Monsters & Metallurgy

 Article by, Drew Van Genderen
Strayer #1

Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Juan Gideon
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: Rachel Deering
Publisher: Aftershock

Aftershock keeps throwing out hits! Their repertoire gets more impressive with each title and they have proven to have an exceptionally strong talent pool. Strayer is created by Justin Jordan of Shadowman, Spread, the Luther Strode trilogy and many more, with expert illustrations from Juan Gideon of Ghost Racers and Tomb Raider fame (check out his portfolio here).

In a peculiar technological/apocalyptic/fantasy setting, we see a cloaked woman, Mala, trying to enlist help to bring the world back to it's previous, pleasant state from a tough guy in a tavern. On the other side of the tavern, the rambunctious Strayer is selling his skills to any that will hire him, but no one will. When the woman is threatened, a large metallic creature known as a Titan awakens and approaches and these two strangers work to pacify it, Strayer with metal knuckles that morph into sword light weapons and Mala with... strongly worded commands. Will they defeat this behemoth? Will anyone hire Strayer? Who is Mala and how will she return the world to it's previous state? Read and find out!

Justin Jordan is a real triple threat in this story, giving us world history, character history, and excellent context. Right off the bat Jordan gives us the history of this planet and some hints of the people who previously held the power in a way that informs the reader and provides Mala with backstory to attempt to enlist help. Immediately we know that Mala is a mysterious woman with unique and undefined abilities. Strayer is introduced soon after and we instantly get a hold of his gruff, boisterous personality. Both characters have very efficient introductions that give the reader a chance to know just enough about them to know their intentions but not so much as to give away all of their motivations. Their dialogue is incredibly appropriate for both of them and Strayer is clearly going to be a badass protagonist as well as the comic relief. The Titan and the nature of it's being present a whole mess of questions for the reader, particularly pertaining to the state of the world. It's presence raises just as many questions about Strayer and Mala as we begin to see their abilities. The characters and the world of this story give the feeling of a fantasy story, but the flashback at the beginning hints at a technological past, all of these ingredients combine to create an enjoyable read that mixes genres and invents some instantly well fleshed out characters.

Juan Gedeon matches Jordan's action packed story very well, leading to a book that looks just as incredible as it reads. The starting town of this story and the haggard townsfolk that inhabit it set the stage for a massive battle with fast paced action panels and the sense that Strayer is truly as good as he claims to be. The Titan itself seems massive and destructive and the resulting battle cements the feeling, but has some added aesthetic with thick vines cover it's metal body. The effects used to show Mala's abilities are vibrant and unique, almost like luminescent tattoos coming off of her body, whereas Strayer's knuckles/swords seem just as threatening as they are promised. The actual character model for Strayer also benefits the image he's trying to sell. He is drawn as a hulking man with long hair and a great beard, covered in scars and constantly ready for battle. As I mentioned earlier, the history lessons hints at technologically rich environments, but this world has sense been taken over by foliage with the exception of towns that mix wild west style storefronts and mideval thrown together architexture. Suffice it to say, the book looks cool... real damn cool. A big part of that, of course, is also due to the colors of Tamra Bonvillain, who colors a relatively sepia toned world, further making Strayer and Mala pop out.

Dreaming Eagles, Replica, Insexts, Super Zero, American Monster, and now Strayer. With every title Aftershock puts out, they cement a location as one of the great independent publishers. It copuldn't go any other way with some of the names they are getting, Justin Jordan and Juan Gideon being no exception. Mixing a few different genres with some epic illustrations and an action packed story is a recipe for success, and this team has it. Strayer #1 came out this past week and can be picked up at your LCS or digitally from the Amazon link below!

MCC Podcast #27- Death Vigil & Abigael Puritz

Find this bad boy on iTunes or on PodOmatic!

Death Vigil

Writer/Atist: Stjepan Sejic
Publisher: Top Cow

Death Vigil tells the story of an elite team of folks who have died and come back to fight otherworldly threats. How do they fight them? With their weapons, the Veilrippers, each an object catered specifically for them. This particular tale stars Clara, Sam, and Bernadette (aka the Grim Reaper) as they work with the rest of the Vigil to stop the sinister Pale Court. Find out more by listening in!

Stjepan Sejic is a fountain of talent. Between his work for Top Cow, some big 2 stories, and his exceptional creator owned work, the man creates nothing but gold. It is rare to find a creator who has exceptional knack for relateable (within reason) dialogue and absolutely incredible visuals, yet here he is! Suffice it to say, I'm a big 'ol fan. Check out more of Sejic's art AND sample his work here!

A Chat w/Abigael Puritz

This episode I had a grand time chatting with Abigael Puritz, comic creator and one of the three talented ladies putting on the art show, An Art of Intervals. We talked about her love of comics, her origin story, and of course, the exceptional show she is working on. Check out these links for info on the artists and project:

Write Up on Art of Intervals (written by Mariah!)

That's that! Another episode down! Can't wait for the next! Before I forget, I mention two wild and crazy books, Peek the First and Ikebana! You can pick Ikebana up here and check out Yumi Sakugawa art here. I couldn't find a specific link for Peek, but you can get it here and check out all things Jason Yungbluth here. As always, thanks for listening to the Music City Comics and if you like what you heard, PLEASE subscribe or give a nice rating (or both). Good ratings help this podcast get found which helps these creators get even more attention and YOU will learn about some good reads in the process. Win win win! Feel free to contact me by emailing or Tweet to @justdrewvg.

Join me next time as I [probably] discuss:

Don't Question

No Wonder #1

Writer: Jeremy Hauck
Artist: Ellis Ray III
Colors: Sean Callahan

The year is 2038 (not so distant future) and the world no longer has any curiosity. Between the ease of internet connection and the question inhibiting A.T.O.M. chip linking humanity, there is simply nothing to question or even dream about. That second half of is what makes teenager Turner Lane so confused. He wakes up after a peculiar dream of a mysterious place to unfamiliar surroundings and finds himself being hunted by masked strangers. Turner swiftly discovers he isn't the only one being hunted, and after running into a particularly helpful individual, knows that the only place he will be safe is the place in his dream. Why is he being hunted? What is this mysterious dream place? Why can't he seem to remember much? Jeremy Hauck and Ellis Ray III know.

No Wonder is hard sci-fi. We are talking Blade Runner level stuff here. Jeremy Hauck has created a history for this world that is not hard to believe and isn't dissimilar from what some people feel is currently happening. By removing much of the individuality of these people, he paves the way for Turner and the other hunted people to view the world that they have always known in knew and unfamiliar ways. The series of events in this first issue make for a story that can go in numerous directions, each of which are compelling and not immediately apparent to the audience. Ellis Ray III has helped form this somewhat dreary world with a set of somewhat realistic environments and character models. This adds to this believable future scenario. Typically, this art style isn't my cup of tea, however in this story it meshes with the plot in a way that really adds to the story. Not to mention Ellis can draw some incredible action and Clockwork Orange-esque villains. Especially the panels which show the hopeful past matched against the strange future.

How did No Wonder come about? A team of hard workers held a very solid Kickstarter campaign and were more than happy to talk with potential fans about the project. With issue one out and well received, I'm sure that Jeremy Hauck, Ellis Ray III, and everyone else involved are bound to continue to produce this story of an uncertain future. Keep an eye out for ways to get issue one and issue two when it come out next year! Oh, and don't be a stranger, contact No Wonder by tweeting @NoWonderComic

Integral Intervals

An Art of Intervals

If you’re a fan of comic books and art, which I’m going to go ahead and assume you are, then I’d love to bring an upcoming art show and zine fundraiser to your attention. “An Art of Intervals” is a show that will take place in Brooklyn, New York in late February, and it will feature the work of four female comic artists: Abigael Puritz, Wendy Xu, Grace Passerotti and Autumn Crossman. These ladies are using an Indiegogo (think kickstarter, or gofundme) fundraiser to help collect enough money to publish all of their new work in a zine, or small-collection of self-published work, for the art show. The money will also be used to cover various expenses for the show, and any remaining money will be split amongst the artists to cover the cost of materials.

Art by Abigael Puritz

If you’d like to know more about these ladies I’d recommend checking out their Indiegogo site, where each of the ladies has a link attached to their name that will bring you to their various websites (see how I’m pushing you to check out the fundraiser!). 

Art by Wendy Xu

The best part of donating to this great cause is the multitude of perks! Any donation over $7 will get you a printed copy of the zine. If you don’t have $7 to spare there are still lovely perks for $1 (a digital thank you note with an original doodle), $2 (a printed thank you note with an original doodle), and $4 (a digital copy of the zine) donations. If you do have some money to spare a $30 donation will get you an original drawing from one of the artists, and a $40 donation will get you an original painting, which is a hell of a deal for one of kind art!

Art by Grace Passeroti

These ladies have been working their asses off to create new work for this show, and their efforts are not only time consuming, but also expensive. Art supplies are pricey, shipping costs are through the roof and it costs around $500 to get their zine printed for the show. So anything you can spare will surely help, and don’t forget about those perks!

Art by Autumn Crossman

The art show will take place at the Tarot Society in Brooklyn, New York from February 26th to the 28th. If you’re lucky enough to live near Brooklyn, then I would highly recommend swinging by to see some of the work these ladies have created for the show. If you don't live anywhere near Brooklyn (like myself), then you can still learn about them, support them, and get your hands on some of their art by donating to their Indiegogo fundraiser: here!

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MCC Podcast #26- Sing No Evil & Mark L. Miller

The ever-so-lovely Music City Comics podcast can be found on iTunes OR on PodOmatic!

Sing No Evil

Writer: J.P. Ahonen
Artist: K.P. Alare

Sing No Evil tells the story of PERKEROS a diverse metal band that wants to make it big, particularly Aksel, the front man. As if juggling an extreme passion for music and everyday life wasn't enough, all of a sudden a black magic fueled change is sweeping through the scene. Aksel starts to learn their is more to music then originally thought, and start to wonder if Perkeros should get in on it too.

J.P. Ahonen clearly has an understanding of music and the mentality that follows it, particularly the metal genre. He writes his characters with passion and drive that make the reader root for them. K.P. Alare's distinct visuals add to that effect, with a careful balance of fun character models and threatening mystical forces.

A Chat w/Mark L. Miller

(Photo from aka

Mark L. Miller is a man of many faces. He has written for numerous comic publications, spoken at many a con in regards to the horror genre, AND has made some waves on Ain't It Cool News. He was even interviewed on the well received Music City Comics podcast (wink)! In our interview we discuss working with a new publication, his history, Pirouette, and a whole lot more!

Pirouette is a comic published by Black Mask and written by Mark L. Miller with art by Carlos Granda. It tells the gritty yet vibrant tale of a very talented circus clown who learns her past isn't what she originally thought. The series is going to be collected later in the year, if you want a preview then give the comic a Google. The first issue had a relatively low print run but can still be bought through various online stores, and keep an eye out for that trade!

As always, thanks for checking out the Music City Comics podcast! If you like what you've heard then PLEASE leave a review on iTunes. Good reviews help my podcast get discovered which helps bring more attention to these creators AND you'll find out about some great books. Win win win! If you'd like to contact me shoot an email to or Tweet to justdrewvg.

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Deer Girl, Wolf Boy Team-up!

Spirit Leaves

Writer/Artist: Rossi Gifford
Publisher: Chapter House Comics

Whimsy! Some comics have it and some don't. This here book has it in spades! Spirit Leaves tells the story of Freya, a deer girl, and Skoll, a wolf boy. Both of these individuals live in a world of balance, with spirits and demons constantly fighting to make everything work. Freya's tribe, the Herd, have sensed a disruption in the balance, where the demons are starting to take more prominence. Against their wishes, Freya goes out to figure out why this shift is occurring and how to stop it. She figures this will solve everyone's problems and give her a chance to prove herself. In her travels she runs into Skoll, a wolf boy from the carnivorous tribe, the Pack, whose goals are similar to hers. The two decide to team-up to hunt down the demon known as the Beast. What the duo doesn't know, is that there are many other threats and challenges in the woods besides the Beast...

Gifford writes a fantastical world that is just as vast as it is mysterious. With a quick description page at the beginning giving us a little preview of what we are going to get, we get thrust into the story. The story works at a great pace to give us the information we need before showing the team up of the two main characters, which fleshes out the world enough to suck the reader in before the main adventure. This is a world of animal/human tribes, good, and evil, all being encapsulated by the enjoyably naive team of Skoll and Freya. This team has a fun amount of depth as both of these individuals had very different upbringings, both of which give into the idea that this is an environment that is constantly working in balance. Skoll and Freya both have their own unique personalities furthering the individuality between the characters. Skoll is more abrasive whereas Freya is more peaceful, just like the animals they represent. With those two diverse personalities in this mythical world, we are witnessing the beginning of a very enjoyable quest.

The art in this book is what really caught my eye. Looking at Rossi Gifford's art style (you can too at her WordPress) you can tell that she has incredible sense of layout and concept. From cover to cover this comic is exploding with style. On each page, traditional paneling is replaced with overlapping story moments, getting the most detail as possible onto each page, and those overlapping moments are all drawn with varying shapes and figures. The character models are fable-esque and combine human/animal combinations that don't venture too far to either side of the spectrum. The character that really stands out is Freya. With piercing red eyes and white skin that stand outs very well against the increasingly dark environments, everything from her reactions to her action sequences has a great uniqueness to it. There's a clear level of graphic design prowess to to this whole story, and the resulting product is stunning. I mean... good god look at the covers!

Spirit Leaves is a type of story that I've never quite seen before from a creator which I will now make sure to follow. From illustration craftsmanship to overall execution, Rossi Gifford has a lot of great stuff at play here! Again, if you want to see more of her work, check out her WordPress. Spirit Leaves #1 came out this past week for only $3.99!

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Here There Be Dragons!

Four Eyes: Hearts of Fire #1

Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist: Max Fiumara
Letters/Design: Thomas Mauer
Publisher: Image Comics

It is important to note that this issue is the second arc in the story created by Joe Kelly and Max Fiumara. The first arc (Four Eyes) came out between 2008-2010 and although Four Eyes: Hearts of Fire can easily stand alone, I highly recommend picking up the first arc before giving this one a read. Joe Kelly and Max Fiumara have created a spectacular story and I’m happy I wasn’t a comic book enthusiast in 08’ because eight years is quite a long time to wait for a sequel! If you’re a comic noob like myself, then you may not have heard of Joe Kelly, but he seriously has his paws all over everything in the comic world. He is one of the creators of Man of Action Entertainment, a quartet of writers who have worked on some of the biggest franchise characters like Superman, Deadpool, and Spider-Man. Kelly also co-wrote Ben 10, and is the writer of I Kill Giants. Max Fiumara is equally as busy in the comic world. He has worked for Avatar Press, Marvel, DC, and Dark horse and is currently working on B.P.R.D and occasionally helps his brother with Abe Sapien (check out his blog).

Four Eyes: Hearts of Fire is the continuation of a story about a boy named Enrico, who is seeking revenge for his father’s death. The story is set in New York during the depression era with one smallish twist, underground dragon fighting is all the rage. In the first arc of Four Eyes you find out how Enrico’s father dies and what he must do to obtain his illegal baby dragon. This issue explores a few of the obstacles Enrico will face when it comes to owning, raising, and training an illegal dragon. Enrico is quite young, and is eager to learn about dragon training, but he discovers that the methods used by the “professional” trainers aren’t exactly kind. Future issues will tell us a lot about the path Enrico will choose, and they will eventually lead to him and Four Eyes participating in their first dragon fight. 

My main issue with comic books growing up was that I felt they didn’t have enough words. As a child who loved the written word, I had heavy doubts about their ability to create the same depth as a novel or other piece of literature. What I didn’t consider was how amazing it is that comic book writers could do just that: create unimaginable depth with so few words, and Joe Kelly is a master at this. His writing is just the right amount of funny, dark and expressive and his dialogue fits so perfectly with Fiumara’s illustrations that I can hear not only the words, but their tones as well. The language used fits the era, and Kelly successfully dodged any anachronistic expressions or jokes. There really isn’t much more that can be said about Kelly’s writing, he’s a master, let’s just leave it at that.

Fiumara successfully captures the 1930s depression era with his gritty, slightly cartoonish style, as if paying homage to a horror noir. Somehow, he manages to make dragons fit perfectly into this era as if they were always meant to be there. What I really love about this comic is that it is almost entirely in black and white. Ordinarily I would be disappointed by this, but its deliberateness and the minimalistic color used in many of the illustrations makes it work. Washed-out reds can be found throughout the issue highlighting characters and amplifying text. Fiumara has truly mastered the art of capturing expressions and Enrico has the expressive face of a child who simply cannot mask his emotions. In addition to Enrico’s expressiveness, we are also shown some very creative depictions of different species of dragons (Four Eyes wasn’t very cleverly named, but children aren’t the greatest at naming things). I can’t wait to see more from Fiumara as this series progresses, and as Four Eyes becomes a fully grown lethal fighting machine!

What I love most about this story is that it completely caught me off guard. I didn’t find the setting particularly interesting until suddenly there were dragons involved! As far as I know this hasn’t been done before and the duo handle it quite well. This isn’t your everyday revenge tale; it will likely become a story where a boy must question everything he believes in order to make changes in his life. Four Eyes: Hearts of Fire was published on January 6th, 2016, and can be purchased in print or digitally for the very reasonable price of $2.99!

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MCC #25- High Crimes

Find THIS podcast on iTunes or on PodOmatic!

High Crimes

Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Ibrahim Moustafa

High Crimes! A story of facing your own demons while simultaneously fighting a secret agency! Zan and Haskell live in Kathmandu and climb the surrounding mountains (Everest in articular) as guides as well as to find missing body parts and other mementos that let people know that their relative is no longer among the living. The discovery of one particular body sends the duo's life into a frenzy as myterious and dangerous individuals start hunting them down. What could they want with this corpse? The answers lie at the top of Mt. Everest.

Sebela provides a story captivating from beginning to end as he focuses primarily on Zan and her struggles since she fell from grace (in the form of being kicked out of the Olympics). He showcases the hardships of peaking Everest and captures the human struggle in a way that stops you from being able to place the book down. Moustafa brings life to the frigid land form with realistic illustrations of the characters and the environment, making the reader wonder who is more of a threat, the agents or Everest itself. Want to know more? You can! Listen to the podcast!

As discussed in this episode, there is a great Indie GoGo campaign going on to put on an art show and release a zine helmed by some very talented ladies. Show your love by checking out the campaign for An Art of Intervals!

As always, thank you for listening to this podcast and if you like what you heard, please head over to iTunes and leave a positive review! Good reviews help this podcast get discovered which helps these books/creative teams get discovered and you'll get a good read out of it! Win win win! To contact me, shoot an email to or Tweet to @justdrewvg.

Join me next time as I discuss: