I have found my top three picks of the best Dark Horse Comics releases from October. A few were provided ahead of street release, and they’re now available at a local comic book store near you. They make for fine reading on a cold night, when not everyone wants to experience the brisk outdoors. Tis the season to sit by a cozy light, enjoy the warmth of the fireplace and enjoy a graphic novel/novella.
The EC Archives: Incredible Science Fiction leads the pack since I like to see what comics were like back in the days. This publisher is better known for its horror comics than educational storytelling, and to get a peek at what else they printed makes for some great reading. Grant Geissman’s forward gives newcomers a history lesson regarding comic book censorship, and Mark Evanier’s mini-essay explains why these works must be preserved.
There’s 51 volumes in all, and the October release is book number 18. We’re hardly at the halfway point, and I’m thankful for the slow release so I can reshuffle my bookshelf as my collection grows. Technically, what’s presented is “Weird Science Fantasy,” as the originals show, and it’s a pleasure to read through this latest compilation which brings issues 27-29 of that series run, and 30-33 of “Incredible Science Fiction.” What’s offered are pristine pages of those runs in higher resolution. These pulps also included adventures in the past with a few Tarzan style tales and the future with heroes in the likes of Flash Gordon! When considering the era when these issues were released, that’s what this comic was competing against.
My favourites include an adaptation of “I, Robot” and a very different “Lost in Space” (artist: Al Williamson, Angelo Torres and Roy Krenkel). The details in the artwork are more pronounced since they’re enhanced for today’s print machines to reproduce. Another detail I appreciate in these reprints is the inclusion of the ads of the day, and the letters sent to the publisher.
Another volume to appreciate is the Art of Ducktales. This compendium of illustrations goes beyond simply collecting all the production sketches into a tome. There are bits presented like a comic strip and all the dialogues honour the creator of Duckburg, Carl Banks. Artists may learn how to personalize their work because there’s a fair bit of analysis in what made this talent great. They also discuss what the original 90s cartoon represents to them. For the modern update, we see how the love carries on.
Each chapter focuses on some particular aspect of production, and my favourite is with the unique episode guide, which makes up the bulk of this book. Most of these thoughts concern some aspect of bringing that tale to life. It can be about a particular character or something else. These anecdotes come from either Frank Angones, Sean Jimenez, Suzanna Olson or Matt Youngberg.
Last but not least is Avatar: The Last Airbender Boxed Set. I missed purchasing the last set of graphic novellas, and to have this collection is heartily welcomed. Fans like me are waiting for Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko to craft their first movie, and I suspect we won’t see any official news until SDCC 2023. (Nov 10 update: Variety reported the film will screen in October 2025, and will focus on Aang) Their studio was created in 2021 to continue this universe, and to set up shop also means hiring enough animators and tech crew to deal with other aspects of production.
Thankfully, this publisher is still churning out stories in the meantime. This set brings Katara and the Pirate’s Silver, Toph Beifong’s Metalbending Academy, and Suki, Alone together into a nice keepsake box, and for fans wanting to build a display to showcase their love for this animated martial arts fantasy, it comes with a poster too!