The best comics, according to the clerks who sell them

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Shanna Matuszak of Floating World Comics. Photo by Christopher Sohler

When you’re looking for the best, go to the experts. That’s exactly what we did for our list of the best comics around, as recommended by a handful of Portland’s finest comic clerks.

Zak from Cosmic Monkey recommends Haunter, written and painted by Sam Alden and published by Study Group. Zak (who asked for his last name to be withheld) recommends it as an excellent adventure story with bright and nightmarish watercolors and line art that either lends itself to melting, or is entirely angular. The story is about a young hunter who, while chasing a boar, stumbles across an ancient temple. The comic is free online.

Zak also recommended The Wrenchies, written and painted by Farel Dalrymple and published by Study Group. Zak said that it is one of the best comics to come out this year. It’s a gritty metaphysical science-fiction that follows the stories of a young boy from our time, and a group of powerful children through a disturbed future.

Debbie Fagnant, an owner of Excalibur Comics, recommends Blacksad a French noir-style comic that’s gorgeously written and illustrated. Written by Juan Díaz Canales and illustrated by Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad was published by Dargaud and tells the story of anthropomorphic animals in a late ‘50s America.

Michael A. Tobias, also from Excalibur Comics, recommends Rat Queens, published by Image Comics, written by Kurtis J. Wiebe and illustrated by Roc Upchurch. Tobias said that he’d liken it to Dungeons and Dragons, with an all-female cast of total badasses who run the town.

Shanna Matuszak, from Floating World Comics, recommends Mega Hex because it’s “super funny and relatable to anyone who’s ever been around or near a college campus, with cool, fun vignettes.” Mega Hex was written and illustrated by Simon Hanselmann and published by Fantagraphics. The story centers on a drug-addicted, depressed witch and her similarly downcast friends.

Matuszak also recommended Island of Memory, which she described as historical, but still easily read and beautiful.Island of Memory was written and illustrated by T. Edward Bak. This volume of his work is historical-fiction centering on George Wilhelm Steller (1709–1746), a naturalist who traveled with the Second Kamchatka Expedition and was the first non-native to arrive in what is now recognized as Alaska.

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