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Alterna Reviews: Croak #2, Adam Wreck #2, Amazing Age #2 & Lilith Dark #2

Over the past two months Alterna Comics have been publishing comics on newsprint paper, which has had the effect of dropping cover prices on these bi-monthly titles to as low as $1 in the case of The Chair, but the majority have been priced at the still ridiculously low price of $1.50. Consequently, despite Graphic Policy probably receiving some review copies, the following comics were all reviewed from the print versions that were purchased at a physical location. This had the benefit of allowing me to have a multilayered experience not only reading the comics but literally feeling the newsprint between my fingers as the distinctive smell drifted toward my nose; yeah, it’s safe to say that these gems tugged at my nostalgia for a bygone era (and bygone prices).

As already mentioned, the following comics were all purchased, and took a grand total of $6 out of my pocket (closer to $8 Canadian dollars if you need specifics), and all are worth the money I paid for them

croak 2The first of the four comics I read was the second issue of Croak (8.50/10), which can best be described as a campfire horror story given comic form. You remember sitting around a campfire telling horror stories, or did you tell them huddled under blankets with a flashlight under your chin? Which ever you did (or wanted to do) will give you an idea of what’s on offer here as the issue reveals a little more about what has befallen a group of unwitting campers.

Cody Sousa‘s writing is incredibly atmospheric and panic laden, though I may have chuckled a couple of times as I read the comic, and he effortlessly captures the sense of a truely interesting horror/thriller comic. Couple that with Francesco Iaquinta‘s art and Chris O’Halloran‘s colour work bringing the comic to a nightmarish life. I’m well and truly hooked on this series.

Up next is Adam Wreck #2 (7.75/10), a science fiction yarn about a young teenage boy adam wreck2who has been travelling through space for two years, and is now just incredibly bored. Or at least he was until his ship was attacked by space pirates and he was sent in an escape pod all by his lonesome. Michael S. Bracco is the creative force behind this series, handling both the art and writing duties for this fun and well paced story. There’s a very Han Soloesque vibe to Captain Voric as he hunts for treasure before fulfilling his end of the bargain he made with Adam to save his family. There’s not a whole lot of depth on offer here, with the comic rated E for Everyone, but that’ not to say you won’t enjoy this issue; Adam Wreck #2 is the kind of comic you’ll be able to just chill out and enjoy purely on face value. The art has a wonderful quality to it which belies it’s relatively simple colouring scheme while bringing to life the far reaches of space. You can pick up the entire three issue miniseries (when the 3rd issue is released) for $4.50, lilith dark2which is an incredible price for a story this enjoyable.

Up next is Lilith Dark #2 (7/10), a comic by Charles C. Dowd that centers around a little girl with an overactive imagination who is always seeing little monsters that aren’t real. Except… what if they are? When the monsters in the closet are real, and they anoint Lilith their queen, then you get the kind of comic that mimics almost every child’s fantasy – no matter the age of the child. Fittingly, this is an all ages comic, which makes the story super easy to follow (especially in the parts where there’s minimal narration and dialogue), as well as being quite enjoyable.

The final newsprint comic on offer from Alterna this week was Amazing Age #2 (7.25/10), written by Matthew D. Smith, with art by Jeremy Massie and colours provided by Christine Brunson. The story has echoes of Axe-Cop  in how much of it amazing age2stems from the mind of a young writer: the nine year old Matthew D. Smith. Amazing Age #2 picks up as three highschool kids have been transported to another dimension where they’re quickly confronted with the realization that superheroes exist here in a world that’s eerily familiar to them as one of their number used to create comics, the heroes of which are currently standing right in front of them. It’s a fantastic concept that is geared toward younger audiences with the plot having an easy-to-follow flow that takes you swiftly from one moment to the next, but part of me can’t help but wonder how the same concept could be handled with a slightly more mature vein (though that doesn’t mean that all audiences won’t enjoy it either).

 

As I said earlier all of these comics are worth picking up when you next visit your LCS, and with three of them being perfect for all ages, you can’t help but love the affordable entry point for those looking to get into comics.

Sitting Down For A Cup Of Tea & Some Comics: Issue One

In what may or may not become a new feature, I decided to make a cup of tea (PG Tips if you’re curious) and sit down and read a couple comics whilst I drank said cuppa. My intention isn’t to read review copies, or digital copies if I can help it, but either graphic novels, TPBs, or floppy comics. I may have read them before, or they may have been on my To Read pile for far too long, but whether this happens monthly, weekly, daily or never again will depend entirely on the time I have. Tea And Comics will be a feature designed solely to get me back to reading comics with a review in mind. I’m aware of the irony.

This week, I decided I wanted to finally read the three Alterna newsprint comics I picked up at the beginning of May, so I made myself a cuppa, put my feet up, and got started.

img_1155

Above were three comics that I read today, all first issues  of Croak, Age Of Awesome and Adam Wreck. Each comic was printed on newsprint, and cost me $1.50 a pop; which isn’t an introductory price – that’s how much Alterna’s newsprint comics are. Each mini series will run three or five issue (at least the ones I could find – there may be others that will have higher or lower issue counts.

Anyway, on to what I thought of the comics.  This won’t be a typical review, because I was consciously avoiding thinking about the comics critically – I just wanted to enjoy them, or not, as I so often did when I was a youngling, so all credits will appear at the end after croak 1my thoughts on each.

The first book I read while waiting for the tea to cool was Croak. This type of comic is usually not the kind of book I’d gravitate toward because it’s a touch more horror in nature than my usual fare. That being said, Croak has a fantastic old school feel to it that has echoes of early horror comics style of story telling, but could easily come from the feel of the newsprint – either way, I loved it. One niggle was that in places the art seemed a bit murky, but through no fault of the artist or colourist as it seems more of a printing issue, which for me added charm to the comic. If you can find this, then buy it.

With my tea cooled, and several sips taken I picked amazing ageup Amazing Age. This was the first of the two all-ages comics I picked up, and I was enthralled with it. There’s a brilliantly Golden Age sense to the comic, a feeling augmented by the opening story-within-a-story that opens the comic. The story blends a happy-go-lucky superhero feel with some heart wrenching tragedy in a smooth and genuinely emotional way. The writing show cases this dichotomy so well, and the less detailed art holds up really well on the newsprint making this a great buy for the price I paid.

adam wreckLast but by no means least is Adam Wreck a sci-fi story that features an interstellar family travelling past the known reaches of space. This is a very classic Earthling-meets-Alien style story that has the added benefit of Adam constantly griping about the lack of earthly amenities (this may sound like a gripe of my own, but it’s written in a way that you can’t help but laugh at, or empathize with, the space bound teenager). Artistically, the comic doesn’t suffer from the newsprint at all, and has  a brilliant use of colour within the story. If you’re even half curious, this is worth checking out.

I’ll be completely honest with you; these are absolutely worth a buck and a half, but if they were printed on the typical comic paper rather than newsprint then I assume that they’d be a bit more expensive, likely between $3 and $4 or so, they’d still be worth the more inflated price. However I probably wouldn’t have been drawn in as much at the higher pricing point, so I’m happy with the newsprint comics.

The large cup of tea I had made myself was finished by this point, and after having read  three pretty great comics, I realized that I forgot to take a photo of the tea and comics… so I made another cup of tea. Just for the photo, of course. Sooner or later I’ll sit down for more Tea & Comics.

Croak #1 
Writer: Cody Andrew Sousa Artist: Francesco Iaquinta
Colourist: Chris O’Halloran Letterer: Dezi Sienty

Amazing Age #1
Writer: Matthew D. Smith Artist: Jeremy Massie Colourist: Christine Brunson

Adam Wreck #1
Writer/Artist: Michael S. Bracco

Small Press Expo announces debut works from Takashi Murakami, Matt Thurber, Mike Dawson, and others at SPX 2011

Official Press Release

Small Press Expo announces debut works from Takashi Murakami, Matt Thurber, Mike Dawson, and others at SPX 2011

Bethesda, Maryland; August 16, 2011 – The Small Press Expo (SPX), the preeminent showcase for the exhibition of independent comics, graphic novels, and alternative political cartoons, announces new graphic novels and comics being debuted at the festival.. For summaries, cover images, and details of all the debuting work, please visit http://www.spxpo.com/debuts

SPX has always been a showcase for new talent and a great place to debut new works. This year’s debuts — 38 at the time of this release! — represent a diverse range of cartooning styles, narrative approaches and topics, audiences, and cartoonists.

Takashi Murakami’s Stargazing Dog, the latest bestseller by the internationally renowned designer, will be available in an English-language version from NBM Publishing. The Japanese version has sold over a half a million copies and is slated to become a feature film.

Mike Dawson debuts the graphic novel compilation of last year’s Ignatz-award winner for Outstanding Online Comic, Troop 142.

Matt Thurber introduces 1-800-Mice, an imaginative and ambitious narrative set in the imaginary city of Volcano Park, where flying mouse couriers have replaced Federal Express.

Jennifer Hayden releases the print compilation of her popular and acclaimed autobiographic online comic Underwire. The comics previously appeared on ACT-I-VATE.com..

The festival features additional debuts from: 1RODHWY, Troy-Jeffrey Allen and Jay Payne, Americans UK, Pat Barrett, Jonathan Baylis, Carolyn Belefski, Jeffrey Brown, Marjee Chmiel and Sandra Lanz, Ernie Colon, the Draw Sucka! artists, Mario A. Gonzales, Seamus Heffernan, Jeph Jacques, James Jarvis, Jim8ball, Josh Kramer, Molly Lawless, Eric Leland, Joel Lolar, Renee Lott, Kyle Magnan, Jeremy Massie, Tom McHenry, Shawn Padraic Murphy, Jamie Noguchi, Melody Often, Katie Omberg, Desiree Pittman, Peter Quach, Ashley Quigg, Ethan Rilly, Justin Rivers and Courtney Zell, Jon Reed, Matthew D. Smith, The Sequential Artist Workshop, Andrea Tsurumi, Sara Turner, Joey Weiser, Jeremy Whitley and Jason Strutz, K. Sekelsky, Robert Ullman, Yuichi Yokoyama, and Chris Yura.

Interviews and review copies may be available. Please contact the SPX press office at the number above.

About SPX

SPX is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit that brings together more than 300 artists and publishers to meet their readers, booksellers and distributors each year. Graphic novels, mini comics, and alternative comics will all be on display and for sale by their authors and illustrators, as well as a series of panel discussions and interviews with this year’s guests.

As in previous years, profits from the SPX will go to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), protecting the First Amendment rights of comic book readers and professionals. For more information on the CBLDF, go to their website at http://www.cbldf.org.

The hours for SPX 2011 are 11am–7pm Saturday, September 10, and 12–6pm Sunday, September 11. Admission is $10 for a single day or $15 for the weekend.