A Crime For the Kids

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1
Black Mask Studios
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Tyler Boss
Flatting: Clare Dezutti

Sir Manley, Walter, and Crotch are in the midst of a battle with a terrifying dragon, but this isn't their story. This is the story about the kids behind the dungeons and dragons characters, namely Pat, Berger, Walter and Paige, a few awkward school kids finding fun wherever they can. When Paige's father offers to buy the kids ice cream, the kids run into a very strange set of men at the door. Maybe it's the swastika tattoo or the way one of them punches Paige in the face, but these guys are clearly bad news. As the story goes on, we soon find ourselves wondering what their intentions are with Paige's family, and how the kids are involved.

Matthew Rosenberg has proven his talent with We Can Never Go Home and 12 Reasons Die, but in all honesty his writing style in this is absolutely breathtaking. The voices that he gives to the kids feels so real and authentic, incorporating all of the nuances and goals we all experienced in school. There's a certain charm to each member of the gang that is in the exact same vein as The Goonies or Monster Squad, while still providing voices that are totally unique to this story. After the kids we get introduced to Paige's father, who reads as the dad trying to do his best to keep her daughter happy and protected. I feel like his character arc throughout this 5 issue mini is going to be the most changing. Just from his dialogue in this first story, there's a clear and powerful bond between him and Paige. The band of troublemakers, Hayes Silk, Vernon and Skinhead Mike also have incredible personalities, and are the main source of humor put up against the young charm of the kids. Not only that, but when they are introduced there is an immediate uncertainty, knowing that as long as the kids are near them they are in danger. This issue sets up what is going to be an incredible story, and the context provided gives an incredible amount of character interaction and dynamics. Oh, and I feel like I haven't really discussed it, but this book is absolutely hilarious.

Tyler Boss has done work on VICE Magazine, Funeral Pudding, Swimmers, &  Lazarus (#11-17 specifically) which is what people may know him best for, but after this series and for sure after this series, people will know him very well. Boss has a noticeable knack for panel design, and puts his exceptionally well designed characters in each. The design is especially enjoyable on pages that use all of the panels to make one image or to map out the speech pattern of the characters. Speaking of characters, they look so natural in this story and are perfect for the era the story is in (70's I believe). From the aviator glasses, to Silk's choice in hats, to Paige's outfit, the era and everything occupying it are perfect. It's also great the way the movements illustrated match Rosenberg's age appropriate dialogue making the kids even more understandable and realistic. Boss is clearly a master of the layout, and each panel has a neatness to the art that makes for an even more enjoyable viewing experience. Adding to this remarkable experience is Courtney Menard, who designs the retro (yet undeniably hip) wallpaper in Paige's home. Putting the icing on the cake of this issue are the colors. Working with Boss, Clare Dezutti delivers a color scheme that uses subtlety to give an almost sepia toned filter over the whole package.

Suffice it to say, I love this issue. 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank is an obvious hit in Black Mask's successful library. Rosenberg and Boss work so well together to form a story with a voice and atmosphere that strikes just the right chord. As I mentioned earlier, this is the first of a five issue series, and this issue comes out TODAY, April 26th. I would jump on it as soon as possible, this one's going to get tough to find, and you won't be disappointed.

FTLI #2- Tomboy, Agent 1.22, Elaine Will

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Kickstarter Alert: Black Suit of Death
The Black Suit of Death is a comic series that gives an origin to the Grim Reaper, and that origin involves a suit of armor sent to Earth and passed down through generations. The owner of this armor poses the power of death, which may be a blessing or a terrible curse. The series is written by Benjamin J. Kreger and Edward Ellsworth, with art by Dexter Wee and colors by Bryan Arfel Magnaye. For only $9 you can get a copy of this first issue plus an additional book, but I'll let you see for yourself.

Agent 1.22 #0
Agent 1.22 is a cyborg of sorts sent to a space station to figure out what happened. Amongst those dead from a plague and with a giant defense robot at her heels, this Agent may find she's in too deep. Also, who is she? She isn't allowed to find out. This comic is written by Stephan Nilson and Drew Garber with art by Douglas Shuler.  YOU can check out this zero issue for free at www.agent122.com/ 

Tomboy vol. 1: Divine Intervention
Tomboy tells the story of Addison, a girl who has just turned 16 and discovered her friend, possibly boyfriend, Nick has been murdered. Armed with a cat mask, strange sense of justice, and brutality she didn't know she contained, she ventures out to figure out what happened to Nick and who she really is. This series is written and drawn by Mia Goodwin and features a complex cast of characters, totally out of left field visuals, and a magical girl as the voice of reason (or possibly chaos). Download the first issue and see for yourself at NoiseTrade.

A Chat w/Elaine Will 
Images from SocialBookShelves.com 
Elaine Will joins me to talk about Look Straight Ahead, the webcomic that she wrote and drew featuring an up close look at depression through the eyes of an insecure student. We also have a discussion about the family friendly horror tale, We Choose Our Friends Alone. She's got lots of intriguing stories on the way, including a video game-esque adventure and the struggles of a man building a grand ship during the Great Depression. Pick up some of her titles from her BigCartel and make sure to drop her a line on Twitter at ElaineMWill

Nostalgia Corner: The Star Wars
The Star Wars is an interesting chapter in the Star Wars mythos, as it collects the adaptation of George Lucas's original script before it would become what we now know as A New Hope. The story isn't incredible and I can see why so many changes were made, but there are certain call backs and character chocies that have found their way into the 7 movie saga in many ways, and it's cool to see how it all began. This series was written by J.W. Rinzler with art by Mike Mayhew, both of whom know their stuff on the series and were very loyal to Lucas and the source material in their interpretation.

Comics To Be Aware Of 
on 4/27/16
        Hyper Force Neo

Thanks for listening! You can contact For The Love of Indie at ftlindie@gmail.com or on Twitter at JustDrewVG

Sabotage In Space

Hestia Chronicles: Episode 1
Writer/Artist: Robert Hazelton

Space... the final frontier... Where people can safely travel from planet to planet. Unless, of course, their ship is sabotaged by a surprise agent. Aria, Natasha, Beatrice, and Captain Miranda run the HMS Hestia, and the powers that be feel like the attack on the ship as well as a few other incidents deem the Captain incompetent to lead. Starting from the beginning, Miranda tells her higher ups about how these incidences came to be. It all started with a mission of recruitment, as the Hestia was getting ready for a spec ops mission by enlisting some extra help from a prison station. Once the dangerous, unpredictable Willow Dane was recruited... the problems really began.

Hazelton has formed a galaxy and government with an uneasy history. This leads the reader to believe that sabotage and problems in space are not only possible, but probably. Aboard the Hestia, the crew is a fun set of personalities. Whether it's the banter between Natasha and Aria, the steadfast nature of Miranda, or the intellect of Beatrice, there is always fun dialogue to be had between the lot, and not a single one of them takes crap from anyone. The main scenario, Miranda explaining how things became the way they were to her superiors, is a fun frame to the story that raises the feelings that things are about to get real bad real quick. Besides a bio for each of the characters and their dialogue, we don't immediately know their personalities. That being said, very quickly Hazelton gives hints as to who these ladies are and what their skills are. An added feature to this book that I wish more would accommodate is using the names of characters in text boxes without characters in them. This eliminates any confusion or chance of misinterpretation. The only complaint I have is the text balloons. The text just feels a little large and kind of crowds the balloons they inhabit.

I typically am not a fan of computer illustrated comics in this style, but I through caution to the wind and am glad for it. A lot of the environments look familiar to sci-fi aficionados and space will always look like space, but the character definition is where Hazelton really shines. Each member of the crew is very distinct, whether it be their colorful outfits, or very unique (also colorful) hair styles. More importantly, the expressions are easy to read and make sense with the dialogue, a trait that tends to lack in this style of comic telling. Hazelton uses every feature of the face (especially the impressively rendered eyes) to portray accurate emotions, and it's refreshing.

The Hestia Chronicles is an intriguing new look at an intriguing new universe. With interesting characters showing us how a situation turns really bad really quick, it's a lot of fun. Robert Hazelton knows how to make some great 3D renderings, and the result is a read that's stellar to look at and easily accessible to any reader wanting to try out this art style. What's more, you can pick it up digitally for only $ .99 from Indy Planet!

FTLI #1- Wuvable Oaf, Bloodshot Reborn, Melody Often

Article by, Drew Van Genderen

You can download this podcast from iTunes or Simplecast
OR you can just play it from here

Kickstarter Alert: Eloquent Silence  

The Eloquent Silence is a Kickstarter for a graphic novel that is setting out to tell a different type of crime story. This book is written by Farrukh Selimkhanli with art by Mike Shea and tells the story of Joseph, who owes money to some bad people. Together with his friend Luka, he kidnaps a little girl in hopes of making the money back through ransom. This hard hitting tale has a ton of backer rewards, and you can get the story for as low as $13. Check it out for yourself here!

Bloodshot Reborn Annual #1

The Bloodshot Reborn Annual has an insane amount of talent behind it in 4 stories of peculiar adventures in Bloodshots life. Three stories concentrate on Bloodshot as he faces off against serial killers, Anti-Monitor spoofs, and futuristic villains. Behind these stories are Jeff Lemire, Michel Fiffe, Ben Marra, Kano, Joe Bennett, Ray Fawkes, Paul Maybury, Balardino Brabo, Pete Pantazis, & Jose Villarubia. If you're looking for a diverse roster of comic brilliance than you NEED to get this issue. 

 Wuvable Oaf
Wuvable Oaf is a title written and drawn by Ed Luce featuring a large hairy man named Oaf looking for love. When he isn't trying to woo the Ejaculoid front man, he can be found working at the gym, rescuing stray kittens, or making dolls out of his body hair. This book is an interesting character study into a gentle giant and the community that surrounds him, as well as an outlet for Ed Luce to produce some mind blowing, outside the box visuals. Pick up Wuvable Oaf merchandise and see where Ed Luce is going to be this summer here and pick up the trade from Fantagraphics, here!

Nostalgia Corner: TMNT Meets Archie

Well let's see... The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles use their dimension transporting cow head, Cudley and get sent to Riverdale where Archie and Betty freak out but no one believes them. At a Josie & the Pussycats concert Veronica gets kidnapped and the two gangs need to team up to save her. WILL THEY?! The art is that fun Archie style and the Turtles are definitely in their cartoon personas but hey, it's a fun comic from 1990.

A Chat w/Melody Often
Photo from Bmore Into Comics
Melody Often is a comic book artist/writer behind some very thought provoking titles. Between her work on the webcomic Trinadot to her grant winning title, In The Hands of Boys she has really shown a knack for capturing emotion and putting characters in situations that can hit close to home. If you'd like to see more of her recent work, check out her Tumblr and the first issue of Amazing Forest. You can also hit her up on Twitter at @melodyoften.

A Chat w/JT Wilkins
Photo from Comics DC

JT Wilkins is a writer/artist with a number of titles under his belt including Afrofuturist, Black Dayz, and Kid Sunday in Meta City. He was sitting at the same table as Melody so I lucked out and got to have a fe words with him. JT writes stories that have diversity in them in a way that promotes coexistence and inclusion in a really excellent way, without being heavy handed on the subject. Besides working on comics, he also produces his own music. You can find his series and his tunes at http://thinktankrx.com or you can hit him up on Twitter at @jtwblack.

And just like that, the first episode of For The Love of Indie has ended. Thanks to everyone for checking it out. If you like what you heard then please leave a nice iTunes review. If you'd like to contact us to suggest a book or show us your book, you can email ftlindie@gmail.com or message me on Twitter at JustDrewVG. ONE MORE THING! Our awesome cover art is by a friend and tattoo artist I know, Emily Cee. Make sure to look at what she has been up to on her Instagram

That Anthology Life

Article by, Drew Van Genderen

Sun Bakery #1
Alternative Comics (Press Gang)
Writer/Artist: Corey Lewis

For the past few months, the comic reading audience has had access to multiple anthologies including Island, Amazing Forest, Secret Loves of Geek Girls, Big Planet Comics Blue Anthology, etc. All have ups and downs with various degrees of quality within each story. Joining the ranks of this genre is Sun Bakery, an issue based anthology series published by Press Gang (through Alternative Comics with art AND story for each vignette (3 total) by Corey Lewis of Sharknife fame.

The first story in this issue brings in the gaming audience with a spoof on Metroid. In "Arem" a social media warrior lands on a strange planet in hopes of achieving more likes on her Nextigram profile. However, she may soon discover that the planet may be a bit too dangerous to experience. Playing with the classic costume, equipment, and enemies of Samus Aran, Lewis inserts humor into a story that is other wise badass. With references to social media and internet memes, it seems the tale plays off the joke some folks find taking a photo more important then their own safety by pushing the idea to an extreme. With explosive, vibrant colors and, kinetic imagery, and some beautiful stipple shading, Arem's almost graffiti esque illustration guide's the reader through the satirical story.

In a totally different direction, the second story titled "Dream Skills" shows us a strange world where guns have proven ineffective. As in, the bullets simply curve around bodies. The results of this are strangely believable, humanity has turned to swords as their weapon of choice. Xasha survives in this world with her trusty sword, getting in technicolor mystic duels thanks to the Dream Skills she uses. Sword wielders have different levels depending on their Dream Skills, and let's just say Xasha is pretty damn good. Together with her friend Puff, many adventures will be had, and maybe a mysterious individual with a seedy past will be waiting at the end for them. With action sequences that show abilities and destructive capabilities akin to a shonen manga and a color pallet consisting of creme and neon pink, the story has a very distinct look. Not only that, but the confident Xasha works well with the curious Puff, instantly forming a partnership the reader cares about. Puff's naivete also provides Xasha the opprotunity to give context, immediately hinting that Lewis has massive plans for this story.

Finally, we get to experience the fast paced story, Bat Rider. This black and white vignette shows the death defying Bat and his sentient, possibly demonic, skateboard. The duo hits the pavement, performing stunts and rising fast and loose through the torn up city. When a girl appears and rattles bat, he finds his skills may not be enough to perform the dangerous stunts ahead of him. This story is quick, not just because there isn't a ton of dialogue, but also because the action is fast paced. This is the type of story that you read twice, once quickly looking at the panels as Bat rides, and the second taking in the details of each panel. From the beginning to the end, from character design to action sequence, Bat Rider can only be described as high octane. The amount of movement felt in this black and white tale is exceptional, and subtle context clues gives tons of detail to the reader without much dialogue.

Sun Bakery is a vibrant masterpiece with colors that pop and intense action that feels grand and important. Corey Lewis has three tales in this issue that each have great flow in their distinctive story and in the issue as a whole. By producing an anthology with the same artist/writer for all three stories, it is very easy to get sucked into the next, adding a certain amount of cohesion that some anthologies lack. Originally started with a self published issue (funded via Kickstarter), this comic has a definitive quality of illustration, story, and overall passion behind it, guaranteeing each issue will be a real treat. Sun Bakery #1 will be available at the end of the month with the above cover as well as two variants (from Jim Mahfood or Paul Pope). For additional information head here!

All the Comforts of D&D

Article by, Mariah Senecal

Rat Queens vol. 1
Image Comics
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artist: Roc Upchurch
There is a special place in my heart reserved for Rat Queens. This series, which began in September of 2013, was the very first comic book series I read and instantly fell in love with. I patiently (debateable) waited for each issue to come out and despite a few publishing delays I have faithfully followed the series over the past few years. Rat Queens has been nominated for several awards including the Eisner award and the Hugo award, and in 2015 it won the GLAAD media award for their inclusion and portrayal of LGBT characters. So not only was this comic received well by me, but apparently a whole bunch of other people liked it as well! Rat Queens is Kurtis J. Wiebe’s (Green Wake, Intrepids) brainchild, and the artistic credit for volume one go to Roc Upchurch (Vescell).

Rat Queens is an ongoing story following an all female adventuring party in a medieval fantasy setting. These ladies love causing trouble more than remedying it and their idea of a good time is getting hammered and wreaking havoc on their town (which often leads to them spending the night in prison). The first arc of this story introduces us to: Betty, a halfling with a taste for drugs, sex, and candy, Violet, a dwarven warrior who shaved her beard and ran away from home to search for meaning in her life, Hannah, an elven mage with dark magic and a darker past, and Dee, an atheist human cleric who was raised by cultists. These ladies, despite their heroic efforts, have attracted the attention of several enemies and spend most of this first volume trying to figure out who has attempted assassinating them and other adventuring parties like them. This story is filled with friendship, sex, violence, drugs and so much more. It is a great foundation for a fantastic series, and future story arcs focus equally on each of the girl’s pasts as well as the crazy adventures they often find themselves having.

Kurtis J. Wiebe is a genius of nerd culture with a taste for puns and wit. I have probably read this arc at least six times and the story never gets old. I found the banter between characters to be fluid and hilarious, and Wiebe’s dialogue is so well written that you truly get a grasp of each characters personality early on. The plot is easy to follow with several gems that you can be certain will show up later. Each character is as mysterious as they are sassy and this comic definitely points out that even bad puns are good. My favorite aspect of this comic is the depth of each character. These ladies are all insanely different with a similar taste for fighting and drinking, but their pasts still weigh heavy on them. The series shows that even when you are running from your past mistakes, they always seem to catch up to you when you’re least expecting it. I am certainly curious to see where this series goes, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the newest issue!

So all social media bashing aside, Roc Upchurch brought some stellar work to the table when he illustrated Rat Queens. His work is grungy, sexy, and most of his panels are just plain beautiful. In the beginning of the paperback volume there are portraits of each of the Rat Queens with a little blurb that essentially sums them up as characters (at least to start), and they’re fantastic. I love how each character has their own unique sense of style that compliments their personality and upbringing. I really don’t think there was anything to dislike about Upchurch’s art. The action sequences are all extremely well done, the facial expressions are remarkable, and he is consistent with the details of each character. Upchurch truly did a fantastic job with this volume, and it is a shame he was unable to continue working on this series.

I would highly recommend this comic to anyone who loves a good pun, some playful banter, and lots of adventure. Wiebe and Upchurch turned me on to the world of comic books, and they did so with their sexy portrayal of the Rat Queens and some admirable sass. I’m a sucker for a good story and realistic heroes and these ladies fit the bill. No one is perfect, sometimes in a fantastical world you accidentally kill an ogres boyfriend, but you need to be willing to do what’s right in the end and that’s the most important lesson of growing up (at least that I’ve learned so far). You can pick up volume one of Rat Queens from any comic book distributor, and fret not, volume two is already out and you can even pre-order volume three!