For The Love of Indie #33- Jonesy, Garbage Night, Redneck

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Writer/Artist: Felipe Smith
Buy Peepo Choo here
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Writer: David Kushner
Artist: Koren Shadmi
Publisher: Nation Books
Drew's favorite D&D podcast: The Adventure Zone
Buy a Dungeons and Dragons starter kit here
Buy Rise of the Dungeon Master here

Writer: Donny Cates
Publisher: Image Comics (Skybound)
Buy Redneck here

Writer/Artist: Liz Prince
Publisher: Silver Sprocket
Buy Coady and the Creepies here
Check out Razorcake here
Buy Be Your Own Backing Band here

Writer/Artist: Matt Lesniewski
Buy Alone Again here

Writer/Artist: Jen Lee
Publisher: Nobrow Press
Buy Garbage Night here

Writer: Kevin Panetta
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Buy Zodiac Starforce vol. 1 here
Buy Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince #1 here

Writer/Artist: Anders Nilsen
Preorder Tongues here
Buy Dogs & Water here

Writer: Sam Humphries
Colors: Mickey Quinn
Publisher: Boom! Box
Buy Jonesy vol. 1 here

Comic Releases on May 25th, 2017

FTLI #32- The Dark Tower, Robin Furth, Plague Doktor

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Writer: David M. Brown
Support the Kickstarter here

A chat with Robin Furth!
Watch The Dark Tower trailer here
Buy The Dark Tower: Concordance here
Buy The Dark Tower comics here

Out this week:

Alternate Ancient History

An article by, Aaron Burton

The Roman Empire was one of the most prolific organizations in written human history. The effects of the five hundred year regime can still be felt to this day. The Romans helped make advancements in mathematics and healthcare. Many of their ideas of architecture and infrastructure are still used. The Roman Empire serves as an example of how to run a large-scale society.

Empires don't last for ever. After years of warring the Roman Empire eventually fell to nomadic invaders in 476 CE. One of the major battles during this time was the sack of Rome in the year 410. This attack was led by Alaric I who was the first king of the Visigoths. Though this was not the end of the Roman Empire, this battle was known as the beginning of the end.

X-O Manowar tells the story of Alaric's nephew Aric of Dacia. This comic book has been around since the early nineties and has gone through many iterations. The character was originally created by Jim Shooter and Steve Englehart with art by Bob Layton and Barry Windsor-Smith and was/is published by Valiant Comics. Recently, he X-O Manowar universe restarted. The first issue of the new series premiered in March of 2017. At the time of this article there are currently four issues of the comic released. This version of the comic is written by Matt Kindt with art by Tomas Giorello. The series seems to pick up where the 2012 iteration ended, but serves as a jumping-in point for new readers.

Though the backstory of the series deals with ancient Rome, X-O Manowar serves as a science fiction epic. The great warrior Aric of Dacia is abducted by aliens and sent to new worlds. During his adventures he is constantly met with the same obstacles found in his life on Earth. The Roman/Visigoth rivalry quickly replaces itself with new sets of clashing societies. War and death seem to follow him, and Aric finds himself fighting against oppressive and destructive leaders.

Aric seems war-weary and done with the warrior lifestyle. He trying to live a peaceful life rid of violence and discord. This doesn't last long as he is forced into battle to be cannon fodder for his oppressors. Little time is wasted before we are thrown into the large scale dramatic battles that X-O Manowar fans know and love.

There are many interesting aspects of Giorello's artwork in the X-O Manowar. For example, a lot of the panels are layered over each other. There are moments where elements in an underlying panel are drawn on top of the overlaying panel. This gives the illusion that the panel is sandwiched in between the back ground and the foreground. Elements in the overlaying panels will spill out onto the the underlying panels. There is also a flashback sequence where the art style completely changes. The flashback is told with a more simple and abstract style. Giorello does a great job of utilizing negative space and creates a dream-like atmosphere for this section of the book.

X-O Manowar delivers an interesting blend of science-fiction and alternate history. Readers get to see what happens when a fifth century Visigoth barbarian is thrust into the realm of science fiction. Though Aric now has enough experience to fill a thousand lives he is still very much affected by his time on Earth. The 2017 iteration of X-O Manowar offers a fresh and engaging take on the classic Valiant character.

For The Love of Indie #31- The Chair, Charlie Chan Hock Chye, Prison Pit

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Writer: Caleb Thusat
Support the Kickstarter here

A chat with Buddy Beaudoin!
Check out Gentleman Pickle's page here
Preorder Ritual here
Buy Gentleman Pickle's other comics here

Writer/Artist: Sonny Liew
Check out a bit of Singapore's history here
Buy The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye here

Publisher: Image Comics
Buy Shirtless Bear Fighter here

Writer/Artist: Luke Pearson
Publisher: Nobrow Press
Buy Everything We Miss here

Writer: Peter Simeti
Artist: Kevin Christensen
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Watch the movie trailer here
Buy The Chair and more Alterna newsprint issues here

Writer/Artist: Tom Scioli
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Buy American Barbarian here

Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Garry Brown
Publisher: Aftershock
Buy Babyteeth here

Writer/Artist: Johnny Ryan
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Check out the Prison Pit cartoon here
Buy the Prison Pit comics here

Artist: Eryk Donovan
Colorist: Claudia Aguirre
Publisher: Black Mask
Buy Kim & Kim here
Buy Quantum Teens Are Go here

Comic releases on July 5th, 2017

Get the details here

Class Struggle Through the Eyes of Food

An article by, Aaron Burton

I was approached by a man while I was walking into work the other day. He told me he could send healthy meals directly to my house. This man was spending his day starting up conversations with strangers in order to sell them gourmet meals. All of this was occurring a block away from a sidewalk full of food trucks. A block away from the food trucks is a small artisan donut shop filled with and uncommon combination of flavors.

Americans have always had a passionate affair with food. We seem to be living in an era where the culture surrounding food is changing. People are more interested in organic and fresh food. Artisan food crafting gives customers access to different types and combinations of ingredients. Farmer’s markets and food trucks are popping up all over cities and towns. Americans have access to a wider variety of foods than ever before. Food has also made waves in the political realm to the point where policies and regulations regarding food are common political issues.

Many people see the perks of this cultural shift as a positive. There is a large group of people eating healthier foods with higher quality ingredients. The access and selection of gourmet foods has never been higher. Others, however, see this as a further separation between the wealth classes in the United States. They believe that the lower class is being priced out of these benefits. There are many places in America where it is difficult to find fresh, non processed food.

Starve is an Image Comic written by Brian Wood with art by Danijel Zezelj and Dave Stewart. This story takes the gentrification argument to its extreme. In a country where only the wealthiest citizens can afford quality food it is up for one man to change the status quo. Gavin Cruikshank is known as one of the best chefs in the world. His once humble television program has turned into the most extreme cooking competitions. To make it to the top, contestants must commit crimes and acts of violence to prepare their meals. This is all done for the satisfaction of the cultural elite.

Gavin's journey is filled with obstacles and pitfalls. Brian Wood made sure that his character was put through the wringer to achieve character development. Gavin is working toward rekindling a relationship with his estranged family. He is also fighting with network executives who are entrenched in their way of thinking. All of this is happening on top of being a contestant on an all-star season of his own television program. There never seems to be a dull moment for our protagonist.

The political theme of this book becomes stronger as the story unfolds. One consistency in Gavin's character is his distaste for the rich and famous. He believes that everyone should have access to fresh and high quality food. This is the main motivation for his actions. Gavin's journey takes him across all walks of society as he attempts to bring food to the people. Not only does Gavin fight against the upper-class food elite, he also brings aid to the working class in his city.

The artwork in Starve illustrates Gavin's bleak outlook on his current situation. The art style is mostly dark, with the occasional brighter, contrasting color. Zezelj and Stewart found the perfect balance of darkness and vibrancy while keeping the color palette low resulting in pages that look dull and bright at the same time. The drawing is often busy and chaotic, which is a good fit for the story elements. Starve excels at creating an immersive reading experience.

Another interesting aspect of Starve is the book’s built in recipes. The panels often include montages of the characters cooking. When this occurs details about the cooking process are written on the page. These panels may not provide all the information needed to prepare the meal, but give readers a good idea on the composition of the dish. This serves as a great break in the action, and will be a treat for kitchen-savvy readers.

It is hard to change the world on an empty stomach, especially when you are fighting against the rich and powerful. Gavin Cruikshank uses his fame and resources to start a food-based cultural revolution. The story makes an argument for why fresh food should not be a perk of the privileged. Wood, Zezelj and Stewart come together to present comic book lovers with an exciting tale forewarning of the possible downsides of good eating.

For The Love of Indie #30- We Can Fix It, Deadly Class, Spill Zone

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Featuring stories by:
Kel McDonald & Molly Muldoon
Alina Pete
Aud Koch
Kendra Wells
Mariah McCourt & Aliz Fernández
Meredith McClaren
Monica Gallagher
Rashad Doucet
Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein & Cat Farris & Melanie Ujimori
Seanan McGuire & Caitlin Like
Shauna Grant
Sophie Goldstein
Zach Lehner

Publisher: Image Comics
Learn about some small town serial killers here
Buy Nailbiter digitally here 

Writer: David M. Brown
Artist/Colors: D.N.S.
Letters: Mira Mortal
Publisher: 5d Comics 
Buy Modern Animals here

 Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Wes Craig
Check out the TV show announcement here
Buy Deadly Class digitally here

 Writer/Artist: Jess Fink
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Buy We Can Fix It here

Writer/Artist: Kyle Starks
Colorist: Chris Schweizer
Publisher: Image Comics
Listen to the Rock Candy Mountain song here
Learn hobo speak here
Buy Rock Candy Mountain digitally here

Publisher: First Second
Buy the Spill Zone prequel, Spill Night, here
Buy Spill Zone here

Comic releases for June 21st, 2017

A Modern and Relevant Take on Vigilantism

An article by, Aaron Burton

The tale of the vigilante hero has been around about as long as humans have been settled and civilized. Regardless of the presence of a formal government, every civilization throughout history has developed a set of rules for it's members. Over time, while humans transitioned from tribes into larger societies, the rules became more complex. Humans started developing laws and regulations in order to maintain a peaceful society.

As a society grows it becomes increasingly difficult to form a set of laws which encompass the views and philosophies of every individual. This leaves gaps and overlaps which may cause people to deter from their rulers. All of this is occurring on top of human imperfections, political and religious struggles, and competitions for resources. In a system with all of these moving parts it is not strange that individuals would take the law into their own hands in order to right some wrongs.

Most of us are familiar with the story of the classic vigilante hero known as Robin Hood. Stories of Robin Hood can be traced back to ballads and poems in the 1300s. He stood in the face of the corrupt and greedy leaders in order to increase the quality of life for the common folk. Comic book readers will easily be able to see correlations between Robin Hood and many of their favorite superheroes. There are even story lines where Robin Hood is killed off only to have another man step up and take up the mantle.

The Tithe, created by Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal, adds a creative spin to idea of the proletariat vigilante. This comic is a property of Top Cow Productions and is distributed under Image Comics. The Tithe tells the story of a secular vigilante hacker collective known as Samaritan who target corrupt megachurches.

For those unfamiliar, a megachurch is a Christian organization that draws thousands of people for their religious services. On this large of a scale the offering plates bring in a substantial amount of money. The money collected by churches is typically used to keep the church running and to help those in need. In many instances, the large amounts of money moving through megachurches have been used to fund the lavish lifestyles of the church staff. Many people view this as fraud, especially since religious organizations are tax-exempt in the United States.

This is where Samaritan comes into play. The band of revolutionaries steal money from these corrupt churches, leaving just enough behind for authorities to bust the churches for their fraudulent activities. Samaritan also has a duplicitous relationship with the FBI similar to that of superheroes with their local law enforcement. The authorities are trying to catch Samaritan, but at the same time benefit from their actions.

The Tithe offers a modern take on the vigilante genre. Samaritan uses advanced hacking skills in order to reach their goals. Though hacking is a not a new concept for comic books, The Tithe offers a relevant look at computer-based activism. Their style is reminiscent of real-life hacktivist groups suck as Wikileaks and Anonymous. Stories like these have been very popular in world news over the past decade. The Tithe does a great job on providing commentary on this topic.

Hacking isn't the only way The Tithe stands out from other comics. Typically heroes target violent criminals such as a drug dealers and hit men. This book deals with the white collar crime of fraud. This is further enhanced by the fact that the fraud is being committed by famous religious figures. Going against the church is still taboo in much of of American society. Though The Tithe is not a scathing indictment of Christianity, it does give a look into the corruption that can be seen from within some religious organizations.

Ekedal does an exquisite job with the artwork.This includes creative uses of the pages such as overlapping and uneven panels. My personal favorite aspect is the style of the eyeless and cracked Jesus masks worn by Samaritan members. The masks really intensify the action packed parts of the story. The corrupt church staff face justice by people donning the visage of Christ himself.

Hawkins and Ekedal came together to make a very intriguing take on a mythological vigilante hero. By combining computer technology with American society's views of religion, readers are treated to a story that reflects the current world. Robin Hood may not have had access to the FBI's file database, but I am sure he would have been proud of Samaritan's revolutionary activities.