While many people have been analyzing the new Thor: Ragnorok trailer frame by frame, I’ve been anticipating Nacho Vigalondo’s new film Colossal, starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis out in theaters next Friday. Luckily, I was able to attend an advanced screening followed by a Q&A with Vigalondo and hearing him talk about the film only made me love it more.
Colossal is about Gloria who has been kicked out of her boyfriend’s apartment because of her drinking, partying to the morning, and being unemployed. So, she moves back to her hometown where her elementary school friend Oscar has inherited his family’s bar, and offers her a part time job. After a night of heavy drinking, Gloria finds out a giant monster has attacked Seoul, and she soon discovers she might have something to do with it. Wrapped in an old style Kaiju film, Colossal deals with issues like gender politics, domestic violence, and self-agency in a way rarely seen in modern cinema. Funny, tragic, and entertaining, Colossal has it all.
In honor of Colossal, I’ve picked some of my favorite monster books for you to check out until you can see the film because, believe me, this is one you won’t want to miss.
Written and drawn by Zander Cannon
Published by Oni Press
In a world where giant monsters are part of the norm, what do you do when you apprehend a kaiju that has destroyed a city? You send them to Kaijumax, a prison for giant monsters run by Power Ranger-esque guards who can transform into ginormous mechs. Electrogorg, one of the newest prisoners of Kaijumax, is a single father with one goal; make sure my kids are ok. But when you’ve got rival prison gangs, like the Crypts, J-Pop, Megafauna and Mechs, planning their next moves and seeking new recruits, guards smuggling in drugs, and a new big Kaiju to contend with, Electrogorg begins to lose hope of ever being reunited with his kids. While the premise may seem tame and the colorful artistic style fun, this book explores the major issues in the modern prison system in a brutally honest fashion.
Attack on Titan
Written and Illustrated by Hajime Isayama
Published by Kodansha Comics
One thing that makes giant monsters so scary is their foreignness, the grotesque nature of their physicality and their divorce from the pure human form. In Isayama’s long running manga series Attack on Titan, the monsters are unique because they are giant humanoids known as titans who mindlessly roam the world, consuming humans for no apparent reason. Humans have decided to protect themselves from the titans by living behind 100-meter-high walls, all of humanity in three concentric, circular kingdoms, each with their unique social system. Following several young recruits in the defense corps, Attack on Titan is a fun, quick dystopian read filled with intriguing characters and a unique future historical setting.
Written and Illustrated by Katie Cook
Published by Action Lab
Gronk is a bad monster, very bad! So bad that she’s left the monsterdome and has been adopted by a human named Dale, and her two pets, Kitty, a cat, and Harli, a large Newfoundland dog. Dale enjoys her secluded life in the Canadian woods of being creative, the perfect place for Gronk to hide without causing too much suspicion. Originally a webcomic, these short, four panel comics are reminiscent of the Sunday funnies, but for all ages. Gronk’s exploration of the human world and Dale’s unwavering nerdiness proves a little green monster can bring many hours of joy to readers of all ages.
Written by Marjorie Liu
Illustrated by Sana Takeda
Published by Image Comics
High fantasy stories have not always been my cup of tea. Either the world is not immersive enough for me to buy into the premise or it is so removed from reality that I have no way to relate to. In Monstress, the balance is perfect as Maiko navigates the world of the Arcanic, magical creatures with animalistic elements, and the Cumea who use the Aracnic to fuel their magical powers. An Arcanic herself, Maika Halfwolf harbors an old evil within her which may be defeated if she can learn the secrets of her mother. The world building in this comic is stunning. It uses Asian centric cultures as a starting point and pulls a lot of artistic influences from that. For a more subtle, but just as scary, monster story, Monstress is an excellent choice and reminds me a lot of Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy.
Jack Kirby & Steve Ditko
Note how I’m not putting down any specific books to represent the amazing Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Kirby, one of the comic book pioneers wrote a lot of silver age comics like Tales of Suspense, Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, which contains the origins of some superheroes and villains still around today, including Magneto and Iron Man, Fing Fang Foom and Groot and other out of this world monsters like Klagg and Gorgilla. What I like most looking at his monster comics is comparing it to his romance comics, which he also pioneered. Steve Ditko, who worked with Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, worked in the pulp comics of the 60s and 70s under Eerie and Creepy Magazine. Later, he drew comic adaptations of mega monster movie characters like Konga and Gorgo. Seriously, go do a Google Image search for Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and monsters and you will see innovative creature design and an amazing gallery of covers. Then, you know, go check out some of their books.
I really encourage you to go see Colossal. I don’t want to spoil too much before it’s released wide, but I’d love to know your thoughts on it! Also, do you have any monster comics you’d recommend to someone? Let me know by tweeting me @librnwithissues using the hashtag #ColossalComics.
If you’d like to check out one of Vigalondo’s shorts, I recommend 7:35 in the Morning a short film with a surprising twist.