’s great at one thing, but now he has to get good at everything else. He doesn’t have powers that make him a great fighter, but he’s clever and he can improvise! I also like how it shows how difficult it is to maintain a secret identity as a high schooler. Quin is so relatable. The only thing that broke my suspension of disbelief is: don’t even try to tell me that he spent three days on a stakeout and didn’t use at least three quarters of that time thinking up his superhero name and then subsequently daydreaming about it. I’m not a fool, Rodney Barnes!
Anyway, please read Quincredible, it’s so good!
Voltron Legendary Defender Vol. 3: Absolution
Mitch Iverson (writer), Beni Lobel (colorist), Rubine (artist)
January 9, 2019
Another thing you may already know about me is that I love Voltron Legendary Defender and I’m happy to report that I think the comics are getting better as they go! One thing I like about the Voltron comics is that each volume is completely self-contained, so feel free to pick up the volume 3 trade even if you haven’t dived into the Voltron comics before.
If you’re a fan of the show like I am, it’s pretty likely that the comic will tickle your fancy too. It has the same writer, which is great because the dialogue in the comics really sounds a lot like the show. I also love how the comics really make room for characters who are underserved in the show (like Pidge and particularly Hunk) to really shine! They’ve been trying some experimental stuff with the art that I really like, too. The new volume suffers a little from the same complaints I’ve had in the past: mainly that Voltron features a lot of big space battles, and comics aren’t really the ideal medium for big space battles. But overall, it’s a really fun series, especially if you’re eager for that Voltron content like I am. And in fact, it reads much better as a trade paperback than it did as individual issues, so this is a great time to hop on.
Cellies Vol. 1
Joe Flood (artist, writer issues 2-5), David Scheidt (writer issue 1)
January 2, 2019
Cellies, like Quincredible, is on the Roar imprint, meant for ages 13-18, but it feels much younger than Quincredible does. The story of a group of coworkers employed by America’s fourth most-trusted cellular carrier, it seems to be marketed towards “anyone who’s ever worked a dead-end retail job,” but it still reads younger than that to me. While it didn’t catch my attention, I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt, as I’m not really the target audience. Slice of life isn’t that appealing to me as a genre, although I know there’s a place for it, and it’s meant for kids.
However, Cellies just feels…unexamined in a way that was really off-putting to me. At first glance, it has a diverse cast, but it doesn’t use that cast in a socially responsible way. It features a teenage Muslim girl as one of the main characters—but gives her overbearing Muslim parents who force her to quit her job because she’s not allowed to be alone at night. At one point, a white girl touches a black woman’s hair and I thought for sure they were going to make some sort of point about micro-aggressions, but instead she just looked annoyed and they moved on without bringing it up. So it ends up just showing unexamined micro-aggressions as if that’s okay without making any sort of commentary on it. I can’t give it a pass for being a kids’ book when Quincredible is doing such a good job being nuanced on the same imprint.
To Drink and To Eat Vol. 1: Tastes and Tales From A French Kitchen
Guillaume Long (writer, artist, colorist), Mélanie Roubineau (colorist)
January 16, 2019
I was excited to see this title because I genuinely think it’s a neat, unique idea: a combination comic book, memoir, and cookbook, written by a French food blogger and cartoonist. And it is genuinely neat and unique! The art is cute. Most of the stories are pretty engaging. The recipes are well written and the cooking tips are helpful! It doesn’t exactly work as a cookbook the way I was hoping because the recipes are so interspersed, but cookbooks exist for that. This is something a little different from a regular cookbook and that’s totally okay.
But I had hoped that it would be a little more endearing than it was. The author clearly really loves food and I can appreciate that. I just wish that it came off a little more like a food lover joyfully sharing their love of food with the world and a little less like conceited food snobbery.
The Collected Toppi Volume One: The Enchanted World
Sergio Toppi (writer, artist)
January 16, 2019
Beautiful art. Haunting stories. The late Sergio Toppi was a legend in his own right. This collection of his short stories from the ’80s and ’90s is enchanting at times and scary at others. The mundane and the supernatural exist side-by-side here in a fragile balance. But really, the entire collection is worth it for the art alone, which I’ll be staring longingly at long after I finish reading all the stories. A great introduction to a great artist.
And in other news, the news!
Restructuring & Layoffs
Unfortunately, I have to start off with some bad news. Right at the end of November, Lion Forge announced a restructure that resulted in 12 employees being laid off. Senior publicist Jeremy Atkins made a statement, thanking their former employees for their contributions, as well as saying, “We are restructuring from the top down, and across departments to ensure that our organization’s size and structure remains in line with our sales, as well as providing support for future increase in title output.” (Read the rest of his statement on Comics Beat.)
New Vice President of Marketing & Product Development: Syndee Barwick
Barwick’s promotion from Director of Marketing to Vice President was also announced in November, with founder David Steward II saying, “Syndee Barwick is perhaps one of the finest examples of how decades of industry experience have helped to quickly raise the profile of our organization from industry upstart to a leader in the comics industry. Under her direction, I am certain that we will continue to grow our profile in the greater publishing landscape at large.” Barwick has been with Lion Forge since 2016, following her nearly two decades of experience as the Director of Marketing with DC.
Upgrade Soul Smashes Year End Lists
Ezra Claytan Daniels’ Upgrade Soul has been the source of a lot of attention for Lion Forge since its release in September, and now that 2018 is drawing to a close, that continues to be the case! Find it on the Library Journal’s Best of 2018, Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2018, and Amazon’s list of best comics and graphic novels of 2018! Congrats to Ezra on the well deserved recognition!
Fast Enough to be published during Black History Month
Fast Enough: Bessie Stringfield’s First Ride is the newest announced children’s picture book to be published by Lion Forge. Written by Strange Fruit author Joel Christian Gill, it’s an imagined account of a young Bessie Stringfield—an incredible woman who would come to be known as “the Motorcycle Queen of Miami” after becoming the first African-American woman to ride solo across the United States. “Fast Enough is for anyone who has ever been told that they are not enough. You are enough just as you are and Bessie’s story proves that,” Gill says about the story. Fast Enough is slated for release in February 2019, just in time for Black History Month.
Stiletto announced for 2019
Lion Forge will be picking up Denmark-based artist Palle Schmidt’s 2013 crime noir series Stiletto for a United States release starting in March 2019. In addition to being translated into English, it will also boast expanded content from Schmidt, who said, “I’m thrilled we’re able to present Stiletto in this longer format which has given me room to fully realize my original vision by expanding the story with new content.”
Stiletto will also be a trial for a new format for Lion Forge, as it will be released as three 48-page issues. The longer issues will retail for $5.99 and the first issue will be fully returnable for retailers.