What I’ve been reading: the comics edition 

Not too much time to write and read this week, as we are in full National Book Festival mode, but there’s always time for comics! I’ve mentioned a few in my previous post about depression/dysphoria reading (a friend of mine called this using books ‘as defense against dark arts’), but I don’t just read comics when I’m in the dumps. I read them… a lot. This year, it might have been most of the time (or it might mean I’m in the dumps most of the time, huh).

So here’s what I’ve been reading:

Couv_aama_14mm.inddAama series by Frederik Peeters.

It is beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Well, perhaps ‘terrifying’ is not quite the right word. It looks as if it’s from another time and another place. To me, it feels like some remnant of 1970s-80s European pop culture that has been living in my subconscious and is now coming into view. It’s like watching some disturbing family movie you vaguely remember seeing as a child. It might be all the bizarre alien flora and fauna in it, or might be the colors and the way Peeters does faces.

If you’re around DC in September (read: if you’re coming to SPX), Peeters is going to talk about the series at Politics & Prose at Busboys & Poets Brookland on September 17th. I’m quite curious to meet the man whose mind produced these books.


The most beautiful magazine cover you’ve ever seen

Island magazine

Brandon Graham started it with Emma Ríos and a few other people (here’s an interview with them). It is so pretty. The second issue has a cover by Ríos, and it’s so beautiful I would have spent my money even if it were blank. Reading and subscribing to a comics magazine gives me a strange nostalgic feeling, like I’m in Japan and it’s Shonen Jump. Not that I ever read Shonen Jump on any regular basis. In fact, I don’t remember ever being subscribed to a comics mag. It’s nostalgia for something that never happened.

By a completely unplanned coincidence, Brandon Graham is also going to be at Fantom Comics on September 18th. They have a few other people coming, it’s going to be amazing.

Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido 

Damn my weird phobia of talking animals. I avoided Blacksad forever, and it was my loss. I honestly didn’t expect a comic involving talking human/animal hybrids give me a commentary on race, offer a great noir reading experience, and feature some of the best art I’ve seen. It’s a must, required, all that jazz.

Apex magazine love!

For me, magazines have always been something to pick up when bored, flip through, pick a story or two, and read them when waiting in line for a coffee. I don’t remember the last time I actually read a magazine cover-to-cover. Oh wait, now I do. Last week I sat down, picked up Apex magazine’s December 2013 issue and… just read it. Swallowed it, even. Inhaled. In fact, I’m pretty sure I burned something on the stove and possibly forgot to eat dinner. It was that good. Warning: gushing ahead.

There is actually quite a bit of choice these days in speculative short story offerings. Nobody can possibly keep up with everything that’s out both in print and online. Which means a mag has to really stand out. It has to have really good stories and possibly something else to offer.


All stories in that issue made me go ‘wow’ under my breath. I ended up nominating one of them for Hugo (Haruspicy and Other Amatory Divinations by Kat Howard), because it was exactly the kind of spec fiction I really like: weird and disturbing and uncanny.

To continue with my ‘short reviews” of short fiction:

What You’ve Been Missing by Maria Dahvana Headley was touching and bittersweet and beautiful. All That Fairy Tale Crap by Rachel Swirsky was funny and daring and irreverent. Before and After by Ken Liu was a great piece of flash fiction that I’m sure I actually consumed in one breath. Our Daughters by Sandra McDonald was one of those stories that alarm and unsettle you because you both can and cannot imagine them coming true.

The non-fiction piece was also well-chosen and particularly timely given the recent conversations in SFnal circles (Another World Awaits: Towards an Anti-Oppressive SFF by Daniel José Older). Hell, I even read the poem (Turning the Leaves by Amal El-Mohtar), and poetry is definitely not my bag. Spoilers: it was lovely.

Now that you know that this awesomeness exists, here’s how you can get more of it (I feel like I’m peddling drugs here, which in a sense I am, stories are in a sense drugs). Apex Magazine is running Operation: Fourth Story right now, and you can help them make the magazine even bigger and better. There are subscription links in the post and some more information.

And if you are not into short fiction, here’s a great post by Andrea (Little Red Reviewer) on why you should be reading more of it.

Short fiction! I’m reading more of it!


Got my hands today on The Book of Apex Vol. 4, and then came home to discover the new Asimov’s in the mail. I have resolved to read more short fiction this year, mostly because I enjoy short fiction yet never seem to read enough of it, and because it’s a good way to discover more authors (a novel, after all, is a bigger investment than a short story).

There is a Book of Apex Vol. 4 blog tour going on right now, and here’s the link to the list of posts.

My go-to short fiction places are Clarkesworld and Lightspeed magazines. Crossed Genres is another one. Subterranean Press Magazine publishes really good pieces as well. Do you have any magazines/zines/websites that you go to for your short fiction reading needs? Let me know.