You Had Me at Sword Wizard

It Will All Hurt #1

Study Group Comics
Alternative Comics


Creator owned & operated by Farel Dalrymple

Oh good! Another web comic put into print! It's like the comic industry knows that I suck at keeping up with webcomics digitally, and I really appreciate it. Study Group Comics, the same online publisher that released Titan (read the post Unrest in Space for more info) released this gem in the same week. They have a great partnership going with Alternative Comics, who once again collaborated to compile and start releasing this series. Farel Dalrymple has worked on some really neat projects, including Omega the Unknown for Marvel (it's an odd series that I was super into), Prophet, Meat Haus, and most notably for this comic The Wrenchies. Why would that be notable? Because this series contains characters from that acclaimed work.


Kind of tough to talk about many of the details of this story without spoiling it so this may be a little broad. Throughout this issue we get introduced to 4 main characters (5 if you count the feline narrator). Each of these characters has a unique ability including agility/fighting, bending reality, traveling through space, or just plain survival. Unbenknownst to most of these characters, there is a force working against the world that deems them threats and acts accordingly. One of the components of this sinister force is the legendary Sword Wizard, who has immense power and isn't afraid to use it. How these 4 (5?) travelers handle the threats that are facing them is yet to be determined.


Dalrymple's story can branch into a few different directions from here. We will either see these intriguing characters face their challenges individually or we will see them connect somehow and fight evil together. Either way it is bound to be a great journey. We are already seeing seeds that there is a big plan for this world, and with the characters introduced we are well on our way. Dalrymple creates a scenario which provides a perfect backdrop for an adventure story. The characters all have personalities and their different abilities provide different interpretations and ideas of what's to come. The dialogue is weighty and somewhat meta, providing an incredible start for this saga.


The art does something somewhat rare in comics. Dalrymple continuously proves that he is not afraid to show his process through his illustration. Between the layout, backgrounds, and characters themselves you see every sketch mark and brush stroke which makes the action more suspenseful and the storytelling even more impressive. The character models are all completely different and range from a drifter archetype to an astronaut. The evil manifests itself as various monsters and creatures, each of which screams ill intent and looks a bit frightening. The art shows confidence and good form, making sure the readers know that this isn't just a story, but an art form.


It Will All Hurt is truly crazy. It is a story that goes from plot point to plot point with seamless transition and cohesively links a cast of very different characters. This team up between Study Group Comics and Alternative Comics is clearly working, and I hoep to see a lot more of it. Farel Dalrymple's webcomic is a true work of art, and the physical rendition of the series truly exemplifies that. It Will All Hurt #1 can be checked it out and picked it up here. Give it a gander, it's beautiful, creative and fun! 



2 Minds of Her Own!

National Comics: Rose & Thorn

DC Comics


Writer: Tom Taylor
Art: Neil Googe
Colors: Jim Charalampiois
Letters: Patrick Brosseau

What?! A Music City Comics entry about a DC book?! Yes, but let me explain. Not too long after the New 52 began, a series of one shot stories started getting released under the banner of National Comics. This line allowed a bunch of creators to try their hand at these new iterations of DC characters. There were a total of 4 issues, including Looker, Eternity, Madame Xanadu, and this one. All of a sudden, the issues stopped coming out. They were never collected, and remained nice small stories that would remain stand alone. This particular one is written by Tom Taylor of Injustice fame. He has also written a ton of Star Wars titles. Honestly, for this character (characters?) he is kind of a surprising choice, but he spun one hell of a yarn. Neil Googe has drawn a solid chunk of Injustice issues, as well as a whole mess of work for 2000 A.D. and some Wildstorm (R.I.P.) titles. His illustrations, I have come to find, fit Taylor's words in an exceptional way! Follow me, I'll show you!


This story starts with this new (preferred, in my opinion) iteration of the character Rose being rudely awakened by a disturbing amount of unidentified blood. This sets her on a path of tracking down various clues as to what she had done the night before, as she isn't able to remember a thing. As she attends school that day, people give her strange looks and start mentioning out of character situations that she could never imagine herself in. The more and more she finds out, the more she realizes that she has a dark side that is hell bent on figuring out the dark mysteries of her past. A past which she made sure stayed nice and repressed. Will she succumb to this violent alter ego or remain blissfully unaware of the tragedies which have befallen her?


Taylor does a ton of things right in this issue. He captures the teenage mindset of Rose and uses it so that Thorn can get her way. We also see him use social media in interesting ways to further clue the main character as well as the readers in on Thorn's intimidating personality. Taylor creates an intricate web of teenagers with which Rose has interactions with, and though the characters themselves are the same, we see them in contrasting personalities from their interactions with Thorn. It's a really cool effect that tells us everything we need to know about the Rose/Thorn dichotomy flawlessly.


Googe is also a master of contrast with this story, showing Rose's innocent and average lifestyle as vibrant and normal. However, once we see her dark other side he gives her subtle personal changes that give her more of that "bad seed" look. There is definitely some twisted, cringe worthy violence in this story, and it succeeds in moving the plot in an even more interesting direction. Panel layouts are perfect for this story, using dark outlines and appropriate sizes to insure that this dense story isn't overcrowded on the page, a much appreciated notion. It is also important to mention Charalampiois's colors. Whether Rose is at school talking to friends or Thorn is out causing mischief, each panel has a bright, striking color scheme. Not to mention Rose's hair color, which makes sure she is always the focal point in the story and showing that regardless of her personality, she always stands out among her peers.


National Comics: Rose & Thorn was a comic before it's time, but only by a couple of years. It can be pretty rare to find a Jekyll & Hyde story that does the relationship right and this was off to a GREAT start. The characters and twists which Taylor introduced in this issue along with the incredible visuals from Googe makes for a fantastic story that you will want more of. Honestly, with DC heading in this new direction and focusing on individual story telling and less on continuity, I could see this coming back... and that would be really swell! When this issue came out in November of 2012 it was $3.99, look on the internetz and I'm sure you will be able to find it somewhere. Check out the other 3 books from the National Comics line as well, they are all pretty neat.


Unrest in Space!

Titan #1

Study Group Comics
Alternative Comics


Completely by Francois Vigneault

Ahhh, what a fine day to learn about a comic that should be on your radar! Titan is a webcomic released by the fine community of creators at Study Group Comic Books. Very recently the story was collected and is being released in issue form from Alternative Comics. In fact the second printing of issue one came out just a week or day ago! The creator of this tale, Francois Vigneault, is a veteran to the indie comics genre. Check out more of his art right here!


MNGR Joao Da Silva is tasked with inspecting many of the off planet worksites in terms of safety, conditions, and productivity. This job brings him to Titan, a planet with a small staff of humans, and a large staff of unionized giants also known as Titans. The Titans are genetically altered to be big so that they can work better in low gravity environments. They are also, as the MNGR of the Titan station points out, basically second class citizens. After meeting with the union leader of the Titans, Cyrus, Joao gets teamed up with one of these giants named Phoebe, who will be his companion throughout the inspection. Joao is very dedicated to his job, but also has a keen eye for detail, and the more he sees this station, the more he realizes that there is an abnormal amount of animosity between the Titans and the humans. He makes it his goal to get to the bottom of this to provide a comfortable work environment for all... but there are those who don't think his intervention is necessarily a good thing.


Vigneault has written some really great characters here. Joao genuinely seems like a good guy, and finding upstanding protagonists in comics is somewhat of a rarity these days. I'm curious if his personality will slowly be altered by the obviously corrupt planet as time goes on. Phoebe is also a great character, providing an enormous amount of context without sounding like a history book. She clearly has a past and I can't wait to see what that is as time goes by. There is also something to be said about the atmosphere that Vigneault's dialogue forms. Through suspicious characters, group tension and even song lyrics, there is a real feeling of isolation even though the space station is very clearly a densely populated area. It's hard to explain, but basically what I'm saying is that Vigneault has provided some seriously deep story as well as enjoyable characters with great personalities. Also, he uses some interesting lingo (i.e. MNGR instead of manager) for even deeper immersion into this universe.


The art in Titan is very unique/ The inside of the space station looks like the Nostromo but with subtle simplicities in the machinery so that it doesn't detract from the dialogue. The Titans are able to seem completely friendly or entirely intimidating, depending on the context of their interactions. They are by definition enormous, and Vigneault makes sure you're aware of that! The regular humans look.. well, regular. Don't get me wrong, they are drawn really well and Joao definitely stands out among them, but most of the character definition is consciously placed on the Titans. With the exception of some of the guards keeping a watch on Joao. They have a look and feel that is reminiscent of classic sci-fi space cops. All in all the story has an aesthetic that you can tell the artist is very loyal to, and rightfully so, it looks great! Oh, and the colors! I find myself getting more and more into limited color pallets and this style quenches that thirst in a big way, I mean just look at the panel on this post, they're killer!


Yes, you COULD check out Titan online. However, if you are like me and can't always relate to online comics well then pick this bad boy up. Either way supports the extremely talented artist as well as the afformentioned Study Group Comic Books, but I always like to throw a little scratch towards the creators if possible. You get a good chunk of story in this first issue, especially for only $5. Do yourself a favor and pick up Titan #1 riiiiiiiiight here. You won't be disappointed.


This Guy!

Men's Feelings

Revival House Press


Entirely by, Ted May

What the HELL is this book?! That's what I asked myself when I found it hiding on a shelf in my local comic book store. It had an interesting name and the cover was more than a little clever so I went for it! Revival House Press is a relatively new who specializes in R. Crumb-esque underground comics that are consistently clever and ridiculously under the radar (which could very well be part of the charm). Ted May has been utilizing his dry humor and humorous illustrations for the past 6 years or so. This is a fine new edition to his growing list of titles.


But WHAT IS IT?! It is a collection of vignettes and strips that have been rattling around in May's head for quite some time that he finally decided to jot down. There are stories on a multitude of topics including how boring voyeurism can be, the need to take time to enjoy the outdoors, how to play poker the right(ish) way, and many more. With eight stories total, May captures the spirit of underground comics while still putting a new spin on it. As opposed to the commonplace of in your face gross out humor within this genre, May uses incredibly dry humor that causes the reader to take a quick second after each strip. That quick second is followed by a whole bunch of laughter guaranteed. His dialogue choices are clear and hilarious, and the length of these stories is perfect for his particular writing style.


Artistically, this is an easy to understand book. The words are great but this book could stand on it's own without them. THAT is the marking of a good comic. The characters all have expressive yet highly simplistic faces, which in many cases adds to the humor. However, though his facial expressions may be somewhat simplistic his backgrounds, which are mostly black, manage to convey a ton of detail even though not a ton is show. The shading adds tone to the panels, but that tone is never overly serious. The art matches the stories, and that is a great thing.


Let's be honest, a ton of comics are super serious these days. I really love Secret Wars but it is by definition, the Marvel Universe dying (sort of). Men's Feelings exists in this pocket of the comic industry where it provides humor and lightness to the medium while still feeling very fresh. Ted May will hopefully be producing more issues like this, because it's hella fun. You will probably need to by this online but it is worth the effort. You know what? Screw effort! Here's the link to Revival House's website! 

Thanks for reading and check out my latest podcast in the iTunes store!



He Ain't Heavy

Golemchik

Nobrow Press


Writer/Artist: William Exley

Golemchik is a rare comic. However it isn't the low print run that makes this book rare, but the emotions that it captures. This title is a one shot comic, stuffed with life and youthful vigor. Nobrow Press is a lesser known publisher of many indie comics such as Hildafolk and Vacancy. The publisher notices the occasional fine line between comic and children's book and crosses it frequently to make enchanting all ages tales. This one in particular is written and drawn by William Exley, who has left his world of illustrating concert posters and record covers to produce this work of art.


Golemchik tells the story of Kevin, a boy who finds himself alone for the summer as all of his friends have left for camping trips and similar fine weather activities. Even though he is by himself, he tries to make the most of it by using what he learned in boy scouts to explore. He stumbles upon one of his friend's hats, and having no need for it, places it on a nearby pile of stone. Discouraged by what may be a very dissapointing summer, he goes home for the day. During the night, the hate gives life to the pile of stone, through what I can only assume is the power of friendship, and thus a Golem is born. The Golem sees Kevin's scout handbook nearby and decides to build a fort like it suggests. The following day Kevin gets the same idea, and is surprised to find his book being used by this mammoth stone giant. Instead of being afraid, Kevin befriends the short tempered, bull in a china shop Golem, and together they attempt to make the best fort in the woods. However with one creature of extreme strength and one naive boy, can the friendship last?


Exley has written a tale of friendship that will bring adult readers back to a time when anything could have life and be your friend. The somewhat Calvin & Hobbes-esque relationship provides an obvious bond while still questioning how it will all end. Even though this is a 24 page story, there are absolutely some feels to be had by the end. Exley also does an impecable job of capturing the boyish wonder of the child as well as a similarly juvenile mindset in the Golem.


The art is something to behold. Exley's style has a very cartoony look that makes this very accessible for all ages. Kevin looks like... well a boy, and the Golem looks large and strong, but doesn't exude danger or intimidation, making for further accessibility. The envvironments are basically all nature settings, with each panel varying from the last with creeks, caves, and even differing leaf patterns on the trees. The colors Exley chose to produce this story in further emphasize the creativity and feel of the story. Besides the lines (all of which are relatively thick which I always enjoy) the whole story is dichromatic, using and mixing different shades of blue and orange. If Exley and his look don't become more common in the comic community then I... well... I'll be dissapointed.


Look, you can't go wrong with William Exley's Golemchik. It mixing the charm of a kids book, a coming of age story, and a tale of friendship into one to produce a beautiful experience. Anyone can pick this up and enjoy it and seeing as how it is only one issue/book (maybe more someday?), there's no fear of falling behind. As I mentioned earlier, this book foesn't have a super large print run (but very high production value), so make sure to try to pick it up! You can but it in Nobrow's online store. While you're there, check out some other books from the publisher. Thanks for reading and check out the new podcast episode on Wednesday!


2012: Good Year for Exorcisms


Story: Mike Mignola & Cameron Stewart
Art: Cameron Stewart
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Clem Robins
Covers: Viktor Kalvachev

Have you ever taken a second to think about how long the Mignola-verse has been around for? It really is impressive. It's like a realm within a publisher that consistently title after title only pumps out quality work. I mean seriously, when is the last time you heard of a Hellboy, Lobster Johnson or B.P.R.D. story being bad. It just doesn't happen! In 2012 Mike Mignola released a series of B.P.R.D. related mini series with various writers and artists, all spotlighting horrific and creative occurences. My favorite of which is the short but perfectly paced tale, Exorcism. Also an incredible multi-talented creator, Cameron Stewart joins him on this romp. I'm sure you know him from his recent work in reinventing a super enjoyable corner of the Batman universe with Gotham Academy and Batgril. He is also working on the recently begun Fight Club 2 series, providing his art with Chuck Palahniuk's words. That's enough of me fanboying (for now) let's begin.


Ashley Strode has been a character in the B.P.R.D. since they started struggling with the war on the frog monsters. In this series we see her get a task from the demon, Sybacco. Normally for someone who deals with the paranormal and all manner of strange things on the regular, this request would be completely ignored, however the demon is posessing a child, and promises that his soul will be at risk unless Ashley performs this task. What would a demon ask a human to do? Free a demon lord trapped in a cage that other demons can't breach, of course! To do this, she will go on a strange, life changing journey with retired priest and exorcism expert, Ota Benga. Together the duo goes to a sinister mindscape, unsure if they should fulfill the request at all.


Well... sounds pretty good doesn't it? All done in two issues too! Mignola brings his dark, gritty writing style to the story. When mixed with Stewart's somewhat lighter sense of story telling we get a story that is a little frightening, and a lot of fun. These two issues contain a tale that starts with the reader thinking it is going to be a somewhat by the books, linear mission story and then flip that on it's head by making it a thrilling adventure. The dialogue all tells us more about the characters with every word balloon and the lore provided gives enough information for anyone to be able to pick this up.


Stewart's art doesn't even need to be discussed (but I will). If you know his style, you know the quality that he puts into each panel, especially when it comes to environments. Seriously, it's pretty nuts how quickly and esily he can show contrasts between small, country towns and vicious hellscapes. The human characters all look polished and feature unique characteristics that go along with their constantly appropriate facial expressions. Meanwhile, the demons don't simply intimidate, but truly radiate evil intent. From their soulless eyes to their twisted forms, these folks mean business. Dave Stewart's colors aid the story with an ambience that is muted in the regular plain but full of deep browns and reds in the nightmare settings. Striking visuals all around.


All in all, you can't go wrong with this mini. It's short sweet, a little messed up, and to the point. B.P.R.D. Exorcism is perfect in the sense that you get a story that is easy to understand but still works out your imagination, all without loading you with unnecessary exposition. Mignola and Stewart knocked it out of the park and this little chapter in the universe deserves some recognition. Obviously, these two issues aren't still being printed, but you can check your LCS to see if they have them or use Comic Collector Live (those orders come from collectors or small comic stores). It may also be in a trade, but I'm not sure which so you should just buy them all. Happy hunting!


Archie Lives!

Archie #666
 
Archie Comics
 
Story: Tom DeFalco
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inks: Rich Koslowski
Letters: Jack Morelli
Colors: Glenn Whitmore

After decades of issues getting published, Archie Comics finishes the traditional version of it's title character's series. Issue 666 raps up the long run, however next month begins the new, modernized Archie written by Mark Waid with art by Fiona Staples. That's the future though, let's discuss the present. This issue of Archie is written and drawn by character veterans Tom DeFalco and Dan Parent (respectively). Neither of these talented individuals need much of an introduction, as both have been a staple in the lives of these characters and the readers for a very long time. In this issue they provide an appropriate send off shows that they understand the character and respect the fans.
 
 
Archie has done it again! After making a horrible mess at his school he received his 666th detention which causes Mr. Weatherbee to wave expulsion in the air if he can't clean everything up. News travels fast in Riverdale and everyone is shocked and upset at this turn of events, particularly Betty and Veronica, of course. Now most of the issue features Archie only in flashbacks, as the citizens recount the moments when he may have been clumsy, but always had kind intentions. Knowing that Archie is a strong part of the town's spirit Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Reggie, Cheryl, and all of the other Riverdalians band together to try to save the young man.
 

DeFalco made an incredible choice here. A series that has run this long and touched so many people could have had a sad goodbye story. It could have been a series of artful au revoirs showcasing tons of moments that Archie and his friends shared. Alright so we do get some flashbacks to great moments but we also get an end that could easily not be an end, a story that finishes Archie the same way it began... with a pure sense of fun. The jokes and slapstick are all here as well as a few nods to alternative Archie tales (Life With and Afterlife With in particular). We see each character in the main cast get a loving anecdote, and then watch the problem get handled. DeFalco understands this huge cast of characters, and their unique personalities don't waver from the delightful atmosphere Riverdale is known for.
 

Parent, as always, provides the iconic look for this cast of characters. With backgrounds that seem small town, we see Riverdale once more in this light. The characters are all in their traditional style of dress, with Veronica looking stylish as hell as per usual. Honestly, there is not much to say. The series has a charming style that has shifted from when it first started, but Parent with Koslowski and Whitmore make sure this feels like a home away from home.
 

Look, I know this isn't the end for Archie. I mean, the publisher is still around and putting out incredible comics such as Afterlife with Archie, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Sonic The Hedgehog, Megaman, and the Dark Circle Comics as well as their new direction for Archie himself. Plus the guy is iconic, he'll be back in this iteration at some point. That being said, I still felt a bittersweetness as this issue wrapped up. However, what's on the horizon is bound to be incredible. I would like to thank DeFalco, Parent, and everyone else who has made Archie and Riverdale the welcoming community throughout these many years. This issue was released on 6/3 and costs $3.99. Don't forget to check back with Archie Comics next month as well as a new era begins!
 

Spotlight: Emet Comics


There are so many great new publishers out these days, all doing something unique and fun. So which one is meant for you? What's the right direction to take? Well I can't lead you in one way or the other but what I can do is tell you about an incredible new company that is already making some waves... Emet Comics. Emet Comics is a publisher created by strong ladies with stories about strong ladies, providing a much needed step towards further diversity in the comic book industry. Maytal Gilboa founded this fancy new company, launching the website just a month or two ago. Since the launch, they have introduced a new, very cool system to get content out: email. By signing up for the mailing list you will be able to receive comic pages from these stories at various frequencies, the current of which being a tale called Hellena Rose: An Intergalactic Fairy Tale (written by E.O. Levendorf, art by Sonia Liao, and colors by Veronica Fish). The website and publication as a whole bleed safety and open minded ideals in a very admirable way. Check them out at www.emetcomics.com and sign up for there emails! Meanwhile, lets check out some of the comics they currently have available.
Story: Marilyn Fu
Art: Arielle Jovellanos
Colors: Laurie Thomas
When natural disasters begin to occur, five individuals discover that they have abilities capable of preventing global destruction. The story mainly revolves around Summer Lee, a young woman unaware of what fate is about to throw her way.


In the first five pages of this story, Fu introduces us to and captures the persona of Summer as well as the declining state of the planet. This is done through well worded first person past tense dialogue, giving a feeling that you aren't just reading the story, but are also being told. Jovellanos art adds to the atmosphere in a big way, making the world seem somewhat barren while pulling focus to very important details. Thomas's colors help by muting the tones, providing a "Kansas before Oz" scenario.

Story: Emily Dell
Art: Mollie Elizabeth Helms
Colors: Ceci de la Cruz
Mixing various mythos from Shakespearean works, Romeo & Juliet and Guns sees two strong players from rival gangs, Jo Capulet and Roman Montoya, trying to get away from their shady lifestyles in hopes of something better, or at least different. This journey takes them both on journeys of self discovery... and violence.

Dell gives us a frame work that puts Romeo & Juliet in a modern setting, however she adds a very fresh spin on it giving it new life. This isn't just some remake of a classic story, this is an action packed thrill ride that is bound to shock a few readers and introduce some killer concepts along the way. Helms's art involves a lot of incredible human figures as well as some intense, badass action sequences, while de la Cruz's neon colors and well placed light sources bring even more life to each panel.

Story: Melissa Jane Osborne
Art/Colors/Letters: Veronica Fish
Also playing off of an older tale in some ways, this story revolves around the questionably sane Wendy, who is hospitalized after her family is involved in a tragedy brought on by a large white light, resulting in her brother disappearing. Wendy is convinced that he was spirited away to a possible Neverland, and her therapist thinks it would be best for her to draw what she thinks to uncover the truth.


Osborne doesn't stray from hitting some emotional chords, even in the short sample we have seen so far. She does a great job of establishing the character of Wendy as a protagonist. She also makes the reader question what Wendy saw as much as the other characters do, and that's good writing! Fish has a sketchy, hatched drawing style that helps the reader see the world through Wendy's young eyes. Her colors give an element of fantasy to the story to further make the reader unsure of what is real and what may be a coping mechanism.

Writer: Jean Barker
Art/Colors: Joey Granger
Seamlessly mixing scifi elements with South African culture, Nkosazana takes place in a world where apartheid still runs rampant, and Zana is a constant victim. Teamed with her friend Bisa, the two accidentally anger an ancient spirit, and must face the dangerous consequences. (That last part is from the description, I'm stoked to see how the team does that).


Barker educates as well as entertains using various terms and traditions to show South Africa. She captures a strong bond between Bisa and Zana, which makes for a deeper connection with the reader. Though Zana gets victimized, it doesn't pull her down and she remains strong. Granger aids this feeling with INCREDIBLE facial expressions and backgrounds that are muted but textured in a very palpable way. There is a unique art style happening here, and I am anxious to see more of the scifi/spiritual elements that it will capture.


Now, those are 4 of the comics currently listed on the website, but there are more on the way. It is so incredible to see works where you can feel a passion for not only the medium, but also the cause of the company. Emet Comics is new to the comic community, but it is off to an incredible start and is only going to grow larger. Support this admirable and worthwhile company and view the above comics by visiting www.emetcomics.com! As always, thanks for reading!