A lot of people don’t like having tons of comics around and often downsize their collections. I’m not one of those people (I still have pretty much every comic I’ve ever bought) but I know people who regularly downsize their collections, culling them of books that are not their top favorites, or things that they’ve read and have decided they’re never going to read again, so why keep them around? Well, I’m always happy to take those comics off people’s hands (as long as they’re ones I don’t have already).
Sometimes I let piles of comics given to me languor for months before I look at them. This time I dove right into it the pile handed to me at Long Beach Comic Con by my friend Andrew yesterday…. I have read them and here are my rambling thoughts on the “Pile O Indies”, from Worst to First:
“These came out from actual publishers?”
Vampblade #10 & 11 (Action Lab): I’m sorry to offend the people who love these, but I thought they were pure drek. Crudely executed art, bad dialogue, and a story that seems to exist to fill out pages so they can sell covers with big boobs on them (and half the variant covers are risque ‘naked’ covers *sigh*). My assessment is very harsh, but it was my immediate reaction to reading these.
John Carter: The End #1 (Dynamite): This is the kind of book that gives Dynamite a bad name. Dynamite does some really good stuff (I’m really enjoying their current James Bond stuff, for instance), but if this was the 1st Dynamite book someone picked up I can see them framing an opinion that the company is real “amateur hour”. The art in here was exceptionally unskilled. I’ve read John Carter books from Dynamite before and none slid to this level.
Brigands #1 (Action Lab): The art is more enthusiastic than skilled and the story kind of dragged for me, nothing that would get me to come back for more.
The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen #1 (Space Goat): I’ve seen better art, but compared to Vampblade & John Carter: The End, this was masterful. I’ve not checked out anything from Space Goat yet and this didn’t do anything to make me want to rush out and get more, but I’d certainly try books from them if the concepts grabbed me.
Softball #1 (Keenspot): Really mediocre art and seemingly targeted at people who have watched a YouTube series of the same name. This one had nothing for me.
“More enthusiam than talent”
Shy #1 (Vanth Creative): The art was very weak and the dialogue failed to “ring true” in many instances. That said, this was done by someone who clearly has a passion for the project and a story to tell. If this was from a “professional” publisher I’d expect more, but it’s right around where I’ve seen things in the past from someone who decides to publish their own book. This could be improved with a better artist and an editor that can help tighten up the story flow and dialogue.
“Not my cup of tea”
Grimm Fairy Tales #1 (2nd series) (Zenescope): Not bad. A very simple “I’ve seen this a bunch of times before” werewolf story, but not the egregious cheesecake stuff I have previously seen from Zenescope. I might check out some of the new Zenescope stuff based on this one.
The Mighty Zodiac #1 (Oni Press): The Anthropomorphic Fantasy here didn’t really grab me, but it was competently executed.
Summoner #1 (Dreamwalker Press): This is a creator-owned & produced comic from Jenni Gregory. I’ve read her stuff before (the Dreamwalker comics her imprint is named for) and enjoyed them, but this story just didn’t click with me.
“Hey! This was pretty good!”
The Hunters of Salamanstra #0 (Keenspot): Another anthropomorphic fantasy, but this one grabbed my imagination. This is a setup issue and the issues from #1 onward will focus on a different main character, but I’m going to seek out and check out some more of this series.
The Rift #1 (Red 5): I skipped this one when I saw it in Previews but after reading #1, I’ll give the rest of this 4 issue series a try. A WWII fighter pilot crashes in modern day Kansas after flying though a rift in space-time. Instead of focusing on the pilot, the protagonist is the modern day mother/son that he crash lands near.
Dead Inside #1 (Dark Horse): I’m sorry I missed this one. An excellent crime thriller focusing on a prison murder investigation. This one is currently up to #7, so I need to track down the issues I’m missing ASAP.
Clock! #1-2 (Zoo Arsonist) #3 (Top Shelf): This 3 issue series is 20 years old and I had never seen it before. As I read #1 I was thinking to myself how much the art on the main series “50s” reminded me of Love and Rockets, even though the writing style didn’t. Then I got to the letters and there was one from Chris Staros (the main guy at Top Shelf) also talking about the Los Bros Hernandez influence as well as Daniel Clowes, at which point I was able to put my finger on the familiar aspects of the writing (like Clowes’ Lloyd Llewellen). Staros seems to like it so much that issue #3 was published by Top Shelf and spoke of #4 being out in a “few months”….though regrettably #3 was the last issue that came out. I’m really glad Andrew introduced me to this “lost treasure”.
While it was good to check all of these out, I’m going to follow up on the 3 of the last 4 that have more issues available, and give my recommendation for “Clock!”, it can be found from various online merchants for a couple of bucks an issue. Well worth it, IMO.
Bob Bretall: firstname.lastname@example.org
https://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics