Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most beloved fictional character—Detective Sherlock Holmes—has been adapted and modified by countless writers, filmmakers, theatre directors, and TV execs over the past century. But until Brittany Cavallaro’s YA novel, A Study in Charlotte, Sherlock had never been a teenage girl.
Finally, more than 75 years after the comics industry as we know it was born in New York City, female writers and artists—while still underrepresented—are becoming more prevalent at major publishers. As a result, fans are seeing new kinds of stories and art that they never would have experienced in the 1980s or 1990s.
12-year-old boys have enough problems without waking up one morning to find themselves the last human being on Earth. Especially not when the world has (literally) gone to pieces. The Only Living Boy—about a New York City tween who teams up with an insect princess and a mermaid warrior in a fragmented, “patchwork” version of Earth—is a wildly inventive, young-adult graphic novel from David Gallaher and Steve Ellis, last seen as co-creators of DC Comics’ werewolf/Western mashup High Moon.
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.