Tag Archives: erica j. heflin

Only a Group of Trained Carrier Pigeons Can Save NYC in Carriers

New York City is under attack and only a group of highly trained carrier pigeons can save it in Red 5 Comics’ newest all-ages action epic out this November, Carriers.

When talking alligators come out of the sewers and wreak havoc, when pirate animals invade the city looking for booty, when Mafioso falcons invade, when danger comes to New York the city needs heroes. And their going to get some, the most unlikeliest of heroes:  FABLE, GLADIUS, CHERRYBOMB, THE DARK DOVE.   They may not be the heroes New York wanted, they are the ones the city needs.

Carriers comes from writer Pilot Studios, created by Ben Ferrari and Erica J. Heflin with new stories by Heflin, and artists Jim O’Riley and Elias Martin. Look for the first five issues of Carriers monthly beginning November 2021 wherever Red 5 Comics are sold.

Carriers

Review: The Black Hand

coverA childhood brush with death left Victoria Addair with a blackened hand that has the power to slay the undead with a touch. Drafted into the Order of the Black Hand, Victoria is sent to an old mining town to slay a ghost – the Grey Boy – who haunts the mountainside. Soon Victoria learns that all is not as it appears and the secrets of the Grey Boy’s origin could save – or doom- them all.

Finally a graphic novel involving zombies that doesn’t take place in modern (or relatively modern), setting. The Black Hand combines more traditional fantasy elements, with cold ones (zombies) is a nice almost brilliant change of pace. Of course that being stated, this book has a decently, complex story featuring an almost religious group of zombie slayers, which is where the the title The Black Hand comes from.

I will admit, the armor design of the main character is a nice change of pace to the “standard,” fantasy armor for women. Of course the armor is a shared design by all the warriors of the novel. That gives the order a sense of unification, as they fight their various enemies. Even the world is well drawn despite the “cold” nature of the world.

Honestly, I wonder if they intend on continuing this series, or the world at the very least. It definitely has the possibility of making interesting stories, even if they don’t include zombies given the plethora of creatures you could replace them.

Story: Erica J. Heflin Artist: Fares Maese, Wes Locher, Jim MacQuarrie, James O’Callaghan
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Alterna Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Black Hand TP

coverA kick ass female lead? Check. Epic battles and fight scenes? Check. Swarms of angry undead? Check. The graphic novel The Black Hand is bursting with secrets to unravel, enemies to slay, and artwork that pulls you in and doesn’t let go.

Immersive imagery and intense storytelling really made this graphic novel stand out as an extraordinary tale. The main character, Victoria Addair, is someone the reader immediately wants to support and back throughout the many battles with the undead, and perhaps the more challenging discussions with the Master Rahal, who hides the truth at every turn in the name of pride and vanity.

Deployed to Master Rahal’s family estate on a northern mountainside surrounded by snow and ice, it becomes Victoria Addair’s role to protect the family, particularly Fadil Rahal, the sole heir to the family legacy. Unfortunately, the family legacy also includes a number of unhappy incidents, which has led to a strong presence of the undead throughout the surrounding area. This includes a particularly interesting and peculiar Grey Boy, who is attempting to lure Fadil to his death…or is he?

The writing, by Erica J Heflin, throughout this graphic novel is impressive. The pages can’t turn quick enough while suspense is built, leading to a fantastic finale, including hordes of undead, danger and peril. Morality is interwoven with action. Notions surrounding greed and honour are entwined with the plotline so well that they are a definitive part of the story.

Matched in quality by the artwork (Fares Maese), both the imagery and the storyline combine into a thrillingly mysterious, supernatural adventure.

Story: Erica J Heflin Art: Fares Maese
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Alterna provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: The Black Hand

THE BLACK HAND
digital collection

Digital Release
$5.99, 86 pgs, Full Color, Mature Readers
(W) Erica J. Heflin
(A) Fares Maese, Wes Locher, Jim MacQuarrie, James O’Callaghan
Available on 12/30

A childhood brush with death left Victoria Addair with a blackened hand that has the power to slay the undead with a touch. Drafted into the Order of the Black Hand, Victoria is sent to an old mining town to slay a ghost–the Grey Boy–who haunts the mountainside. Soon Victoria learns that all is not as it appears and the secrets of the Grey Boy’s origin could save–or doom–them all!

cover

Review: Wonderland #39

wonderland039In the publication history of Wonderland there have been more or less only two general outlooks for the series.  The first dealt with the Liddle family, and specifically Calie, trying to battle against the maddening influence of the horror dimension.  This led her into conflict with the various rulers of Wonderland – the Jabberwocky, the Queen of Hearts, the Queen of Spades – each of whom she destroyed, until she eventually became the White Queen of Wonderland, which changed the outlook for the first time in her stories.  In these stories she was recast as a force trying to clean up Wonderland from the myriad of insanities which plague it.  For her character, this has been a natural evolution, and a clever one under the hand of Erica J. Heflin, but there was a difference between her new and the old.  While she still dealt with problems on Earth from time to time, her main focus became Wonderland, and the series changed from that of a psychological horror, to something more like a fantastical one.

Issue #39 of this series represents the first time that the two different outlooks are presented in the same issue.  The story is told in a bit of a non sequitur to what has been playing out in recent issues, though this is also briefly touched upon.  Instead a mysterious person is stalking Calie, someone from both her past and her mother’s.  This touches on the earliest moments in this series and touches more so on the madness that used to play out in these stories.  It is revealed that this man used to be the butcher in the neighborhood where the Liddles lived, although he harbored a secret love for Alice which led him to the dark dimension.

While there is a decent setup for this new nemesis in Calie’s life, his introduction is also somewhat of an x factor.  He is built up well here, but his place in the overall story is a mystery as there is essentially no context for his appearance.  The same general level of performance is here for the series as Heflin manages another engaging story, but it remains to be seen exactly how this fits into the bigger picture, as it is still somewhat undefined.  At the very least it proves that she has an understanding of what made the series so popular to begin with and can channel that same concept into her own version of the series.  The only issue is that it is somewhat non sequitur, it will likely be incorporated into the story line in a meaningful way in the coming issues, but for the moment it is an outlier in terms of its placement in the series, and so while engaging it takes a way a bit from the overall narrative of the series.

Story: Erica J. Heflin Art: Marc Rosete
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.7  Overall: 8.7  Recommendation: Buy

Review: Wonderland #37

wonderland037That the world of Wonderland is intricately layered should not be confusing.  The series is after all based on the somewhat drug-fueled dreams of Lewis Carroll, and involved a land of whimsy and fantasy.  The modern adaptation of this featuring heroine Calie Liddle has vacillated between different inspirations, especially since the takeover of Wonderland by Calie, and the handover of the creative duties to a new creative team.  This essentially caused that it become a new series, one focused on pretty much anything, and one which has moved away from the madness inducing realm that it had started as.  Sometimes the focus on more of a sword and sorcery fantasy, and sometimes it is closer to Carroll.  The previous story arc involving the Squire and the En Passant was much more like the sword and sorcery inspiration, but the Carroll inspiration also usually remains.

This is the follow-up to the previous arc, and while it essentially continues the same story, it is evidently also somewhat different, and worthy enough to start its own story arc.  With the Squire implicated in the escape of the Terror, she decides to keep her silence.  Meanwhile other forces, these closer to the original source material, are at play in the effort to take out Calie from play.  The resulting confusion is one which no one can seem to figure out what is happening, and where the Cheshire and Calie cannot comprehend the actions of the Squire, who had apparently become their new ally.

If the series seems to be somewhat convoluted, it is because it is.  The story in this first issue of this new story arc continues what came before, but also throws it away.  The Terror was a villain that had to be dealt with, but his role seems to be relatively unimportant here.  Still this story deserves some benefit of the doubt.  After the series writer Erica J. Heflin has somewhat of a pattern by this point of creating a puzzle for herself to start with and then to sort through it carefully and meticulously by the end of a story arc to produce another stunning victory.  Such would seem to be the case here as all the pieces are in play for another amazing story, just that it is not clear how that will play out yet.

Story: Erica J. Heflin Art: Marc Rosete
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5  Overall: 8.5  Recommendation: Buy

We Talk About Wonderland with Manuel Preitano

Manuel Preitano is relatively new to the medium of comic books but he has already turned some heads primarily with his work at Zenescope.  His work has particularly been noticed in the pages of Wonderland, the sometimes fantastical and sometimes maddening realm of dreams and nightmares.  He joined us to talk about the series and its inspiration.

Graphic Policy:  Grimm Fairy Tales features Calie Liddle as its main character, and unlike many other characters in comics it has looked at her evolution from a younger age to being older.  She has undergone various changes in her appearance, but when taking on the role of the White Queen she evidently changed again.  How do you draw her differently to reflect the fundamental change in the character?

Preitano_Wonderland_pinup1bwManuel Preitano:  I was lucky enough to approach the amazing world of Wonderland gradually: first with the five issues miniseries “Clash of Queens”, which focused on the four queens of Wonderland battling each other; then, the main series, with Wonderland #33-36, which was my first occasion to draw Calie. You’re right about Calie changing a lot, and I think that’s part of the fascination of Wonderland setting. Wonderland is an unstable world that changes the people who fall into it. If you remember, in the original Alice in Wonderland book Alice undergoes a size change as soon as she gets down the rabbit hole, so this is definitely part of the Wonderland mythos. What Calie keeps all the time is her humanity, so I tried to draw her as a human being who suddenly has to deal with a wider world than she ever imagined. I had the occasion to draw her in many outfits, and I really had fun making different versions of her White Queen attire. The winter one in my Wonderland #33-36 run was a special favorite!

GP:  Calie is the queen of a land of fantasy but also based in reality on Earth.  How do you depict the character artistically to make sure that both are believable while also being the same character?

MP:  It’s her continuously changing, but keeping her humanity at the same time. The script (written by Erica Jeanne Heflin) in Wonderland #33-36 made good use of this concept, I think. We had a good variety of real world scenes and fantasy ones. In Wonderland world she commands armies, she has great powers, she faces monsters and slays them with her sword… but in the real world problems are less direct, with the solutions coming from her relationships with other people. She has different approaches to different problems, and my approach as an artist tried to reflect that, with her body language, the way she poses and so on. I hope I did a good job!

GP:  How hard is it to draw Wonderland, the realm of madness?  Do you find yourself challenged to come up with increasingly weird things?  Or is it kind of liberating as you can do whatever you want?

man001MP:  I love to draw the contrast between the real world and Wonderland, as the former tries to explain everything with logic (and this reflects in the visuals) while the latter allows way more freedom and can really contain any setting you could imagine, ready to be drawn. It’s definitely liberating, yes! Erica had me draw some wonderful things (e.g. dragons, ghouls, pixies, etc.) in her story arc, and a big part of the story was set in a huge forest. I could work this contrast between real world cities and their geometrical shapes and fantasy woods with their organic, asymmetric designs. As a huge fan of Swamp Thing, I love drawing woods, swamps, and natural settings.

GP:  Wonderland has become a lot more oriented to big cats in recent issues, with the battle of cats occurring on numerous occasions?  Do you like drawing them?

MP:  Yes! I love cats, and I love drawing cats. It always relaxes me when I have a whole Cheshire Cat sequence to draw. I’m very glad there were plenty of scenes with the character on the Wonderland related comics I worked on! Vincenzo Riccardi did a great job on Wonderland #32, where the story was really, really focused on cats!

RedRabbit_concept1GP:  Wonderland as a series seems to be venturing out from the original books and taking on the fantasy genre.  Do you have any particular inspirations when it comes to this genre?

MP:  I like to study many references before drawing something, and that’s really easy when you love the genre. They come from very different places: many French comics have visually astonishing settings, so I went through them. Among other things, video games are also a good source of inspiration, and I always try to make a mix of contemporary and old school fantasy when drawing Wonderland. Works like Sandman: Overture have been a great inspiration for the unusual settings of Wonderland, as well; I try to follow the flow, checking both classics and more modern fantasy works.

GP:  Are there any characters that stand out from a design standpoint in the Wonderland series?

MP:  I like the White Queen design a lot, but there are so many to choose from. It’s quite a colorful world when it comes to design, as many of the characters have a very distinct style. I have a soft spot for the Queen of Spades in terms of design, as she really represents the archetype of the evil queen, so I hope to see her again at some point!

GP:  The depiction of Violet as the Mad Hatter is kind of similar to that of Harley Quinn, which according to cosplayers is one of the most popular looks from comics.  Why do you think that the female jester image is so appealing?

Torment-Concept1MP:  It connects to that tradition of ambiguous, antihero characters, where you see they’re not completely evil (or they’re just crazy, so not intentionally doing evil), but they’re not good either. Harley Quinn is moved by her mad love for the Joker, and who hasn’t done crazy things for love (but not as crazy as Harley, one hopes)? Back to the Jester figure, in the Middle Ages and Renaissance there were licensed fools, people who were allowed to act crazy and criticize kings or nobles. They were allowed to tell the truth in a world dominated by strict rules and etiquette, so—no surprises here—the truth teller remains a popular figure today. Visually, characters like Mad Hatter Violet and Harley Quinn (referring to her original costume here) have a very solid look and color palette, immediately identifying them in this tradition, and this surely contributes to their popularity. I can pick a Harley Quinn costume out of a crowd of cosplayers, let’s say! The asymmetric design of Harley hints to her madness, so it’s like everything in her look talks about her inner life, which is very important in character design.

GP:  Are there any characters from the Carroll books that you would like to see introduced or reintroduced into the ongoing stories?

MP:  I love to draw monsters, so having the opportunity to draw the good ol’ Jabberwocky would be lot of fun to me!
I’ve been given the opportunity to design some creatures for the ongoing series, like Terror, the Red Rabbit, the Grinner and so on, so I’m eager to see what they’ll make me draw next time!
For the rest, Wonderland is a world with so many possibilities, so I would love to see new writers inventing new crazy concepts for the series, following Carroll’s concepts but adapting them to new times. Wouldn’t that be really fun to see? It’d be a lot of fun to draw!

Preview: The Black Hand #4

The Black Hand #4

story by Erica J. Heflin
art by Fares Maese, Wes Locher, Jim MacQuarrie, James O’Callaghan
$1.99, digital comic, series, action/fantasy, 17+

The ghostly Grey Boy enters the fray as the Cold Ones are summoned by their Master. Victoria and the White Frost finally come face-to-face as they fight for the lives of the people of the mountains. But even with the slaying power of the Black Hand at their disposal, neither Victoria nor her allies are prepared for the force of nature descending upon them.

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Preview: Wonderland #32

Wonderland #32: The Forest of Grinning Teeth

Written by Erica J Heflin
Art by Vincenzo Riccardi
Colrs by Ben Sawyer
Letters by Christy Sawyer
Edited by Pat Shand
Price #3.99
Release Date: 2/11/15

Callie Liddle is the White Queen. Now she cares for the realm that once existed to torment her family.  With the White Rabbit and a newly reformed Cheshire Cat by her side, she seeks to transform the tainted realm back to its original glory…but it will not be an easy task.

PREVIOUSLY

The Dark Cheshire was once a ruthless killer, corrupted by the madness of the Wonderland.  But now, under the rule of the White Queen, he attempts to atone for his past evil actions.  When judgment approaches, all Cheshires must answer the call of their kind.

WONDER032_cover A

Review: Wonderland #29

wonderland - covThe stories from Wonderland, as they fit into the larger Grimm Fairy Tales Universe, remain the hallmark for Zenescope about how the shared universe should be handled.  While Sela deals with a wide range of influences in her own adventures in the main Grimm Fairy Tales series, the stories surrounding the equally powerful Calie as Queen of Wonderland continue to be miles ahead in terms of quality.  In this issue Calie continues her journey through Wonderland searching for some unknown evil, while in the company of the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat, and also tying more closely into the sub-plot involving the deranged surgeon from Earth.

Drawing upon a wide range of material, this issue manages to weave it together in a presentable fashion without losing sight of the end goal.  There are influences from real history (the deranged experimentations of Nazi doctors) as well as though from legend (fairies) and those from literature (a child not unlike Mowgli.)  While the main series of Grimm Fairy Tales seems to always bite off more than it can chew in terms of its outlook, this series is still managing to hold together different elements without allowing them to either overwhelm of confuse the story being told.  In terms of the story, this is very different from the fifty-ish issues that got Calie through her mental anguish and to be the Queen of Wonderland, but series writer Erica J. Heflin clearly has an ongoing story in mind for the hero and has a way to accomplish it.  It is still mixing a bit of gore into the realm of Wonderland, but also doing so in a more organic way, sort of like cleaning up the house after a crazy party.

The end result is a solid well-put-together issue.  Fans of the series and characters thus far in the Wonderland saga will notice something definitely different in the previous few issues, but the end result is the same quality if slightly different in outlook.  Wonderland still remains one of the most intriguing ongoing series outside of the major publishers and deserves a look from any comic fan willing or eager to expand their reading interests.

Story: Erica J. Heflin Art: Vincenzo Riccardi
Story: 8.3 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

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