Tag Archives: panel syndicate

Writer Alex de Campi: Veterans, Vampires, Truth & Fiction

“If you can do comedy you can do horror”- writer and letterer Alex de Campi returns to the show to talk about her latest comics

  • Vintage pulp horror graphic novel Dracula, Motherf**ker (Image Comics) with Erica Henderson
  • Sci-fi thriller Madi: Once Upon A Time in the Future co-written by filmmaker Duncan Jones
  • Veteran action/buddy comedy Bad Karma — read it online 
  • True War Stories, an anthology of soldiers’ deployment tales by soldiers themselves.

Follow Alex on twitter

Elana’s review of Bad Karma

Review: The One You Feed #1

The One You Feed #1

With the world of digital comics expanding, it opens up greater opportunities to drop comics without a lead-up and as a surprise. That happened with The One You Feed #1, the latest comic to debut through the digital comic platform Panel Syndicate.

Set in our modern world a phenomenon has begun. As the sun goes down and moon rises individuals turn into monsters. It doesn’t happen to all and seems to happen at random. Those monsters do what monsters do and destroy and kill. That has led the survivors of the world to band together to build a walled city fueled by an artificial sun where it’s never dark. Over 350 years in the future the city, Helios, is on the verge of a new leader, a young prince named Apollo. He’ll have to travel beyond the walls, survive, and return to take the thrown.

Writer Donny Cates knocks it out of the park with this debut that creates a future fantasy world. The first chapter focuses on the set up of what’s to come teasing out that what we’re told is lies and to expect an unexpected adventure. Cates has a mission with this debut chapter and that’s to shape a world and story. The world presented is an interesting one and its taken in an unexpected direction. We’ve seen numerous “cities built to protect against the monsters” story but this blends in the classic “quest” direction. It’s also clear where the story goes isn’t what’s presented. There’s likely more about the monsters and the quest. That’s the story Cates is focused on.

There’s also something nice and different with Cates’ take. The focus on a more fantasy world makes the debut stand out. The series could easily stick to its future tech setting but a city ruled by a King and a Prince who must complete a quest has a throwback and classic quality about it. The One You Feed #1 takes a familiar story and places it in a different and unexpected setting.

The art by Dylan Burnett is fantastic. Along with color by Dean White and lettering by John J. Hill the series has a nice blend of its various aspects. The monsters are numerous and varied. The technology progression tells a story by itself. And, when we get to the end point of time that begins our story the design too tells us what we need to know. While Cates dialogue walks us through Apollo’s perspective, the art team delivers what we need to know as far as what has happened over the years as well. The art fills in the details that Apollo’s words do not.

The One You Feed #1 is an absolute get. The unexpected release of it adds to the fun of it all but the quality is the real draw. This is a future fantasy story that has a lot of intrigue going for it and teases that it’ll take us in unexpected directions. The fact it’s pay-what-you-want is a bonus (and you should pay for it). Panel Syndicate is a publishing platform who is synonymous with quality and this is another feather in its cap.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Dylan Burnett
Color: Dean White Letterer/Design: John J. Hill
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: Panel Syndicate

Donny Cates and Dylan Burnett’s The One You Feed Debuts on Panel Syndicate

Panel Syndicate has a surprise debut on this new comic book day with The One You Feed from writer Donny Cates, artist Dylan Burnett, colorist Dean White, and letterer/designer John H. Hill.

The One You Feed is a fantasy terror tale perfectly timed for Halloween.

One day, long ago, and for no reason whatsoever..the moon rose in the night sky, and every human being on the planet began to violently change into the demons that live inside of their souls. Some of these monsters were good. Most…were not. Now, after hundreds of years of these nightly horrors, a young prince, armed only with a mysterious sword named Attum, must journey into the night to face the monsters under the stars, and meet the wolf that lives in his own heart…

Panel Syndicate is a digital comics platform that allows you to pay whatever price you want! You can get the comic right now.

Bad Karma: #1, #2, and #3: Action, Feelings, and Forgiveness

Once again a black man is on death row for a murder he didn’t commit. But what if the white veterans who did the murder came forward? What if the murder was just the US military industrial complex doing what it was built for? What if the vets who were commanded to do the murder want to come clean to get the falsely accused man freed? And what if the so-called Justice System just didn’t care? 

Bad Karma is the action and feelings comic you’ve been waiting for. Written and lettered by my friend Alex de Campi and art by Ryan Howe, and Dee Cunniffe, you can find it self published on Panel Syndicate.

This series is the spiritual successor to the Hell’s Kitchen Movie Club fan comics that de Campi developed with a rotating crew of artists showcasing charmingly mundane interactions between one Bucky Barnes and one Frank Castle as they try to enjoy a regular movie night while coping with trauma. Just vets being vets. It’s warm and funny and insightful and if you’re the one person in comics who hasn’t read it yet, get on it.

Regardless of the earlier fan works, the main characters in this series feel completely fresh yet are so thoroughly inhabited they are easy to get charmed by, especially for their flaws. 

Bad Karma
Bad Karma #1 Ethan and Sully talk to Aaron. Art. Ryan Howe, Dee Cunniffe. Words and letter, Alex de Campi

These are two veterans, Ethan and Sully, who are wrestling with the pain and loss that they endured– both physical and emotional. They are working-class Boston guys (Southie to be precise) who enlisted young and fought in combat units in Afghanistan. Their friendship and history together, the way they take care of each other and try to balance out each other’s strengths and weaknesses are central.  I love the extremely honest and upfront ways Ethan and Sully address aspects of their disabilities and the subtler ways in which they don’t cope with other parts of them. 

Bad Karma

The third member of the party is Ethan’s ex-wife Cheryl. We find her trying to wrangle their kids as the only responsible person around. She’s got a quick wit and her clothes make sense. When’s the last time you saw an action story where the protagonist’s ex-wife isn’t just sympathetic but is actually someone you cheer for? Was it Die Hard? Would you believe you don’t have to turn ex-wives into humorless unfeeling monsters and nags? Who knew? (Pssssst…women knew). If you’re someone who avoids stories without women— this one has quite the woman.

Like any action story worth its salt this one has politics. Race and class shape the world and the ways it plays out in US institutions that claim to be fair but are extremely obviously unjust is central to the story. 

This comic says fuck the CIA, fuck the private military contractor CEO’s and fuck the “Justice System”. It shows how working class people are exploited and the poor are dehumanized by these systems. It shows how some men get rich from the military while others are left with trauma and unemployment. Unlike my review, this story is not didactic about it. The intrigue is rewarding.

I had the pleasure of first reading Bad Karma when it was just a film script. I read it on a flight and I was riveted to my seat. I’m so excited that this story is now going to be readable by anyone with a computer. 

This series also stands out because the art is fucking great. The art strikes the right balance of heightened cartooning and realism especially character design,  facial expressions and body language. The full character acting. The care that went into showing how someone with a specific amputation might walk. 

The environments the story takes place across are so believable. From a Waffle House to a working class Boston home to a Virginia mansion built on the bodies of the dead, the detail shines through. Not just in the background of the panels but in the voices in the background of the panels. 

The cover of each issue is a snapshot from the characters’ pasts. I don’t know if I’ve seen a comic do this before for each issue but its an excellent way to develop the world of the comic. My heart breaks a bit when I see them at bootcamp because I know what comes next.

Redemption and forgiveness are themes I see through this text. Do our protagonists trying to right a wrong absolve them in some way? Is that even what they are seeking? Are Ethan and Cheryl able to build a healthier relationship as parents even if they aren’t married? And what does Aaron Carter, the man unjustly imprisoned for murder for YEARS get out of this?

I’m on the edge of my seat for them all.

_______

I was provided free review copies but I also bought them on Panel Syndicate. 

My most recent interview with Alex de Campi on Graphic Policy Radio was about her anthology series Twisted Romance. Give a listen.

Alex de Campi, Ryan Howe, and Dee Cunniffe’s Bad Karma #3 is Pay What You Want at Panel Syndicate

The latest issue of Bad Karma is here! You can get Bad Karma #3 now at panelsyndicate.com for whatever price you want to pay!

Yes, the unbeatable team of Alex de Campi, Ryan Howe, and Dee Cunniffe are back with the latest 39-page issue of their most excellent action-thriller-comedy!

After the last issue’s events, Sully and Ethan need to get out of jail and save Aaron Carter, who’s only got two days left to live. But the one person they can call for help is going to be the one person who’s going to make the situation a whole lot worse… and the boys are suddenly no longer annoyances. They’re targets.

Bad Karma #3

Discover the Universe! When it Comes to Print in January

Image Comics will publish the Eisner Award nominated, Panel Syndicate five issue series Universe! by Albert Monteys in print for the first time this January.

The popular digital comic will be collected and available in landscape hardcover format.

Universe! features a series of self-contained, yet interconnected, science fiction stories involving alien life, robot love, corporate greed, and travel through time, space, and perception.

Universe! (ISBN: 978-1-5343-1807-6, Diamond Code SEP200102) will be a 9’25” x 6’93” landscape format hardcover and available on Wednesday, January 20 and in bookstores on Tuesday, January 26.

Universe!

Review: The Walking Dead: Alien

The Walking Dead: Alien

Fresh and fast-paced, The Walking Dead: The Alien books captures all the excitement of The Walking Dead. Originally released on Panel Syndicate, then as a “Local Comic Shop Day” special release, it’s now out as a hardcover graphic novel.

If the slowing, shuffling pacing of The Walking Dead’s narrative made you feel a bit like a walker yourself, Alien is a chance to revisit what it felt like to start reading the series. Of course, the greatest horror is that it’s only one issue. But, still, it’s an issue written by Brian K. Vaughan.

Taking place near the beginning of the outbreak, the story follows Jeff as he tries to survive Barcelona. After being rescued by the armored Claudia, the two begin to decide what the next course of action should be.

The absolute best aspect of this book is the way it puts zombies back at the forefront of the threats our characters face. It’s not bogged down with trade agreements, or putting on a fair. It takes the premise readers all know and love and puts it a new scenario with characters we don’t absolutely know are going to survive.

Obviously a great deal of credit has to be given to Robert Kirkman for everything he’s done with these stories for so many years. However, it is such a breath of fresh air to see the story through the eyes of a new creative team. The reader races through the story in anticipation, eager to recapture the sense of not knowing what would happen next. As the story is a one-shot, I won’t tell you, either.

The art by Marcos Martin is fantastic. He’s joined on gray tones by regular Walking Dead contributor Cliff Rathburn. Originally released digitally, the comic uses the turn of pages effectively to create suspense as you make your way through the story. The digital experience of going panel by panel or staring at a screen is different than on a printed page but the translation feels like it enhances things in a way. There’s an excitement and tension that flows from panel to panel not just page to page. There’s also a focus on the fact it’s early in the pandemic so the zombies are decayed as much. It’s a small detail that stands out. Rus Wooton‘s lettering is top-notch as well really delivering the tone of a scene full of excitement, somber, or the need to stay relatively quiet.

The hardcover includes sketches and notes from the creation of the comic adding a nice “director’s commentary” feel to the release and making it special. I have no idea if this was included in the previous physical release but it’s a nice addition that turns it from a floppy I’d like to a hardcover comic I’d like.

If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: The Alien is a must get. If you just like good storytelling, the team nails it delivering an emotional punch and the highs and lows of a roller coaster. Ever since it’s first release, I had hoped we’d see more creative teams given a shot to expand upon the world Kirkman created but, when your initial attempt is so good, I’m not sure they’d be able to live up to the high bar initially set out.

Story: Brian K. Vaughan Art: Marcos Martin
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn Letterer: Rus Wooton
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: AmazonBookshop

Bad Karma #2 is Out Now on Panel Syndicate

Ethan and Sully’s quest to put things right goes more and more wrong, earning them the suspicion and anger of loved ones, old colleagues, and new acquaintances, until the two men of violence are forced to fall back on the only thing they know.

Bad Karma #2 by Alex De Campi, Ryan Howe, and Dee Cunniffe is out now on Panel Syndicate. Panel Syndicate is a pay-what-you-want digital platform. The 36-page second issue is available now in English, as usual, for whatever price you want to pay.

Bad Karma #2 cover

Alex De Campi, Ryan Howe, and Dee Cunniffe Launch Bad Karma on Panel Syndicate

Panel Syndicate is celebrating traditional new comic book day with a brand new series from Alex De Campi, Ryan Howe, and Dee Cunniffe. Today sees the debut of their new character-based action/thriller series Bad Karma.

Army veterans Sully and Ethan go on a Christmas road trip to free an innocent man blamed for a mercenary job they did. Turns out nobody’s interested in the truth, but they get very interested in making sure Sully and Ethan don’t live to see the New Year.

The 33-page first issue is available now in English, as usual, for whatever price you want to pay, including 0 (zero) at panelsyndicate.com!

Bad Karma

Review: Friday Chapter One, “The Girl in the Trees”

Friday

It’s always exciting to see a new release from Panel Syndicate as you know you’ll be treated to quality. When you get a release that’s completely unexpected, it’s hard to not want to dive in right away. Friday was a surprise announcement today featuring writer Ed Brubaker, artist Marcos Martin, and colorist Muntsa Vicente. A group of talent that makes you take notice right away. And it’s good, really good.

Friday Fitzhugh—girl detective—and Lancelot Jones—her best friend and also the smartest boy in the world—spent their childhoods solving crimes and digging up occult secrets. But that was years ago. And now Friday is in college and starting a new life on her own. She’s moved on. Until she returns home for the holidays and is immediately pulled back into Lance’s orbit.

Friday is what comes next after the young adult series. The protagonists have grown up and some have made steps into the bigger world. It’s that awkwardness we feel when returning “home” after a time away.

Brubaker delivers a horror tinged debut that really focuses on the relationship between the two main characters. At its heart, it’s an experience so many of us can relate to. While the young adult version of these two adventures might be more focused on the mystery, this more adult fair is about the two characters. It’s a comic about relationships, it just so happens to have some horror elements within.

And the mystery is solid.

Friday delivers numerous wtf moments but Brubaker’s focus elsewhere won’t have you frustrated at the lack of reveals in the mystery. The scares is more of the driver about the characters, not the initial focus and point of the debut issue.

The art by Marcos Martin and color Muntsa Vicente help deliver the horror flavor to Brubaker’s relationship focus. The art is amazing with detail to guide your eye and teasing so much more. There’s a use of teases throughout as the story mixes the visual and dialogue to build the greater mystery. We’re not shown what’s carved on a tree, we get a glimpse of that and then further hints as to what it means. It’s a solid mixture of show and tell giving the comic a more prose like feel.

Martin delivers expressive characters with unique designs that tell us much about their personality. The horror elements never dive into scare territory or even that creepy. Instead, there’s a general unease about it all. Muntsa Vicente’s colors help creating a dour and morose feel to the comic. It’s winter and you can feel the coldness of the town with the color choices of blues, blacks, and whites. The use of reds and yellows too help change the mood of panel and pages helping to create an emotional ride.

Friday was an unexpected release and one that is more than welcome. It’s the start of a great mystery where the relationship between the protagonists is the main point. The emotional driver and scares isn’t what’s being carved into a tree or an old tale but how Friday and Lancelot relate to each other. It’s a brilliant next step for those who want to see what’s possible after the young adult adventures.

Purchase: Panel Syndicate

Story: Ed Brubaker Art: Marcos Martin Color: Muntsa Vicente
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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