It’s not often that an “existential sci-fi noir” comic book from an indy publisher gets optioned for a major motion picture. But that’s exactly what happened to Roche Limit, a trippy, trailblazingly original cross between Alien, Chinatown, and Lost, about a distant colony of humans orbiting a black hole.
The most compelling, most beautiful, most bad-ass comic book series of 2016 doesn’t feature Iron Man or Batman or any of the infinite versions of Spider-man. Angela: Queen of Hel is the story of Thor’s long-lost sister, on a Dantean quest to rescue her lover Sera from the depths of Hell (or, in Marvel’s reappropriation of Norse mythology, Hel).
In the 25 years since he “stormed out” of the Marvel Comics office in New York, Mike Mignola has created his own shared universe of occult-themed, Gothic-toned characters at Dark Horse Comics. Perhaps the most beloved of those characters, Hellboy, became a household name in the 2000s thanks to Guillermo Del Toro’s kickass movies starring Ron Perlman in the sawed-off horns.
Even if you’ve never opened a comic book, you probably know John Constantine. Co-created by Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta) in the 1980s, John’s a cynical, chain-smoking occult detective in a trademark trenchcoat, star of Vertigo’s Hellblazer for 15 years before moving over to DC Comics in 2013.
I was 9 the first time I heard Chicago had been destroyed. It was the summer of 1996 and Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day was on a rampage. Bill Pullman’s President Thomas J. Whitmore told the audience Chicago was dead, incinerated by fire or, as Will Smith’s character put it, that “green shit.”
At first glance, Stork Mountain sounds like a typical, coming-of-age immigrant narrative, when a young Bulgarian in America returns to his homeland to escape student loan debt. But Miroslav Penkov—author of the acclaimed short story collection, East of the West—uses classic narrative forms as a springboard for a dark, dreamlike debut novel steeped in Balkan history and legend.
The Confidence Game is a revealing and engrossing primer on how con artists work and why we’re such suckers. But for all the insights Konnikova offers, fraudsters will continue to separate fools from their money (she refers to the confidence game as “the (real) oldest profession”) because our ingrained trust and gullibility make us easy prey for the right scam.
Ron Rash’s Poems: New and Selected acts as interpreter, cryptographer, and historiographer. His poetry transcends hundreds of years—familial history forgotten, misread, and unknown. His makes a stubborn and unchanging place accessible to us, to family that forgot, and to anyone who looks to one day return to a place they miss. Ron Rash sees the American South as only a mystic preacher and time traveler can, and he’s damn sure worth listening to.
Last night, the 2016 Chicago Humanities Festival kicked off at the Bottom Lounge with a conversation between Jessa Crispin (former Chicagoan, founder of Bookslut and author of The Dead Ladies Project and The Creative Tarot), and Irvine Welsh (current Chicagoan and Scottish author of Trainspotting, Filth, and this year’s A Decent Ride).
The theme of translation pulses through every story in the collection, which spans science fiction, magical realism, and what Liu has coined “silkpunk,” a science fiction-fantasy hybrid inspired by East Asian antiquity. The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is a rare combination of lavish prose, characters in fascinating, unique situations, and heart-wrenching moments.