FTLI #54- Blackmail, Shae Beagle & Grace Ellis, Family Secrets

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Written & drawn by, Natalie Riess
Learn more about Snarlbear
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Time for a chat with Grace Ellis (writer) & Shae Beagle (artist)!

Written by, Brendan Cahill
Drawn by, Jason Federhen

Written by, Mark Allard-Will
Drawn by, Elaine M. Will
Published by, Cuckoo's Nest Press
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Written & drawn by, Elan' Rodger Trinidad

Written & drawn by, Chris Gooch
Published by, Top Shelf Productions
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Written by, Joshua Williamson
Drawn by, Riley Rossmo
Published by, Vertigo

Comic Releases: February 28th, 2018

The Devil You Don't Know

An article by, Aaron Burton

Human's subjective experience can make morality a tricky topic to study. We all have different thresholds for what we consider to be good or bad. Our behaviors and decisions are based upon our combination of experiences and beliefs. Cultures can be shaped by moral philosophy with most having symbols of moral duality. Mythology and religion offer many figures representing moral philosophy. Popular culture and media also offer an endless variety of heroes and villains. What happens when the grey area allows these symbols to intertwine?

The Devil in Disguise is written by Matt Garvey with art by Robert Ahmad. The series currently has one issue and premiered on February 14th 2018. The book is published by LabRat Comics. The Devil in Disguise is a supernatural superhero story.

After a night of drinking, Nate finds himself on the subway. He is approached by a distressed and bleeding pregnant woman. Nate's  attempts to help are in vain as the woman begins to shapeshift and merge herself with him. Nate wakes up the next morning being possessed by the devil himself who promises to make Nate a superhero.

This story hits all the right notes of a first issue. Some creators will make their first issue very mysterious and rely on the reader's curiosity to keep them reading. This can be a deterrent for some of us as it can be hard to stay intrigued about a story we know nothing about. The Devil in Disguise does a great job of sinking the hooks in while wasting no time getting the story going. The issue starts off with some action, then spends time world building and kicking off the plot. By the end of the first issue I had enough backstory and have a good idea of where the main plot is beginning.

The art in The Devil in Disguise is realistic and full of heavy lines. The style seems reminiscent of comics of the past. Ahmad made a creative choice when coloring the book. The entire book is colored with white and shades of orange. The lack of grey scale gives the book a very bright appearance. The only other colors in the book come in the form of blue and green action text. This style gives the book a consistent tone with room to let action text to place visual emphasis.

I am excited to see plot developments in The Devil in Disguise. How can a man possessed by the devil be a superhero? It can be hard to imagine a story where the embodiment of evil is fighting on the side of justice. Maybe the devil has turned a new leaf, or maybe he has a more complicated plan in the works. I can't wait to find out. The Devil in Disguise is available on Comixology or through Matt Garvey directly.

The Plot Thickens...

An article by, Kelly Irelan

We have all felt vastly out of control at one point or another, like pawns in a game we never wanted to play. Being moved across the board without any will of your own can be frustrating to say the least. With no real answers and no one to place your faith in, where can a pawn turn? Seneca faces these very obstacles in the second issue of God Complex. It is difficult watching our protagonist being manipulated from nearly every corner, but no one ever said a hero’s journey was easy.

If you expected Apollo to suffer from a severe superiority complex, then you would be absolutely correct. Honestly, after meeting this guy, it’s plain to see the series is aptly titled. He brings to Seneca’s attention the revelation that Trinity’s One God is actually a Ruler who has defected, but who only exists somewhere in the depths of the Stream. Apollo charges Seneca with discovering the ex-Ruler’s whereabouts. Soon after, the investigator is met with gunfire in the streets and the dumped body of his late partner, Detective Rodgers. He’s been riddled with bullets, and upon further inspection, has been branded with the sigil of a resistance organization known only as The Coup. It seems they carry some anti-Ruler sentiments, and Hermes fears their possible alignment with Trinity. Athena, the wisest of the Rulers, makes her series debut in a private conversation with Apollo concerning the fate of young Seneca. Jess and Seneca have an exchange of their own in which Jess seems oddly defensive of the rebellious Coup. (OBVIOUSLY SUSPICIOUS, SENECA. HOW ARE YOU NOT SEEING THIS? YOU ARE A DETECTIVE. THIS IS LITERALLY YOUR JOB.) Hermes brings Seneca to the Temple of Fates for guidance, a place which houses a trio of personified databases for the use of mankind. Seneca finds it strange that the voices of these databases strongly remind him of the one he hears inside his own mind. Unfortunately, the Fates are incredibly cryptic, providing him with only extremely broad, base truths regarding Trinity. Seneca returns home to find Jess has orchestrated a friendly game night with some of their closest companions… JUST KIDDING, it’s The Coup and they have guns.

Jenkins is seriously putting Seneca through the ringer, but the storytelling is superb. Like any mystery worth its salt, we’re given clues sparingly. The first conversation with Jess was a big red flag as I’m sure it was for many of you, and I love how Jenkins accomplished that effect with a few carefully selected, unassuming statements. This gave him the opportunity for that fantastic “a-ha” moment at the end, which I particularly love in a comic. The medium is made for suspenseful finales. Another clue is presented to us at the Temple of Fates in the form of a voice. If the voice in Seneca’s head shares a great likeness to the voices of the Fates, I think there’s a real possibility (and I very well could be mistaken) the unidentified vocals belong to none other than Trinity’s One God. If Seneca is Stream sensitive, what’s to say this ex-Ruler hasn’t been communicating with him this entire time, sowing the seeds of dissent in his consciousness? Of course, this is only a theory, but what is verifiable is that Jenkins has given plenty of hints for the reader to chew on.

Prasetya expertly adds to the Ruler roster for this issue. We are given new glimpses of Apollo and Athena also briefly takes the stage. Their looks convey nothing but authority, but what I adore is how he has crafted their head pieces as a nod to the Greek gods from which they take their titles. Apollo has a circular crest above his helm, reminiscent of the Sun. If you are unfamiliar with the mythology, Apollo, among other things, is the god of light and the Sun. Athena’s helm, on the other hand, looks almost bird-like, which would make an awful lot of sense. Being the goddess of wisdom, she is occasionally represented by the symbol of the owl. I eagerly look forward to more innovative Ruler designs from Prasetya.

The conclusion of this installment leaves you with a betrayal and a monumental cliffhanger, but I’m excited to meet The Coup and discover all they have to offer as they fulfill the role of the Rulers’ opposition. In a world run by gods, mortals are pushing back, but what kind of force can they possibly muster against the likes of the Rulers? How are they tied to Trinity and this string of unexplained murders? Here’s hoping Seneca can discern the false from the true, and avoid losing his life in the process. You can buy God Complex here!

FTLI #53- Knowledge, Religious Camps, Black Panther

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Written by, Kwanza Osajyefo
Drawn by, Jamal Igle
Published by, Black Mask
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Written & drawn by, Melanie Gillman
Published by, Iron Circus Comics

Compiled by, Sheena C. Howard
Published by, Fulcrum Publishing

Read a comic history of Black Panther
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Comics released on Wednesday, February 21st

Buffalo Blues

An article by, Aaron Burton

Everyone has at least one aspect of their past which haunts them. No one is perfect and our mistakes may take a while for us to emotionally process. We can also be victims of traumatic events or regrettable experiences. Our memories may not always be rosy and this can have great  impacts on our current mindset.

CGI Buffalo is written and drawn by Tom De Geeter. There is currently one issue of the book which was released on February 14th 2018. The book may be considered a dramedy with mystery elements. CGI Buffalo is published by independent music label Marathon of Dope. There is currently one issue of the comic available digitally. It looks as though the first three issues are available through the publisher directly.

Ceegee is an anthropomorphic buffalo who works as a radio host and DJ. Unsure about his past, Ceegee is haunted by night terrors and insomnia. His dreams begin to blend with reality when he receives a cryptic and ominous phone call to his radio show. Is Ceegee beginning an adventure of self-discovery? Or is his paranoia getting the best of him?

Ceegee is an interesting character. His insomnia has him in a constant state of paranoia and irritability. Though he is often cynical and rude to others, the people in his life seem to empathize with what he is going through. Despite his irrationality, Ceegee is surprisingly self-aware and introspective. He wants nothing more than a fresh start. Escaping the past can be difficult when you don't know where to start.

Having only read the first issue, the majority of the plot is still a mystery to me. That said, the mystery is enough to keep me coming back. In this issue we are shown the protagonist in pain and down on his luck. Only time will tell if Ceegee's journey into his past will end up providing him with a better quality of life.

CGI Buffalo makes of a lot of creative choices when it comes to the book's visual representation. Though most of the panels offer flat coloring, many areas and backgrounds use realistic looking textures. This adds a great layer of dynamics to the art. In addition to traditional speech bubbles De Geeter utilizes large blocks of while text on a black background for narration.

CGI Buffalo was my favorite book this week. The book is filled with dark humor and pop culture references. The art style and writing tone remind me of one of my favorite books; Lemire's Sweet Tooth. From what I can tell this is Tom De Geeter and Marathon of Dope's first published comic book. I hope they continue to release more comics.

CGI Buffalo is available through Comixology as well as Marathon of Dope.

Behind the Comic

An article by, Kaila Streichert

This week I sat down and interviewed the multi-talented artist and creator of “Killadelphia”, Brandon “Branny” Mungal. It was a very professional setup over Facetime, on my living room floor, with adequate lighting. I wanted to get behind the comic and discuss, awkwardly, how he got started, his muses, and what keeps him motivated. It was also a test in patience on his end.

K: Hey, so now that it’s taken me over an hour to build up the courage to ask you any questions, what got you into art?

B: Saturday morning cartoons, comic books. Anything that really got my attention.

K: Anything specific?

B: Thundercats, X-Men, Spiderman. Honestly, you could name any cartoon from the 1980’s and I probably watched it.

K: When did you start drawing?

B: Around 1st grade, I think. Anytime I had paper and pencil in my hand.

K: So, were you one of those kids that got into trouble for drawing all over everything?

B: Sometimes. I can definitely recall instances that I would doodle on a test and fail the test itself, but get an A on my drawing.

K: Straight nailin’ that test game then, huh?

B: Absolutely.

K: What goes into your character creation? Obviously, in “Killadelphia”, your protagonists, antagonists, and otherwise, are anthropomorphized and animalistic in nature.

B: I mean, I’ve based characters on pets I’ve had, other people’s pets, I even blend pets and their owners together to create a character. I also create them based on my surroundings and their general vibe. I make a lot of my characters based on people in my life.

K: Are there any comic/graphic novelists or artists you admire?

B: Kevin Smith as a writer. As far as artists, I really admire Peter Chung and Jim Lee as well.

K: What about their work stands out to you?

B: Kevin Smith can make a love story out of anything in a cohesive way. Peter Chung’s work with animation and character design really stand out to me. His different approach to design and proportion made his work attach itself to me at an early age. As far as Jim Lee, his powerful static images reverberate in my brain. His work is very reminiscent of manga and anime, but distinctly his own style.

K: You can definitely see a little manga flavor is some of your work as well.

B: Yeah, I plan on doing a lot more in that style soon.

K: So, you see yourself continuing to create comics after “Killadelphia”?

B: Most definitely! Like I mentioned, I’d like to take a more Japanese approach in respect to the art and formatting in the future.

K: Any ideas in respect to content?

B: Wherever my mind goes, whatever is inspiring me at that moment, will determine the storyline. So, that all depends. I’m also into horror which has influenced “Killadelphia”, but I’d like to do more with that as well. I am already attracted to things that differ from the norm and get extreme or visceral reactions as far as comics go, so I really want to play around with that to a greater degree.

K: So, I am sure I will think of at least a dozen poignant, well thought out questions after this, but for now thank you for your time.

B: Absolutely. Any time.

*Edited for clarity and not at all to make the interviewer sound like she knew what she was doing.

Check out Branny’s work on his Instagram (brannytattoos), and be sure to read his comic “Killadelphia”, which you can purchase here. While you’re at it, buy some of his merch over here as well!

FTLI #52- Senior Love, Angry Cupids, Wrong Doings

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Collected by, Nadia Shammas
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Written & drawn by, Sebastian Chow
The story of a cat in space

Written & adapted by, Damien Duffy
Drawn by, John Jennings
Original novel by, Octavia E. Butler
Published by, Abrams
Buy the novel
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Written by, Justin Jordan
Drawn by, Donal Delay
Published by, Image Comics

Written by, Kwanza Osajyefo
Drawn by, Jennifer Johnson
Published by, Black Mask
Buy Black

Written by, Garth Matthams
Drawn by, Kenan Hallilovic
Check out Witch Creek Road
Read Witch Creek Road

Written by, Tony Medina
Illustrated by, Stacey Robinson & John Jennings
Published by, Tu Books
Buy I Am Alfonso Jones

Written by, Tee Franklin
Drawn by, Jenn St-Onge
Published by, Image Comics
Buy Bingo Love

Comic releases for February 14th, 2018