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Annual by Joe Casey Review

by Michael D on September 27, 2017

Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Nathan Fox, Jim Rugg and Luke Parker, & Sonia Harris
Publisher: Image

Annual is one of the more interesting releases this week. It’s a brand new anthology series written and curated by comic creator, Joe Casey. It comes in the form of a trade with a page count of 123 pages and a price tag of $9.99. As the title suggest, it is meant to come out once a year. This is a new-format and quite a gamble for Casey but after reading through it, it’s safe to say that the gamble has paid off.

Casey is an industry veteran, having been in the business for 20 years with works in many genres. He is perhaps best known for his titles such as Sex & Godland. When approaching Annual, he included a very eclectic collection of pieces ranging from new stuff to old stuff to strictly text pieces. He describes this as a “personal mixtape” and draw on different genres to provide a unique experience. The wide range of stories might provide a sort of genre whiplash to some but I found it to be a part of its charm.

Annual collects some of Casey’s rare or unprinted previous work, the first being Modern Romance. It is a nice short story originally printed in Playboy’s 60th Anniversary Special. It includes some great work by artist Nathan Fox. The story starts of as a pulpy romance comic but things quickly take a more “modern” turn.

The next story is the supernatural pulp adventure, The Winternational. This is the first time this story has appeared in print since it premiered on the online platform, Stela.  This story takes up the bulk of Annual’s page count and it’s a ton of fun. The story revolves around an average Joe, named Edgar, who accidently gains super powers and becomes a reluctant hero to battle the evil forces of the occult. It’s fun stuff with crazy evil cults and villains appearing out of nowhere. Great art and character designs by Luke Parker fits perfectly with this pulpy hero. It’s hard not to draw comparisons to Hellboy but there is enough fun and new stuff here to get past it. I hope to see more of The Winternational in the future and this alone justifies picking up Annual.

My favorite part of Annual was a long form research piece by Juliette Jemas titles Swap Meat. It’s about the history of a long forgotten, almost mystical comic publishing company from the 60’s named Century Hero Comics. It is smartly written and thoroughly researched with so many twists and turns you won’t believe it’s actually true. Also explored is the type of stories the publisher was working on. Not only is the history incredibly entertaining but the stories we missed out from this publisher are truly groundbreaking even by today’s standards. They were tackling super hero comics in a way no one would try to again until the 80’s. Included at the end of the piece is a story from the original publisher, recolored and available for the first time ever. I recommend everyone check this piece out, it is a must read.

Some other odds and ends are: Pieces written by Joe Casey himself, providing a more in depth view at who he is and how he got started. A more traditional super hero romp titled Odin’s Mighty Return. There’s an interesting look at letterers work in comics. Finally, there is a pair of bizarre one shot comixs that I found unfunny.

Joe Case might have taken a gamble with this new format anthology and I am glad he did. Annual is a great example of what can be accomplished when you try something new with the format. There is a ton of content here that more than justifies the price tag. Readers will find something to love with this eclectic collection of stories while also exposing themselves to something they probably wouldn’t have read otherwise. 

Our Score:

9/10

A Look Inside