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Review: Fear Case #1

Fear Case #1
Fear Case #1, cover by Duncan Fegredo

Matt Kindt and Tyler and Hilary Jenkins are tapping into some True Detective vibes with Fear Case, the team’s new fantasy horror book for Dark Horse. To tie it only to that show, though, does a disservice to the range of ideas unleashed on this story. There’s a dark fantasy undercurrent to the plot that looks like it will grab hold as the comic progresses and there’s a Philip K. Dick reference in there that provides a big hint as to what’s coming. What’s certain is that this story has the potential to be among many ‘best of’ lists come year’s end.

Fear Case #1 focus on two Secret Service agents, one a New Age enthusiast with a love for speculative fiction (called Winters) and the other a more old-school agent that’s not keen on entertaining fantasies (called Mitchum). They’re on the last three weeks of a mysterious case assigned to them concerning a strange box that’s been seen in some of the world’s most enigmatic tragedies. It’s a case that’s eluded many other agents, driven some to madness even. It’s because of this that those who get the case have a one-year deadline to solve it, if they withstand it.

The setup is clean, enticing, and beautifully presented without really getting bogged down by insider shop talk, which tends to make reading procedurals and detective stories a bit cumbersome sometimes. Kindt’s dialogue smoothly transitions from light exposition to character development and it does look like one won’t overpower the other, something that tends to hound True Detective.

Tyler and Hilary’s art, an illustrator and colorist combo, keeps the tone dark and heavy but not to the point of making the book feel like a walk through hell to get at its mysteries. Their approach to tone is not meant to oppress the reader rather than to offer a counterbalance to Kindt’s lively and quick dialogue. They play off of each other nicely. It shows how synchronized this creative team is on this book.

Fear Case
Fear Case #1

The mystery behind the fear case has an air of conspiracy theory behind it, making the interaction between Winters and Mitchum unravel as a clash of worldviews. Winters indulges the more mystic elements of the case while Mitchum is willing to go beyond his comfort zone but only within reason. It’s a refreshing state of affairs that thankfully doesn’t result in the two characters sniping at each other from opposite extremes. They prefer the grey area, perhaps alluding to the possibility no clear answer will come from the case and that a lot will be left up to interpretation.

There’s enough in Fear Case’s first issue to justify following the series at a monthly basis. This is the kind of comic one desperately wants to continue reading once an issue is done. It just comes off as a very good pilot episode for a TV series, like the first episodes for Fringe and The X-Files. Much like those shows, Fear Case hooks you in immediately and I doubt you’ll put up much of a struggle given how good it is.

Script: Matt Kindt Art: Tyler Jenkins Color: Hilary Jenkins
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy and brush up on your Philip K. Dick

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Outer Darkness/Chew #1

Outer Darkness/Chew #1

There’s something special about crossovers between non-superheroes comics. Usually, a Marvel or DC crossover comes with expectations of event-like conflicts and big action set-pieces. Creator-owned crossovers, on the other hand, tend to live and die by the strength of their characters and the culture they carry from their own comics. This is definitely the case with Outer Darkness/Chew #1, from John Layman, Afu Chan, and Rob Guillory, a coming together of sci-fi, horror, and comedy of epic proportions from two books that rival each other in terms of the sheer storytelling madness they produce.

The comic starts with the crew of the Charon (from Outer Darkness) engaging with a Cibulaxian alien ambassador that only engages in conversation over food. No external communicator can help in the situation and the chef responsible for comms meets a gleefully violent and premature end early on. The captain of the Charon, Captain Rigg, is then forced to resort to plan B: traveling in time to bring Tony Chu in, a Cibopath that can dive into the memories of the things he eats (from Chew).

Outer Darkness/Chew #1 requires prior knowledge of both series to fully appreciate. Writer John Layman, who wrote both series, basically says as much in his letter to the fans at the end of the issue, when he talks about how the book approaches the Chew parts of the book as a kind of coda to the original series (which ran for 60 issues from 2009-2016).

From the Outer Darkness side of the equation, an understanding of the concept is pretty much all you need, which is basically made up of bits from The Exorcist, Star Trek, and Event Horizon. Honestly, I would recommend reading both series as they are very good on their own and are well worth the price of admission. Maybe then come back to the crossover.

The story succeeds in making both the Chewverse and the Outer Darknessverse converge as if they were naturally meant to since their inception. It even makes it a point to recognize changes in how the characters look within the story once they crossover.

Rob Guillory, co-creator of Chew, illustrates his part of the story in the original style of the book with Afu Chan, co-creator of Outer Darkness, doing the same. When Tony Chu is brought aboard the Charon, Afu Chan takes over and the characters acknowledge the change in their looks. They are baffled by it, even.

It’s a bit of meta that builds up the crossover quite well and makes each character recognize the distance between their realities. Chew characters transition well under Chan’s pencils and they still seem like they are from another place, which adds to the clash of stories between the two universes.

Layman’s script does a good job of balancing both worlds, especially in terms of tone. Outer Darkness is a more serious tale than Chew and yet they each keep their identities intact throughout the issue. One’s humor doesn’t drown out the other’s horror. This is something that rarely manages to carry over in this type of story, but Layman pulls it off. Let’s see if it manages to sustain itself over the entire arc.

There’s a lot to like about Outer Darkness/Chew #1, especially for fans of the two series. In fact, I’d say that’s precisely the audience it’s seeking. New readers will probably struggle a bit to make everything click, but there’re still enough things going on in the story that anyone could latch onto and follow. There’s just a lot of fun to be had here, and the promise of more Cibopaths in space is always a good thing.

Script: John Layman Art: Rob Guillory and Afu Chan
Story: 9 Art: 10 Overall: Buy and then read all of Chew

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Rosarium Launches New Campaign for Diverse Comics and Books

Indie scifi novel and comic book publisher Rosarium Publishing announced this week that it is raising funds via crowdfunding to help pay for production of a minimum of 10 more titles this year. The campaign, entitled Rosarium Publishing: The Next Level, has set out to raise $40,000 on Indiegogo to cover the costs of offset printing and marketing of fiction in the  science fiction, children’s, crime, steampunk, satire and comics genres.

Rosarium Publishing is an independently run, minority-owned publishing company specializing in speculative fiction, comics, satire and a touch of crime fiction. The company was founded in May 2013 by science fiction/fiction writer Bill Campbell with a focus on multicultural stories told from the voices of diverse artists. The publisher currently supports over 40 artists and writers from all over the world and currently has over 18 fiction novels and over 20 comic book titles. You can find Rosarium Publishing titles at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Comixology and PeepGame Comix. Bill Campbell had one goal when he started Rosarium: to bring true diversity to publishing so that the high-quality books and comics the company produces actually reflect the fascinating, multicultural world we truly live in today.

Rosarium-bill

Bill Campbell – Founder, Rosarium Publishing

 

 

“I believe it’s imperative that people are able to tell their own stories. They can build their own tables rather than ask for a place at the table.” –  Bill Campbell, founder, Rosarium Publishing

 

 

 

Rosarium has grown from a company of one to a full roster of over 40 artists and writers of different nationalities, genders, orientations and religious beliefs. From a story about a day walking vampire bitten as a slave to science fiction stories told by Latin American protagonists to a Southeast Asian Steampunk anthology to an anthropomorphic retelling of the Iranian revolution as told by a fish, Rosarium is redefining diversity in literature by simply publishing well-written stories, with stunning artwork by people who reflect the identities and cultures of the larger population.

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In just 3 short years, Rosarium has been able to produce several critically-acclaimed projects such as Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond, Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, The SEA Is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia and APB: Artists against Police Brutality. Rosarium titles are a being read in high school and college classrooms across the country and the company has been mentioned, reviewed, and featured in literary publications such as Publishers Weekly, Chicago Tribune, Library Journal, Locus, Boston Globe, Washington Post, countless websites and blogs as well as The New York Times. Projects such as the indie comic DayBlack and the crime novel Making Wolf have also won literary awards. Rosarium has been able to accomplish all this through hard work, fan support and print-on-demand.

Now it’s time to Level up.

Print-On-Demand is the choice for many indie publishers starting out that can’t afford the upfront investment of printing, have low print runs or are looking for distribution. Rosarium, whose books are now distributed to bookstores by IPG, now has the opposite problem. They have been so successful that demand has now dictated that a switch to offset printing is more cost effective. Bu the company has to foot that bill themselves. If the Rosarium Publishing: The Next Level Indiegogo campaign is successful, the company will be able to print thousands of books and continue their mission to further their quest for diversity in publishing with the high-quality work they are known for.

So Rosarium’s fate is really up to us, the fans, those of us who want to keep seeing diverse characters in comics and fiction. Those of us that understand that diversity doesn’t mean just adding one Black guy to a storyline, it’s up to us, the people that are interested in reading stories written by marginalized voices, to support this project and this indie company.

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To contribute to the Rosarium Publishing: The Next Level Campaign go to http://bit.ly/rosariumpub

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@theblerdgurl is a commercial film/video editor by day and comic book reading, anime watching, TV live tweeting,  K-Pop listening, blog writing, geek gurl by night. She is on a mission to shine a light on indie, female and comic artists of color and highlights them and their work on her blog theblerdgurl. She currently lives in a century old brownstone in Brooklyn with 2 cats who plot her demise daily. You can also find her on twitter, facebook, instagram and tumblr.