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Spotlight on ComiXology Submit – Tellurian, Thoughts From Iceland, Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales Vol. 2: Africa Edition

Every week, there is quite a selection of new comics available that have been added to ComiXology via their creator-owned Submit platform, and here at Bleeding Cool we're taking a moment to point out some of the titles that have caught our attention this time around that you might find as wacky or as intriguing as we did. This week, it happened again–I found myself staring at the screen and being amazed by what comics can do and how innovative creators are in telling their stories. If you ever feel that your enthusiasm for comics is getting too beleaguered by all the big industry controversies, you need to read the comics on Submit. I have no further advice for you than that. Here's why.

Top Pick:

Tellurian #1, written and illustrated by BW Swartz

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Perhaps you are familiar with the work of BW Swartz, but this is my first encounter and it was like opening the Box of Delights (British reference). Let me see if I can explain what seems to be going on here. Swartz appears to be sculpting tile illustrations in bas-relief for each comic panel, painting them, photographing them, and then adding word balloons and narrative banners. Take a moment for that to sink in. And he/she (apologies, I can't find the creator's gender easily online) is creating an entire mythological world peopled by beings inspired by reptiles, insects, and squids. SQUIDS. I may not need to say anything further to get you to read this comic. Each panel is alarmingly beautifully and carefully crafted, and the most impressive panels involve his/her rendering of angles seen from above as our main character in the "Crisis of the Cerulean King" storyline, Pythro, leaves his acolyte role to set off on a heroic journey of his own into a world the reader can't help but want him to explore just so we get to see more of it. In common parlance, this is "amazeballs" and just the kind of art geekery that turns what you think of comics upside down. The sheer artistic craftsmanship makes you savor every image, and Swartz even includes a teaser for the next issue that reveals some of his or her process:

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If you ever made a diorama, if you ever got in too deep with hero and monster quests as a young person, this will rekindle all your old enthusiasm and if you ever meet Swartz, buy this person a drink. They are doing a remarkable service for comics with their intricate work.

You might also like:

Thoughts From Iceland, written and illustrated by Lonnie Man

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 9.42.50 PMIn this unassuming travelogue you'll get far more than you bargained for. Lonnie Man's obsessive rendering of all of the textures of a short trip to Iceland in 2012 will at first amuse you, then beat you into worship of the icy Northern country within a few pages. Not a jot of experience eludes his cartoon record, including his own rampantly honest reactions to the unfamiliar. And he is a foodie. Oh yes. I've been to Iceland myself, so it was pretty fascinating to see another human's wanderings under a microscope, and the chronological order in which Man renders his episodic adventures from one minute to the next works as an unfolding exposition of of a broader and broader lens on cultural experience. Not only that, but the comic serves as a fairly exemplary preparation for any trip you might take to the country yourself. He's unerringly accurate in his advice gleaned from shopkeepers and trial and error. Perhaps unintentionally, Man shows the movement from the close-up surface of the unfamiliar into burgeoning curiosity and confidence that heralds a real appreciation and celebration of new experiences. And did I mention the food? This is a fascinating read, and particularly endearing is his diary lettering font and hilarious reactionary facial expressions of enthusiasm as he discovers new favorite things about Iceland. You can read more on Lonnie Man's comics at

Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales Vol. 2: Africa Edition, by various contributors

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 10.02.08 PMThis anthology is one of ComiXology's own picks of the week from Submit, and it's not difficult to see why. It clocks in at a whopping 209 pages in the hands of a team of stellar talents, all telling these traditional folktales from Africa in their own artistic accent. From the cover, I expected it might be an all-ages geared children's book, but I can vouch that the stories contained in this collection are really rather terrifying and compelling. We all know that old fairy tales are much scarier than their modern counterparts, and folk tales have rarely bowed to the gentrification of our modern age. Here they are presented in all their gory glory and stuffed with humor, pathos, and even tragedy. There's an incredible energy to these strange tales, and the artwork plays a large part in conveying that energy, bringing in surprisingly modern styles with manga influences, genre comic flair, and dashes of folk art waiting in the wings. And the collection is simply massive: there's something very satisfying about reading one compelling story and knowing there are many, many more waiting for you.

A common thread seems to be that humans are often the unwitting prey of bigger forces, that their foibles will of course bring them down, and that there's something to learn that's very basic about existence in every story we humans can tell each other. From Anansi who tries to "steal" wisdom to "tasty humans" in the grip of the supernatural, this is a book of wisdom and wonder tales that does illustrate fairly definitively that comics have their own root in folklore tradition, and so presenting folklore in comics is a marriage of equal minds. The collection makes for an excellent and diverting read, and the sophistication of the stories will no doubt impress you as much as the inventive artwork. Here's a list of the contributors, as well, including Carla Speed McNeil and Faith Erin Hicks:

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Hannah Means ShannonAbout Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.
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