BOOM! Studios’ fresh and diverse content has something for everyone.
The first BOOM! Studios book I bought was Something Is Killing The Children #1. It was a third print, and this was in the fall of 2019. The cover to this first issue is just a lot of red and black and has the gnarly title; SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN, front and center. At this point, I was still a pretty big DC reader, but I was beginning to look to small press titles for something different in my pull, and with a title like this, I had to give it a shot. In SIKTC #1, I was investing in one of the most visceral and terrifying first issues in comics. I was hooked from the start. That first original issue was a massive success, having spawned seven different reprints, and with over 20 issues and counting in the series and a spinoff, the series has become one of BOOM! Studios biggest hits ever as publisher.
But maybe you don’t like horror, though. Maybe you like high-octane action. Or you like a family-friendly adventure. Or big, bold science fiction. Or maybe you want something not bound by genre, something unconventional and distinct. BOOM! Studios are one of the most diverse small press publishers today and offer something for everyone; that’s why their slogan is “Discover Yours.” Through BOOM!, you can discover your next favorite character, your next favorite story, and maybe just discover your next favorite obsession.
A while ago, I got the chance to talk with Filip Sablik, President of Publishing and Marketing for BOOM! Studios, about the company’s current lineup of books, what’s resonated the most with readers and why, and what’s next for one of the most prolific small press publishers in the market today.
Something Is Killing The Children initially was planned as a five-issue limited series, but cutting this series so short, I believe, would’ve been one of the biggest mistakes in recent comics history. Writer James Tynion IV and artist Werther Dell’Edera were certainly onto something when they started SIKTC. The series follows mysterious heroine Erica Slaughter as she visits the quiet mountain town of Archers Peak, a town that has been experiencing a rash of violent child murders that has left the townspeople spooked, but ultimately incapable of dealing with it. While the police have no clues as to what is really happening, a survivor emerges in young teenager James, who is left traumatized and alone, having seen and experienced the horror that killed his friends and others. But Erica is equipped for this sort of thing, and she tracks James down, and together they link up to unravel the mystery of what is happening in Archers Peak, and uncover what that something is killing the children.
Getting bumped up to ongoing series before launch helped flesh out the world and scope of SIKTC because the first major story arc is pretty much told over the course of the first 15 issues. Readers are introduced to multiple characters and storylines, and plenty of mystery surrounds the people of Archers Peak, as well as Erica and her mission. Nobody is prepared for just how much terror the monsters of this series are capable of, and when they finally reveal themselves to the town, it’s one of the most shocking horror moments I can recall in comics. Tynion has proven himself as one of the medium’s biggest writers at the moment, especially in horror, and SIKTC is the book that really launched his career into the stratosphere. His writing is sharp and quick with moments of dry-wit, and Dell’Edera’s artwork and paneling is masterful. Series colorist Miguel Muerto is also instrumental to delivering the scares in the biggest new horror comic since The Walking Dead.
While Erica is the main protagonist of SIKTC, the origins of the monster hunter organization she hails from, The Order of St. George, are explored more in-depth in the new spinoff series, House of Slaughter. Co-written by Tynion, House of Slaughter focuses on other members of the shadowy Order of St. George, including Erica’s handler and rival Aaron. There seems to be no end in sight for just how big the SIKTC universe can grow, with SIKTC approaching a milestone issue #25 and House of Slaughter beginning its second arc soon too. There’s even a Netflix adaptation in the works from The Haunting of Hill House and Doctor Sleep filmmaker Mike Flanagan.
Keanu Reeves is one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, and now he’s got one of the biggest comic books on store shelves. The first issue of BRZRKR (Berserker) sold over 600,000 copies, making it the biggest-selling original comic book launch of the past 30 years. Keanu Reeves and co-writer Matt Kindt have tapped into the high-adrenaline pacing and action akin to one of Reeve’s own movies with BRZRKR, and along with series artist Ron Garney, are delivering the biggest action book in comics today.
“A war with no end, a man with no limits.” BRZRKR follows a half-mortal/half-god named B. He’s lived for centuries and has been cursed with the power to be the ultimate killing machine, with superhuman strength and the incapability of death no matter how hard he may push himself. Now in the modern-day, he’s teamed up with the US government and found a purpose for his propensity to violence, having been promised the chance to finally uncover the secrets to his powers and how he may be able to end his tortuous existence once and for all. But there’s no way for B’s mission to end peacefully, and while he wants nothing but to be done with this burden, others are too eager to take on the weight of the power that B has.
Ron Garney was born to draw this book. The levels of brutal violence inside are perfectly captured by Garney, who is known for great action throughout his career on Marvel titles like Hulk, Daredevil, Savage Sword of Conan, and Uncanny X-Force. Garney flashes between chaotic modern-day military action, back to epic, savage swordplay in a way only he can. And of course, B is modeled after co-writer Keanu Reeves himself, adding to the cinematic nature of the book. Reeves and Kindt have plotted out an epic 12-issue maxiseries that is approaching its final act later this summer but is just the beginning to this franchise. There are several Netflix projects in development, including a live-action film and anime adaptation, and there are rumors that Reeves and Kindt may not be done with the series after issue #12. Filip Sablik was careful not to reveal much, but he and everyone else knows that they have a massive hit on their hands with BRZRKR.
As talked about in my Vault feature, Ram V has been making quite the name for himself in comics. With hits on titles like Catwoman and Swamp Thing (and Detective Comics soon) for DC, Carnage and Venom with Marvel, and These Savage Shores and Radio Apocalypse with Vault, Ram V is making his way around the scene. However, another one of his hits, this one with BOOM! Studios in The Many Deaths of Laila Starr, just might be his best yet.
Drawn by the beautifully talented artist Filipe Andrade, Laila Starr follows Death as she is cast down to Earth to live a mortal life in the city of Mumbai, where it just so happens the child who will grow up and discover immortality is born and living. This woman Laila, formerly Death, has a choice to make; whether to let humanity finally cheat death or to snuff out humanity’s chance to change the cycle of life. As the title implies, readers will journey with Laila across many different time periods, both in her life and the life of this special creator who’ll one day change the course of human history, if he makes it that far.
The staff and I at Carol and John’s have equated this book to other titles such as Vertigo’s Daytripper or Image’s Pride of Baghdad; Many Deaths of Laila Starr is a compelling and emotional book, that examines ourselves and our understanding of our own mortality at different stages of our life through the eyes of its characters. Laila, now having been stricken down to Earth, sees the complexity and ripple effects that death has on people, people like Darius Shah, the boy who will discover immortality. Issue #3 is one of the most memorable issues I’ve read recently; it’s an issue told from the perspective of a burning cigarette. “What makes this Marlboro omniscient? You must remember… I was kissed by Death, and that brings with it untold power.” Many Deaths is a fantastic comic, and something fresh and unique for both new and existing BOOM! readers.
Al Ewing is one of the most powerful sci-fi writers in comics right now. His stories are massive and complex. Comic readers may recognize Ewing from runs on Marvel titles like The Ultimates, Immortal Hulk, and Defenders, and in this series, there are no limits to what Ewing reaches for. We Only Find Them When They’re Dead is one of the smartest, most challenging, and most rewarding science fiction series today.
In this series, we start with an autopsy ship of four in the year 2367, with a crew that dissects and harvests body parts from dead celestial gods that only appear after their death. The crew members aboard the Vihaan II have rich and deep character backstories and relationships, explored in various time jumps and flashbacks. But readers find out quickly that something isn’t right, and that the Vihaan II is a fractured crew with some members having their own goals and motivations amongst the stars and with these celestials. This series is Ewing’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, or maybe a new warped version of Marvel’s Fantastic Four.
What makes this book so challenging is that it isn’t straightforward in its narrative and is far from predictable. The story is told at a break-neck pace in real-time (thanks in large part to artist Simone Di Meo’s sharp-as-a-knife paneling and storytelling), but with layers of backstory peeled back slowly to reveal the full picture. There are sudden twists and turns that are nothing short of jaw-dropping, and there are tense political and religious revelations and developments throughout. This series is not for the casual reader, but for those that invest the time and energy into its characters and plot, they’ll be rewarded with a masterclass in science fiction storytelling.
The fantasy action series Once & Future by Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora is one of BOOM! ‘s most underrated titles, but also one of its best. Gillen and Mora mix elements of Tomb Raider and Uncharted with the iconic King Arthur legend in this grand saga about the evil undead King Arthur and the monster hunter family who stands in his way.
Gillen’s writing is entertaining and lively, and Mora’s artwork (along with Tamra Bonvillain’s bright and vibrant coloring) tells an engaging story that is hard to put down. Rich in King Arthur lore, involving new versions of Percival and Galahad among others, Once and Future also features other mythologies and characters including Beowulf and Robin Hood, and portrays them in a fun and imaginative new light.
However, the core of the series is family. Clumsy Duncan McGuire is dropped into this dark fantasy world without much warning by his grandmother, Gran, but along the way, he’ll discover who she really is, what his family is, and he’ll soon realize his importance to the events that are just beginning to unfold. Along for the journey is his new romantic flame Rose, and these three will venture on to cross paths with all kinds of historical creatures and monsters in an attempt to save the world from a villainous King Arthur return. Much like other BOOM! books, this series is one of the best of its genre and a cult fan favorite that is quickly building towards an epic, explosive ending later this year.
What are the different imprints from BOOM! Studios?
What makes BOOM! so diverse isn’t necessarily their breadth of content or their talented creators, but the fact there are four different imprints that combine to make up BOOM!. The core imprint is simply BOOM! Studios, and is the biggest tent that houses a majority of their commercial content. All of the comics and series mentioned above fall under this imprint; it is the core comic reader imprint. They also own several popular property licenses including the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dune, The Expanse, WWE, Magic the Gathering, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
In 2013, BOOM! acquired comic publisher Archaia Entertainment, and has since continued Archaia on to become its own fully realized imprint for the company. This elevated and auteur-driven line of comics features titles like the hit series Mouse Guard, as well as the Jim Henson line of books like Labyrinth and The Storyteller. One of Archaia’s and BOOM! ‘s biggest books last year was the comic adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five by Ryan North and Albert Monteys.
BOOM! Box is the hugely successful and critically acclaimed YA and teen-oriented imprint, housing coming-of-age stories, and more inclusive content. Many BOOM! Box books have been championed for their creativity and expression, as well as their LGBTQ themes and characters. Fan-favorite series like Lumberjanes and Giant Days have been joined in this imprint by new series like Specter Inspectors, The Backstagers, and more.
And for younger readers, KaBOOM! is the mid-grade imprint with comics and stories tailor-made for those in the 8 to 12-year-old range. Familiar favorites like Adventure Time and R.L. Stine’s Just Beyond series are perfect for younger readers just getting into both reading and comics.
What’s upcoming from BOOM! Studios?
Grim, by writer Stephanie Phillips and artist Flaviano is becoming the next big hit from BOOM! Studios and has quickly become a sellout smash.
“Jessica Harrow is dead. But her journey has only just begun! Discover the world of the afterlife, where Jessica has been recruited as a Reaper, tasked with ferrying countless souls to their final destination. But unlike the rest of the Reapers, she has no memory of what killed her and put her into this predicament. In order to unravel the mystery of her own demise, she’ll have to solve an even bigger one – where is the actual Grim Reaper?”
A fun and intriguing series with bold and stylistic artwork, after only two issues, Grim is an exciting new mystery and a must-read for BOOM! readers new and old alike.
“Alice first visited Wonderland as a child. Now an adult, it’s her only escape from a cold, strange reality she finds herself living in. But in order to return to her fantasy world, she’ll need something stronger than mushrooms that change her size and is forced to resort to crime to feed her growing addiction. Will Alice choose to escape from her uncaring family and childhood trauma in Wonderland, or find the courage to face her demons in the real world?” Alice Ever After is a sequel to the Lewis Carroll classic and is Alice meets Arkham Asylum. Written by superstar artist Dan Panosian and drawn by Giorgio Spalletta, this five-issue miniseries is a sobering trip back down the rabbit hole for Alice and fans.
Along with these new titles, there are more original series on the horizon for BOOM! later this year in a serious push for more from some of comics’ best creators. These include new titles featuring the talents of The Walking Dead’s Charlie Adlard, writer Mattson Tomlin of 2022’s The Batman working alongside superstar artist Lee Bermejo, Darcy Van Poelgeest of Image’s Littlebird, and many more to come. And there are plenty of recent series that will soon be collected in trade paperback including Christopher Cantwell’s Tarantino-esque Regarding the Matter of Oswald’s Body later this summer.
And a treat for comic collector fans, BOOM! offers some of the most creative variants on the market. These include die-cut variants for SIKTC, uber-grotesque bodybag variants for House of Slaughter, NSFW erotica variants for the series Faithless, and plenty of incentive and unlockable variant covers exclusive to the direct market. Not only can readers collect some of the best stories in small press comics, but they can also collect in a way that captures the essence of BOOM!, allowing readers to connect to these books in multiple different ways that speak to and represent the diversity of the stories.
How can retailers order BOOM! books?
BOOM! is a premier publisher through Diamond for content like singles issues and trade paperback collections, with Simon & Schuster having become another avenue for retailers to stock trades as well.
Another commitment BOOM! has made to retailers is the BOOM! Guarantee program. Introduced five years ago, there are over 1000 retailers enrolled in the program today. The BOOM! Guarantee is a returnability affidavit that allows retailers to fearlessly take chances on new titles. This includes a consistent six titles eligible for returnability each month, with two graphic novels, also eligible monthly. Retailers can also opt-in for BOOM! floor displays and Point of Purchase materials, and also receive exclusive returnable variants. It’s one of the most flexible and retailer-friendly programs and is widely favored amongst comic shops across the nation as the gold standard. For more information, retailers can visit https://www.boom-studios.com/boom-guarantee/ to learn more and enroll.