Tag Archives: dead inside

Mini Reviews: Dept. H, American Monster, The Howling, Smoketown, and more!

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Christopher

Dept H. #14 (Dark Horse) – Unable to return to the surface, the surviving crew of Dept. H must make some difficult choices, with air and livable space at a premium. Will they have to sacrifice one of their own in order for the rest to survive? Meanwhile, we begin to see the larger role that Verve has played in the fate of our crew.Things are beginning to look up, as someone self-sacrifices to get the rest of the crew to the surface. Yet that still doesn’t answer who kills Mia’s father. Given they have two issue still to come, I hope they manage to answer that. Since that has been the lingering question throughout. Overall the story and art continue to impress. Merging both past and present. Writer and Artist: Matt Kindt Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

 

Ryan

Dead Inside #5 (Dark Horse)* – A thoroughly satisfying conclusion to John Arcudi and Toni Fejzula’s prison murder mystery complete with a Tarantino-esque Mexican stand-off on steroids? This is pretty much why I love comics in a nutshell. Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

American Monster #6 (Aftershock)* – Just when you think that all Brian Azzarello is capable of these days is mailing it in, along comes the second arc of this amazingly depraved series complete with Juan Doe’s usual gorgeous, eye-popping artwork. Every single character here is a reprobate — even those who only show up for a page or two such as the couple splitting up at the start of this issue — and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Lots of moving pieces and subplots within subplots going on here, so it pays to give every single word and ever single image very close attention indeed. Heady stuff, to say the least. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Flash # 22 (DC Comics)* – So, “The Button” began with the death of the Reverse-Flash and ends with — the death of the Reverse-Flash? So, what was all that bullshit in between about, then? Spoiler time: Joshua Williamson and Howard Porter — at the behest of their editors, no doubt — contrive a way to bring back Jay Garrick for a few pages before exiling him off into the Speed Force again, and Dr. Manhattan goes from looming over events off-page to looming over events on-page, but if you’re looking for anything resembling a resolution, look elsewhere: this is pure set-up for DC’s sure-to-suck “Doomsday Clock” mini-series that will finally see the Big Blue-Vs.-Superman punch-up that none of us in our right minds ever wanted to come to fruition. Kill me now, please. Or better yet, kill this whole “Watchmen-Vs.-DCU” idea before it goes any further. I know, I know, it’s too late for that vain wish to come true, but still, one can live in hope. Overall: 1.0 Recommendation: Pass

Batman #23 (DC Comics)* – Seemingly out of left field, Tom King delivers the stand-alone story that almost makes the rest of his hugely disappointing run on this title worthwhile. Seeing the Dark Knight team up with Swamp Thing is always great, but King’s take on the former Alec Holland goes well above and beyond, giving us the best iteration of the character since a certain bearded gentleman from England, and Mitch Gerads’ art — apart from a couple of goofy-looking pictures of Batman on the last page — is just plain incredible. Both a moving tribute to Bernie Wrightson and a heartfelt rumination on the relationship between fathers and sons, this is straight-up comic book magic, not to be missed under any circumstances. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

 

Allie

Night Owl Society #2 (IDW Publishing) – I had hopes for this. Not high hopes but hopes. Sadly, Night Owl Society #2 let me down again. As I mentioned in my review before, the writing and story presented here is bland and predictable. The main character has no redeeming qualities and the foils around him are all two-dimensional. Simply put, there’s just no reason to put any emotional stock behind these characters and reading made it feel like it was just a matter of when the “twists” would come less than what they would be. All in all, another disappointment that makes me want to drop the series entirely, if for no other reason than that I can probably call the ending right now. Recommendation: Hard Pass

 

Patrick

Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie #3 (Dynamite) – I finally nailed what’s been bothering me about this competently-written, competently-drawn series: it’s trying SO HARD to be Noir, when the actual genre of the Hardy Boys novels is Procedural. The former assumes that nothing can be solved; the latter assumes that every crime can be solved with the application of reason, science, and intelligence. So the mixing of the two genres could be interesting – but they just don’t dig in deep enough. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass

Will Eisner’s The Spirit: Corpsemakers #3 (Dynamite) – Normally I love Fernando Francavilla, and the Black Beetle is a favorite. But maybe I’ve just read too many Spirit stories, so anything more than 8 pages gets too far away from the Platonic ideal of Eisnerian. I had the same problem with the Cooke/Bone/etc version a while back. It’s also devilishly hard for us goyim to really nail the Yiddishkeit of the originals – that combination of pathos and humor, romance and tragedy. Overall 7.0 (because Francavilla after all) Recommendation: Pass

Smoketown #2 (Scout Comics) – As an Army brat, I’m always happy to see stories that explore the life of military personnel and the demands that are made of them without most civilians really understanding what we’re asking them to do. Writer Philip Kennedy Johnson does a pretty good job with this crime fiction of a soldier returned from Afghanistan and the demands that his new civilian life makes of him, without understanding what has happened to him and what he’s dealing with. Artist Scott Van Domelen is also pretty good here, though still I think in a no man’s land between graphically flashy and kitchen-sink drama (I can’t help but compare his war sequences to Leandro Fernandez on The Old Guard). There’s something there, but not quite there yet. Overall 7.5 Recommendation: Read

The Howling #1 (Space Goat Productions) – Try as they did to recap the 1981 movie in the first few pages to bring us up to speed for this sequel, I found myself having to go back and rewatch it. So how does writer Micky Neilson and artist Jason Johnson’s work stack up? Pretty poorly. The original movie at least had something to say about the end of the 70’s, California cults, and the beginning of the 80’s fascination with the media. But this comic is just another werewolf story, and not even a particularly scary one at that. The writing is paint-by-numbers and the art is just too well-lit and neatly-delineated for the genre. Overall: 4.0 Recommendation: Pass (but do watch the movie!)

 

Shean

Star Trek TNG: Mirror Broken #1 (IDW Publishing) – In this debut issue of the Mirror Universe implications for the TNG crew, what one finds is a much more sinister and cynical crew. We find a muscle bound Picard wanting to climb the ladder in rank but is stuck on a ship called the Stargazer. While at HQ, he stumbles upon what looks like plans for a new class of ship. He recruits Laforge into his dastardly evil plans and gives the reader, a familiar sight on the horizon. Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Review: Dead Inside #1

31019

Murder behind bars!

The Jail Crimes Division of the Sheriff’s Office in Mariposa County investigates crimes committed inside county jails. With a limited number of suspects who can’t escape, these are usually easy cases to solve—but not this one. As Detective Linda Caruso gets closer to the heart of the case, she discovers uncomfortable truths about her friends, her job, and herself.

With Dead Inside, writer John Arcudi creates a complex murder mystery inside a prison. The concept sounds simple but Arcudi adds numerous layers to what is happening. And, that’s done with few characters so far. While this is just the first issue, the few main characters are well done and seem complex.

The art by Toni Fejzula has this almost visceral darkness to it. That’s enhanced by the large of amount of gore present and this is just the one issue. This series is clearly not made for the faint hearted.

If you’re a fan of police dramas, police procedurals, or noir crime comics, this is one that’s a must.

Story: John Arcudi Art: Toni Fejzula
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Alex

Top Pick: God Country #3 (Image) – A man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is cured when he’s holding a giant frigging sword. This is another series where the elevator pitch is enough to draw me in, but the humanity and depth within the story is keeping me coming back – although the fact that a mere human is flipping the bird to a pantheon of space gods is also pretty fantastic. There’s a reason this series is hitting multiple printings, and that’s because it’s really really good.

Neil Gamian’s American Gods: Shadows #1 (Dark Horse) – I’ve always wanted to read the book, but I never quite got around to it (I read prose books much slower than comics), so this series is something that really intrigues me – even though I know next to nothing about it other than Neil Gaiman wrote the book it’s based off. Does he write the series? I honestly don’t know (you may be wondering how I write for a comic website at this point…).

Black Hammer #7 (Dark Horse) – Jeff Lemire has become one of my favourite writers over the last year, and this slow moving series about a group of superheroes stuck in sleepy tow in the mid west. For some, the town is Limbo, for others Hell, and for one… it’s close to Heaven. What it actually is, hasn’t quite been revealed yet, but I’m loving the slow build up.

Conan The Slayer #7 (Dark Horse) – I’ve always had a soft spot for Conan, and when the stories look this good? I won’t say no.

Divinity III: Escape From Gulag 396 #1 (Valiant) – Archer and Armstrong meet the Stalinverse. Can’t wait.

 

Joe

Top Pick: Neil Gamian’s American Gods: Shadows #1 (Dark Horse) – Gaiman has returned to comics, and with one of his best novels ever coming with him. I have been awaiting this for awhile, and my anticipation is through the roof to see how he adapts such a great book to my favorite medium.

Head Lopper #5 (Image) – It returns! What an awesome surprise that we are getting more of this awesome book. The art grabs your attention and the countless lopping of heads of beasts and witches helps keep it.

God Country #3 (Image) – The first two issues have been awesome, and I expect it to get even better. Cates is crafting an excellent tall tale of his own with this book.

Batman #19 (DC Comics) – Bane is crazy, and these two foes are leaving nothing on the table. I expect tons of violence, more villains coming into play, and more twists and turns from Tom King.

Superman #19 (DC Comics) – Wow. What a reveal in Action that I won’t spoil here. What does this mean to the greater Rebirth story, and what is Mr. Oz want with Supes. Great comic and a great arc!

 

Patrick

Top Pick: I Hate Fairyland #11 (Image Comics) – Aww yeah muffin fluffers!

Casanova Acedia #8 (Image Comics) – If this really is a flashback issue, it’ll hopefully focus on the real most interesting character of Acedia, Emil Boutique.

Island #15 (Image Comics) – Always curious to see what a new issue holds in store.

Kill or be Killed #7 (Image Comics) – In which sort-of-ex-girlfriend-but-not-really Kira gets drawn into Dylan’s demonic web. This looks bad – just the way I like it.

Sex Criminals #17 (Image Comics) – Like Casanova, this series has outgrown its main characters for me, and I look forward to it seeing other people.

 

Paul

Top Pick – Super Sons #2 (DC Comics) – A few of my fellow contributors had this on their watch list before issue #1 came out, and after that their reviews were highly favourable. So, I thought I’d check it out…and they were right! Damian is going to be a great partner to Superboy, being the “bad influence” that’s going to get these kids into so many adventures and yeah, probably a lot of trouble with their fathers, and I will definitely be along for the ride.

Avengers Initiative Complete Collection TP Vol. 1 (Marvel) – I just had to give this a nod. This was one of my favourite titles and I loved all the new characters that were introduced in this series; plus it paved the way to the fantastic Secret Invasion event. *sigh* remember when Marvel events were something to look forward to?

The Mighty Thor #17 (Marvel) – Thor is trapped in a ‘competition’ against the gods of the Shi’ar, and I can’t wait for her to knock them out.

Uncanny Avengers #21 (Marvel) – The Red Skull is still controlling the Avengers with his mind, and Deadpool is doing everything he can to free them. But he’s going to need a lot of help, and if cover can be trusted, it looks like Cable is about to step into the ring. This is going to be a knock down fight, and here’s hoping they all walk away. I’ve enjoyed this latest story arc and I’m looking forward to see how it all ends.

Uncanny X-Men #19 (Marvel) – Psylocke made a promise to Magneto when she joined his mission…and now she’s going to collect. I’m really just looking forward to seeing Psylocke, one of my favourite X-women in action.

 

Shay

This is the week of boss chicks and bad ass lady heroes and I’m so here for it that I can’t even breathe! Thank heavens for a good nor’easter because being snowed in with all this comic book goodness is a cure for the winter time blues.

Top Pick: Neil Gaian American Gods Shadows #1 (Dark Horse) – It’s one of my favorite books, in comic book form! I haven’t been this geeked out something like this since Fight Club 2 came out.

Top Pick: Black Panther World of Wakanda #5 (Marvel) – This arc is over and midnight angels are about to roll out , reign triumphant and show the villains of Wakanda that there’s some new sheriffs in town. So much lady power! So many strong , black, female character, so much awesomeness!

Batwoman #1 (DC Comics) – It’s a brand new arc in a solo comic book series and, it gives Batwoman a lot to do, some agency and, some asses to kick! So obviously, I’m here for it!

Harley Quinn #16 (DC Comics) – The red meat arc ( or as I like to call it diet soylent green with a twist) is still going on, aliens, a man with a secret plan, the evils of gentrification and the perils of men who underestimate three bad ass crime fighting ladies. Harley’s taking the fight straight to the top. Grab popcorn .

 

Brett

Top Pick: The Best We Could Do (Abrams Comicarts) – The debut graphic novel memoir from Thi Bui is an exploration of one family’s journey from their war-torn home in Vietnam to their new lives in America. An exploration of immigration that’s pertinent to today.

Neil Gamian’s American Gods: Shadows #1 (Dark Horse) – I’ve never read the book but have heard good things so looking forward to seeing what the fuss is about.

Dead Inside #4 (Dark Horse) – I love crime comics and noir, so super excited to read more of this series.

Super Sons #2 (DC Comics) – The first issue was tons of fun, exactly what I wanted and expected and this second issue will hopefully bring more of the same. Just a fun series that’s full of energy.

The Wild Storm #2 (DC Comics) – The first issue was intriguing with it’s changes to these classic characters and I’m interested in seeing where it all goes.

 

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

super-sonsWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Joe

Top Pick: Animosity #5 (Aftershock) – This is one of the best comics to come out in the last year. It’s consistent, interesting, emotional, and just everything I want in a story. I never know where the series is headed next and that is what keeps me coming back.

The Wild Storm #1 (DC Comics) – WildStorm returns! And Warren Ellis returns with it. I am excited to see what Ellis does with this grittier new and seemingly more grounded approach to some of my favorite characters. It sounds perfect for fans, both old and new.

Super Sons #1 (DC Comics) – Holy cow, it feels like I’ve been waiting forever for this! Robin and Superboy go on wild adventures in what I can imagine as fun, action packed, and nostalgic to be everything a teen superhero book should be.

God Country #2 (Image) – What an awesome comic. A comic that takes the idea behind Thor and has some fun with it. This revolves around an old man with Alzheimer’s who remembers everything when he touches a magical sword. There’s also gods and demons, so there’s that.

Batman #17 (DC Comics) – The end of the last issue was intense, even if it was just symbolic. What will Bane do? What will Batman do? This has been coming to a head and I expect the doors to be blown off everything as these two collide. Tom King’s series is really getting some legs and I expect all of the slower issues to pay off soon with the excellent building up to this pressure cooker story.

 

Alex

Top Pick I: Savage #4 (Valiant) – Usually by the time I’m writing this I’ve already read Valiant’s offerings for the week, but in a strange twist I actually haven’t opened the review copy just yet and I’m debating just waiting for the print copy from my LCS to read, but we’re expecting a bout of weather early in the week that may impact the postal service… anyway. Savage has been a really interesting series so far, and I’m really excited to see whether this issue will tie the character into the rest of the Valiant Universe or not. Plus it has some of the best art I’ve seen in a long time.

Top Pick II: Voracious: Feeding Time #3 (Action Lab Entertainment) – So… I’ve actually already read this issue, and it’s frigging phenomenal. Why am I excited to pick it up? Because are some visual sequences that I need to see in print.

God Country #2 (and #1) (Image) – I somehow missed the first issue of this series, and would have missed this were it not for the fact that it’s being written by Donny Cates, one of the authors behind The Paybacks, which is al the reason I need to go find these issues on Wednesday.

Old Man Logan #18 (Marvel) – The Aliens vibe of the recent arc has been fantastic. Jeff Lemire’s ability to capture the isolation of outer space, as well as the desolation of the waste lands of Old Man Logan’s past is stunning.

Super Sons #1 (DC Comics) – If you put Damian Wayne in a comic, I’m going to read it.

 

Paul

Top Pick: The Mighty Thor #16 (Marvel) – The Shi’ar and their royal guard have invaded Asgard, bested some of their greatest warriors and have managed to kidnap Thor, to bring her face to face with their gods. I am pumped to see the Shi’ar and their royal guard back in action and curious to see what their beef with Asgard and Thor is all about.

Old Man Logan #18 (Marvel) – This a series that has not disappointed.  I’m not Wolverine’s biggest fan, and I have never read the original Old Man Logan story this book is named after. But I have consistently been enjoying this book and recommend it. This story arc in particular has been pretty trippy. Logan is trying to save Alpha Flight from the Brood; but also in the Wastelands trying to rescue the Cage baby and both are happening at the same time? A great story that comes to a close with this issue; you don’t want to miss it.

Uncanny Inhumans #19 (Marvel) – Maximus has the secret to create Terrigen crystals. This cannot be good for the X-Men or mutants as a whole. Or can it? The tie-ins for the Inhumans vs. X-Men event have worked very well in telling the smaller stories outside of the main battle issues, but I think Maximus’ plan will have larger consequences that will bring an end to the fighting, one way or another.

Uncanny X-Men #18 (Marvel) – So last issue was a little slower, focusing on some character development between Storm and Forge. It was an alright issue that saw the X-Men’s plan to take care of the Terrigen cloud literally blow up in their faces. This issue says Magneto will be deploying his team of secret mutant sleeper agents to aid in the fight against the Inhumans. Secret sleepers you say? That alone has me anxious to read this issue.

 

Shay

Gamora #3 (Marvel) – Gamora racks up enemies like nobodies business, she also unearths some secrets that might rock her world.

Batwoman Rebirth #1 (DC Comics) – The issue is a prologue of epic proportions and I’m here for the backstory.

Harley Quinn #14 (DC Comics) – It’s fun with some serious shade to the current political climate and some serious girl power thrown in for good measure.

 

Brett

Top Pick: The Killer Vol. 5 (Archaia/BOOM! Studios) – For those who are unfamiliar with Matz and Luc Jacamon’s epic story the short version is Frank, aka “The Killer” is James Bond for the Third World. Evil political dealings involving oil, assassinations, IMF, political jockeying, imperialism, for a political geek like me, this series has cool and depth. This is the fifth and final installment, and I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up. Will Frank find happiness? Will he go out in a blaze of bullets? How Matz and Jacamon finish the series will be interesting and I can’t wait to see what they have to “say” when it’s over.

Dead Inside #3 (Dark Horse) – A murder inside a prison… sounds like an easy case, right? Nope! The last issue ended with a shocker and this southern noir-ish crime comic has me engrossed.

The Rift #2 (Red 5 Comics) – The first and second issue feel like a classic Amazing Stories or Twilight Zone story. Entertaining and just plain fun. Like comics should be.

Super Sons #1 (DC Comics) – The team-up we’ve seen so far of Jonathan Kent and Damian Wayne in Superman has been amazing and for them to get their own series… well, I’m super excited. Having read the first issue, it’s everything I was hoping for with an energy and enthusiasm that perfectly fits it’s two young leads.

The Wild Storm #1 (DC Comics) – I’m not the biggest Warren Ellis fan (he’s hit and miss for me), but I’m intrigued to see what will happen in this re-imagining of the classic universe. The first issue is a solid start that reminds me a lot of the third volume of Wildcats. In today’s world, that’s exactly what I was hoping for.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

the-dregs-1-9Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Mr. H

Top Pick: Batman/TMNT Adventures # 3 (DC Comics/ IDW Publishing) – This comic just plainly rocks! It’s the best of both worlds. I love how well the creative team has captured the spirit and feel of Batman: The Animated Series as well as keeping the Turtles timeless in their incarnation. Very pumped for the Joker/ Shredder feud. This has just been radical!!

Detective Comics #949 (DC Comics) – One more issue to go until the big 950 celebration! This book has been on such a roll though, I’m not even noticing the mile stone. Such a stark contrast to the snooze fest going on over in the regular Batman monthly title. I am loving how Kate Kane is getting the spotlight here and I’m very much looking forward to this springboarding her into the new Batwoman title next month. Finally Bruce has an ally that feels like a true equal and not one of his students. Hey, who better than family right?

Reborn # 4 (Image Comics) – This tale between Millar and Capullo is just a breath of fun. Nothing groundbreaking in terms of story or newness but it entertaining as all get out. The art is stellar as always and I could see this as an animation property. Very cool take on the entire idea of reincarnation. This won’t have a long journey but I’m sure here for the ride.

 

Shay

Top Pick: The Dregs #1 (Black Mask Studios) – A comic tackling gentrification, homeless people confined in one area and what happens when a homeless man decides to help solve the mystery of the disappearing “invisible” population of a city divided. I’m here for it !

Justice League vs Suicide Squad #6 (DC Comics) – The end of this arc could have one team destroyed or they could join forces to create the super team that we all deserve .

Hulk #2 (Marvel) – Jen is still trying to sort it all out while returning to work and it’s getting harder to control the green beast of rage within.

Suicide Squad #10 (DC Comics) – A bonus epilogue to the JL v SS comic arc finds Amanda trying to break through and reconcile the wreckage of her dark secrets.

 

Alex

Top Pick: Divinity III: Stalinverse #2 (Valiant) – I’m like a kid in a candy store with this series; I bloody love everything about this alternate history version of the Valiant universe. To be honest, I’ve already read the comic – and it’s good – but I’m looking forward to seeing the artwork on the printed page.

Bloodshot USA #4 (Valiant) – The conclusion to Valiant’s version of a zombie story with nanomachines infecting civilians. It’s been a surprisingly strong story so far, but the only thing keeping this from my top spot is Jeff Lemire’s tendency to set up the next arc midway through a concluding chapter. Sometimes I want a self contained story…

Hulk #2 (Marvel) – The first issue was easily the best Marvel comic I’ve read in a long time.

Savage #3 (Valiant) – I could just copy what I wrote about Divinity III #2 here with some slight adjustments, but that’d be lazy (almost as lazy as not writing anything else).

 

Brett

Top Pick: Dead Inside #2 (Dark Horse) – I’m a sucker for crime comics and this murder mystery within a prison has been fascinating so far. The art is solid, writing entertaining and engaging, it’s a complete package.

Animosity: The Rise (Aftershock) – The main series is solid about animals rising up against humanity. I really want to see where this fits into all of that. A great series under the radar.

The Circle #2 (Action Lab: Danger Zone) – A different take on The Craft, the first issue caught me by surprise and the second issue is even better.

Inhumans vs. X-Men #3 (Marvel) – This has been an event series that’s worked so far. The action is solid and it’s balancing a lot going on really well.

The Kamandi Challenge #1 (DC Comics) – Tons of creators taking on a classic. The first issue kicks off this week with eleven more to go.

Toni Fejzula Talks Dead Inside Plus Design Sketches!

dins-1-cvrThe Jail Crimes Division of the Sheriff’s Office in Mariposa County investigates crimes committed inside county jails. With a limited number of suspects who can’t escape, these are usually easy cases to solve-but not this one. As Detective Linda Caruso gets closer to the heart of the case, she discovers uncomfortable truths about her friends, her job, and herself.

Perfect for fans of crime and prison television, Dead Inside is written by John Arcudi with art by Toni Fejzula.

I got a chance to talk to Toni about the series and he provided some cool sketches and art for the comic series.

Graphic Policy: How’d you come on board Dead Inside?

Toni Fejzula: John offered me to work on this at the end of 2015. I was available so I didn’t hesitate. We’ve known each other since 2011–when he saw my blog and decided to contact me. Since then we’ve been talking about doing something together. Dark Horse hired me to work on Veil (with Greg Rucka) thanks to him, then came a Lobster Johnson one-shot issue with John (subtitled The Glass Mantis) and finally this. I heard that John had this idea a long time ago in his head, so I guess when he finally decided to realize it, he thought I was the right person.

GP: What about the series intrigued you that you wanted to work on it?

full-body-05-1TF: The possibility to design realistic characters and develop them in a closed space and realistic environment, but even that doesn’t mean the approach needs to be entirely realistic. I love to feel that the characters I’m drawing have a real emotional background. As there are no fantastic elements here, you really focus on these people’s drama and you try to reflect it on paper.

GP: One of the things that stands out to me after reading the first issue is the diversity of the look of characters. When it comes to the design of each, how’d that come about?

TF: I always start emphasizing the differences between characters regarding their silhouettes, proportions or shapes. I make sure there’s no confusion between them so each of them has a unique form. I influenced by the mid-20th century modern painters (Lucien Freud. Francis Bacon, etc.), and some sculptors (Brancusi, Giacometti, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, etc.) and they all had a very peculiar sense of volume that I tried to learn from. Sometimes, to set down the style for inking, I try to imagine that I’m carving on paper, for instance.

GP: A lot of your art that I’m familiar of has more of a horror tinge to it and this being a murder mystery there’s some overlap. What do you think the two styles of story have in common as far as looks?

cover-sketch-01-1TF: Technically speaking, the tools I’m using to create the oppressive and dense atmospheres in each type of stories are quite the same, therefore I don’t feel they’re distinct in that sense. I mean, a murder is something quite horrific too, so the main difference is that the terror is based here on something real, not supernatural. It’s stronger in many senses because it’s tangible.

GP: An aspect of the art I really enjoy is how grounded it looks, not just with the look of the world, but also the clothing everyone wears. It feels realistic. As an artist, are you looking at fashion and thinking through what they’d actually wear in real life?

TF: Oh, yes, when I imagined their clothing I tried to make them realistic. John helped me pretty much in that sense too. The only aspect that’s a bit old fashioned are those women’s jeans or trousers, they’re inspired from the seventies era because I like them far more then these that I see nowadays. I chose the orange prison dresses because they seemed like the right aesthetic to me, although I’m not sure these are really used in this kind of prison. For Linda, I chose a jacket I saw Rachel Weisz wearing in The Whistleblower, by the way.

GP: The issue takes place in a prison and morgue, locations we see a lot of in movies or tv shows. What type of research have you done as far as that? Have you mapped out where everything is in the prison?

sketch-warming-up-1TF: Although I watched many documentaries, John had a very clear idea on what environments he wanted to employ, so he’d send me huge zip files with many reference images before starting every issue. My notion of this prison is completely psychological. I draw the atmosphere and lighting on what each moment of this story needs dramatically speaking.  I have a vague idea of the map of the prison because I analyzed a lot of them, but there are no fixed placements here.

GP: How long does it take you to usually complete an issue?

TF: Two months, that’s what we accorded when I started working on this. I’m still a bit slow for US market work, I know, but I’m working on that…

GP: Technology seems to have really changed how artists and writers collaborate and the artistic process. Generally, how do you work? Is it digital? Pencil and paper?

prisoners-1-1TF: My finished black and white art is usually pencils, inks, and paper because I love traditional inks. Although I worked a lot with computer art I never managed to reproduce the fluidness, precision, and manageability of traditional brushes and pencils. It’s also not that easy with layouts and pencils because I often change my methods. Sometimes I do digital pencils because these can be faster, but I control better the composition when I work on real paper. On the other hand, I love having originals …

GP: What advice would you give an artist trying to break into comics?

TF: I think that your art (because this industry is based on artistic values) is a game you must play very seriously. The game notion is about the idea that you should never lose your sense of joy and enthusiasm to discover new things in your work. The seriousness concept is referred to the idea that the only way to achieve the previous notion is through the strict professionalism and hard work.

Very hard work is the only way to get somewhere, I think. The sense of sacrifice and, most of all, the fight against your doubts are very important concepts, because you most certainly won’t have immediate compensations for what you’re trying to do. You must convince people you’re working with that you’re doing the best for the project. When you work on something that’s the only thing that matters. Do the best art you can, try new things and try not to be late. There’s nothing worse than the feeling that the person you’re working with isn’t really involved in what you’re creating together.

GP: What else do you have coming up in the new year you can tell us about?

TF: I confess I still have no specific stuff. There are some ideas and projects I want to do, but still nothing concrete, I’m afraid… I was so focused on Dead Inside since April this year that I had no time to work on new things.

Preview: Dead Inside #1

Dead Inside #1

Writer: John Archudi
Artist: Toni Fejzula

This December, Dark Horse Comics will publish Dead Inside a new creator owned series from critically acclaimed writer John Arcudi and Veil artist Toni Fejzula. Dead Inside is a twisted, bloody and unexpected crime story where a murder has occurred in the least expected place: behind bars.

The Jail Crimes Division of the Sheriff’s Office in Mariposa County investigates crimes committed inside county jails. With a limited number of suspects who can’t escape, these are usually easy cases to solve—but not this one. As Detective Linda Caruso gets closer to the heart of the case, she discovers uncomfortable truths about her friends, her job, and herself.

Issue one goes on sale December 21, 2016 and the series is already generating buzz.

dead-inside-1-1

Arcudi and Fejzula Lock Down New Series Dead Inside

This winter Dark Horse Comics is set to release Dead Inside, a brand-new creator-owned series from acclaimed writer John Arcudi and up-and-coming artist Toni Fejzula.

The Jail Crimes Division of the Sheriff’s Office in Mariposa County investigates crimes committed inside county jails. With a limited number of suspects who can’t escape, these are usually easy cases to solve—but not this one. As Detective Linda Caruso gets closer to the heart of the case, she discovers uncomfortable truths about her friends, her job, and herself.

With stunning covers by Dave Johnson, Dead Inside is perfect for fans of crime or prison television, such as Orange Is the New Black, American Crime Story, or Making a Murderer. With Dead Inside, Arcudi offers a fresh perspective on the ever-popular crime genre.

Dead Inside #1 (of 5) is in stores December 21, 2016.

Dead Inside