Tag Archives: independent comics

Indie Comics Review Roundup #3: Space Marines And Boarding Schools

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s Indie Comics Roundup where we take a look at a handful of indie comics and try to work out just how accessible they are for new readers. Where possible we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in, assuming we’ve read any part of the story thus far.

Each comic will receive a both a rating of Friendly or Unfriendly as well as a score out of ten. The former is based upon how easy it was for new readers to pick the issues up; expect miniseries or first issues to be rated as friendly by default. For second or third issues, more consideration regarding the comic’s accessibility will be given for the specific issue being read rather than the series overall, but if reading a back issue will help, then that will be mentioned. The score out of ten is Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale, which is there to help you pick between issues if you only want to check out one or two.

We’d rather feature comics from smaller publishers, but from time to time you may notice an Image, Dark Horse or Dynamite book here. Ultimately it depends on what catches our eye, but we’ll always aim to spotlight lesser known comics.

All comics were provided for review purposes unless otherwise noted.


Warhammer 40,000: Deathwatch #1 (Titan) The world of Warhammer 40,000 is deep and full of history, characters and technology that simply can’t be explained in a recap page to open a four issue miniseries. Likewise there is no way someone unfamiliar to the franchise can ever hope to catch up just to read this comic, so don’t worry about it; you will feel a little confused, and maybe a touch lost, but never so much that you won’t enjoy this comic. It is just about accessible enough to newcomers to earn a Friendly rating, and it’s also a pretty interesting read to boot. Rating: 7.2

Fence #6 (Boom! Box) Funnily enough, not a comic about fences.  Fence follows a group of boys at a boarding school trying to make the fencing team. One is a prodigy, one is full of raw talent with minimal training, one is a playboy sleeping his way through the team and another is the All American athlete. Each of the characters feel fully realized, and there’s a surprisingly accurate fencing backdrop to the boys competing with each other to make the team. Even six issues in, this is still Friendly. Rating: 8

Relay #1 (Aftershock) The first issue of a new science fiction based series that seems to be positioning the traditional villains, those who assimilate worlds and cultures, as the protagonists. Relay is an interesting beast from the outset, but the comic seems to struggle as it both establishes the universe it is set in, the characters and the plot within the first issue. That said, this is still a series that has a tremendous amount of promise, and is one you really should be reading. Friendly, because it’s the first issue. Rating: 7

Grimm Tales Of Terror Volume 4 #2 (Zenescope) A single issue story in the vein of the classic horror comics of yesteryear, this is by it’s nature a Friendly comic. If you’re into b-movie style horror stories then this’ll be right up your alley. With a knife. Waiting for you…. Rating: 6.8

 

 

Indie Comics Review Roundup #2: Fresh Starts

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s Indie Comics Roundup where we take a look at a handful of indie comics and try to work out just how accessible they are for new readers. Where possible we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in, assuming we’ve read any part of the story thus far.

Each comic will receive a both a rating of Friendly or Unfriendly as well as a score out of ten. The former is based upon how easy it was for new readers to pick the issues up; expect miniseries or first issues to be rated as friendly by default. For second or third issues, more consideration regarding the comic’s accessibility will be given for the specific issue being read rather than the series overall, but if reading a back issue will help, then that will be mentioned. The score out of ten is Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale, which is there to help you pick between issues if you only want to check out one or two.

We’d rather feature comics from smaller publishers, but from time to time you may notice an Image, Dark Horse or Dynamite book here. Ultimately it depends on what catches our eye, but we’ll always aim to spotlight lesser known comics.

All comics were provided for review purposes unless otherwise noted.


 

There’s a few first issues this week, so to avoid a repetitive statement at the beginning of each blurb, just assume they’re all Friendly.

A Walk Through Hell #1 (Aftershock) Be prepared for a comic that  has heavy societal undertones and an underlying sense of dread that permeates from each and every page. This issue won’t knock your socks off, but it will bring you back for more – this series promises to be a slow burn into a fantastic story. 8/10

Coda #1 (Boom!)  In a fantasy world where magic has dwindled, there’s a lot of story here, and the pervading feeling that there is a lot more going on than the surface story alludes to. The immortal, yet decaying dragon, the pentacorn, and an odd sense of order within the chaos are just a handful of the reasons to pick this up. It’s a comic with layers that will reward those who have the patience to spend a half an hour or more within the comic’s pages. 8.3/10

Kino #5 (Catalyst Prime) Don’t be fooled by the fifth issue moniker, here. You can pick this Friendly issue about a man trapped within his own mind and enjoy it more than you’d expect. I sure did. 7.6/10

Survival Fetish #1 (Black Mask) An interesting start to a new story, and one that is nothing like I expected. Going into this comic expecting a horror story, I left after a twenty odd pages of expositionary dialogue and plot but nary a traditional horror trope in mind. That said, this is still an uncomfortable read, and one you should at least thin about picking up. 6.8/10

Wasted Space #1 (Vault Comics) Another first issue, another comic that is as Friendly as you’re going to get to start reading a series, but is this a comic you should be reading? Too bloody right it is. An opening that follows a lot of the typical science fiction and fantasy tropes of a man who ha a past and wants to be left alone… and yet it never once feels like a rehash of other stories. A wasted space this certainly isn’t. 8/10

 

Indie Comics Review Roundup #1: Pirates & Paperboys

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s Indie Comics Roundup where we take a look at a handful of indie comics and try to work out just how accessible they are for new readers. Where possible we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in, assuming we’ve read any part of the story thus far.

Each comic will receive a both a rating of Friendly or Unfriendly as well as a score out of ten. The former is based upon how easy it was for new readers to pick the issues up; expect miniseries or first issues to be rated as friendly by default. For second or third issues, more consideration regarding the comic’s accessibility will be given for the specific issue being read rather than the series overall, but if reading a back issue will help, then that will be mentioned. The score out of ten is Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale, which is there to help you pick between issues if you only want to check out one or two.

We’d rather feature comics from smaller publishers, but from time to time you may notice an Image, Dark Horse or Dynamite book here. Ultimately it depends on what catches our eye, but we’ll always aim to spotlight lesser known comics.

All comics were provided for review purposes unless otherwise noted.


 

The Last Paper Route #2 (Decent Comics) Having read the first issue quite some time ago (which I had picked up at a convention), I’m relatively unfamiliar with the comic. Thankfully, it’s easy to pick up what’s happening in a comic that reads like a classic 80’s action movie. It’s cheesy, over the top and far from subtle read, but The Last Paper Route is very enjoyable. You’ll love this if you want to escape for a few minutes (plus there’s a bonus or two in the last ten pages that ramp up the value for money). A Friendly second issue that is well worth looking up. 7.8

Sea Of Thieves #2 (Titan) Pirates hunting for treasure is the easiest way to sum this up, and assuming you’ve seen Pirates Of The Caribbean  then you’ll be familiar with the madcap craziness on offer here. Although the comic can be read by those who missed the first issue, expect to just go with the flow before you get the gist of what’s going on. Technically a Friendly comic, and it’s not half bad. 6.8

This Is A Taco An illustrated book more than a comic,and some would say it’s a book for kids upon first flicking through it, and they’d not be too wrong. Obviously a Friendly book, this was a very quick and beautifully illustrated read for all ages about a squirrel named Taco. 7.0

Supermansion #1 (Titan Comics) Another Titan published comic, Supermansion is a Friendly yet utterly stupid comic. Hovering the line between funny and offensive, this superhero piss-take isn’t a comic for kids, and depending on your humour preferences it may not be for you. I’m not sure if the comic is trying to cross the line because it thinks its funny, or it is trying to be funny and is accidentally crossing the line. Either way this isn’t anything I’ll be rushing to read again.

Webcomics Weekly: Hyper Epics

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s spotlight on webcomics, where we take a look at one of the many comics available on the web: Webcomics Weekly (you shouldn’t be fooled by the “weekly” part of the title, however, the feature may happen more or less frequently than that). We’re defining webcomics as any comics published online for free consumption by the general public that doesn’t require a  subscription service.

This week we’re taking a look at Hyper Epics, a website that hosts multiple different three page stories. The folks behind the site were kind enough to answer a few questions for us about the webcomic below.

Graphic Policy: In a nutshell, can you tell us what the strip’s about?

Tom Hoover: Hyper Epics is home of the 3 page sagas, where each story is brief yet memorable and has some level of scope (and original music!).  In an age where it often takes several months to tell a complete storyline, we took on the challenge of creating epic tales that are complete and stand on their own in just 3 pages.  Thus, it serves as a destination where readers can come to and be inspired without having to invest their time and money for a prolonged period of time.   

We tackle a number of genres, timeless themes, and sometimes take detours simply for a bit of madcap fun.  

Readers can also expect an experience that is acceptable for nearly all age groups, as we do not promote excessive violence, nudity, or vulgar themes in our stories.  There is enough of this elsewhere and in ample numbers.   

Thomas Tuna: One of the goals of our website that was outlined by Tom Hoover right from the start–and one I heartily embrace–is to simplify the comic-book experience for a whole new generation of comic book enthusiasts. I, perhaps, have a better empathy for the “Golden and Silver Ages” of Comics, simply by being older and having a first-hand appreciation for what it once meant to plunk down a shiny dime (yes, all that four-color magic for just 10 cents!) back in the early ’60s.

Comic book stories were magical then, with the creators striving for a real emotional connection to their readers. We’re doing this again here and now with our three-page Hyper Epics. It’s a real challenge for our writers and artists to tell a compelling story within this framework. But it’s also so rewarding when the job is done right and someone out there enjoys it.  hyper epics sc.PNG

GP: How often do you update?

TH: We typically add new stories 1 to 2 times a week, and we also have other areas of content that we maintain, such as interviews with industry veterans, our Hyperspace column, and more.  This frequency will increase as we add more staff and hopefully some level of funding.

GP: How long have you been producing the strip?

TH: We launched in January of 2018 and have already posted an impressive lineup of diverse and engaging stories since our debut.  The passion in which we have taken this on is evident by the outpouring of creativity we have produced in such a short time.  Our talented artists and composers have really stepped up and are delivering on time and with originality.

hyper epics hawk.PNG

GP: Where did the idea for the strip come from?

TH: Perhaps I had grown weary with the lack of morality tales in our pop culture.  Or maybe it was that I found many of our entertainment choices were too aggressive and laden with their own agendas.  However it came to be, the spark formed for a destination of adventure and inspiration, where heroes continue their eternal struggle against the evil forces of the universe. I think it is important, especially for younger readers, to see that not everything in our realm is wrapped in shades of gray.   It’s a vision that not everyone may embrace due to what they have grown conditioned to, but for those that do appreciate it, the hard work will be well worth it.  

Below you’ll find another example of one of the comics posted to the site, The Last BelieverClick on any of the images in this feature to be taken to the rest of the comic.

hyper epics tb.PNG

 

 


If you’d like to have your webcomic featured here, then drop us an email.

Underrated: Your Local Comics Scene

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Your Local Comics Scene


 

In a slightly different than normal entry to this column (read I forgot to write one and am instead repurposing something else) I wanted to take a look at something that most of us either ignore or are blissfully unaware of, and that’s the comics being published in your local area. Obviously your definition of “local area” will vary depending on where you live; New York City may have a much smaller local sphere than my hometown of Exmouth in the South of Devon, England. The local scene there could more reasonably stretch across the entirety of the county of Devon, much like how I’d consider Atlantic Canada to be my current local comics scene now rather than any specific city or province within the region simply due to the volume of independent comics that I come across. But regardless of the size of your local area, my question to you, dear reader, is how active is your local comics scene, and when was the last time you actively sought out local-to-you comics at your Local Comic Shop?

I’ve found a couple of really interesting stories that way (some are also available as webcomics – such as this one), and some… less interesting. But the thing is, because they’re created by people who visit the same shops as I do across the region, I wanted to give them a shot. And I don’t regret doing that with any of the comics I’ve picked up over the years, whether they are from my region or local to an area I have traveled to. 

There’s a chance that your local area may not have anybody actively creating comics for the mass market, but you can probably find a small pamphlet like comic produced locally in a small corner of the shop or a local convention. And if you do find one, then why not check it out? You’ll be supporting local talent, and who knows? Maybe you’ll find your next favourite series…



That’s all we have for this week, folks. Come back next time  when there’s something else Underrated to talk about.

Black Comic Book Festival Kicks Off the Season

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Con season for comics starts with the Black Comic Book Festival, held January 12-13, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located in Harlem, NYC. Now in its 6th year, BCBF is a free event that has grown into one of the premier destinations for creators and fans of Black Comic Culture to come together.

While Friday is a subdued day, it started the con by welcoming local schools for a morning trip to come experience Black and Latino geek culture, where they learned a bit about the craft and got some insight to the source materials of their favorite comics and cartoons. In their opening remarks BCBF Founders Jerry Craft and Diedre Holdman told the kids that they created this event because “We wanted you to know that there are people like you creating Heroes.“

Like most cons, there were vendors, two full days of panels and colorful cosplayers strutting about, but this celebration was extra special with all the excitement around the upcoming Black Panther movie and Black Lightning tv show. And with that excitement, many panels that address diversity, and not just the problems, but the solutions and benefits of proper representation in media. Speakers gave solid reasoning and understanding of the needs for more diversity behind the scenes, on the page, on the screen, and the power to help shape that goal with our purchasing power.

BCBF also had a lighter side, with more space for independent creators fans had plenty of opportunities to cop some great reads, I know I spent a pretty nickel. Friday capped off with a special featurette from the makers of the Black Panther and BCBF sponsor Lexus, which was followed by Schomburg Director Kevin Young interviewing one of the cast from Black Panther, actress Florence Kasumba, check out GP contributor Elana Brooklyn’s video after this. And Saturday saw the fan favorite Cosplay Showcase, a colorful expression from the Fans who are passionate about their favorite mediums.

This small con still has some growing pains, but it keeps pushing in attendance and star power, spilling out of those marginalized shadows, and making a space for all creators and fans to truly let their blerd flag fly, and I’ll be there to salute next year.

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George Carmona III, is an Artist/Designer/Writer, former Milestone Media Intern, former DC Comics paper pusher, book lover, lifelong comic geek, and is the author of the DC Super Friends Joke Book from Penguin Random House. Follow him on Twitter @GCarmona3.

Review: Farlaine The Goblin #5

A couple of years ago, a comic fell into my lap from an independent studio that was, up until that time, nowhere near my radar. And then I met Farlaine.Farlaine5-Normal-Cover.jpg

Published by Studio Farlaine, Farlaine The Goblin is a series that can (and should) be read by anybody, regardless of what issue is your first. Each comic is a standalone story that follows a goblin tree shaman by the name of Farlaine (pronounced Far-lin) and his companions, a robot named Tink and Farlaines’ friend Ehrenwort the tree as they travel the lands looking for a forest to call home for Ehrenwort. After years of searching, there is only a few lands left in order to find a forest within which to plant Ehrenwort. The brilliance of this premise lays in its innocent simplicity; even though Farlain The Goblin #5 isn’t the first part of this story, it can still be read and enjoyed regardless of whether you’re steeped in the series history, or if you just want to check out something new and different.

The comic clocks in at just under fifty pages, and is as effortlessly charming as the goblin himself, with Pug Grumble’s joyous delivery and willingness to explore concepts that are wonders of the imagination; this book reminds of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series in that some of the ideas within this world shouldn’t make a lick of sense, but under Grumble’s masterful hand not only do they (still not really) make sense, but you don’t want to worry too hard about how they’d work. There’s a sense of innocent wonder here, with the author’s willingness to embrace the magical fantasy worlds created in his mind without over explaining irrelevant things like time and space the reader is free to just let their mind wander through this glorious black and white masterpiece.

The challenge with any black and white art is to convey the detail, texture and shade through only two colours – and that’s especially true with a book that has such a vividly imaginative story. Thankfully, the art is incredible. The way Grumble is able to make the subtlest of changes in the way the little goblin’s eyebrows are drawn to give him an entirely different emotional response is always a joy to see. Yeah, I love this series. It’s always such a pleasure to read.

If you do want to start the series from the begining, or you’re not sure this wonderful comic is for you, then there is a free pdf of the first issue available at Farlaine‘s websitehere. Once you’ve read that, you can also order the previous issues online, here.

Farlaine The Goblin #5 is another brilliant chapter in the goblin’s journey to find a home, and it’s one that you really need to check out. There is no reason for you not to be reading this. This issue is available now, with the sixth on the way soon

Story: Pug Grumble Art: Pug Grumble
Story: 9 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5
 Recommendation: Buy

Studio Farlaine provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Emerald Comics Distro Gives an Update on their 2017

In March 2017 we brought you the news of Emerald Comics Distro, a new indie comic distributor. Started by Anne Bean, Emerald Comics Distribution hopes to fill a “much-needed distribution gap” for independent creators in Seattle.

To kick off 2018, Emerald Comics Distro sent out an email with an update as to where they stand… and things seem to be good!

In 2017, Emerald Comics Distro served 49 creators and ended the year with 122 items in its catalog and worked with 20 shops in Seattle, Tacoma, Mill Creek, Shoreline, and Portland. You can find a map of all of the shops online.

In 2017, the distributor announced in their annual report that in 7 months of operation it has 49 clients, 122 items in their catalog, 20 shops, 1,477 total books put into shops, and $5,680 given to creators. Not bad at all.

In 2018, the distributor plans to expand into a few more bookstores and comic shops in the Pacific Northwest and also continue to accept work into the ECD catalog.

However, the big project is working on a sustainable mail-order worldwide distribution. This is still in the planning phases.

Fantom Comics Launches InkBot: A Monthly Indie Comics Subscription Box

Washington, DC’s Fantom Comics has launched a new comic subscription box focused on indie comics, InkBot! InkBot is a monthly subscription service that delivers small press and self-published comics directly to your door. The Fantom Comics staff scout out the best small press comics they can find, package them up, and ship them off to subscribers each month so you don’t have to spend your money and time hunting for them.

The store is hoping to get 500 subscribers to get the “kind of low printing costs that will make this work.” Once that number is reached, they’ll move forward and to make it happen, they’re offering a big discount through Indiegogo.

The box will provide the type of comics usually not found in comic shops and will give about 50 small press creators each year the exposure in front of the box’s subscribers. The box also will provide small press creators and helps the Fantom staff through a profit-sharing venture.

We’ve already backed it ourselves, so expect an unboxing video when we get the first one in our hands.

The Comichaus App Has Launched

The Comichaus App is dedicated to indie comics. For a subscription fee of £3 a month (£30 a year) you can:

  • Get access to stream and discover all the indie comics in their catalog
  • Save as many of the comic books offline as your device storage will allow
  • Search by title, creator, genre, and publisher
  • Discover more about creators
  • Support creators – 50% of advertising and subscription revenue will be split with creators based on how many times their books are read

The Comichaus App will work on Apple/iOS devices listed here, and Android/Amazon handsets and tablets running android version 4.4 and above. Kindle store availability will be very soon!

Comichaus wanted to create a model that was beneficial to the creators/publishers and one that would also be self sustaining. The adverts on the app are non intrusive but will mean they can generate income to go back to the creators and publishers, whilst also covering the running costs of the app itself. Members can opt for the £5 a month ‘No Ads’ subscription if they wish.

Anyone can contribute to the Comichaus database. Whether you want to add/amend data on your favourite mainstream books – or you are an indie creator/publisher wanting to add your own. For any new additions simply go to the top right hand corner of this page and click ‘add to database’. Once this database listing is approved your comic book can be uploaded to the Comichaus App.

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