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Amazing Forest, Mirror, Doll’s House, Paper Girls: This Week in Comics #3

Go Indie with this week’s best comics, including works by Brian K. Vaughn, Image Comics, and IDW Publishing.

When a reader first gets into comics there are a few routes they can go. They can follow the big stories, diving into Superman, Spider-Man, or any other number of heroic dudes and ladies punching baddies and posing in front of the American Flag. But new readers can also dip into the indie scene and find comics that are low-key, subtle, and don’t need to make grand pronouncements and shoot lasers at the moon. While there’s never been a better time to read mainstream comics, this week’s focus is on creator-owned, smaller press, and self-published stories. Because, for whatever reason, the best comics this week aren’t from the “big two.” Here’s a look at four comics that feature fractured stories, wandering narratives, time-traveling teens, and a creepy sketchbook story about a girl and her weird dad.

Amazing Forest #2

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Cover for Amazing Forest #2. Illustrated by Ulises Farinas. Photo courtesy of IDW Publishing.

Written by Erick Freitas & Ulises Farinas. Illustrated by Cailtin Rose Boyle, Angelica Belvins, Sean Pryor, and Buster Moody.

Amazing Forest is the brain-child of writer team Erick Freitas and Ulises Farinas, and it’s a freewheeling, somersault of a comic anthology. Four short comic stories, written by the pair, are illustrated by a revolving cast of artists each month. This month features stories about a detective on the hunt for a sword-thief, an evil Darth Vader proxy trying to quit his job, an Alan Moore-inspired rumination on life, and a warlord with a secret. This comic also shows IDW Publishing really going out on a limb as the company usually sticks to legacy reprints and licensed tie-ins. Just look at some of their other comics coming out this week: Popeye Classics #43, Angry Birds Comics #2, and My Little Pony: Friends Forever #25. This is an audacious addition to their catalog, and it’s some of the best work they’ve ever released.

Mirror #1

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Cover for Mirror #1. Illustrated by Hwei Lim. Photo courtesy of Image Comics.

Created by Emma Ríos and Hwei Lim.

The title page of Mirror #1 contains the text “Mirror is an independent story originally created as part of the 8house universe” but don’t let that stop you from diving into this wandering tale. The story follows a young mage, powerful rulers in a war-besieged land, animal-human hybrids, and tough moral questions about creating and using life. The comic is illustrated in lurid watercolors by Hwei Lim, making one wonder why all comics aren’t hand-painted. Though the narrative is loose and flowing, and can be confusing for anyone unfamiliar with the world in which it takes place, reading Mirror is an experience akin to reading poetry. The images and words that stick with the reader will really stick with the reader. This isn’t a loud, bombastic comic, and there’s a deep beauty in its quiet stillness.

Doll’s House

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Cover for Doll’s House. Illustrated by Hannah Horrocks. Photo courtesy of Tent City Comics.

Written by Sam Costello. Illustrated by Savannah Horrocks.

Doll’s House follows 12-year-old Hannah as she’s about to turn 13. Her father wants her to stay a little girl while her mother wants her to explore whatever she’s interested in. As this Twilight Zone-esque story unfolds, Hannah discovers a strange little house on her family’s property, and uncovers an unnerving secret about her father. Sketched in a rough, pencilled style, the comic blurs the line between anime-nodding and teenage sketchbook heartache. And while this is a fun, short, spooky story, the real gem of this comic is the “behind-the-scenes” look at the way the artist and writer worked together to create the comic. After the panels conclude, the reader is let in on the creative process between writer Sam Costello and artist Savannah Horrocks through a series of script pages and unfinished pencil sketches. Through this creator-reader transparency the audience, invited into the studio, can further dive into the work.

Paper Girls #5

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Cover for Paper Girls #5. Illustrated by Cliff Chiang. Photo courtesy of Image Comics.

Written by Brian K. Vaughan. Illustrated by Cliff Chiang. Colors by Matt Wilson. Letters and Design by Jared K. Fletcher.

Four girls try to scrape by in the late 80s by running their own paper route. Life’s normal for these scrappy kids until time-traveling teenagers from the future come to salvage old technology, time-traveling adults come to punish those teenagers, and the whole world explodes into chaos. In this issue, the girls are finally reunited after one of them is whisked, briefly, into the distant future. With a vibrant color style that merges 80s fashion with future-tech, clean linework by Chiang, and a sharp story by comic mainstay Brian K. Vaughn (Saga, Y: The Last Man), this is one of the most memorable comics about cool girls scrambling through a weird crisis. A trade paperback collecting issues one through five will hit shelves in April, and if readers haven’t caught up with this series yet then consider that recommended, essential reading.

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