Happy New Year everyone! 2015 was a wonderful year and I was lucky to join the crew here at Pulp Fiction. Before 2016 really gets started, I thought I would have one final look back on a few new titles that probably slipped under your radar.
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service
The Pitch: It’s been tough times finding a job for most people, but there’s one market that’s been sorely overlooked: the dead! Karatsu somehow has assembled a motley crew of fellow students from his Buddhist college, each with a rather unique ability, to help any soul with unfinished business in the mortal world. Just as long as they get paid, anyways.
Why you should give it a chance: If you enjoyed Uzumaki, or like horror books in general, Kurosagi needs to be on your shelf. The gallows humor is pitch-perfect, and each client or job adds to a world that feels multi-dimensional, instead of being overly episodic and lacking development. Each character is an individual defined by far more than their skills or supernatural talents. While the series is black-and-white, much like The Walking Dead, the clean inks work amazingly well to add tension to the story.
One Punch Man
The Pitch: What happens when you’ve already done the training montage, defeated the final boss, and saved the world? You buy groceries, apparently. Saitama has beaten every villain he’s come up against, and he’s honestly a little disappointed that they all go down in one hit. He may be doomed to superhero boredom unless he can find someone that can actually take a punch.
Why you should give it a chance: This is the dry witty superhero story you’ve never known you wanted. Saitama looks like anything but a superhero with his bald head while at the same time could only be a superhero with his cape and over-sized gloves.Taking the art form of power-ups and named attacks and turning it on it’s ear is where One Punch Man really shines. I also highly recommend the show, as the animated fight scenes are incredible and actually rather intense. Either way, however, One Punch Man is the gratifying superhero story that, well, really knows how to throw a punch.
The Pitch: The adventures of Hachimaki, a space garbage man! Need I say more?
Okay, I will say more. Space garbage men need to be given more credit, after all. Hachimaki and the rest of the crew aboard the Toy Box are wonderfully fallible, each with their own reasons working a less than desirable job. The world has some great details, such as how there are only a few places in space where you can smoke, or how hard it is to find the right man to lead the expedition to Jupiter (hint: he’s gone into hiding in the air ducts). The art is detailed and while it takes place in the future, it’s a future not too outlandish or different from our current world. Truly a refreshing read in an era of fantastical sci-fi that seems to be overtaking comics.
A Silent Voice
The Pitch: 17-year old Shoya has decided to end his life. Before he can, however, he has someone he needs to apologize to. In 6th grade when deaf Shoko transferred into his class, he led his class in bulling her mercilessly, destroying her hearing aids and notebooks. Shoko’s mother transfers her to another school and in the fallout, Shoya was ostracized by his classmates. After all this time, will Shoya find the right words to communicate his feelings?
Why you should give it a chance: Comic books are absolutely a medium that lend themselves so very well to deaf characters and stories involving sign language, since word bubbles don’t need sound for you to understand what the character is saying. It’s a shame that more comics don’t have deaf or hard-of-hearing characters (that aren’t caricatures, anyways). Watching Shoko as she is treated by not only the protagonist, but her classmates at large, her teachers, and even her mother in various ways highlights how even attempts to help someone don’t go as planned or can even be harmful. This is a rare story about people learning to actually communicate in ways that really matter.
My four picks of 2015 do of course have something in common: they are all manga. But please do not discount them because they are imported or read right-to-left. I want each of these books to have an equal chance to fight for your attention, along with all the other comics on our shelves. I’m looking forward to a great 2016 with many new titles and recommendations of all kinds.