Saturday, May 19, 2018

Rant-Reviews: All Indie Comics

Smaller Press, But Not Smaller Fun
I enjoy reading comics from the big two (Marvel and DC) as well as other larger comic-book publishers such as Image, IDW, Boom, Dyanmite--you know, all the, "Premier," publishers you find listed at the Previewsworld website or in Previews catalog. That said, I continue to have a great affinity for the smaller, "indie," comic-book publishers (and micro-press too). With that in mind I thought I'd discuss an assortment of works from publishers that might not be as known as the, "Big dogs," but still make some cool works.

Getting Indie With It!
Daygloayhole  #1
Published by Silver Sprocket (who also published the awesome, "No Better Words," book I loved), "Daygloayhole," is going to becoming out quarterly and collects this work of Ben Passmore as he published the comic over time. Set in the world after its end due to an unclear cataclysm, the idea of a post-apocalypse is actually more-so used as a metaphor to discuss concepts as wide-ranging as police brutality, concepts of family, the ethical and financial considerations of the commercialization of sex via pornography, and gentrification. It's a fascinatingly weird comic, prone to random asides and just as likely to make a deep statement about humanity as it is to tell a dirty joke or show some wanton violence. The comic will be coming-out quarterly so I have to wait until July to read more, which feels like a long time to have to be patient as I loved this quirky book. The wait will just make it even more fun once I get to read the next issue, right?
5 out of 5 stars.

Infinity 8 #2
I have a soft spot for the publisher Lion Forge. Part of this is because they are based in the Saint Louis region, and because I've seen them grow from a smaller publisher who I enjoyed speaking with previously, to a quite notable presence in the field of comics. The latest series, "Infinity 8," will have a number of comics set in its weird space-world with each three-issue arc self-contained, and I believe the 3rd issue is already out. I haven't been able to pick it up yet though, so I thought I'd discuss the second. Basically the first issue did a lot of introducing us to a universe of aliens and agents who keep order on spaceships. At the end of the first issue things went haywire and now we get to witness all kinds of madness and danger. The book has a real Euro-comic feel--in a good way--with a mixture of sharply striking artwork and enjoyably dry humor. Even if this issue is mostly one big action-scene it is a fun one, and I'm eager to get to the comic-shop and grab myself a copy of issue #3 as soon as possible.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Jazz Legend #1
SCOUT Comics makes a number of stellar books, from, "Stabbity Bunny," to upcoming release, "Zinnober." Their latest new series is, "Jazz Legend," and it is an interesting mesh of fantastical horror and hints of meta-ness. The comic seems to be about an amazing jazz performer but it becomes clear that he may in some ways be suffering from having his life be a story created by a writer who is himself amazed what he records comes true. At least, that is what I took from it, with other reviews online seeming pretty befuddled too by the story but loving the bizarre tone and imagery. Just how real some people are and how much they are surreal creations is unclear, but this has piqued my interest enough I for sure want to keep reading the book. It's confusing and messy, but I think intentionally so. Plus, it discusses Jazz, a beautiful artform, so that element alone makes this a keeper.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Wasted Space #1
VAULT is a newer publisher who has already been a solid job carving-out a name for themselves as putting-out interesting and surreal works. "Wasted Space," fits that bill for sure, featuring a wild mixture of ideas in a futuristic time full of space travel, religion, political intrigue, and "Fuq" bots. This is just a single issue--and a first one at that--so all these ideas at times threaten to make the story feel a bit overloaded and almost too packed with fun ideas. Thankfully things seem to balance out for the most part and by this issue's end we have a good handle on who the main characters are and what they'll be up to in future issues (taking down a corrupt politician abusing people's beliefs for his own gain seems to be the upcoming focus). It's a fun read and promising, I just hope it can deliver.
3 out of 5 stars.

Hidden Blood One-Shot
Amigo has been around for a bit and released a number of cool comics. This one-shot by the writer-artist known simply as, "Massacre," is a fun read in the style of an old-school grind-house flick. Focused on a former boxer named Clarice who has resorted to stripping since getting suspended due to her extreme methods of fighting, the book has the aforementioned strippers facing-off against a vampire, a Nazi-hunter confronted with evil robots, tons of nudity, heaping amounts of gore, and just enough knowing winks to the reader to make it clear the book is quite self-aware at its absurdity. The variety of corny plots sync-up and separate enough to make it clear care was put into the story no matter how silly it is, and Massacre's artwork is appropriately sexy or horrifying as the comic calls for it. Delightfully cheeky stuff.
5 out of 5 stars.

Galaktikon #6
Published by Albatross Funnybooks, the finale issue of this series comes from the talented Brendon Small (of "Home Movies," and "Metalocalypse," fame) where he has taken his musical albums that tell the story of flawed space-hero Galaktikon and has made it into a solidly interesting yarn about a how our idols often can be flawed and troubled jerks. It sounds depressing, but, "Galaktikon," was actually quite the darkly funny series and this final issue ends in a way that leaves the door open for more albums/comics as Galaktikon conquers some of his own personal demons and fells a longtime enemy, but still clearly needs a lot more personal growth before approaching anything resembling a functional adult. It's bleak-yet-fun stuff. I liked it a lot.
4 out of 5 stars.

There's Always Good Stuff Hiding Out There
If you ever find yourself getting tired of the kind of books put out by bigger publishers just remember there is always some good stuff hiding out there that you just might have to look a little bit for, checking out all the less-known publishers for some quality books. Also, I am aware how half the books I reviewed interestingly seemed to involve outer-space to some degree. I guess I know what I like!

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