Possession and Demons and Zombies, Oh My!

An article by, Aaron Iara

I was upset to learn that the Nintendo Switch rerelease of Dark Souls was delayed. I never owned a PS3 and my Xbox 360 is in disrepair. Though I own the second and third installments of the game I have never got to play the original. In order to scratch this itch, I fired up my PS4 and have playing Dark Souls 3 this week. For those of you who are curious, I am running the game as a glass-canon sorcerer.

Though I am not a religious person I do enjoy fiction based in religious lore. The pious and devout have created some of the most frightening folklore creatures. Since these beings are used as spiritual metaphors they are often reflections of the flaws of humanity. This allows creators to spin some of the bleakest tales and create unsettling works of art.

The Book of Luka is written by Brian Dorsey. The art is by Ethan Claunch. There is currently one issue of the book which premiered on May 16 2018. The book is published by Mountaineer West Productions. The Book of Luka is a post-apocalypse adventure story based in Christian mythology.

The world has ended. A war between angels and demons has left our planet in shambles. Only a few humans have survived. Many of them were possessed by demonic spirits. Others were torn apart by one of the many horrors invading the Earth. The story centers around Luka and Harold who are patrolling the landscape. Their survival is constantly challenged as they battle otherworldly forces.

The Book of Luka jumps right into the action. Though the first issue offers little exposition, the witty dialogue and violence give a great starting point for the plot. Instead of giving a lot of back story, Dorsey and Claunch decided to show the reader how this universe works. In a single battle, Luka and Harold get to experience one of every type of monster described in the book's introduction.

Claunch's art in The Book of Luka is nothing short of awesome. The character designs are creepy and brutal. This book has some of my all-time favorite illustrations of water and sky. Claunch has a real knack for changing up the backgrounds based on the writing. As the plot gets more intense, smoke fills the area and the sky changes. Many of the action panels have monochrome backgrounds. This draws our attention to the characters and enhances their actions. One of my favorite panels involves Luka firing his weapon. The bullet spills out of the panel onto the page. The Book of Luka looks as apocalyptic as it feels.

This book feels very short, in a good way. Though this issue has a standard length of twenty-two pages I felt that the reading experience flew by. This serves as a testament to how immersive and entertaining it was to read The Book of Luka. The book has clever characters, scary monsters, and great action. The art not only depicts the scenes, but also excels at capturing the tone of the writing. I look forward for further issues of this comic.

The Book of Luka is available through Comixology. The comic, along with Dorsey's other works, is also available through Mountaineer West Productions.

62- Parasites, Punks, Life Cycles

You can download this episode on iTunes, Google Play, or here!

Back the Kickstarter

Written & drawn by, Kristyna Baczynski

 Written & drawn by, Josh Simmons
Published by, Fantagraphics
Buy Black River

 Written & drawn by, Sam Grinberg
Buy Scumburbia

Written & drawn by, Adam Yeater
Buy Bad Host

Comic releases for May 16th, 2018

It's Almost Joon

An article by, Aaron Iara

I recently had the pleasure of being able to marry my best friend. Even though our ceremony and reception were simple, and we DIY'd almost everything, we still had to so much to do. The last two weeks have been extremely stressful. As much fun as it was, I am happy to get back into the swing of things and discuss some comic books with you all. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I love post-apocalypse and dystopian fiction. There is just something satisfying about watching the world come back to life after crumbling. Humanity always seems to put the petty things aside to deal with the overarching issue of survival. Of course there is conflict, but rebuilding society breaks everything down to the core philosophical elements.

Joon is written and drawn by Kelsey Kasperski. There is currently one issue which premiered this week (May 9 2018). The book is self published. Joon is a science fiction adventure story with a leading lady and plenty of comedy.

Joon is a junker/scrapper trying to get by in a technologically advanced post-apocalypse world. Humans are now an endangered species, and Joon is rejected by her fellow humans. Her best friend is a seeker bot by the name of Six. Not only is Six a sarcastic jokester, they are also obsessed with kittens and The Golden Girls. These two characters are trying to live their lives until Joon is teleported to a random location that kicks off the story.

I will admit, I was not expecting this book to be all that funny. Based on the cover and synopsis, I was expecting a serious sci-fi drama. The joke is on me for making assumptions. I was extremely delighted with the consistent and lighthearted humor in this book. Many humorous books use the plot as a method for setting up jokes. This often causes the overall story to suffer. Even though there is only one issue, Joon does not seem to be following this path. Joon has a good balance between humor and plot development. The dialogue is witty and often silly. Six reminds me of other childish AI found in media, such as Gir from Invader Zim or Claptrap from Borderlands.

I decided to read Joon because the cover caught my eye while I was browsing the new releases. I was not disappointed. Kasperski's art is stellar, especially when it comes to coloring. I love the way the colors blend together. Though the wasteland setting lends itself to a lot of brown and grey, there are a lot of vibrant colors in this book. The skylines offer beautiful blends of pastels. Every character has a little pop to them.

Joon has a lot of awesome character designs. Specifically, I love the mysterious character that shows up toward the end of the issue. They ride a motorcycle that seems to be powered by a strange purple liquid. The character wears a helmet which only has a dark slit for the eye holes. They brandish a very long curved sword. I don't know much about this character yet, but they are really cool looking. I was happy to see that the issue ends on a full-page picture of them.

Overall, Joon was a fun read. Though the full plot has yet to be revealed (like most first issues), the jokes and action made for an entertaining comic book experience. The art is great and the attention to color detail makes this book super immersive. I was not familiar with Kasperski before reading Joon, but I can now say I am a fan. 

Joon is available on Comixology. News about the book can be found on Instagram at @joonbook.

Kelsey Kasperski is also an excellent tattoo artist. Their work can be found on Instagram at @kasperstattoos.

61- Birds, Space, William Cardini

You can download this episode on Google Play, iTunes, or here!

Written & drawn by, John Tucker 
Read Bald

Written & drawn by, Jesse Lonergan
Buy Hedra

Written & drawn by, Alexander Utkin
Published by, Nobrow Press
What is Gamayun?


 A chat with William Cardini
Visit Will's Hypercastle

Comic releases on May 2nd, 2018

To The Skies!

 An article by, Kelly Irelan

The human race spends much of its time staring up at the stars. We thrive on the thrill of the unknown as if it were magic. There is something comforting about staring up at the sky and realizing we are infinitesimally small in the grand scope of the universe. We feel its weight like a warm blanket on a cold night and let loose a sigh of relief because maybe our obstacles don’t matter as much as we believe they do. Now, let’s change that script. Imagine staring off into that great beyond. Instead of observing it from a safe, comfortable distance, it surges toward you without warning. It’s engulfing you. It’s consuming you. There’s nothing you can do to oppose it. Welcome to “Skyward.”

The plot begins with “G-Day.” Earth woke up one morning to realize it had lost its sense of gravity. Innocent pedestrians flew up into the air never to be seen again, leaving desperate and despairing loved ones in their wake. Willa, who lost her mother to the sky on “G-Day,” doesn’t ever recall a planet with gravity. She expertly maneuvers her way through a bustling city in a world where the most common mode of travel is flight. It’s the stuff dreams are made of and she’s clearly flourishing under the circumstances. She yearns to further her reach by flying outside of her home metropolis, but her father has other plans. Nate’s world was crushed when he lost his wife to the sky. He sees a recklessness in Willa and refuses to lose her too. He does the only thing a loving father can do. He’s going to BRING BACK GRAVITY. Someone, hand this man a “Father of the Year” award. Obsessive? Maybe. Impressive? YES, if he can manage to pull it off.

Joe Henderson does something special in an issue where very little actually happens concerning story progress. “Skyward” #1 is all about world-building, and it’s a perfectly valid approach because he’s recreating Earth as we know it. The concept of a weightless planet has drifted through my brain before, but I’ve never seen it so expertly expressed on paper. The human race has dreamt of flight ever since we witnessed the ease with which the birds flew up above us. However, I think we’ve generally experienced that vision as a very self-centered notion. We individually imagine flight, but this Chicago that Henderson has weaved into existence envisions flight as something more. It’s communal, and it’s incredible! I felt the happiness Willa felt as she soared above the skyscrapers because it’s a wish we all hold in our hearts. As hard as we try to let it go and stick with the reality we were birthed into, Henderson plays on our emotions in the best way and clearly understands that humans maintain nostalgia for the unobtainable. It was a pleasure to read this inaugural issue.

That being said, without Lee Garbett, you’d only have half of this equation for joy. His expertise is thoroughly apparent and he was a perfect fit for this book. I read through the issue twice and the minor details really caught my eye. Though it’s probably to be expected because she’s our protagonist, I found Willa to be mesmerizing in design due to a feature you’ll take for granted if you’re not paying attention: her hair is weightless. It’s honestly something I almost missed, but when she is still, her hair has weightlessness as if she were under water. When I took notice of it, the biggest smile spread across my face. This is just another part of the magic I was looking for. I am beyond thankful for Lee Garbett’s marriage to this title.

“Skyward” takes us to the heavens without forcing us into capes or secret identities. It calls upon the purest of desires that we’ve held firmly ever since we were children, but also recognizes the drawbacks of a dream unexamined. Is this truly what we’ve always wanted, or have we been fooled by our imaginations? Maybe the limits were there for a reason. Our feet left the ground, but at what cost? These are the questions “Skyward” forces the reader to consider. Pick up this first issue and allow yourself to become untethered.

You can buy Skyward here.

Ep. 60- Sand, Gangs, Brains

Listen to this episode on Google Play, iTunes, or here!

 Purchase from Adorned by Chi
They also have a great Instagram
Back the Kickstarter

 Written & drawn by, Akira Toriyama
Published by, Viz 
Buy Sandland

 Written & drawn by, so many talented folks
 Written & drawn by, Gisele Legace
Published up, Udon
Check out the webcomic
Buy the first omnibus

Drawn by, Karl Kerschl & Msassyk
Published by, Image Comics
Buy Isola

 Written & drawn by, Ryan Heshka
Published by, Nobrow Press

 Written by, Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson
Drawn by, Piotr Kowalski
Published by, Black Mask

 Written & drawn by, Silvia Ballardini
Buy The Human Bestiary digitally
Buy The Human Bestiary physically

Releases on April 25th, 2018

For the Frontwomen

An article by, Aaron Burton

My first guitar was a Synsonic. It was white with a body similar to a Fender Stratocaster. The wiring was shot so I couldn't use an amp. The previous owner was left handed and attempted to play this guitar backwards. A botched strap bolt placement left a large crack down the side of the body. This poor instrument had a rough life, but it was mine. I have had many guitars since, but I will never forget my first. Though it was barely functional, it did its job of getting me interesting in playing and creating music.

Sucks Being Smart is written and drawn by Mike Greear. The book is published by 7 Brain Comics. There is currently one issue of the comic which premiered on April 18 2018. Sucks Being Smart is a sci-fi comedy with abstract elements and a focus on music.

Sucks Being Smart is about a woman named Mollie who front's a punk rock band. Her musical talents increase when she becomes the proud owner of a 1966 Fender Duo-Sonic. Her world is turned upside down when she finds out her new guitar is possessed by a Dr. Manhattan-esque astral being known as The Spacediver. This magical being promises to make Mollie the best band leader.

The introduction of the book explains that "Sound is represented in color and time is represented in sound." The art of Sucks Being Smart stays true to this sentiment. The band's music is represented through bursts and layers of color. This visual are just as chaotic as the music they are playing. The main story is black and white with colored speech bubbles. This all changes when noise gives to explosions of color.

There is a double standard in music when it comes to gender and popularity. There can be an infinite amount of male acts that are popular at any given time. Typically, in order for a new female act to be popular they must replace one of the current female artists. People seem to have an easier time comparing female artists to each other, and this keeps multiple acts from sharing the same spotlight. Blondie was replaced by No Doubt who was replaced by Garbage who was replaced by Paramore. In pop culture we are seeing much discussion about how Cardi B is filling Nicki Minaj's role in modern hip hop.
Sucks Being Smart gives nods to many female-fronted musical acts such as Warpaint and CHVRCHES. Greear also mentions Phantogram, a duo formed not far from my house. I loved seeing all of these strong female artists in one place. There is no need for these artists to compete or replace each other. They can all occupy the same space without the false dichotomy arguments given by mainstream music culture. This is the way it should be, and I am happy this book puts female artists are the forefront.

Sucks Being Smart #1 gives us a taste of the story to come. I cannot wait to read more of this book. This is one of the comics that stuck with me after reading. I read it on Wednesday when it came out and subsequently spent the rest of the week and weekend thinking about female artists. I also revisited some of my favorite albums, such as Patti Smith's Horses, and Sleater-Kinney's Call the Doctor. I will definitely keep my eye out for more issues of Sucks being Smart.

Sucks Being Smart is available on Comixology.

Get more of 7 Brain Comics at their blog!

FTLI #59- Zines for Days

You can download this episode on iTunes, Google Play, or here!
 Edited by, J.T. Yost
Published by, Birdcage Bottom Books
What are the DiNKy Awards
My interview with J.T.
Check out the original Kickstarter
Order Bottoms Up

 See what's happening with Karen's Book Row

Visit Zine-O-Matic
Become a Zine-O-Matic subscriber!

Take a look through Issuu
Check out all these zines!

 Listen to my chat with Karina Killjoy

Comic Releases for April 18th, 2018