Just a quick post this week to officially recommend something I'd hypothesized might be great. Julia gave me Jeremy Sorese's Curveball as an early Christmas present, and it ended up exceeding my very high expectations. I brought it to Rhode Island hoping to work my way through it over the break, and I was so into it that the first read didn't even get me halfway through the bus ride.
I don't want to give too much away, even about the SF principles at work, since as with any meticulously built fictional world there's a lot of joy in being fed information slowly, in building a knowledge in concert with the author and at the pace they've chosen. (It strikes me as a genius move on someone's part to have hired Sorese to write the Steven Universe comics, since skillfully patient worldbuilding is one of SU's strengths as well.) But I will say that Curveball is beautifully diverse--in its characters; in its heartbreaking, empowering honesty about the multitude of different ways love can let us down; in its plotlines and subplotlines and ultimate cohesion.
It's also aesthetically beautiful, something I can conveniently illustrate with a few of the sample pages posted on Nobrow Press's website.
Many of Sorese's drawings make amazing, lonely/relatable use of negative space and darkness. There's often a lot of ink on the page, sometimes with the whites of characters' eyes being the only truly white space, to amazing visual effect. (Julia tells me that this reminds her of some French and Belgian cartoonists' work; I have to take her word for it.):
The book is mostly black-and-white but has one accent color, a bright orange used to represent tech, robotics, and pure energy. (I don't want to give too many details--just read the book.) This handles a lot of great thematic work and exposition, in addition to just being really beautiful:
The characters are in general extremely endearing, variously charming and flawed, and this is sometimes expressed visually in one of my favorite recurring moves in Sorese's work (as far as I can tell)--extended dialogue expressed in a series of dynamic freeze-frames, a single character in a performance sometimes earnest, sometimes contrived, sometimes for an audience and sometimes for themselves alone:
It's probably too late to grab this book as a holiday gift, unless you're very, very ambitious. But make it your first gift to yourself in the new year! It's making me think a lot about nuts-and-bolts things like blocking and structure, as well as character, interwoven conflicts, and where we're all headed in the future.