TKO Presents: Tales of Terror brings together the series of one-shots release by TKO Studios in one entertaining graphic novel.
Story: Liana Kangas, Joe Corallo, Sebastian Girner, Steve Foxe, Alex Paknadel, Kelly Williams, Rob Pilkington, Michael Moreci, Erick C. Freitas Art: Paul Azaceta, Baldemar Rivas, Lisandro Estherren, Ian MacEwan, Kelly Williams, Kit Mills, Jesús Hervás, Jelena Dordević-Maksimović, Jen Hickman Color: Patricio Delpeche Letterer: Jeff Powell, Steve Wands, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, Chas! Pangburn, Ariana Maher, Simon Bowland
Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.
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A grieving father joins the parents of other murdered and missing children in their small town to hunt for the mysterious and potentially supernatural force that is responsible and uncovers an even more grisly conspiracy in River of Sin; a lone female game hunter gets more than she bargained for after she is rescued by a mysterious couple who receive sinister nighttime visitors known as the Roofstompers; a visceral battle for survival more than a mile under the ocean ensues in The Walk.
TKO Studios has three new TKO Shorts out this June. They can be ordered directly from TKO and comic retailers.
Children are being found dead and mutilated in the woods. Alonso fears this might be the fate of his daughter. In a desperate hunt for answers, he and the other grieving parents must take matters into their own hands. Could it be the suspected Bruja, hungry for young blood, or is there a bigger secret among the townsfolk? Discover the truth in RIVER OF SIN by Kelly Williams and Chas! Pangburn.
Far away from the pressures of being a surgeon in New York City, Cassie decides to take a solo hunting trip to Wyoming. There she is attacked and luckily rescued by a middle-aged couple living in an isolated cabin with their son. After weeks, she isn’t getting any better and she begins to question the couple’s motives and the strange nightly visits that they dismiss as the “Roofstompers.” Roofstompers is by Alex Paknadel, Ian Macewan, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.
Alice and her team of aquatic explorers are eager to study what lies beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Stationed at the Midnight Zone, 2000 meters below the surface; their supplies start to run out. In a dangerous expedition to survive, they must push through but soon realize that the ocean is more vast, dark, and mysterious than they could have ever imagined. The Walk is by Michael Moreci, Jesús Hervás, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.
Meet Pamela Evans. Much more than a typical Manhattan cab driver, she also happens to be a badass monster-fighter who wields an enchanted tire iron. Welcome to the year of her greatest adventure.
A glowing object. A voice over on the radio. Gang battles in the city. A lot of the elements from writer Joe Casey and artist Ian MacEwan‘s MCMLXXV might seem familiar but together they create a whole new modern mythology from the mythology of the past. Featuring a cab drive as the heroe, MCMLXXV is a mash-up of concepts and ideas brought together for something new that’s a hell of a lot of fun.
The issue begins with a rather mundane experience of picking up a far but delivers a voice over that’ll remind individuals of The Warriors and dovetails into a Ninja battle that’s very Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles. With gang battles like Big Trouble in Little China, and a glowing tire iron ala Mage (instead of the bat), the comic feels like it’s trying to be the Ready Player One of comics delivering winks and nods to classic franchises remixed in a way. That’s not bad at all as the comic without any of that is engaging and a hell of a lot of fun. Casey infuses a mystical adventure into it all too as we learn more through flashbacks that only makes the set up more excited to see where it goes from this debut issue.
Artist Ian MacEwan adds to it all with a artistic flair that matches the energy Casey’s writing brings. There’s over the top scenes and MacEwan captures that feeling with every single one. The humor of it all is enhanced too with the way a character is posed or a small detail that’s the punchline in a way. There’s some scenes that just nail it through a small detail like how a passenger reacts to the madness.
The comic is just a lot of fun no matter the level you read it on. It can be a simple action fantasy story staring a cabbie in a big city or it can be that and an amazing homage to so much fun that has come before. No matter which level you choose, MCMLXXV is modern fun.
Story: Joe Casey Art: Ian MacEwan Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Created and managed by Alison Sampson RIBA and Ian MacEwan, Think of a City is a project that’s part architectural investigation, part international art collaboration, it’s a mass storytelling project.
The idea is that every city has a story, and this project brings the background to the forefront delving into ideas of setting.
I got a chance to talk to Omar Khouri whose contribution “Aleppo” is a deeply layered image that challenges the viewer both artistically and a reminder of the real world horror occurring there.
Graphic Policy: Lets start with an easy question. How’d you come involved with the project?
Omar Khouri: In December 2015, Alison Sampson got in touch with me via email, introduced me to the project and asked if I would like to participate. I found it very interesting, like a slow-motion collaborative stream-of-consciousness vision of the world that I would like to be part of. A little over a year later, my turn arrived to submit a drawing and here we are.
GP: For “Think of a City” you chose Aleppo. Why did you decide to choose that city for your art?
OK: I usually tend to spend my time in the imaginary, in the possibilities of what the world might or could be, rather than is. But every now and then I take a well needed visit to the “real”, in order to remind myself that the goal of imagination should ultimately be to influence the external universe around us.
What has been going on in Aleppo, not just recently but for the past few years, is only one example of the many horrors that take place constantly around the world that i feel powerless to influence, much less stop. In frustration, I make images and stories with the hope that they might positively influence the mind of someone that will one day take part in choosing the next decision makers on our planet, or, even better, someone who will take part in creating a whole new system all together. Perhaps that way these horrors and injustice would be reduced in frequency, if it is impossible to eliminate them entirely.
Balfour’s Promise II (Gaza by Night 2014)
GP: The piece stands out to me as it feels like a patchwork mixing in destruction with complete buildings. How do you see that reflecting what’s going on there?
OK: First, having been born into, and grown up during, a 15 year long civil war in Lebanon, I learned that what at first seems to belong to the realm of special exceptional cases, such a state of destruction, fear, and tension, has to soon shift to the realm of the norm, because life has to find some way of continuing even in terrible conditions and situations. This shift brings one’s reality to a fractured and precarious state of being that teeters on the edge between normal and exceptional, not unlike a house of cards, where one has to keep moving forward with building their life but with the constant and real external threat that it might all crumble at any moment.
Second, this mix of destruction and complete buildings, combined with some of the more futuristic and scifi inspired forms (particularly in the upper third of the image), are an attempt at an extra-temporal look at the city where one can at once observe memories of its past, life in its present, and possibilities of its future.
GP: I noticed you use stars in many locations. What’s the significance of that?
OK: I’m glad you noticed that. In truth, there is an underlying geometrical structure that I used to stitch together a number of images that create this “patchwork” drawing (see the figure 1 below). It is a device that is inspired directly from the relationship between the comic book page and the panels that divide it.
In a basic comics page, the use of panels allows you to describe a period of time that progresses from the the top left panel (past) and ends with the bottom right one (future), and you can “read” this passage of time almost as if you are watching a scene in a movie (see figure 2 below). However, and this is the magical and unique thing about comics in my opinion, it also allows you to see all the panels, i.e. all the moments in this period of time at once, as if you are an observer outside the flow of time, and the past, present and future are happening together.
Now if we use a pattern such as Figure 1 to divide a page, there is no imposed temporal hierarchy to the resulting panels created and you can no longer “read” the passage of time from panel to panel, from past to future, as you could in figure 2 or any other narrative comics page. As a result, you are left with an image that represents a place in the 4 dimensions of Space/Time without the imposition of the a story that limits it to a specific timeline. Instead I am implying that multiple readings of the past and multiple possibilities of the future are simultaneously required for a better understanding of a place in the present. I also often use this same technique in my paintings of people for similar effect (see figure 3, entitled “Alpha Betti”).
Furthermore, the fact that these structures I use, whether in Aleppo (i.e. figure 1), Alpha Betti, or a number of other pieces, are traditional Arabic geometric patterns is a deliberate choice with conceptual implications as well. First, it externalizes one side of my cultural background, in the same way as the presence of an influence from Cubism and the reference to a style of cityscape drawing in Manga imply two more. Second, I use only the most basic unit of the pattern which can in theory be repeated in all directions infinitely, and all the information needed to derive this infinite pattern is already contained within the most basic unit, like a pearl of Indra’s net in Buddhist philosophy. This implies that every unit is both at the center of the universe, as well as just another normal unit exactly the same as all others. So, it is a way of looking at a specific instance while never losing sight of the fact that it is intrinsically connected to everything else, and that ultimately the goal of trying to understand one thing only has meaning if it serves to better understand everything. When we look at Aleppo, we are also trying to understand Beirut, Baghdad, Sana’a, Gaza, London, Lagos, Kyoto, Baltimore…
GP: How are comics addressing the shifting world of the Middle East? How have you seen the comic industry change over the years?
OK: The Middle East is not really shifting at all. It has been this way for decades, if not centuries. This place is, and always has been, a politically and economically significant strategic location that connects three major continents, while containing one of the most economically valuable resources on the planet. The shift is actually happening in the view and understanding of the rest of the world towards this troubled area because of the spread of the internet, media, and terrorism, which are reaching beyond our borders.
In order to discuss the role of comics in this, as well as how its role has changed over time, let us take my case as an example. When I founded Samandal Comics magazine in Beirut in 2006, Lebanon was going through a particularly tumultuous time of unrest after the start of political assassinations in 2005 and the Israeli war in 2006. Censorship had reached new heights because people feared that addressing any of the sensitive issues at hand would quickly plunge the country back into the civil war that devastated it for 15 years. At that time I was working on a dystopian story that focusses on many of these issues, and wanted a space were I can freely and continuously express my ideas and engage in dialogue with others like myself, both within and outside of the country, that have similar concerns that lie outside the allowable discourse. I decided to turn to comics for a number of reasons, one of which was that there was no comics industry at the time in Lebanon and the Arab world, which meant that the watchful eye of censorship could not yet consider it a threat to be scrutinized. In order to maintain this underground aspect of comics for as long as possible, the magazine had to also be self-published, because going through any publishing house would bring it back into the field of vision of the censor.
Cover of Samandal issue 6
With that in mind, I gathered a small group of like-minded individuals, and together we began to not only publish a periodical called Samandal, but also created an association by the same name in order to reach out to others around the country and the Arab region – through workshops, comics jams, lecture, artist residencies and more – that wish to create, read and interact through the medium of comics and foster a continuing underground industry that can progress and evolve. Sure enough, we began finding such people all over that were interested in engaging and publishing their work with us, some of whom eventually established their own collectives and publications, such as Tok Tok in Egypt, or Skefkef in Morocco. Yet even today, with the current unprecedented boom in the industry here, we remain a pan-Arab community that is still founded on collaboration and interaction.
Unfortunately, with the spread and growth of the industry in this way, it can not remain “under the radar” for too long, and the powers that enforce the status quo begin to feel its threat. As a result, for example, Samandal was sued by the government for breach of censorship laws and the “intent to create unrest between the different religions and communities” in Lebanon. The court case lasted 5 years, until we finally lost in 2015 and had to pay an exorbitant fine or spend 3 years in prison. This and other incidents like it around the region have two particular consequences. On one hand, the mainstream both inside and outside the country begin to be aware of comics and their power, so more people take interest in the medium, prompting a boom in consumption, production and analysis of it. On the other hand, this leads to the institutionalization and regulation of this art form, through the establishment of university courses, centers for comics research and archiving, more specific censorship laws, etc… so that the freedom of expression once found in it becomes gradually more and more limited. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should in anyway self-censor in order to avoid trouble: the last anthology published in November 2016 by Samandal (subtitled Behind Closed Doors) focuses on the theme of Sexuality, which is still one of the major taboos of discussion here, and quite a high priority for the censors.
Another major and obvious turning point in the comic book industry of the middle east is the series of events that are collectively dubbed “The Arab Spring”. One of the very few positive outcomes of that is the attention of the outside world that it attracts, not only to the horrors that are occurring, but also to the art scene and cultural production, thus injecting money and possibilities of wider exposure into these industries.
GP: Thank you so much for chatting. You definitely taught me a lot, it’s much appreciated.
The future: Art is illegal. Everything everyone ever posted online has been weaponized against them. The reign of the Corporation is quickly becoming as absolute as it is brutal—unless the Tomorrows can stop it. Artists, terrorists, they fight with explosives, they fight with ideas, they fight to reclaim the future we sold. This trade paperback collects issues #1–#6 of the series.
Anarchistic nihilist cyberpunk nirvana is probably the best words to describe The Tomorrows. Despite the nihilistic outlook this book possesses, there is still hope through it all. It manages to blend in this almost transhumanism idealism with a dimensional jumping concept. The only thing somehow missing is a fitting soundtrack to capture the atmosphere of the book as you read it.
The six artistist featured in this book manage to bring their own sense of style to each of their sections. The art helps to make some of the stranger things that happen in the story shine. I’m curious to know if that was originally planned to switch artists with each individual issue released. Whatever the case it worked out well as the art throughout is superb.
Story: Curt Pires Art: Jason Copland, Alexis Ziritt, Ian MacEwan, Andrew MacLean, Liam Cobb, Kevin Zeigler Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
The first “pages” of The Tomorrows TPB starts with some missives, rescue pleas, and a de facto mission statement. Instead of taking a few issues to get the reader into the story, Curt Pires uses a few pages of “found intel” to lure us in and the first couple of pages of panels to seal the deal. The one-two punch makes the reader feel like they’re part of the characters world. I found myself already invested and curious before I saw the first panel.
The set up for world presented in The Tomorrows is a bleak one, at least for us artists, creators, philosophers, and dreamers. In the world of the Tomorrows, I would be among those slated for death. If you’re like me and missed out on the first six issues of this series, this recently released trade paperback will catch you up and get you hooked on this world with little hope.
We are first introduced to Zoey, an artist in a world where the penalty for creating is death. She is lamenting a loss when Toshiro Mifune having sex with David Bowie aka Death in a Denim Jacket (not his real; name but, that’s how he introduces himself and it sounds way cooler than Claudius) barges in and saves her from these metal octa legged death robot/human hybrids. It’s one hell of a start to a very promising series. We meet our reluctant and poetically bad ass heroes and watch them ride off into the moonlight to safety on a more bad ass version of the Tron bike. Without a second, or panel to breathe, we also get to meet our villains, Atlas, Mr. Hughes and his pet project Icarus. Nothing good ever comes from clandestine corporations, corporate types in all white suits and secret projects that they can’t wait to get off the ground.
It’s one hell of a start to a very promising series. We meet our reluctant and poetically bad ass heroes and watch them ride off into the moonlight to safety on a more bad ass version of the Tron bike. Without a second, or panel to breathe, we also get to meet our villains, Atlas, Mr. Hughes, and his pet project Icarus. Nothing good ever comes from clandestine corporations, corporate types in all white suits and secret projects that they can’t wait to get off the ground.
The first ten pages of this comic are better than some novels making the rounds these days. I wasn’t even halfway through the first issue in the series and I was already all in. The end of the first issue in this collection gave me pure fire. We got to meet the rest of the Claudius’s team, Sasha and Jiro, and got some sass and tech details from their super computer Warhol. There was cyber terrorism and actual terrorism via some bomb-laden server destruction. The Tomorrows are a cross between artistic terrorists and every member of phase two of Fight Club.
We got to see the Tomorrows get kidnapped, Zoey crash in on a hyberbike to save them and we got to read Hughes monologuing. I was on the fence about the almost murder of Hughes during the rescue. Claudius stopped himself, which means that he’ll be back and more determined to wipe the Tomorrows out. But, this is a comic book and even if you have a face to face with the big baddy, you shan’t kill them because the story would end. I found myself glad and troubled that Hughes made it out of issue #1 alive, glad because there would be more to this story and to this bleak world the characters existed in and sad because I’m tired of people not killing the obvious bad guy when they have a chance. Why come back Claudius? You had a chance to kill TechHitler, you should have done it. Jason Copeland‘s art in issue #1 was basic and I don’t mean that as a dig, I mean that it was just enough to match the story. It was bleak, minimalist and dry. The visuals matched the story we were reading, the panels were a part of the story and they never broke character.
Alexis Zaritt‘s art in issue 2 was a bit off putting. It was unfortunately basic in a bad way. Everything was undefined and kind of blobish. It wasn’t pretty to look at, which was a bummer because , issue two was a series of flashbacks, action sequences and a suicide with very little dialogue or descriptions. We got to see that in the aftermath of this new world order, Brazil had an uprising in the Favellas and the Brazilian lower class took their country back and created a safe zone, with music and a killer DIY culture. There was so much that could have been to showcase this “safe zone”. Hughes did not make an appearance in issue #2 which made me wonder about how bad it was about to get when I turned the page and headed into issue #3.
Issue #3 rocked my world! There was a cell phone game update that turned kids and tweens into murder monsters and we got to visit Japan and see the evil mastermind behind their version of the Atlas Corp. We got to see a battle royal style fight in the rain and a kid straight up murder his mom at a bus stop. We also got to meet the bad ass Asian contingent of the Tomorrows. Ian MacEwan provided the artwork for this issue and it fell somewhere on the spectrum right between Issue #1 and Issue #2. Since there was more going on conversation and story wise the art glitches weren’t as jarring as they were in issue #2 because there were so many other things to take in and that added equally to the story.
The next issue in this TPB opened with what looked like the human version of the Ice King, which gave me shivers. It should have given me shivers because this was not a regular issue. This was an origin story. The story of how the Tomorrows came to be. Ice King is none other than Aldous Ellis, the man who along with the love of his life Edie, brought the Tomorrows together. We get to see how each original brick got added to the wall and watch his murder at the behest of Hughes. We learn why Claudius needs and wants revenge. The artwork in this one was done by Andrew MacLane and it was like a visual newsletter, which worked for this particular issue. It was more of a propaganda piece for the good guys and any other style would have been a stark contrast to what was going on.
Issue #5 shook me a little bit. The plot line in this issue went from being Fight Club-esque to being straight up Matrix. Someone has been creating alternate worlds and playing out the outcomes in the final showdown between the Tomorrows and Hughes and Co. By the end of this issue I was wondering if Hughes was a Hugo Weaving spin off and trying to figure out if Aldous or Claudius was Neo. The artwork was basic but, telling and there was more story here than in issue #2. This issue also included a bonus sex scene which I would have called unnecessary except for the fact the writer and artist made a female orgasm a huge event and it’s so rare for any form of male-created media to center on female sexual needs that I actually applaud the multi-page sex scene. I was also pleased that the sex scene wasn’t all boobs and male gratification. It felt more like an integral part of the story, because sex does happen, and, there wasn’t even a hint of it being a gratuitous act or plot add on. This issue also had a lot of philosophical musings on what made humans, humans which fit nicely into the story, especially when the characters 919 versions stood over their 2014 bodies.
The conclusion of this arc and the last issue in this TP tied things up in exactly the way they get tied up in the real world, with some straggly ends at the tip, begging for you to pick some more, to look deeper and to enjoy the frailty. We got to watch the Tomorrows fight their evil clone counterparts. We got to see what Hughes actually did to Edie and why Claudius didn’t and couldn’t kill him when he had the chance. We also found out that Hughes isn’t just trying to bring about an Apocalypse he wants to bring about THE Apocalypse. It’s all fun and fighting games until someone releases a parasitic cloud into Earth’s atmosphere and true love reigned supreme when Claudius broke whatever spell Hughes put Edie under to bring her over to the dark nihilist side. In the nick of time using a source code rewrite and some life hacking skills, Zoey and Claudius save the whole damn world. But, you know it isn’t over, it was all way too easy. The artwork fit in well with the story and gave us loads of dark side , light side mirror images to deal with.
Overall , this was a good read, I think issue #2’s art setback was only so jarring because of the issues that preceded and followed it. It was a place holder issue but, I felt that if we were going to have a panel heavy, bubble light, issue more time should have been spent on making those panels as tight as possible. But, in the grander scheme of this, since every other issue was so on point I can overlook it as a sophomore slump. I kept waiting for things to swing around and make issue #2 important and /or an integral part of the story but, that moment never came. I think the who arc could have survived without issue two, or maybe they could have spread it over the remaining five issues. Other than that small bump in the road, I though The Tomorrows was a great read and a solid series. I can’t wait to see more and I hope there will be many more issues to come. There are so many angles to take and story lines to follow and a battle royal between the bourgeois and the artists is something I think would be great to see.
Story: Curt Pires Art: Jason Copeland #1, Alexis Zaritt #2, Ian MacEwan Issue #3, Andrew MacLane #4, Liam Cobb #5, Kevin Zeigler #6 Story: 9.7 Art: 8.5 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review