Curse Words and 5 Other Hilarious Comic Books You’ll Love

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

In pop culture, as in life, nothing super funny tends to last. Comedy film sequels tend to be an exercise in diminishing returns. Repeated a joke a few times—it’s funny until it’s not. (In rare cases, it gets back to funny again with even more repetition, but leave that to the pros.) Lots of stand-up comics set fire to a year’s worth or more of material when the do a Netflix comedy special—once the act is seen far and wide, it’s not something they can perform again.

Comic books would seem to follow the same rule: a jokey comic book premise, even a great one, can only be sustained for so long before it loses some of its freshness. (All right, maybe Deadpool is an exception to this rule, but everybody knows Deadpool doesn’t play fair with rules.)

A comic I started reading two years ago, Curse Words, published Image Comics, has somehow managed to beat the odds and stay weird, funny, and satisfyingly energetic through 20 issues and three seasonal specials. The story of a wizard named Wizord who has escaped a brutal alternate realm called The Hole World and found fame on Earth starts off loopy and large-scale (one of his first acts here is to shrink down an entire baseball stadium full of people). And then Curse Words doubles down on its weirdness by introducing an array of assassins (including Wizord’s ex-lover Ruby Stitch) sent by a faceless demon guy named Sizzajee.

The writing by Charles Soule is wacky and hilarious, but there’s room enough here for a tender family triangle with Wizord, Ruby, and Wizord’s koala bear/shapeshifting companion Margaret that has evolved beautifully over the run of the comic.

But it’s Ryan Browne’s art—full of ridiculously detailed bodies, literal sound effects spelled out to hilarious effect, and some of the most over-the-top splash pages you’ll see in any comic—that really transform it into a comedic tour-de-force.

Curse Words is funnier than you might expect it to be, more magical and its title would suggest and a visual treat throughout. It may be the funniest comic on stands today. Here are a few others, if you like this style of humor:

God Hates Astronauts, by Ryan Browne
Even more bonkers than Curse Words is Browne’s last project, a three-arc war saga involving farmers, a human-hippo hybrid named Sir Hippothesis, a group of ineffective superheroes, and a character named King Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger. Absurd doesn’t even begin to cover the plotting shenanigans that Browne gets into over the 15 issues of this series, which isn’t nearly as straightforward as Curse Words. The panels are rendered so gorgeously that you forget you’re reading one of the dumbest (dumbest-smartest?) stories ever committed to graphic novel form.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
Count me as one of fans who can’t wait for Squirrel Girl to get her own movie, or at least a good guest shot in one of the upcoming entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As told in rebooted form by writer Ryan North and artist Erica Henderson (the creative team behind her first series since the character debuted in 1991), it’s been four years of great jokes, off-kilter encounters with some of Marvel’s biggest heroes and villains, and lots and lots of marginalia jokes, not to mention goofy conversations with squirrels. Doreen Green is tough and funny and silly and perhaps my favorite character in all of comics. I’m jealous of anyone who gets to fall in love with her for the first time.

Sex Criminals, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
Even if you like your humor a little more, um, adult, you may find yourself blushing from the sheer number and endlessly creative ways writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky find to make fresh jokes out of tired tropes involving human anatomy, pornography, and the clumsy fumbling of modern coupling. (How silly is this comic? A spinoff advice book was called “Just the Tips.”) It started as a silly romp about a couple that can stop time when they have sex, but somewhere along the way toward what is expected to be the last arc of the comic later this year, though, it also became deeper, more emotional—a true exploration of relationships, sexual need, and loneliness. With, and I can stress this enough, lots and lots of penis jokes.

Kaptara, by Chip Zdarsky
Sex Criminals helped make Zdarsky a popular talent in comics and he’s gone on to write Howard the Duck and Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, among others. But one of my favorite, lesser-known works of his is Kaptara, a strangely down-to-Earth space adventure about a very regular guy caught up in comically extreme fantasy circumstances on a distant planet. Highlights include a band of aggressively rude, Smurf-like men’s rights activists and an oft-nude wizard who’s like Gandalf on a bender. Sadly, it’s unclear if Kaptara will return anytime soon—it only stuck around for five very funny issues.

I Hate Fairyland, by Scottie Young
Walk into any comic-book store and you’re likely to see tons of variant covers with artwork by Scottie Young, who specializes in adorable and extremely weird and violent images. Young’s own Image Comics title, which just concluded after 20 issues, follows Gertrude, a young girl who finds herself in a candy-colored dreamland and quickly learns to hate the fluff out of it. With her flying-bug guide Larrigon Wentsworth III, Gertrude grows up to cause all kinds of bloody havoc across the kingdom and engage in epic boss battles with evil queens, demons, and armies of goofy villains. If you were ever a fan of The Ren & Stimpy Show, this might be your jam.

What’s your favorite funny comic?

The post Curse Words and 5 Other Hilarious Comic Books You’ll Love appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

Saga Is Officially Entering Its Endgame


Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ groundbreaking sci-fi epic Saga has been, err, well.. a saga. But all things have an end, and now we know that Saga itself is beginning the path to its own—it’s just going to be a little while until we get there.

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The Heroes of This Week’s Best New Comics Are Powered by Belief


Special powers or prophesied destinies aside, having conviction and powerful faith in something is often what makes comic book heroes special. Usually, that faith is in something larger and more grandiose like a deity or mystical being, but the heroes of this week’s best new comics draw strength from the faith they’ve…

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This Assassin Nation #2 exclusive takes a trip down murderous memory lane


Image Comics’ new series, Assassin Nation, debuted with guns blazing, introducing 20 of the world’s top killers and pitting them against each other in a bloody firefight. Written by Kyle Starks with art by Erica Henderson and letters by Deron Bennett, this comedy-infused action series is brimming with personality to…

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Werewolf Baristas and Fairy Frat Bros: Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle on the Magical World of Moonstruck

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

The first volume of Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle’s cozy, queer comic series Moonstruck was a delight: the story of werewolf barista Julie and her pals, who live in a world in which magical creatures are commonplace—which is not to say a world without problems: Julie’s got a crush on Selena, which is entirely requited, but her insecurities about her wolfish nature still get in the way, and she still has to deal with her attention-seeking best pal/co-worker Chet, a lovably overbearing centaur.

The stars of the all-ages rom-com are, not least, wonderfully diverse, and not just in mythical terms. They are representative of a wide array of body shapes and sizes, skin colors, and gender and sexual identities. In a world in which a were-gorgon might flip out on you at a coffee shop, what’s going on in your pants (or in your bed) isn’t a huge hang-up for anyone.

Volume 2, Some Enchanted Evening—which arrives in bookstores March 19—is similarly small-scale and relatable in its concerns: the gang attends a fairy bro frat party that quickly goes awry. An enchantment traps a few members of the group in the house, while on the outside, Julie continues to tentatively open herself to a real relationship with Selena while also trying to rescue her pals. How do you break a fairy circle with the winter solstice on the way?

Writer Grace Ellis and artist Shae Beagle were kind enough to chat with us about the series, and the challenge of continuing it into this second volume (since the release of Vol. 1, the series has switched from a monthly issues to an “original graphic novel” format). In the process, we learned a great deal about the making of a series that werewolves everywhere are calling “a very realistic portrayal of lycanthropic life”—and about how there can never be too many comics by and for queer people. (Also about how Cher might be a werewolf. Which is totally a compliment.)

]Julie’s growing in self-confidence, and her relationship with Selena seems to help, but it seems like she has a long way to go. How do you see her journey?

Grace Ellis: Oh man, Julie’s journey is a complicated one. She’s on a journey of self-confidence, but it’s not a straight line. It’s about gaining the confidence to realize that she doesn’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations of what she should do or who she should be, which is tough for everyone but especially for someone so full of contradictions. Everyone in the book has an idea of who Julie is, but it’s just an idea. Julie’s gotta learn to worry less about what she thinks she’s supposed to be doing and just go her own way, even if it’s not what people expect of her. The confidence she gains throughout their adventures is a big part of that.

Shae Beagle: Julie’s so similar to my younger self it’s a little scary. She’s struggling with identity, relationships, confidence… and while she’s making a lot of progress through the story so far, she does still have a long way to go. I think her journey is realistic in that way. She learns and reverts, pushes her comfort zone as well as stays inside it. I’m rooting for her every step of the way, because I know that struggle, and a lot of people do, and I think we all want to see her grow.

Is she tough to write? In this very diverse and welcoming world, she’s still got all these hang-ups.

GE: I had some trouble with her in the beginning, and then Laurenn [McCubbin, series editor] had an amazing idea that really clarified who she was for me: the idea to have her apologize a lot. The thing about Julie is that she feels like she’s taking up too much space, physically and emotionally. I think she would like to disappear, if she could. So she’s constantly apologizing for literally nothing, because she feels like she’s in the way somehow. It’s kind of fun to write, actually, because it’s an impulse I completely understand, as a woman.

Julie’s able to hide her dual nature, whereas, say, Chet can’t hide theirs. Is that significant in terms of their very different levels of self-confidence?

GE: Oh, completely, that’s one of the fundamentals of who those two characters are, specifically. When Chet walks into the room, there’s no mistaking who they are, whereas Julie at least has the option of pretending to be someone she isn’t. That difference is part of what makes them such good friends, I think. They challenge each other in that way.

Where do the characters come from, both visually and in terms of voice and personality? Inspired by your own werewolf friends, I’d assume.

GE: Oh man, can I just tell you: I met someone literally last night who believes that all lesbians are werewolves. I am not making that up. He genuinely believes that, and I didn’t even say anything about this book. And he’s gay! So he’s got a lot going on. But yeah, we’re all werewolves and Moonstruck is based on a true story, I want that on the official record.

So the characters of Moonstruck were created in what I would consider the ideal comics way, which is that the art and the writing informed each other. We started as a five-page mini comic, so I wrote out these characters and only had a vague sense of who they would be, and then Shae the Genius came along and turned them into real people. Once I could see how they looked and moved, it was easy for me to go back and fill out their personalities even more.

SB: Like Grace says, the art and the writing inform each other! So Grace is amazing at giving a character so much life and personality in writing, and I just try to match that visually! How would this character move, how would they dress, how emotive are they? As each keeps informing the other, it feels a lot like you’re growing with that character and getting to know them better in this really natural way. Also all my werewolf friends love the story and find it to be a very realistic portrayal of lycanthropic life, can we get that as a pull quote?

Part of the fun is that the book takes place in this very lived-in, believable world that, in reality, has much different rules than our own.  Can you talk a bit about creating the look and feel of the world that Julie and co. inhabit?

GE: Well, it’s definitely one of my mains goals: to make the world of this book a friendly, cozy [one]. I wanted it to feel like Stars Hollow or the bar in Cheers where everybody knows your name and your friends are there and you can always stop by and feel like you’re home. I should say, too, that I think those goals are especially well-served by the art, because it all looks like it could be made out of cotton candy, with Shae’s art and Caitlin Quirk’s colors.

On the writing side of things, there are a couple different strategies working all at once. A big part of it is imagining what day to day life in Blitheton would be like and then populating it accordingly. And being specific! Specific things, like the idea that it’s a college town, so of course there are two coffee shops within blocks of each other. The secondary characters have to be specific too, with rich inner lives: Mark working at the mall or Chet playing Newpals or Manuel being an English major, all of which make them feel more like people you know. And then there’s the coffee shop itself, which is meant to feel like it could be in your neighborhood, if only you took a different route home. It’s about making the  world [feel like it has] a lot going on beyond what we immediately see.

That being said, the rules of this world are pretty different from the real one, and I think that comes back to specificity as well. You’ve gotta fulfill the promise of the premise as much as you can, which is to say that if there were a storyline without a single magical thing happening, it would feel like a waste. If you picked up a volume of a book about werewolves and they spent the entire thing just drinking coffee like a lesbian My Dinner with Andre, you’d probable feel cheated. Probably. Making magic an everyday part of the world and integrating it into an emotional story that’s grounded in real life is an important part of what makes Moonstruck Moonstruck.

SB: Ever since our five-page mini comic, the feel of the world has been light-hearted, warm, and fun. I wanted to make sure to live up to that in the art. Hard black inks didn’t seem to fit the feeling, so I settled on a softer, sketchy, penciled look. Most of the character designs feature lots of round shapes and curved lines, and the color palette leans toward the pastel. This happens to be my exact aesthetic, but shhh it’s all intentional.

Also along with Grace’s points on specificity, I try to keep each character’s space as specific to them as possible. This could be as broad as Julie’s room being tidy and filled with books that reflect her interests, to as small a detail as Chet’s cellphone charms. All these things flesh out the world and make it more familiar and lived-in, despite all the magic.

Now that the book’s firmly established and popular, are you thinking any differently about how to tell the story over a potentially longer term?

GE: I don’t really know. At the beginning, I was just happy to get one volume out, but once we knew Image would let us go on for a while, I started thinking of it as four volumes, one for each season, so we could watch the characters and the town change over the course of a year. Honestly, I think I’d like to cap it at four. I love comics, but I do think infinite stories are a weakness of the medium. Sometimes things are better with an ending. That’s one of the later themes of the book, actually, so maybe that’s appropriate.

Moonstruck has been a part of the discussion about queer representation in media over the past year or so. How are you all feeling about where we are now? It seems like we’ve seen some huge progress…and then some ugly pushback.

GE: That’s a complicated question. The comics community is having some real growing pains right now, [specifically] reckoning with the fact that the comics community has never been just straight white men ages 18 to 35. My general feeling is that I’m going to keep making comics, and those comics are going to have LGBTQ characters, and I don’t really care if people don’t like that about them.

I do think the real answer is to just make more comics and tell more stories about (and told by) LGBTQ people. There isn’t one single narrative that’s going to capture everyone’s experience—nothing can be everything to everyone—so the solution is to seize and create opportunities for more stories that more people could potentially connect with. Even the goals of Moonstruck and Lumberjanes are very different; they’re meant to connect with different audiences. In media as a whole, all the big LGBTQ stories tend to be about suffering—even still—and in that way, I’m happy that Moonstruck and Lumberjanes can contribute some queer joy. We have come an unbelievably long way, though, so I’m grateful to be making comics in the current moment.

SB: There’s a bit of tension within the comic’s community about marginalized creators finding success in telling our stories. I’m not going to let that stop me from creating and contributing to queer stories as a queer creator, stories that I needed to see in my childhood.

Comics have come far [in terms of] queer representation, but we can keep going and keep proving that these stories are important to tell. I never thought I’d be making comics until I could finally relate to what I was reading. I’d like to keep seeing a variety of queer stories from every unique perspective—happy queer stories, queer stories for kids, and more queer talent to make them!

When will the crossover with the Cher film Moonstruck happen, and where can I send the money to ensure it does?

GE: I wonder if we can get Cher to do a signing at a convention with us. Honestly, if anyone in the real world is a werewolf, it’s probably Cher. She’s pretty magical, I’d believe anything you told me about her.

SB: I keep wanting to sneak Cher into a crowd scene or something, but she deserves better than that… Can we get Cher? Cher are you reading this?


Moonstruck Volume 2: Some Enchanted Evening is available now.

The post Werewolf Baristas and Fairy Frat Bros: Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle on the Magical World of Moonstruck appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

David Walker Is Betting on the Power of Black History and a Bold New Self-Publishing Gamble


David Walker is busy. He’s co-writing Naomi, a new high-profile series from DC Comics, along with Brian Michael Bendis and artist Jamal Campbell. He’s also working on Image Comics’ enthusiastically received Bitter Root with co-writer Chuck Brown and artist Sanford Greene. But, despite the fact that the veteran writer…

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This Week’s Best New Comics Are All About Uncovering Dark Truths


There’s a certain kind of power that comes with knowing the deep truths about things, whether they be individual people, discrete situations, or events that have yet to occur. This week’s best new comics all feature characters who know this to be true, but for each of them, learning the actual nature of the way things…

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Everything You Need to Know About The Walking Dead’s New Creepy-as-Hell Villains


The Walking Dead comics, and in turn the show, have always been defined by the generations of villains Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors have faced, from the dead themselves, to the Governor, and then most famously, Negan. With The Walking Dead back on AMC this weekend, here’s what you need to know about the next…

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Syfy’s Deadly Class Is More Awkward Than Cool


Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a movie that feels like a living comic book. It works not only because of how it uses its source material, but how it shifts away from it. Syfy’s Deadly Class fails to meet the same standard, leaning too heavily on its graphic novel to the point where it doesn’t feel like a show…

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