Tag Archives: Comics

Wednesday Comic Rally: Libby’s Dad

libbys_20dad_20cover_20small_originalPublished by Retrofit Comics, the comic is a beautifully drawn and colored indie comic that’s engrossing and entertaining exploring youth and how rumors can spin out of control and shape reality.

The story is basically a few girls at a pool party who begin to discuss why one of their friends aren’t there. It’s best to not reveal too much and see for yourself to see where the story goes. You never know exactly where that is.

Davis does an amazing job building the story throughout the comic and gets it to a point that you’re not sure what to believe until you get to the ending… and it’s a hell of a twist that had me gasping. It’s masterful storytelling at a great pace that captures the essences of sleepovers and kids chattering.

This is a perfect example of a comic where the less said the better because part of my enjoyment was not knowing what the comic was about and feeling the tension build as I didn’t know where things were going. Is this a simple story of kids playing telephone? Is this going to be a bloodbath? Is this a story about abuse? It’s wonderful storytelling.

The art too is fantastic with a style that’s hard to describe. The color choice is almost like crayons, it’s unique and absolutely fantastic adding to the childlike aspect of the story.

Libby’s Dad is an amazing example of indie comics and one folks should check out. Retrofit Comics puts out amazing comics and this is a fine release to show off how some of the best comics are being produced by indie and small publishers. Another home run for Retrofit and a fantastic comic by Davis.

You can by the comic now through Retrofit Comics’ website in print or as a PDF, from Things From Another World, or from Amazon.

 

 

 

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Sharknado Director Anthony C Ferrante to Tackle Comic Series Farway Canyon

farway-canyonAnthony C Ferrante, director of the iconic Sharknado films, has selected Farway Canyon as his follow-up genre project. Based on the independent comic book series written and published by Steve Hillard and Dennis Nowlan, Ferrante will develop the project as a television series, along with Hillard’s partner in “The Chronicles of Ara” franchise, Joel Eisenberg.

Farway Canyon is a take on the great sci-fi monster flicks of the 1950s and 60s. The story centers on a group of idealistic college students who investigate a lost Cold War project more secretive and potentially threatening than Area 51.

The comic series and its television adaptation is an homage to movies like Them, Godzilla, Forbidden Planet and even Dr. Strangelove.

Ferrante and the team expect to pitch Farway Canyon beginning in January.

Review: Summerland

summerlandSummerland is the story of Santana and her cousin Gwen who work on a play with Chucho while all three are vacationing, created by the animator Paloma Dawkins, who works in a riotous color palette.

Paloma Dawkins has created a comic that’s visually a stunner in Summerland, published by Retrofit Comics. The story is pretty simple taking us through some of the life of Santana and Gwen, but it’s the visuals that draw the reader in.

The colors especially jump from the page in a trippy colorfest that reminds me of my childhood watching 3..2..1… Contact. There’s this weird retro-art thing going on. It’s unique, and really stands out.

I’d say the colors visually assault you, and that may sound like a bad thing, but I don’t mean it that way. The colors are bright in a technicolor rainbow that changes as the comic progresses through the story. From yellow and green to blue to purples to red to orange and back again the colors are as cyclical in what they’re saying as the story is. It’s just amazing to look at and no review will do it justice the visuals matter that much. If you look at the cover you’ll get an idea as to what to expect.

What strikes me about Summerland is that the colors that Dawkins chooses to use say as much about the story as anything else. Where each color is placed, what hue to use, it’s all worth examining and you’ll want to.

Summerland is a visual treat and if you’re into indie comics or love a colorful visual, it’s a comic well worth checking out.

Story: Paloma Dawkins Art: Paloma Dawkins
Story: 7.5 Art: 10 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Cicada

cica_coverfront_webDebuting this weekend at Small Press Expo 2016, Cicada is a short horror comic about a freelance writer and a sacrificial insect. With story and art by Joni Miller, the comic is fun with twists and turns that keep the reader engaged.

A fifty-page mini-comic, the story is an entertaining mix of humor and horror as our nameless heroine moves to a new area and learns that she’ll need to learn to live with the local wildlife if she’s going to keep her sanity… or do something about it.

Cicadas, the strange looking bugs that seem to descend on our land and annoy us through normally enjoyable summers with their song that seem to envelop us. That’s the impetus which gets our story underway.

Miller’s art is fantastic with a great flow to the storytelling. She keeps the pages simple with up to four panels per page, a key thing considering the comic itself being more on the pocket size of things. Too many panels just wouldn’t work. But Miller impressive changes up the page layouts a lot making each page feel unique. There’s an energy that jumps off of the page as things progress as well especially as the “action” kicks up.

Miller keeps it fresh and though there are some elements that feel a bit familiar, it all comes together in a way that’s fresh. If you’re a fan of horror comics, this is one you should seek out.

Story: Joni Miller Art: Joni Miller
Story: 8.45 Art: 8.65 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Ultimate Laugh

the-ultimate-laugh-coverA popular talk show is retro-scripted through the medium of food. The administration intervenes to manipulate human bonding. A Jenny Craig commercial is honored in silent ballet. Death proposes. The Ultimate Laugh collects eight of Sara Lautman‘s best stories from 2015 in autobiography, illustrated essays, and tall tales.

The Ultimate Laugh, the Ignatz nominated comic for “Promising New Talent,” is a stream of thought by creator Sara Lautman. The comic book is a fun take on those strange ideas and observations so many of us have… well maybe not all of us. The observations can be out there such as a talk show that’s manipulated through food which early on sets the tone of what follows.

You can see why Lautman is nominated. The comic is a hilarious look at life and brings a perspective, and thoughts, that aren’t often put down in paper. The comic is funny throughout, constantly entertaining.

Like the observations throughout, the art itself is pretty free-flowing breaking free of the rigid constraints of traditions comic panels. Lautman impressively still makes the comic easy to understand and read, even without some of the traditional clues peppered in comic layouts to guide the reader. The art adds to the free and fun style of the comic.

Lautman bursts on to the scene with this one and is a talent to keep an eye on. Already nominated for an award, this is a comic to pick up and find out why.

Story: Sara Lautman Art: Sara Lautman
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Tinto Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Our Mother

our_20mother_20cover_20small_originalOur Mother is a comedy about growing up with a parent who has an anxiety disorder. Luke Howard mixes genres to tell an utterly open personal reflection about his childhood and his relationship with his mother. Jumping between noir, giant robots, fantasy adventure, and even scientific animal research, Luke brings a very intimate story to life with humor and cartooning experimentation.

Our Mother begins with what feels like a bunch of sets of short stories, vignettes that don’t have much to do with each other though may share a theme. As the comic progresses, Howard impressively brings everything together in a world of weird, and rather humorous events.

It’s hard to describe the comic as a whole except take the choppy storytelling made famous by Tarantino, but mix that with an experimental tale. Things such as depression, being trapped in a loop, and more are touched upon in the 40 pages. It’s an interesting reflection on relationships that comes together with humor and an honesty that unveils itself as the story progresses.

The art by Howard is great with a style that is hard to describe. It’s so clean and looks great. Howard seems to have a knack at focusing on the details needed per panel framing each scene in a way that enhances the storytelling. What’s interesting is even with the change in genres and settings, it all, the story, the art, seems very personal. Yes, giant robots somehow feel personal.

Retrofit again shows off that they’re a leader of indie comics and continue to impress with each release. This is a publisher that deserves your attention as their releases rarely disappoint and almost always entertain. If you’re new to the world of indie comics, seek out Retrofit and expand your mind and reading pile.

Story: Luke Howard Art: Luke Howard
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Libby’s Dad

libbys_20dad_20cover_20small_originalLibby’s Dad is a lushly colored story of youth and rumor, by New York Times bestselling creator Eleanor Davis.

Published by Retrofit Comics, the comic is a beautifully drawn and colored indie comic that’s engrossing and entertaining exploring youth and how rumors can spin out of control and shape reality.

The story is basically a few girls at a pool party who begin to discuss why one of their friends aren’t there. It’s best to not reveal too much and see for yourself to see where the story goes. You never know exactly where that is.

Davis does an amazing job building the story throughout the comic and gets it to a point that you’re not sure what to believe until you get to the ending… and it’s a hell of a twist that had me gasping. It’s masterful storytelling at a great pace that captures the essences of sleepovers and kids chattering.

This is a perfect example of a comic where the less said the better because part of my enjoyment was not knowing what the comic was about and feeling the tension build as I didn’t know where things were going. Is this a simple story of kids playing telephone? Is this going to be a bloodbath? Is this a story about abuse? It’s wonderful storytelling.

The art too is fantastic with a style that’s hard to describe. The color choice is almost like crayons, it’s unique and absolutely fantastic adding to the childlike aspect of the story.

Libby’s Dad is an amazing example of indie comics and one folks should check out. Retrofit Comics puts out amazing comics and this is a fine release to show off how some of the best comics are being produced by indie and small publishers. Another home run for Retrofit and a fantastic comic by Davis.

Story: Eleanor Davis Art: Eleanor Davis
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Indie Comics Creators Show Their Stuff at Chicago’s CAKE

cakebanner One of my favorite things about being a comics fan in Chicago is the annual Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, abbreviated whimsically as CAKE. It’s only been going on since 2012 but feels like an institution already, a way for independent creators to gain recognition and for fans to celebrate their favorites and discover new artists. Several of the participants I talked to mentioned that it was difficult to make the cut as a an exhibitor this year, and many talented comics creators were turned down. As it was, each creator only had half a table in the Center on Halsted’s sizable convention room, and so many people attended that it was tough to maneuver. If CAKE wants to continue its mission of celebrating the diversity of emerging talent in the Chicago area and beyond, it might need to seek out a bigger space in the future.

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A number of the artists I met at CAKE shared a retro-timeless vibe, with images recalling illustration styles of the past but adopting more modern themes. M. Dean has mastered this balance in her ongoing webcomic, The Girl Who Flew Away, and in luminous short stories. She incorporates both the cartoonish whimsy and the intricacy of mid-20th-century comics but shifts them toward a female perspective, often turning simple coming-of-age stories and family dramas into adventures. She’s especially excited about her latest project, Regents Walk, which follows the lives of 24 kids in a small town in the 1990s, with each chapter focusing on a different character. When I asked M. Dean about her influences, she talked more about music than comics, mentioning The Carpenters and Patti Smith as two favorites. If you can imagine an aesthetic that perfectly marries those two, you understand why M. Dean’s work is so magical and original.

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Dean described Z Akhmetova as her “partner in crime.” They’ve been friends since high school, and they share the goal of telling stories about girls and women that aren’t often told in comics. Akhmetova’s art style is very different, though, drawing on the spookier side of mid-century children’s illustration to tell imaginative, grown-up stories. Akhmetova has focused on one-shot graphic stories in the past, but she’s now working on an ongoing webcomic, Gods Can’t Die, about a girl who becomes a god.

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Marnie Galloway takes a different approach to exploring creation myths through comics. She told me that she started out as a more traditional artist, making relief prints, before realizing that she was really making sequential art that appealed to comics readers. Her intricate images, full of swirling animal and nature shapes, form a trilogy of fanciful creation myths in In the Sounds and Seas. Galloway says that she’s more influenced by literature than by comics, citing William Blake and “rad lady poets” as her jumping off points, as well as ancient epics like The Iliad and Icelandic Eddas. She’s turned inward for her latest work, “Particle/Wave,” soon to be released by So What? Press.

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Landis Blair’s table caught my eye because it featured a book called The Trial: A Choose Your Own Kafka Adventure. Blair, whose work recalls early 20th century engraving and Edward Gorey, wrote Trial as part of an anthology of graphic adaptations of literature. He told me that he needed a gimmick because it’s impossible to distill Kafka’s meandering, unfinished novel into 15 pages, and because there’s something Kafka-esque about Choose Your Own Adventure stories. He advises fans of odd cat stories (and heartbreaking political allegories) begin with The Progressive Problem and its sequel. These and other short graphic stories are available at Landis Blair Illustration.

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LGBTQ artists made up a smaller proportion of the exhibitors than I recall from previous years, but I did speak to three creators who focus on queer themes and representation. Megan Rose Gedris, who also tours as burlesque performer Florence of Alabia, Gedris’s comics are cheerfully dirty, depicting edgy sexual subject matter with a playful art style. She says she tries to balance out her “weird porn” with adventure and fantasy – and plenty of lesbian mermaids. When I asked Gedris where people should start when reading her work for the first time, she laughed, because it’s not every artist who thinks their vore porn is their best entry point. However, Gedris noted that Eat Me has a great plot to go with its queasy-sexy subject matter, and that it resonates with readers like nothing else she’s done. That, along with Gedris’s other finished comics and ongoing webcomic Meaty Yogurt, can be found on her website, Rosalarian.

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Chad Sell has become an internet sensation as well as a unique fixture of Chicago’s drag community for his stylized portraits of the drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Sell’s drag images, which can be purchased in book form or as poster prints, are both fan art and documentary images of a subculture on the edge of the mainstream. Sell shared with me the unnerving experiences he’s had talking with drag queens whose performances he admires, only to find that they’re starstruck when he draws them and interviews them. He started out with edgier queens like Raja and says he still finds it easiest and most fun to portray stylized performers with avant garde looks. While his drag queen portraits sometimes overshadow his sequential art, Sell is a terrific storyteller as well, and is particularly proud of his new kid-friendly comic, Sorceress Next Door, about a little boy who wants to be a supervillain. His work, along with archive of interviews with Chicago drag queens, is at The Sellout.

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Continuing a long tradition of LGBTQ slice-of-life comics is Tony Breed. After eight years developing a cult following for his webcomic, Finn and Charlie Are Hitched, Breed spun off his universe and characters into the ensemble-driven Muddlers Beat. Breed’s depiction of contemporary gay culture is both celebratory and critical, featuring body types and emotional bonds that we don’t see enough of in media representations of gay men. His comics are also bitingly funny. Breed said that his combination of wicked humor and positive representation do come from a desire for change: “People who are satisfied with their lives don’t make comics.” It’s both surprising and refreshing to hear that kind of statement from such a lighthearted creator.

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Using comics to draw readers into underrepresented cultures and experiences was a common theme among many of the works at CAKE, and that goal drives two artists who approach that goal from the same angle: food. Sarah Becan’s webcomic, I Think You’re Sauceome, began as a food therapy diary but soon evolved into a celebration of diverse body types, delicious recipes, and Chicago food culture. She said the shift arrived with her realization that “loving food isn’t a fat girl trait.” Becan’s success at drawing food – and the emotions that surround it – has earned her the opportunity to illustrate menus and other commissions for local restaurants throughout Chicago. Her website features a portfolio of images that will be familiar to local foodies, as well as her travelogue, Stockholm Is Sauceome.

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Robin Ha started creating her whimsical food comics when she learned to cook, in the hopes of recording the recipes she tried and sharing Korean cuisine with the world. What began on Tumblr is now a published collection, Ban-Chan in 2 Pages, and an acclaimed cookbook, Cook Korean! Ha also creates narrative comics and Tarot card designs, but she’s found real inspiration in melding cookbooks and sequential art. Recently, she’s gone beyond her family’s culture to learn about other cuisines. A trip to Nicaragua, in which she observed and illustrated locals as they cooked, has provided a wealth of material for an upcoming project on Latin American cuisine.

 

Chicago is lucky to have such a vibrant showcase for independent artists, and CAKE proves that a free, volunteer-run event can draw crowds. Much more than at the large conventions I’ve attended recently, most of the visitors to CAKE were there primarily for the exhibitors, and most were buying comics and prints, not just window shopping. It’s exciting to see such enthusiasm for independent comics and to see CAKE grow from year to year.