The comics industry is and always has been a place of churn. Comics writers, artists, and even publishers change course, sometimes concluding titles before their time or simply placing them on a hiatus from which they never return (whether for reasons of declining sales or a creator jumping ship for greener pastures). Not all endings are so fraught: sometimes, a final issue simply means that the story is finished, and a satisfying ending is certainly worth celebrating, even as you mourn the loss of a title you’ve followed for years.
Yes, it’s hard for readers to say goodbye to a favorite title, and 2019 has certainly seen some surprising endings, even for comics that remained extremely popular and that could have stuck around for many years to come. The reasons vary—some titles are going away in preparation of a big reboot (Marvel’s Star Wars ending in November, is expected to return), while others, such as The Walking Dead, abruptly finished their run when their storytellers simply decided it was the end of the road.
Remember, it’s natural to grieve the loss of a beloved comic book. Here are some of the highest-profile comics we’ve lost or are losing this year, with some suggestions on what you might want to check out next:
Giant Days, by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, Max Sarin and other artists
One of the most gratifying success stories in comics was the eventual flourishing of this series, which began as a spinoff of a webcomic, then transitioned into a creator-owned series chronicling the often fraught coming-of-age of college students Esther de Groot, Susan Ptolemy, and Daisy Wooton. The Boom! Studios series gained acclaim for its funny, realistic depiction of university-aged women, and ended up picking up Eisner award nominations in 2016 and two wins this year. A final issue, As Time Goes By, reveals what has happened to the cast a year after graduation. The 12th and final trade edition will be released in February 2020; volume 11 is out this month.
Also check out: Allison is incredibly prolific, and fans won’t want to miss his other work. Start with the comic Bad Machinery, in which the young students at Griswalds Grammar School investigate mysteries. It’s higher concept, but just as lovable in the character department.
Paperback $53.99 | $59.99
The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard
We don’t need to tell you what The Walking Dead is about, do we? (The title certainly tells you enough.) Writer Robert Kirkman shocked fans with the final panels of July’s issue #193, which turned out to be the last of the long-running, incredibly successful comic, which spawned multiple television shows, video games, action figures, and an entire pop-culture zombie renaissance. The final issue begins with a time jump years into the future, and takes its time filling in the blanks of what happened to the surviving cast after the surprising death of a major character. The best way to experience it might just be via the fourth mammoth The Walking Dead: Compendium, out this month—B&N has an exclusive edition featuring a variant cover and other goodies.
Also check out: The Walking Dead TV shows are ongoing and do often deviate from the comic stories, so you don’t need to say goodbye to shambling zombies and the antiheroes who love (to machete) them just yet. Meanwhile, on the page, Robert Kirkman’s Oblivion Song is worth a look—a sci-fi saga set in a world in which an entire American city has vanished along with the millions of people within it, its plot is full of the sort of shocking twists and sudden deaths that have kept fans of The Walking Dead on their toes for years.
Curse Words, by Charles Soule, Ryan Browne, Addison Duke, and Chris Crank
The last issue of this incredibly funny saga about vengeful wizards and forbidden love amid aerial battles with very weird bad guys ends in November with the series’ 25th issue. Despite some wild tonal swings and supremely weird subplots, the narrative never lost momentum and the creators kept a buoyant sense of humor going, even offering a pretty sincere family love story amid all the fights and drama-for-laughs. Wizord, Margaret, Ruby Stitch, Sizzajee, and the rest remain highly original characters in an insanely bonkers universe. Let’s hope we see them again someday. The final trade releases in November.
Also check out: Soule and Browne say they’re working on a new limited series together. In the meantime, Soule’s second novel, Anyone, is out in December, even as he gears up to launch his next ambitious ongoing Image Comics project, Undiscovered Country (with Scott Snyder). And if you haven’t checked out Browne’s incredible God Hates Astronauts—one of the weirdest space opera comics on the stands—well that’s a thing you should definitely do.
Man-Eaters, by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, and Lia Miternique
The controversial run of this comic just concluded at issue #12 after several public missteps by its creator, Chelsea Cain. Though the series was criticized for inclusion issues, and Cain herself drew ire for republishing Tweets in the comic from critical readers without permission, the series itself was an intriguing “What-if?” about pubescent girls turning into ferocious, murdering cats. The primary narrative, concerning society’s response to the epidemic (which largely consists of segregating boys from girls and treating girls like time bombs), is deftly countered by the story of one post-divorce teen’s interactions with her mother and father, both working for law enforcement. The story was broken up by special issues devoted to propaganda articles, fake ads, and testimonials. It may end up being known as a comic with huge potential that never quite got the chance to pull off its ambitious narrative. The whole series is out now.
Also check out: Cain and Niemczyk’s previous effort, Mockingbird—set in the Marvel Comics universe—was also cut short but is worth a look. And if you’re looking for another provocative, unabashedly feminist read, Man-Eaters was clearly inspired by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine De Landro’s Bitch Planet, set on the titular planet-sized prison for “subversive women,” which is also currently on hiatus after releasing two volumes.
Black Science, by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera
This pulpy, high concept sci-fi series from writer Rick Remender and Italian artist Matteo Scalera is like the old TV show Sliders on mescaline. It follows the travails of Doctor Grant McKay, spurned former member of a league of scientist anarchists, who invents a device that allows travel into alternate dimensions. Due to an act of sabotage, the machine activates unexpectedly, sending the not-so-good doctor and his family bouncing from one reality to another, each worse than the last. Remender was inspired by the classic weird adventure novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Scalera’s artwork echoes their lurid, over the top covers from artist Frank Frazetta. The series began in 2013 and ended its run earlier this year with issue 43. The ninth and final trade volume arrives in bookstores in November.
Also check out: Remender has been busy of late with the (now canceled) Syfy adaptation of his ongoing superhero boarding school drama Deadly Class. If you are looking for more of his flavor of grim and gritty science fiction, seek out Low, set on a far future Earth so ravaged, the only livable spaces are domed cities located deep beneath the ocean waves. Tocchini’s near-impressionistic art is a perfect match for a the story of the one lone scientist who believes humanity might risk a future out of the water.
Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson
A pitch-perfect exploration of time travel, growing up in the 1980s, and the thrill of delivering papers before newspapers began collapsing. This wonderfully twisty Brian K. Vaughan sci-fi saga (but not that Brian K. Vaughan sci-fi Saga) ended at issue #30 in July on a just-right note that clearly was long in the works. The comic took many, many dimensional turns and it could sometimes be confusing to keep up with all the warring factions and looping storylines, but the heart of the story, its four main characters Erin, MacKenzie, KJ, and Tiffany, was never far from the fore. It was heartbreaking, funny, and much more than a nostalgia trip. (And it reads even better as a binge—volume six is in bookstores October 1.)
Also check out: Paper Girls is expected to become a streaming series at some point. In the meantime, Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga should be back soon after hitting the halfway mark of a planned 108-issue run and taking a one-year hiatus, so you should definitely catch up now—perhaps via the just out Saga: Compendium One, collecting all 54 issues to date?
The Wicked + The Divine, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s follow-up to their well-regarded Marvel run of Young Avengers was an ambitious five-year series about a dozen mythological gods reborn as young, modern-day pop stars. The September issue #45, which closed out the splashy series, struck some as a huge departure from what was promised from the start, but according to the creators, the comic largely stuck to the original blueprint. For a series that was so death-obsessed and dealt with serious topics, it also had a knowing sense of the music industry, and it blended mythology, history, and modern commentary brilliantly. The final volume drops October 8.
Also check out: Kieron Gillen’s darkly geeky Dungeons & Dragons-inspired comic DIE is publishing now, and is gearing up to be a must-read. And you should certainly go back to check out the WicDiv team’s Phonogram, another musical slice of trippy comics weirdness.
Star Wars, by various writers and artists
After Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm ended a long run with Dark Horse, Marvel hit the jackpot with its reboot of its Star Wars comics (the publisher’s original run on the franchise having stretched from 1977 to 1986. The 2015 return sold a million copies of its first issue, and all-star creator teams (including writers Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen) and storylines (largely filling in the gaps between the end of A New Hope and the start of The Empire Strikes Back) that merited the hype. Since the start of 2019, the creative team has been working toward some kind of ending in the run-up to the release of The Rise of Skywalker, with the main Star Wars book concluding with issue #75 in November. It’s unlikely to stay on the sidelines, of course—there’s a whole universe (and franchise) out there to discover.
Also check out: Do you like Star Wars comics? There are plenty of currently running titles to scratch that itch. Lots of them.
What are your favorite completed comic series?