It’s the first week of May and you know what that means, The Avengers in theaters kicking off the summer movie season on May 4, which is also Star Wars Day, and Free Comic Book Day, Saturday May 5. FCBD has capitalized on the first weekend of May because of what seems like an annual release of a Marvel movie and hopefully there will be plenty of interest in stories starring Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but we would be irresponsible to pass up the opportunity to showcase all of the other comic book publishers and diverse selection of comics to choose from that will be made to sample in the form of free comics, as well as hopefully well-stocked selections of their catalog at your local comic book shop, which you can find by dialing 1-888-COMIC-SHOP or visiting the Comic Shop Locator website.
In this spotlight, I wanted to highlight Archaia because they know how to make high quality comics. They make books, not comics and they are worth every penny. Most of their catalog are filled with original stories printed on high quality paper and hardbound in beautifully designed packages on the go. Archaia is one of the few publishers that is making a major effort to give fans of all genres, genders and ages a wealth of titles to choose from. In addition to their original stories, Archaia also has access to licenses such as The Immortals, Planet of the Apes, the Jim Henson library which includes The Dark Crystal, The Storyteller and Fraggle Rock. This year alone, Archaia garnered nine Eisner Award Nominations, adding to their long list of accomplishments as a small publisher that is doing big things to diversify and broaden the scope of American comics.
What they’re offering that’s free:
For the first time in Free Comic Book Day history, a full hardcover: Mouse Guard, Labyrinth, and Other Stories, an 48-page, 6″ x 9″ full color anthology of six all-ages-friendly short stories including new stories of Mouse Guard, Cow Boy, Rust, Cursed Pirate Girl, Labyrinth, and Dapper Men. If your local comic shop was savvy enough to order these for you, you will get to see what Archaia does best. This will be the must-have book of FCBD 2012.
Free Comic Book Day Store Signings: Check this list of signings to see if Archaia Creators are signing at a comic shop near you: http://www.archaia.com/archaia-signings-and-events-for-free-comic-book-day/
Below is a sample of their most recent and best offerings, with links to sample them on Archaia’s website.
Recent ARCHAIA Releases to Buy:
Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix (Mature)
Patrick Marty (w) Chongrui Nie (a) $14.95
This is story of a hero, from a long time ago. The setting is 11th Century China during the years that Judge Bao during the Song Dynasty. His biggest villains? Like any man of office or the court, it’s corruption, greed, and the weak virtues of the human condition. Bao fights battles in a different way–his dedication to the law. It’s a strange notion to us today, which makes this a really unique first volume of what will be a series of graphic novels that will bring the legend and of Judge Bao to today. The art is in black and white and is stunning. It is one of my favorite titles released this year, it’s like the ancient Chinese version of Law and Order!
Richard Marazano (w) Jean-Michel Ponzio (a) $19.95
In this sci-fi thriller, company man Thomas Hale becomes the first privately owned man by the pharmaceutical company her works for after they decode his entire genome. The story is smart and the art is wonderful, with moody, realistic renderings and oversized pages.
I’m Not A Plastic Bag (All Ages)
Rachel Hope Allison (w/a) $19.95
This graphic novel is an eco-conscious book that tells the story of our bond with the planet. And no, this is no a continuation of that scene in American Beauty but there is something beautiful about this story. Archaia has agreed to plant two trees for each tree used in manufacturing the book. If you see the book it has its own unique design like all Archaia books but even though you can see it online, it really must be seen in person.
Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand (Teen+)
Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl (w) Ramón K. Pérez (a) $29.95
Take everything you think you know about Jim Henson and throw it out in the garbage. This original adaptation of an unused screenplay by Henson and Jerry Juhl is one of the most unique things you’ll ever come across and is about a man who is chased across the Southwest region of the United States by unimaginable things. Tale of Sand has been hailed by critics and has been nominated for five Eisners including Best Graphic Album-New, Best Penciler, Coloring and Pub Design. Artist Ramón K. Pérez is a star! Treat yourself or someone you like with this book!
Feeding Ground (Mature)
Chris Mangun and Swifty Lang (w) Michael Lapinski (a) $24.95
This is an adult tale of a family trying to escape peril along the Mexico-Arizona border. They entrust “coyote” Diego Busqueda to lead them across the border and all of the dangers the desert entails. Based on true stories by author Swifty Lang, The Feeding Ground is an old fashioned horror story showing that we are our own worse enemy despite whatever it is externally we fear along the way.
Josh Tierney (w) Various (a) $19.95
Two princesses and a giant dog which is actually a fire spirit seek out the quest of Spera. It’s a fun, fantasy-filled fairy tale with lovely art that’s so good it could be the stills of a classic animated tale of yesteryear.
Other Essential Selections in Archaia’s Catalog:
Return of The Dapper Men (All Ages)
Jim McCann (w) and Janet Lee (a) $24.95
This story takes you to another world where time has stopped and world has lost its way. A boy, a beloved robot girl, and a Dapper Man get to the bottom of what happened, make sense of it. It is the 2011 Eisner Award Winner for Best New Graphic Album, and nominated in four other categories including Best Publication for Teens, Best Writer, Best Painter/Multimedia Artist and Pub Design.
Rust (All Ages)
Royden Lepp $24.95
Think Iron Giant, Iron Man in the middle of a corn field. This is an adventure set in the prairie lands and on the Taylor family farm, and then Jet Jones crashes into the barn chased by a giant decommissioned war robot! Oldest son Roman begins his journey into one of the most charming all-ages reads I’ve had in a long time.
An Elegy for Amelia Johnson (Teen)
Andrew Rostan (w/a) $14.95
Amelia Johnson is dying of cancer and asks her two best friends to carry out a request and by doing so they get closer to Amelia and discover things about her and themselves they never knew before.
The Killer (Mature)
Matz (w) Luc Jacamon (a) Volume 1 for $19.95 and Volumes 2 and 3 for $24.95
This 2007 hardboiled series follows the detailed life of a professional killer. It’s a beautiful and intelligent noir series written by Matz who and was nominated for an Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material in 2011 and has been optioned for a film called Headshot. And while you’re checking The Killer out, also look at Matz and Jacamon’s other book for Archaia called Cyclops. Matz’s other comic, Bullet to the Head is being made into a film starring Sylvester Stallone and Sarah Shahi.
Mouse Guard (All Ages)
David Petersen (w/a) Volume 1 and 2 $24.95 Legends of the Guard $19.95
Archaia’s most popular title where mice strive to survive against the harsh world of predators and weather conditions. The Guard provide safe guidance to those who look to travel between villages. Whether it’s Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, or the Princess Bride, fans of all ages who enjoy the fantasy world will get caught up in Petersen’s vivid illustrations full of endless detail and crosshatching. It’s so cute but yet so full of adventure too.
So if you haven’t given Archaia a shot, there’s plenty of reasons you should. Find the comic shops that are bringing in the Mouse Guard, Labyrinth, and Other Stories hardcover on FCBD, those are the shops that should be stocking up on Archaia books and the ones you should be visiting today.