Archive for category Indie Comics Episode
FM’s Cameron Hatheway reviews the graphic novel LARGEMOUTHS by Gabriel Delmas from Hollow Press. Available to purchase here.
Inspired by Francisco Goya’s “Saturno devorando a un hijo.” The Earth was still young in these archaic times when the first Men scattered on the face of an obscure and hostile world still inhabited by elves, centaurs and other imps, where the last Giants hunted and feasted on one another. The greatest among them, the Largemouths, fought for the domination of the continents. Ghosts and aerial spirits sang the centuries of the Great Dead giving Man the first Art: Poetry.
The City Troll
180 pages, $15.00
So it’s no secret that I enjoy backing projects on Kickstarter, especially if the project is something comic book oriented. Sure, not every project I’ve backed was successful, but when it comes to the ones that do achieve victory at the end of the day, I personally feel proud that I not only helped back that person’s project, but I helped make their dreams come true as well.
Back in January I had some cash to spend, so I searched for comic book projects and browsed the results for a good twenty minutes. I don’t tend to search for single issues, but rather graphic novels and other thicker collections. One project in particular caught my eye from its colorful cover and intriguing character design, and that’s how I came to fund The City Troll by Aaron Whitaker. A few months later after it was successfully funded, the graphic novel and several other goodies arrived at my doorstep, and reading the final product made me so grateful that I took a chance and judged the book by its cover alone.
The story follows Paul, a young man in his mid-twenties who isn’t all that confident about himself, especially when it comes to looks, talking to girls, and comparing himself to his best friend Ian. You see, Ian is well-liked by everyone, ridiculously good-looking, and has no problem talking to women, let alone sweeping them off their feet. In Paul’s mind, he’s the being known as The City Troll, who was created by God as a punishment to The Perfect Man (Ian), and both beings were destined to be paired with one another for all eternity, just so The Perfect Man would have a difficult time attracting women so easily.
Of course, The City Troll is the alter-ego Paul has created for himself, and his troll avatar is easily recognizable by the audience whenever Paul is feeling down or pathetic throughout the story. He’s about to turn twenty-six, and yet he still finds himself stuck in the same old rut, not getting any younger, and still single. It’s a feeling most of us can relate to, but keep in mind this graphic novel is not an autobiography of any sort.
Paul has always felt the need to keep potential girlfriends away from Ian, because in the past the women become so smitten with Ian they just can’t control themselves around him, and another one bites the dust for poor Paul. When the mysterious Emily enters into their lives, a love-triangle starts to form, but this time Paul doesn’t feel like backing down. Emily makes him feel good about himself, and slowly he starts to emerge out of his City Troll shell, and starts enjoying life for a change. Of course, not everything lasts forever, and friendships are tested and hearts are broken by the end of the story.
When trying to describe Whitaker’s art style, it reminds me of a mixture of Jeffrey Brown and Kolbeinn Karlsson, with a little Bryan Lee O’Malley thrown in for good measure. The City Troll character is a beautifully rendered and jagged being, and I especially loved every time Paul would switch back and forth between himself and the Troll, flawlessly bringing the scene together every time.
This is Whitaker’s first graphic novel, and it definitely left me feeling astonished and impressed by the hard work he put into it. This came together over the years in his spare time, so with the final product being collected and finally released onto the masses, you can definitely see the passion and elbow grease he’s put into every page.
Along with the graphic novel, I also received some floppies of his earlier work, a colored print (which currently hangs in my room, awaiting a proper frame), and a sketch card featuring myself as a troll. I requested myself with a microphone and headphones, and he definitely delivered!
So if you’re looking for something on the other side of the superhero spectrum and enjoy independent works and slice-of-life stories, I highly recommend you check out The City Troll by Aaron Whitaker. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next, but whatever it is, I’ll definitely back it if it’s on Kickstarter.
Atomika: God Is Red Vol. 2
Written by Andrew Dabb
Created & Illustrated by Sal Abbinanti
145 pages, $19.99
Ever since I first covered Atomika back in 2009 (warning: facial hair), I’ve still been getting e-mails and comments from all over the world asking when volume two is going to come out. Ladies and gentlemen, I now can safely inform you that volume two has arrived in all its Red God glory.
It’s been a long journey for Sal Abbinanti and company, but now the second and last volume of the series has finally been released. While the first volume focused on Atomika battling gods of old and new and being the ultimate savior of Russia, we find this second volume taking a darker turn for our unyielding protagonist. His oldest mentor and divine leader Arohnir places the fate of Atomika’s son Chernobyl in jeopardy, while at the same time giving off the feeling of betrayal with an ulterior motive of sorts. This is a situation Atomika has never been placed in before, and now he has to go on a journey of self-discovery, trying to figure out if he’s truly a god, or in fact a monster.
I was fortunate enough to get a commission of Thor done by Sal at this past Emerald City ComiCon, and immediately it became one of my favorite pieces I collected that convention. When Sal illustrates a page, he really puts his heart and soul into it. There’s a gritty intensity that’s abundant in his work, and I can see bits of Bill Sienkiewicz and Jack Kirby flowing through his storytelling. Some of the double-page spreads are just completely mind-blowing, that it takes you a few minutes to really enjoy the page and take it all in.
Also in this volume are all the covers, back covers, and pin-ups of issues 7-12, by some of the biggest names in the comics industry; Eric Powell, Gene Colan, Simone Bianchi, Simon Bisley, Glen Fabry, Bill Sienkiewicz and many more.
It’s been a wonderful journey, and I feel the need to go back and re-read the first volume and this one in one sitting, and truly engulf myself in this perilous world once more. The story of Atomika’s rise to power, and the beings he has to battle throughout his quest leave me with a marvelous feeling of astonishment, for I’ve never experienced anything like it before. I hope one day that Sal is able to collect both volumes in an over-sized edition of sorts, but until then, I highly recommend you head over to UniversalOutpost to pick-up your copy today.
Valkyrie Squadron – Anomaly
Written & Illustrated by Jules Rivera
52 Pages, $6.00
Strong female characters. That’s what we need more of in both comics, and webcomics. For too long has the fairer sex been nothing but the girlfriends to our superheroes, or the blonde bimbos that wear skimpy and revealing outfits. They’re never taken seriously, and if they are considered ‘strong’ or empowered, there’s always the one moment of weakness that makes them seem normal and not frightening to those readers who are used to the standard boys club mentality. How does a creator balance that fine line of Feminazi and floozy, creating an entertaining middle-ground? Simple; tell a good story with relatable characters, male or female be damned.
Spoiler warning; I may have a bit of a bias when it comes to Jules Rivera. I was a fan of her first webcomic Marsh Rocket, so obviously I’m going to follow her on whatever future projects she tackles. Was I extremely pleased that she’s doing more storytelling in the vein of science-fiction? Of course; it’s a no-brainer. If one is talented at telling exciting tales in a certain genre, and sticks to the same medium, what’s not to love? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Much like Marsh Rocket, Rivera stays the course with the format of collecting each chapter into an individual trade, making it easily accessible to those of us who still prefer paper to the high-tech touch-screen format. For sticking with the self-publishing route, Rivera still produces quite the quality product. She should be just as proud of the physical trade as she is the story inside.
So do you like gritty sci-fi action films like Starship Troopers, television shows like Battlestar Galactica, or video games like StarCraft? Those are some of the things I would put together in a blender just to get a slight taste and feel for what Valkyrie Squadron is like. Throw in some romance, a dash of mystery, and a good tablespoon of humor, and OH MY GOD HOW DID YOU JUST DO THAT?! Focusing on a crew of four women battling a war against the evil autodrones, we get introduced to the main players in this first volume collecting all of Chapter One. What seems like a routine rescue mission suddenly becomes something more as their newly acquired cargo seems to attract the attention of the higher-ups. Will everything remain hush-hush, or is the seeds to something bigger down the line? It doesn’t help that a pesky reporter is snooping around looking for “the truth” in this time of war and uncertainty.
As much as I enjoyed the story in this first trade, I went absolutely Ga-Ga over the art and colors. If it’s one thing that Rivera excels above all at, it’s the execution of the illustrations. The female form covered in body armor sends the overpowering message of, “I’m sexy, but I can and will kick your ass if needed.” If we were going to war with our robotic overlords, running around in a silver bikini while firing automatic weapons would not be the practical choice armor-wise, no matter how cool it may look to some. Rivera illustrates a sensible far-off future, where men and women are on a level playing field, and unfortunately Bros are still breeding. And I’m calling it now; hologram ear-pieces will be the must-have item next holiday season.
The great thing about collected webcomics is if you enjoyed what you read, you can go catch-up on the website for free. Same thing if you’re hesitant on purchasing the first volume; read it for free online, then support the creator by forking over some dough. It’s only $6, that’s about the same price as a Marvel comic, only you’re getting a helluva lot more bang for your buck with Valkyrie Squadron! The webcomic updates every Tuesday and Thursday, so there’s no reason to not have it bookmarked in your toolbar. Tell her that Cammy sent ya.
Written & Illustrated by Gerry Alanguilan
144 Pages, $12.95
When I was a young lad, my family used to take trips up the California coast to visit my cousins in Petaluma. At one point the city of Petaluma was known as the Chicken Capital of the World, and sure enough my aunt & uncle owned a few chickens for producing unfertilized eggs. Different species produced different eggs, and every morning someone had to go out to their coop and fetch them. My cousins were excited at first for owning such an unusual ‘pet’, that the awe quickly dissipated when collecting eggs became a daily burden. The smells, the conditions of the coop, and the sometimes confrontational behavior of the chickens made this experience an unwanted chore. Except when I was visiting for the week, I was the official egg collector.
I loved getting up early every morning to go fraternize with the chickens. Each bird was different, and along with appearance came different personalities as well. The majority of the birds were very timid, so they would let you remove the roof of the coop and go about your day picking eggs from their nests. One or two of them would give you the stink-eye, and their motherly instincts would kick-in as they tried to protect their unborn young. The point I’m trying to make is while chickens, as animals, are quite dim in their corner of the bird family, they can be rather entertaining to watch and try to imagine what might be going through their tiny birdbrains.
When I first was contacted by Gerry Alanguilan to review ELMER for Indie Comics Episode Vol. 2 back in 2009, only the first issue was out at that point. I reviewed it, loved what I saw, and anxiously awaited the next few issues. Such as things go in the world of comics, projects get delayed, new series come out, and slowly but surely you eventually lose track of titles you thoroughly once enjoyed, wondering what might have happened to them. That’s what happened to me with ELMER. It was the girlfriend from high school I lost touch with, only to look-up at a billboard one day to see her posing in an action movie that’s due out this summer. When I saw posters of ELMER at the SLG booth during Comic-Con a few years ago, my first thought was “Good for Gerry! He’s earned it!”, followed by “Oh. I don’t have any more space in my bag, or money, to buy it. Awkward”.
Alas, this podcasting gig has finally started paying for itself, and I have the luxury of purchasing any graphic novel whenever I want, wherever I want. All kidding aside, I finally picked-up the graphic novel and fell in love with it all over again.
ELMER tells the story of a chicken by the name of Jake Gallo as he’s called back home to say his last good-byes to his dying father, Elmer. Nothing weird or strange about that, I’m sure we’ve all experienced something similar regarding a loved one. The twist with this graphic novel is that chickens are classified as people, for they have acquired intelligence after years of evolution. So chickens, or the species Gallus Gallus are considered the newest members of the Human Race, and are integrated into society after The Great Awakening. Jake used to write all the time, but for some reason lost the passion for it. After inheriting his father’s personal diary, the flames of creativity are reignited and Jake feels it’s necessary to share his father’s harrowing tale of survival while living a strange new world.
In some ways, I find myself comparing Alanguilan’s ELMER to Spiegelman’s MAUS, only for chickens. Alanguilan brings up some wonderful and thought-provoking concepts of what the world would be like if chickens had gained intelligence and the means to speak. First of all, it would be illegal to eat chicken. Duck on the other hand, is still fair game. Secondly, what was once considered beastiality is now perfectly fine in the eyes of the law, and state troopers can carry-on with the derogatory insults. Finally, there will always be tension between the species, despite what happened in the past. While Jake doesn’t come around to the idea until later, he cannot believe that his sister is marrying a human; the same species that enslaved, murdered, and devoured millions of their kind for centuries.
This graphic novel is a fine example that artists are much more than just pretty faces. Most of you may know Alanguilan for his beautiful inks on Lenil Francis Yu’s work, plus several other Marvel projects. This graphic novel was a personal project for him, taking several years to put together. Throughout the story he’s able to hook you with a wonderful tale of life through the eyes of one chicken, struggling to adapt to his place in the world. There’s humor, grand ideas, and of course beautiful artwork from the Philippines best known comics superstar. If you’re looking for a good read that’s truly thought-provoking, I cannot recommend highly enough that you check-out ELMER. If you don’t, things just might get fowl.
Backwood Folk Volume 1: Greenville Is Forever
Written & Illustrated by Gustav Carlson
164 Pages, $24.99
When my friend Gustav Carlson and I were growing up on several different webcomic forums, he was the artsy type who would constantly be illustrating and posting his creations in his own art threads. Page after page of different drawings, sketches, and paintings could be viewed, and slowly over the years you would notice the change in his style and character designs. This guy lives to create, for you could definitely see his genius in its infant stages, slowly evolving over time.
Then comes along his baby, Backwood Folk, a new webcomic updating every Tuesday and Thursday, providing a plethora of new material for the internets to enjoy. The man had a plan, and was slowly building an audience who would appreciate his many talents. Things obviously have been working out well for Gus, for last December came the release of Backwood Folk Volume 1: Greenville Is Forever, a nifty little trade paperback collecting 164 pages of material, all colored, and HTML-free.
While the main character, Benedict Carpenter, may somewhat slightly resemble Gustav when it comes to appearance, he assures you it isn’t the case, but a mere fluke. That may be enough for the rest of the audience to brush-off and move along, but not this reviewer. I propose it was all planned from the very start, that Gustav Carlson is the type of mad genius with an ego bigger than Kanye West’s to allow this sort of thing to happen by mere coincidence. It wasn’t enough for him to create this whimsical watercolored wonderland, but he had to star in it as well! The nerve of this rapscallion.
Moving on, the story follows Benedict as he escapes life in the big city to take care of some land that was left to him in his hometown of Po’Dunk, Arkansas. Upon arriving in his Prius, he’s reunited with childhood friends, and feels somewhat out of place in his once familiar surroundings. Things change, people change, but Greenville is forever. Some beings, once thought of as mere myths, slowly creep their way into Ben’s reality, making him realize that perhaps he has been away for too long. Impromptu concerts being erected on his property, offers for the purchase of his land, and near-death experiences start to become apart of his new life in the Ozarks, and the first volume leaves us questioning what will Ben decide to do in regards to these new challenges.
I’ve obviously conveyed my appreciation of Gustav’s art in the first paragraph, but I almost feel that words cannot do this first collection justice. His style is very reminiscent of Jeff Lemire, and the beautiful watercolors just explode off the pages and bathe the readers eyes in a concoction of liquid happiness and pure joy. The characters are spectacularly brought to life, and the Pink Eye monsters will make you want to keep a light on at night (just in case). The panel layouts also impressed me immensely, for Gus isn’t going with the traditional format throughout, but rather having fun creating his own borders when deemed appropriate. One of my favorite parts in the book is when a character is subjected to toxic chemicals, which causes his experience to transform into a psychedelic one, completely blowing your mind with the color schemes.
So if you’re looking for something new to enjoy (and support with your monies), I highly recommend you give Backwood Folk Volume 1: Greenville Is Forever a try. You’ll become captivated by the art and story, and who knows; maybe it’ll convince you to move to Arkansas and herd goats for the rest of your life. Or just follow the webcomic every Tuesday and Thursday. Or perhaps both!
In this episode, I review the comic Zombie Outlaw by Brian Apodaca & B. Paul Jordan!
You can find it in the Western Occult History section of your local library (Zombie Outlaw Website).
In this special episode, I review The Chair (Alterna Comics) written by Peter Simeti and art by Kevin Christensen & Peter Simeti.
Like dark and creepy stories involving prison? Look no further!
In this special episode, I review the hardcover Hybrid Bastards! (Archaia) by Tom Pinchuk and Kate Glasheen.
A funny must-read for all you Greek Geeks!
In this special episode, I review the webcomic The Angry Penguin (www.TheAngryPenguin.com).
Do yourself a favor and check-out this great webcomic pronto!
Do yourself a favor and check-out these great comics pronto!
In this special episode, I review three more different indie comics; The Venger: Dead Man Rising #1 (TheVenger6.blogspot.com), Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse of Tall Tales and Short Stories: The Spoils of Crime (www.DCConspiracy.com), and The Squeeg #2 (www.TheSqueeg.com).
Do yourself a favor and check-out these great comics pronto!
In this special episode, I review three more different indie comics; Thugs! #1 (www.ThugsOnline.com), Doctor Dremo’s Taphouse of Tall Tales and Short Stories: The Horrors of War (www.DCConspiracy.com), and Majestic-XII: TopSecret / For Majic Eyes Only #1 (http://majestic-xii-comic.deviantart.com/).
Do yourself a favor and check-out these great comics pronto!
In this special episode, I review three more different indie comics; See What I Can Do (www.TopShelfComix.com), Jesus Hates Zombies: Those Slack-Jaw Blues (www.AlternaComics.com), and ELMER (www.Komikero.com).
Do yourself a favor and check-out these great comics pronto!