It’s easy as a reviewer to get caught up in the mess that is mainstream comic books: Marvel, DC, Image, etc. And who can blame us? They have a high priced production value that attracts some of the best talent in the industry. Talent that enjoys the fruits of full-time concentration on their craft. However, when we, the reviewers, get immerse ourselves in this, we end up promoting books/creative teams that otherwise sell themselves. Such as Batman or Bitch Planet. This is time and energy that could be better spent on helping out the little guys. Getting the names and works of local creators out there, that otherwise go unheard. All in the hopes that they could, one day, possibly, cut their day-job hours to part time. I mean, it’s not like you’re going to see Brian K. Vaughan or Skottie Young busing tables at the local Applebee’s. With this in mind, I have taken it upon myself to do this local Denver review mashup; which consists of varying DIY books by my various friends, acquaintances, and inspirations. Let’s begin, shall we?
Solar City 4 #1
Creator Neil Ewing did a fantastic job for this first issue. His pencils were clean and flowed smoothly from one panel to the next. The colors were vibrant, concentrating the reader on the appropriate focus points. Not to mention a fairly engaging sci-fi story: Roving gangs, vigilante cops, and estranged children. Who could ask for more? He opens on an alien planet that has been ravaged by it’s local inhabitants. Here we find out what exactly Solar Cities are, and why they are important. Which Neil then puts in jeopardy, forcing the ruler of Solar City 4 to call on the help of an ex-police officer, waking him from his hyperbaric sleep chamber. Now, this cop must track down these friends who are upsetting the balance of the world and set them straight. As I said before, the story is engaging, and actually a ton of fun. There is much more in the book than what I have written down. Neil worked in a ton of subtle side plots and character development that even some of the big name writers struggle with. Which is all the more impressive knowing that he does the art and lettering as well. Neil’s pencils and inks are exciting, saturated with movement and action, and his panel placement is fantastic. My only suggestion for future issues would be to pay closer attention to bubble placement. There were a couple of times that I had to re-read a panel to figure out the order of the dialogue. This isn’t the end of the world, but it can be distracting. Honestly, this is a great book, and you can pick it up online at https://www.facebook.com/KoolPlanetComix/, which I suggest you do.
3.5 / 5
The Tomb of the Meat Beast #1
While we are on the subject of Neil Ewing’s work already, I figured I might as well follow with this review. A quick recap, this is a fantasy sci-fi book where two humans are thrust into a battle for the safety of the universe; where their foe, an orc warlord, is trying to release the Meat Beast. Much that was said about the last book, Solar City 4, could be said about this one. Great prose, crisp linework, engaging dialogue, the works. However, there are a few aspects that differ. First, the book is in black and white. Which may seem simpler, but rendering with two colors is harder than it sounds, and Neil did a killer job with it. Second is the pace. The Tomb of the Meat Beast is considerably faster than his other works, but not in a bad way. In fact, quite the opposite. Neil does a great job minimizing the narrative while still keep his story cohesive. I was actually surprised by the large leaps he was able to make from panel to panel because they were smooth and somehow made sense. This is the kind of thing that Kirby was famous for, so huzzah to you Neil! Lastly, and most importantly, the biggest deviation from his other comics and this one is the development time. This book was written, edited, penciled, inked, and lettered in ONE DAY. How impressive is that? I was tickled green with jealous rage when I saw how much detail he managed to squeeze into each panel. Not even on my best day could I even get a 24 page script out, no less render them. So with this, I have to suggest the buy. Again, just check out https://www.facebook.com/KoolPlanetComix/.
4 / 5
Steering away from the light-hearted side of comics, and straight into the more pensive drama, Yves Navant will immediately hypnotize you with this anthology about love, loss, and purpose. I have known Yves for few years now, as we share the same LCBS, and he has always given me great advice for both reading and creating; so I have been eager to read his own work for quite some time. And from the first page I knew it was worth the wait. Much like the original movie Heavy Metal, Yves’ book jumps all over the place, changing scenes and themes from chapter to chapter. Basically, it was a massive display of his amazing creative talent. While his writing was incredible, along with his art and page layouts, throughout the entire issue, there were a few stories that rose high above the rest. One in particular that showcases Yves’ flair for theme and art is a tale about men at war, in the heart of enemy territory. Without spoiling the entire chapter, I really enjoyed to connection between soldiers and zombies, and the transformation from man to mindless-monster. It was hauntingly poetic and also beautifully drawn. Yves’ penciling, and even the coloring, is much like Bret Blevins from the original New Mutants run; which is a compliment I know he would love. And the story that tops all the rest is the one about two secret lovers who become estranged. Unfortunately, Yves did not do the art for this chapter, but his writing is incredible. He works in so much pain and anguish into the dialogue that he will leave you distressed; which is the mark of a good writer. In addition to his narrative and direction, I would like to give a big thanks to the penciler, Eduardo Mono, and the colorist, Camille. They did a great job interpreting the script, and during the bar scene I was in awe of how much detail they both managed to squeeze into a single panel. I could go on, but I have two more reviews and I want to leave some of this book to mystery. So to conclude, contact Yves for your own copy; he can be found at https://www.facebook.com/yves.navant.
4.5 / 5
Politically Inqueerect: Old Ghosts & Other Stories #1
Since I started to branch out in my hometown of Denver, into the local DIY comic creator scene, I have constantly heard the name Dylan Edwards. In fact, when I was getting some advice for my own transgender comic, I was pointed to another book of his, Transposes. From that point on, I have kept my eye out for his books, and that’s when I found this one: Politically Inqueerect. Dylan, like the rest of these creators in this review, does all of the creative work that goes into making a comic books possible. He writes, pencils, inks, colors, letters, and edits, and he does all of this amazingly. Almost to the point where I have to question my own contribution to the medium. Self-comparison is a bitch. Anyways… This story is mainly about a married, conservative, couple, Archer and Todd, who return to Archer’s hometown to help their grandmother prepare her house so she could sell it. During this moving process, their grandmother regales Todd with various ghost stories and tales of Archer’s childhood. All of this giving insight into the lives and personalities of Dylan’s characters. I know it doesn’t sound exciting, but I loved this story. Dylan clearly understands who his cast is, what their objectives are, and how they intend on achieving them. So any dialogue or narrative was simply blissful to read. To accompany this, Dylan’s art is also very expressive. No it is not the most rendered book in the world, or the most abstract, but Dylan’s minimalist nature is easy on the eyes. All of this together, for me, screams a must buy. So go here, http://northwestpress.com/, and get yourself a copy.
4 / 5
Outré Veil #1
Writer and artist Zak Kinsella’s Outré Veil will be my last review of this mash-up, but certainly not the least. This purple little book will absolutely knock your socks off. The story is centered around an archaeologist, May, as she ventures the far reaches of The Milky Way Galaxy for various flora and fauna, in the effort to restore Earth to a nature reserve; since humans no longer live on that planet. Unlike the majority of sci-fi stories out these days, this book is not packed with violence or heists, which Zak addresses in a quite witty manner. Instead it focuses more on May’s existential crisis, as she has recently found herself bored with her job and her life. Personally, I think this was such a fantastic idea on Zak’s part. It is not only unique, but it is also a theme that everyone can relate to. His narrative and dialogue was concise, and it felt real, unlike the overly engineered scripts being pumped out by the Big 2. There were a couple of spots that could use some work, but my main suggestion would be to avoid having turgid exposition in the dialogue; keep conversations short, sweet, and to the point. Outside of that, the rest of this book was damn near perfect. Zak’s panel layouts were fun and had excellent bubble placement. His linework was clean, smooth, and in constant motion. A scene that comes to mind that really captures this, is when May takes a giant leap from the mountain and lands with an intense panic. However, my favorite aspect of this issue was the coloring. Zak is a stellar (ha!) watercolorist, and his rendering in this book was out of this world (and again!). I was in absolute awe when he changed up his palette from magenta to blue because it completely changed the tone of the story. It was elegant, and I hope one day I can get on his level. All in all, this book is just incredible. I definitely suggest you all check this one out. Go to Zak’s site here, http://zakkinsella.com/, and see if you can get a copy yourself.
4 / 5
All right, I hope you all enjoyed this review mash-up. There are a ton of great books and creators out there, and their works should not go completely unnoticed. Now get out there and support your local industry!