Author Archives: Patrick Healy

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SDCC 2018: No Badge? No Problem! Coin Op Has You Covered

Pin Show featuring Comic Con Exclusives

Coin-Op, July 19th-20th, a few blocks from SDCC

At this point, you have already perused the program schedule for the San Diego Comic Con. You likely know most of the guest appearances, the signing schedules and who will be offering the best exclusives. Seasoned Comic Con attendees know there’s as much to be seen and done outside the convention center as in. In fact, one of the coolest Comic Con exclusives can be found a few blocks away.

Special offerings like the Mr. Robot VR special event or The Walking Dead Escape provide rich experiences for those looking to breakaway from the congested floors of the main hall. Every year provides a new pop-culture innovation to rival the convention itself. This year is no different. Coin-Op, the arcade bar located near the heart of downtown San Diego, will be the home to a special Comic Con Pin Pop-Up event.

Featured Artists at Comic Con Pop-Up

Comic book fans will quickly fall in love with He + She Pins. Their Adam West-inspired Batman pins ignited the now wildly-popular trend in the pin-world. Fans will also love their more obscure designs, like Dark Claw and their Star Wars/Deadpool mash-up series. The married couple keep their independent creator status going strong with a long line femme-forward pins celebrating strength and beauty.

Star Wars fanatics will be especially excited to meet BBCRE-8 and Punch It Chewie Press.  A darling of the pin-collector community, BBCRE-8’s work re-imagines the most popular figures of the Star Wars movies in new and related ways. Similarly,  Punch It Chewie Press blends the iconography of the Star Wars universe with familiar and playful imagery.

Comic Con Exclusives

SDCC Exclusive Pin

San Diego Comic Con “Not Going” Pin Exclusive from He + She Pins

He + She Pins has also created one of the coolest Comic Con exclusives to hit San Diego. “Not Going – Couldn’t Get In” will premiere at Pin Pop-Up event Thursday, July 19th. The design captures the frustration of getting the colder shoulder during the ultra-competitive registration period. This soft enamel, two-post design makes a sleek statement for avid fans and casual goers alike. Due to the nature of the event, this pin will only be available that day, so be sure to make some time between 11am and 4pm to wander over.

Coin Op Pop-Up, What to See…

The event takes place Thursday and Friday during Comic Con, between 11am and 4pm. Each day will feature a different slate of independent creators. The Pin and Patch Convention is well known for its close ties to some of the most popular and note-worthy Southern California makers. Each day features a new mix of breakout and established artists.

The Pin and Patch Convention, itself comprised of a Southern California group of independent pin-makers, features notable creators like BBCRE-8, Punch It Chewie Press and Dare to Dream Flair. These artists have been making quite a name for themselves in the last year. Their events have been drawing larger and larger crowds. In fact their most recent show had people lining up for hours before the doors even opened.

While previous shows have featured larger venues, Coin-Op will appeal to convention-goers’ love of nostalgic pop-culture. The classic arcade combined with sixteen beers on tap provides a quarter-driven stroll down memory lane while giving a brief glimpse into the micro-brewery scene San Diego is known for.

Patrick Healy can be found on Twitter, or in downtown San Diego during Comic Con. Good luck catching him, though.

Frank Gogol Talks Comics, Kickstarter, and Grief

GriefIt’s not likely that Frank Gogol (The Comic Jam) is very different than you. He loves comic books, he’s known his share of tragedy in life. Like many of us, he has a love for writing, too. However, unlike many of us, Gogol has taken the numerous sorrows of his past and put them into comics. His new book Grief deals with the tragedy and loss he’s experienced in a relatively short life in ways that are fresh, varied and engaging.

In an effort to further pursue his dream, he launched a Kickstarter this week that you can view by click here. He took a moment to discuss the writing process, his inspiration and what has guided him during this time.

Graphic Policy: Grief draws a great deal from your personal tragedies in life. How long have you been writing these stories?

Frank Gogol: I feel like I’ve been writing these stories all my life, but the truth is I finished the first script, which was for the story “Embrace” in March of last year. I’ve always wanted to write comics, and had a few false starts over the years, but at the end of the 2015 I had to tell myself to commit or move on. So, I committed and signed up for the Intro to Comic Book Writing course with Comics Experience under the guidance of former Marvel and IDW editor Andy Schmidt. And it was like that class unlocked something in me. After that, the stories started to pour out and I wrote all of the stories in Grief in about six months.

grief 002GP: The stories in Grief are extremely varied in their content. Would you say this is a reflection of dealing with your singular emotional conflict in various ways? Or are each of these a catharsis of their own memories?

FG: The variety of the stories is both by design and by accident. Let me explain. When I had begun writing these stories, they were never meant to share space in any kind of collection. I had talked with Steve Orlando (Justice League of America, Supergirl) about breaking into comics, and his advice was to finish some stories, show some range, and get a portfolio in front of some editors, and so that’s what I tried to do. And it was about the time I had five or six of the stories that I started to see that, while they were incredibly different in terms of content, they did share a thematic link in that they were all about characters that were grieving. So, I ran with that and started crafting the next few stories to fit that thematic through-line.

The stories themselves, for the most part, deal with things that have happened in my or around my life. Some of them, like “Prayer” are essentially autobiographical, while others like “Cassandra” were inspired by events I witnessed and tied to stuff that was going on in my life. All of these stories, though, are cathartic. Stories and storytelling are how I’ve coped with and moved passed (mostly) my traumas.

GP: Drawing so much from experiences that are so tragic and yet unique to you, what do you think will appeal most to the average reader?

FG: What I think is so great about anthology-style books is that because there are a variety of stories, even if one story doesn’t speak to you, another might. There’s something for everyone. And I think that’s one of the virtues of Grief. If you don’t like stories that are dramas, there’s a couple of sci-fi stories in there for you. If you don’t like superhero stories, maybe the horror stories will be more your speed.

Grief is something that is universally experienced, so even if a reader doesn’t know first-hand what it’s like to raise an autistic son, they will understand how it feels to be frustrated or to feel like a failure.

grief 005GP: How has your life been changed as product of working through these stories?

FG: Truthfully, I think I’m in a much better place than I was before writing the stories. I had thought I had worked through a lot of the traumas in my life, but writing these stories really showed me how much further I had/have to go. I think certain terrible things we carry with us for the rest of our lives, but there’s definitely a healthy way to carry them, and I think that’s where I am now.

GP: Working with a wide variety of artists in this anthology series, how decide you assign them to each story? How much of the artist’s own personal trauma and tragedy were considered?

FG: One of the best and worst things about being a comic creator in the internet age is that you can work with virtually anyone anywhere on Earth. It’s great because you can find collaborators from different places and with different backgrounds. The downside is that it’s tougher to build relationships with your collaborators when you only ever communicate with them via email.

So, I don’t know for a fact that any of my collaborators incorporated any of what they’ve been through into their art, colors, or letters. But I am a firm believer that life experiences, good and bad, influence how creators make their art, so I’m sure that my collaborators’ experiences are there on the page.

GP: In the Kickstarter, Grief is an exclusively digital book. As a creator, where do you think the future of comics lies? Is a peaceful co-existence between physical and digital or will be left behind?

FG: I know that some people are concerned about digital coming in and replacing paper comics, but I don’t think that’s something to worry about. For me, each serves a similar, but different purpose. Paper comics are for reading, but also collecting and bagging and boarding. Digital comics, though, are for reading and re-reading. Over the last few years, especially as I’ve been studying comic writing craft, digital comics have just made more sense for me. I read comics, but I revisit the stories and study the art, so having them larger and on my computer screen really helps with that. I do still buy some paper comics, but it’s mostly writers I follow and my friends who are getting books printed. Otherwise, I stick to digital.

grief 001GP: Your Kickstarter looks amazing, by the way. Being your first, what help did you receive or what insight helped you to forge something as impressive as this?

FG: Thanks! I really was a labor of love.

If there is one person I am most indebted to for how the campaign page turned out, it’d have to be Tyler James from the ComixLaunch podcast. I started listening to ComixLaunch about a year ago, thinking that someday I’d run a Kickstarter, and the knowledge Tyler offers how Kickstarter is invaluable.

That said, many, many people helped me with getting this page right. I’m a part of a couple of online communities, and I reached out to the members of those communities often for feedback, and that was really helpful, too.

And, on top of all of that, it certainly didn’t hurt that by day I worked in marketing and have a background in graphic design.

GP: In terms of being promotion and getting the word out, as a new writer leading indie talent, I imagine it’s difficult to really get your project out there. What have been the keys to your success in that regard?

FG: That’s probably the biggest hurdle in front of any new creator. Those online communities I mentioned have been a big help with starting to build a following, though. Reddit communities and Facebook groups geared toward comic books are really great spots to share indie comics because they are extremely targeted to begin with. I think, for me, the key to getting people excited about my work has been interacting with them. It’s one thing to write a story and share it. It’s another, more powerful thing, to connect with a reader through a story.

GP: What advice would you offer to other people who are looking to get their own comic book project funded and developed?

FG: I’m not sure I have anything thing revelatory to offer that hasn’t been said before and often, but the piece of advice that really helped me was to start and finish a project. I started with very manageable 5-page stories, which allowed me to start and finish a project easily and learn the process. It’s got a domino-like effect. You finish one, and then you finish a second, and then a third, and it gets easier each time.

grief 003GP: Moving forward, do you feel Grief has helped you leave some of the heartache and pain behind you?

FG: Yes, definitely. I don’t hold it as an absolute truth, but I do think that a lot of people write because they have stuff to work through. It’s definitely true for me. Like I said earlier, some stuff we carry with us forever, but we can learn to carry it in a healthy way, and writing Grief helped me to do that with some of my traumas.

GP: What story are you working on next?

FG: I’ve got a couple of scripts ready to go right now. I’m always trying to do or learn something new when I write, so no two are the same, either. One story is Silence of the Lambs meets superheroes. Another is an all-ages story that deals with what it’s like to be adopted. There’s a third script about artificial intelligence and guilt. I’m not sure which will be next just yet, but I do know I have a lot of stories to tell still. Right now, I’m focusing on making sure the Grief Kickstarter campaign is a success and offers backers a lot of value.

 

You can check out the Grief Kickstarter here.

Patrick Healy is a writer/artist who makes pins and chews bubble gum. He has ample amounts of both. But you can find his pins here.

Dark Beach Creators Open Up

OneSheet_NEWTo paraphrase Big Daddy Kane, “Making comics ain’t easy.” It takes a tireless creative engine on top of a relentless marketing machine. Many of the people we discuss only need to have one or the other. Some people need to be both to realize their dreams.

Michael Ruiz-Unger and Tucker Tota are that rare kind, capable of pushing their dreams into reality without the benefit of an establish publisher or marketing agency getting them out there. They turned to Kickstarter to get the first issue of their book Dark Breach made and are about to conclude a new Kickstarter for the second issue. In fact, you should take moment to check out the incredible art their new book is sporting here.

In an effort to enlighten us about an experience most of have (so far) only dreamed of, these writers are taking a moment to tell us about their book and the experience of making their dream a reality.

Graphic Policy: Do us a favor and tell us a little bit about Dark Beach and what people will love about it?

Michael Ruiz-Unger: Dark Beach is a story about a crime scene photographer who lives in a future world where Earth has drifted away from the Sun. Gordo, our main character, gets mixed up in a murder conspiracy that is fueled by his obsession with the Old Sun.

GP: How did you originally come up with this idea?

MRU: It was a mesh of ideas that collided together over a week or two during a heavy New York City winter. I had rented out a shitty apartment, which had only one window and a tiny heater. It felt like the sun didn’t exist. At the same time, I was reading about 1940’s crime scene photographer WeeGee. Everything about him was fascinating to me (the photos and the police radio he had in his car). The two ideas just seemed perfect together.

GP: How long were you working with it before it was ready to be set in motion?

MRU: It took about three years before I actually started cranking the wheels. I wrote a quick treatment for it with a friend, then Tucker and I rounded it off and made it comic book ready. I would say, as a film director, that being frustrated at not having the budget to film something of this magnitude really pushed me to make it into a comic.

GP: What percentage of the book is finished before you begin designing a Kickstarter?

MRU: I would say the book is about 99% done. The rest are little things we find here and there that get changed. We want to make sure that it is absolutely perfect before sending off to our printers. We also want it done because we only want to focus on the Kickstarter and push it as much as we can. You can’t just throw it up and let it go. You have to promote the hell out of it.

GP: You’ve finished your second successful Kickstarter. What is it about Dark Beach that you think really connects with people in a way gets them to invest before they have ever even read it?

Tucker Tota: A lot of that credit goes to the comics community. There aren’t many art forms where people are taking chances on indie creators. There is more than enough great content coming from the big publishers, so it’s really amazing that readers are willing to look to Kickstarter for new and original stories. That said, I think Dark Beach is an indie comic but feels like something you could pick up at your comic shop, mostly because we made sure to work with great artists and use high quality printing. We also spend a lot of time on our design and marketing, so it feels as professional as the big guys.

GP: When undertaking an endeavor like this for the first time, you learn so many “unknown unknowns”. What did you learn while making issue one that allowed you to be better prepared  issue two?

TT: The very first steps, finding your art team, figuring out how to tell your story in panels and pages, getting all that figured out for issue #1 made making #2 way easier. But we’re still learning and as we work on issue #3 I think we’re finally getting really comfortable with the process and telling the story as best we can.

GP: What did you find to be the best way to get people involved in the project?

TT: I think you’d have to ask Sebastian and Ray why they continue to work with us, but I think we all work together really well and I’m super happy to have found them. We have a group chat as a team and we constantly share ideas for the story so it feels like everyone is contributing and it’s not just us telling them what to do. We also send each other comics or movies we’ve been digging, so it’s a very positive and friendly experience.

GP: When you first started working on Dark Beach, did you create a proposal and shop it around? Who did you send it to?

MRU: We created a two-page sample, which we sent with a synopsis and an entire outline of the story and sent it to all the publishers. After months waiting for a response we realized what a giant waste of time that was. Those publishers don’t want to read a 10-page word document. So we said screw it, lets do this issue ourselves. Around that time we noticed how big Kickstarter was getting and how it was morphing into a place to not only jump-start your project but also sell finished products. I think we made the right move. The response has been great and even Guillermo del Toro pitched in to the Kickstarter.

GP: What made you decide to self-publish?

TT: If a big publisher had wanted to publish our book we probably would have taken the offer. But doing it ourselves has been a really great experience too. Interacting with the audience that we’re building from scratch is so rewarding and meaningful to us. And having full creative control over the project is priceless. It’s very encouraging to know that we don’t need someone to give us permission to make a comic.

GP: What were your backgrounds in writing/illustration that you felt comfortable taking on such a large endeavor?

TT: Mike has been making films for a long time and I write songs for my band Bad Wave, so story-telling is something we’ve been doing for a while. We definitely felt like outsiders when starting this comic, but really once you learn the technical aspects of telling a story through pages and panels, it’s all the same thing really. Characters, plots, settings, it’s all about a compelling story, the format is secondary.

GP: What’s your plan for distributing the book?

MRU: We plan on continuing the distribution ourselves. It’s tough when you only have one book out. People think you’re a one-time deal, that you don’t have it in you to make a whole series, but that’s not the case with us. We’re going the whole way. Surprisingly, some comic book stores that we’ve encountered don’t really care to feature independent comics books. To me, the most interesting stuff was in the indie section! Like when I found Justin Madson’s Breathers series. That was a game changer for me, not what the factories were pumping out weekly. But I get it, people have to make money. Also, we’re on Comixology!

GP: If you were approached by a publisher who wanted to pick up the book and get it out there for you, what would you be looking for before agreeing to that?

TT: I would want to know what we’re getting in exchange for giving up our intellectual property. If they can get our story out to a much larger audience, more than we could on our own, we would certainly consider that. But giving up the rights to something you create is a big deal to us, so it would have to be worth it.

Having read the first two issues, be assured Dark Beach is an awesome read that manages to thrive outside of any one particular genre. Their Kickstarter is ending in a few days so jump on board and be a part of making great, new comics!

Patrick Healy is a writer and artist, making pins and taking names. Check out his latest Kickstarter here!

Review: The Few #1

the-few-cover_The Few #1 is an aptly named straight-forward post-apocalyptic story that excels by focusing on exactly what it means to be. There is no convolution, attempts to break the genre. It hits the ground running and by committing to simplicity in its debut issue delivers the promise that it knows how to capture the fear and threat other such stories miss.

The story follows Edan Hale as she feels masked-men ordered to kill her and the baby she’s been entrusted to her. The biblical themes, such as a refugee baby, mass-murder and ruler named Herrod, would be confusing if it the story lingered on them even a few moments longer. However, they create a more familiar story so that this one can focus on moving forward.

What is truly appealing about this book is it’s minimal color scheme, sepia tones against a faded red. The color choices by artist Hayden Sherman create a style that allows it’s take what would be an exceedingly recognizable beginning and causes it to stand out, adding to the drab grit of the world. The line work is dynamic and engaging and creates a more involved read.

The story moves quickly and instead of making it’s debut-issue front-heavy with exposition, it demonstrates what people can expect in terms of violence, stakes and pacing. Keep in mind, it’s very difficult to do a first issue. Sean Lewis crafted this premiere to be a strategic bit of entertainment and pulled it off nicely.

Fans of The Walking Dead will love this fast-moving, bloody story. Not just for the familiarity but how it uses brevity to keep the reader moving. This is 48-pages that race by.

Story: Sean Lewis Art: Hayden Sherman
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick Healy makes pins, writes stories and distracts people from working. Check out more of his work here.

Review: God Country #1

godcountry_01-1First, let’s begin by saying it’s rare that a colorist steals the show. Yet, that is absolutely the case with Jason Wordie. Wordie’s colors avoid the drab temptation of the story’s Texas prairie setting and instead engages the reader’s eye. Warm and cool tones provide a visually interesting storytelling experience. The pages slide green to red, coloring monsters in purples and tan in ways that not only defy the use of words but capture the sense of the fantastic hidden within an otherwise dreary world.

Combined with Geoff Shaw’s textured work, God Country is visually complex and greatly satisfying.

Now, unlike art, a story can be harder to dissect after a single issue. For that reason, none of this should seem overly critical of the story. In the interest of not giving away spoilers, it is difficult to discuss the story. After all, the beats that are placed here in this first issue are supposed to ignite wonder and crack open the door to possibility. To reveal that would be to prevent you from enjoying it for yourself. It also prevents discussing the redeeming aspect of the book.

To judge the book by the first issue without spoiling the end, it fails to launch the reader into the next issue. Most of the book deals with Roy Quinlan (presumably the main character) trying to deal with his father, Emmett, as he dangerously descends into Alzheimer’s Disease. There is no real allusion to a threat or conflict that would carry you into the next issue. The story really sort of simply ends this issue. There is no further problem outside of the narrator directly telling you of it in the final panels.

However, saying there is conflict is not creating conflict in the reader.

Quite truly, the last few sentences in the issue should have been the first, creating a sense of conflict within the reader as they attempt to figure out what it means contrasted against this dark drama. While the focal conflict or story disappears at the end, it would clarify the initial conflict (being that of a reader trying to understand how the words fit in) and create a rewarding sense in the reader.

That would then extend itself into curiosity. After all, the reader has already asked themselves, “What does the writer have up their sleeve?” and been greatly rewarded. There would be an eagerness to follow into the next issue. To promise conflict in the future at the very last minute ends up feeling a bit like the narrator at the end of an old serial telling you to “come back next time” without really giving you a reason why.

In fact, this book is very much reminiscent of an older comic book or story.

And as I’ve said plenty without spoiling anything, go no further unless you’ve already read the conclusion.

Emmett’s sudden rebirth as a warrior, bordering on demigod, harkens back to classic comic books. There’s a tornado, a cataclysmic event, that bears forth great heroism. Think Hulk. The sudden emergence of Emmett with a magic and formidable sword seems to make as something greater than man. Think Thor. Top it off with scheming from a god above. Think… Hercules? Well, maybe not solely an old comic. However, this approach of telling a story like this, through the wandering word-of-mouth accounting of the narrator, does make it feel like legend.

However, the vast majority of the book, “Hey, Roy, you’re Dad’s sick, dangerous and your wife seems to be leaving you…” leads to maybe two pages of “Holy moly, Roy, I think your Dad is Hulk-Thor-Hercules…” and caps off with, “And there’s a god who’s not happy about it” causes the story to jerk hard in a new direction at the last moment. Frankly, to introduce the onlooking god sooner would have made for better consistency in the story and given a better concept of the world the story takes place in. Because otherwise, it’s really a story about a mentally deteriorating father… in a world where old people might also have super-magic weapons.

Story: Donny Cates  Art: Geoff Shaw, Jason Wordie
Story: 6 Art: 9 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Disagree? Feel free to take a swing at Patrick on his website.

Mighty Morphing Power Rangers #4 – An 8 Year Old’s Review

mmprMy name is Patrick Healy and I’ve been writing comic book reviews for six year. Now that school’s out, I’m teaching my daughter writing and analytical thinking the way any red-blooded American would… by giving her comics. She broke her elbow last week but is determined to keep writing, typing one letter at a time.

This week my daughter took an interest in a book she’s not been reading and I wanted to see how that changed her appreciation for the book. Please let us know what you think.

Hi, my name is Keira Elise Healy and I am 8 years old. I am in 4th grade. I like comic books because they looked fun and my dad surely got me into it.

The Power Rangers are the main characters of this story. They are fighting the green zord, piloted by Scorpina. The Green Power Ranger was wounded and he was told to not to fight. He did fight and he got in to an argument with the Red and Black Power Rangers. Then a big, black robot that looks like Voltron showed up and said “I am going to destroy you”.

I would like this book more if it was one big comic book. I would like it if I would knew what going on in the beginning of the story. I would also like it if there was more of the story than there is.

I really liked Power Rangers because of the wonderful pictures. Jeez Louise, it’s so good. I also like the words that people say in this comic book. I like every single little word. Most of all, I like the Power Rangers. The reason why I like the Power Rangers so much is because of all their different colors.

I would recommend this book because the author and the illustrator did a great job.

Story: Kyle Higgins Art: Hendry Prasetya
Story: 7 Art: 10 Overall: 9 Recommendation

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Kid Review: Strawberry Shortcake #2

SS02_CoverA-659x1000Hello again, I’m Patrick Healy. For six years I have been writing comic book reviews in addition to my own literary work. This summer, I’m teaching my daughter critical thinking and practicing writing skills through the art of comic books. We invite you to share this experience with us as we develop written and communicative skills. Enjoy!

Hi my name is Keira and I am 8 years old and I am in third grade. I want to be an author, illustrator and a cook. The reason that I started reading comic books was because they looked fun.

The main characters are Strawberry Shortcake and Steve. Strawberry Shortcake needs to get to Big Apple city where she gets to see her cousin Apple Dumpling who takes her to the competition. Even though she was late and she had sloppy presentation she had good food and she won.

I like Strawberry Shortcake because she is nice and she is fun. We are alike because we like to cook. We like strawberries and we are both funny.

I liked that the illustrator put little details in the book. I like that the author had Strawberry Shortcake be sarcastic about a hotel. The last thing that I like is that the author made Strawberry win.

I did not like that Steve was mean to Strawberry Shortcake. I did not like that he thought he was better than Strawberry Shortcake. I did not like when Steve took all the oats.

I think this is a wonderful book. I would recommend this to anyone because I can not really think of anything that was bad about it.

Story: Georgia Ball Art: Amy Mebberson
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Kid’s Review: Space Battle Lunchtime #1

STL004004

My name is Patrick Healy and, for the last six years, I have been writing comic book reviews in addition to my own literary work. This summer, in order to encourage critical thinking and technological proficiency, I am going to be teaching my daughter comic book review. Keira and I have shared a love of comic books all of her life and we invite you to share this experience with us as we develop written and cognitive skills.

Hi, I am Keira and I am 8 years old and I am in 3rd grade. I like the colors blue and green. I like to cook meals and I like to bake. I love to see super heroes because they are AWESOME!

The book I am reviewing is called Space Battle Lunchtime. The main characters are Peony and Zonda. They start at Peony’s store and end up in the galaxy. They get teleported there so they can get ready for a lunch time battle. The lunch time battle is a cooking competition for TV.

I think this was very good because Peony makes it fun. Peony is like me because she likes baking and I like that. I also really like it because I am a big fan of baking and reading and space.

Something that I wish was different about Space Battle Lunchtime is that it is only one issue.  I wish the it was all in one book so that I didn’t have to wait for more story. I did not like the scene where she trips and the alien caught her. It made me feel weird. I was also afraid when Peony trusted an alien because I thought they might kill her.

If someone asked me if I would recommend this book, I would say yes because it is a great book and it is fun.

Story: Natalie Riess Art: Natalie Riess
Story: 5 Art: 10 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Guardian of the Forest

dShort yet packed with a stark sense of dread and foreboding, Guardian of the Forest is a wonderful dark mystery waiting to be discovered.

Out in the deep woods rests Taylor’s Country Diner, run by Ben and his daughter, June. The two live a quiet life together in a town with a dwindling population, one whose inhabitants are meeting horrible ends. With grim anticipation, they wait for their turn. When the time comes, the mystery grows.

This independent one-shot effectively captures the tones of wonder and fear of a classic X-Files episode while pairing it with the isolation and helplessness of Alien. Writer Robert James Mediavilla’s imagination has constructed herein a dark creature, beautiful yet menacing, power and still somehow relatable. This guardian of the forest perfectly personifies nature’s backlash against the intrusion of man, yielding both brutality and subtext to the book.

Artist Diana Naneva brings a textured, gloomy atmosphere. That grit and darkness of the woodland setting readily draws the reader into the conflict thanks to her skillful approach. The guardian is seen as both graceful and formidable, just another example of how perfect the writer and artist were for this story.

Sadly, the story ends too soon and could easily stretch itself into the surrounding backstory and consequences. This book would act as an engaging preview for a much larger, immensely interesting mini-series in the near future. Since it is so short at the moment, there won’t be too much elaboration into what happens.

Fortunately, you can buy it now on Comixology by clicking here. For less than a dollar, it’s a terrific experience for any reader who likes to get lost in the dangers of the unknown.

Already read it? Have an insight you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter.

Story: Robert James Mediavilla Art: Diana Naneva
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Devolution #4

Devolution04-Cov-A-LeeChaotic and fast-paced, Devolution makes for a great storyboard but the narrative could use a little development.

Scientists decided the best way to save humanity was to do away with religion. To that end, they created a virus that would shrink the part of the brain that deals with faith. (I know this is a comic but I seriously think I heard them discuss this on Fox News.) Surprisingly, playing god didn’t work out the way they expected which is totally weird because the last thing Victor Frankenstein ever said was, “This was totally awesome. Don’t overthink super-science. Just do it.” Consequently, life on Earth began to rapidly de-evolve like discussing politics at Thanksgiving. Except in this instance, everyone got to be the disgusting, bigoted uncle. Everyone but Raja, who is trying to get back to the source of the problem to set the world right again.

This book would have made an amazing featured story in Heavy Metal Magazine. It blends sci-fi fantasy with a little bit of Crossed-style violence and sexuality. The book certainly does reflect the primal nature it’s aiming for. The characters are always moving, new and weird threats are constantly emerging. This book would make a great translation to film. However, it would be the sort of film best enjoyed on an airplane when you can’t afford the headphones.

Saying the plot is remedial is a bit unfair, though not at all untrue. The appeal of the book is it’s brutality, the fearful the world it’s created. The villain shows up, drives the characters into the dangers and trappings of the world and once they get where they’re going they should home-free. That’s all fine.

The problem is in the third-person narrative. The narrative is what makes you realize how simple everything is, demonstrating that people may be able to de-evolve mankind, but that’s there’s nothing to be done to defeat the “tell not show” monster. The narration affords backstory, emotional insight, shot-term expectation, all things that would help us know Raja if she were speaking for herself, interacting with the other characters in a meaningful way. When the perspective is so singular in a story, you may as well cut the narrative and let the character be more expressive unless there’s something she/he is hiding. That’s not the case here.

Additionally, slowing the pacing of the story is how cartoonish some of the violence is. When a character dies it often requires the reader to stop and ask, “Wait, was that the identical character with the glasses or the identical character with no glasses whose eyes just popped out? Was that the doctor or did Gallagher just strike another watermelon?” All of a sudden the reader is looking for visual context to keep the events straight.

The ending ties the story back to a bit of a forgotten subplot from the beginning in a way that’s interesting. Hopefully the final issue will prove to be a bit more redeeming.

Think creating a virus to combat religion is the way to go? Think this would be Netflix Original movie that you watch while doing a project that a movie you see on an airplane? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter.

Story: Rick Remender Art: Jonathan Wayshak
Story: 5 Art: 6 Overall: 5.5. Recommendation: Pass

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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