COMIC BOOK REVIEWS: INDIE COMICS TO LOOK OUT FOR!
Much like music or television, the comic book industry is full of all types of comic books. Most come from big time publishers like Marvel or DC, but there are also some from smaller publishers such as Image, IDW, Dark Horse, and Valiant, among others. However, there is an entire new community of independent comic book creators emerging thanks to the digital era.
These creators are finding ways to get their book together and produced without relying upon a bigger publishing house. Comic book creators can now market their product via Amazon, Comixology, Drivethru, and even their own self-designed website (as long as they set up an online-store). To help fund and produce these books, creators might pay their teams out-of-pocket, or simply be a one person, all-inclusive creator. Another avenue many creators have taken too is crowd funding. Sites like Patreon, Gofundme, and the big one -- Kickstarter -- have all been essential in helping creators achieve success in funding their books.
What I’d like to do here is give a quick heads up to many comic lovers about a few books out there either currently in the funding process or on sale from creators that aren’t tied to any known publishing house. Hopefully you do like I did, and take a chance at checking out these books which might end up being something you truly love and never would have found sticking with the more “mainstream” publishers. So take a look and if anything jumps out at you I suggest taking the plunge and picking up an issue!
The Elvis Adventures #1
STORY: Kevin Cuffe, Bob Frantz ART: Rachel Ordway
Where to Buy: Comixology
Synopsis: Elvis vs Aliens: Devil in Disguise! In a classic case of mistaken identity, an invading alien force mistakes the King of Rock and Roll for the King of the planet Earth. For their troubles these aliens get a smash hit butt whipping courtesy of the kung fu fighting King. Problem solved, right? Far from it. These sneaky aliens have a trick up their space sleeve and unleash the ultimate terror.
Review: This is a totally off the wall comedy series that doubles as a love letter to Elvis fans! The dialogue is full of fun Elvis song lyric puns, and tons of over-the-top action from the King of Rock and Roll! Kevin Cuffe and Bob Frantz have taken care to craft an extremely fun story that, at 31 pages, never gets dull! Rachel Ordway’s art style is very reminiscent of Natasha Allegri (Patsy Walker Hellcat) or Kyle Baker (Circuit-Breaker). It’s an extremely cartoony style, but absolutely works perfectly for this setting. If you love Elvis, or just ridiculous type stories then I highly suggest giving this series a shot.
STORY: Tyler Carpenter ART: Trevis Martinez, Tyler Carpenter
Where to Buy: Insane Comics
Synopsis: While running through the city, Detective Ace Carter shoots a criminal only to have him transform into a demonic monster. Ace immediately seeks out the help of his father; a priest. His father informs him of the group known as F-666 which goes after such demons and soon find out that they have opened the portal to Hell.
Review: Demons has a premise that sort of has been seen before, you got a main character (Detective Carter) who suddenly seems able to see creatures that others cannot (in this case, Demons). The fun part of this story though is, instead of what could easily amount to issues upon issues of the main character just simply not believing his own eyes, and tons of exposition -- writer Tyler Carpenter streamlines all of this through some quick knowledge about these creatures given by the character's father, a priest who turned clergy after a mysterious hiking trip. This hiking trip involved some sort of paramilitary group which seemed capable of killing these demons (posing as regular people). It might be a story that’s been done before, but there is some potential here to really stand out. Artist Trevis Martinez is a bit rougher to take in for my taste, personally. The style comes off a bit too “rushed” and anime-esque. It can cause some issues with panel placement and perspectives, but after getting past the first few pages and sinking into the story it stopped being a bother. Possibly with some more time with these characters and world, Martinez might get more comfortable, and we can see an improvement in the art. Still, the book shouldn’t be overlooked, and for horror/sci-fi fans this might be right up your alley!
STORY: William Satterwhite, Robert Jeffrey II ART: Jamar Logan
Where to Buy: Indy Planet
Synopsis: A dark city in need of a hero, a young man with the power to be that hero -- Stealth, a new hero for a new millennium! Blessed with amazing powers and abilities after an accident that should have taken his life, a personal tragedy inspires young Allen White to dedicate his life to fighting crime and protecting the innocent.
Review: First off, I gotta say, I love the art style in the book. It feels sort of like a mixture of a Disney Cartoon with the gritty concepts of a Marvel “Max” series. We have Stealth (who unfortunately seems a bit too close of a Black Panther design for my taste, or Red Circle's The Fox) a martial arts, butt-kicking vigilante who (thanks to the fun writing of William Satterwhite) has a bit of a self-aware sense of humor when saving the day. Don’t think Deadpool so much though, as Stealth isn’t breaking any fourth walls. What he will do is mock a bit the situation, which seems to happen way to much in the world of comic books. In this opening issue, we have a pretty young lady walking in the middle of the night down a shady-looking alleyway, which of course is a hangout spot for thugs. Stealth saves the day but definitely makes note of how dumb it was for the woman to do that. It’s a type of humor not found often enough in the “harder edge” style books that I think could really help Stealth stand out in the pack. A “superhero” that essentially is making fun of the situations that some of these moron characters get into. I like the idea that maybe Stealth is a hero, but doesn’t harbor too much love for what he does since most times, as he's often saving people from their own stupid actions. It’s a different take, and one I’d like Satterwhite to explore further. Getting back to the art of Jamar Logan, what Stealth definitely does well is the action moments. Everything is clean, crisp, and moves well. Some points might come off a bit too stiff, but I think as Logan continues with the series, we’ll see more stand out pages. The action isn’t overly gory or ridiculous, but fits the story perfectly. Definitely keep an eye out for Stealth!
Widows Web #1-4
STORY: Raven Gregory , Autumn Ivy ART: Ian Snyder COLORS: LizBuenaventura
Where to Buy: The Raven Gregory
Price: $ Varies (multiple cover options from talented artist)
Synopsis: Set in a world that is not our own, the story follows Dahlia White, an unassuming bartender living in the strange yet familiar Tcesni City, where she attempts to balance her normal -- and sometimes not so normal -- life with the horrifying secret of who and what she really is. A balance that is thrown into absolute chaos when a down-on-his-luck, Pterra Atrus, walks through her door, turning her already crazy world upside down. A world where not everything is what it seems and a new breed of horror awaits. Once you enter the Widow’s Web, there is no escape.
Review: Some people might be familiar with writer Raven Gregory’s work for publisher Zenoscope Entertainment. Those fans will not be disappointed from Gregory’s latest foray into the comic book medium (alongside co-writer Autumn Ivy). Having launched a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, Widow’s Web tells the mysterious story of Tcensi City and one unique bartender -- Dahlia White. While it may seem a bit like a love story (and it is, kind of) make no mistake there is a layer of horror and sexual thriller within Widow’s Web. Characters hold secrets, never truly are as they appear, and, oh yea, are all damn sexy! If it’s one thing Raven and artist Ian Snyder know how to do well is craft and use sex to sell! That’s not to say this is simply an eye candy story -- just don’t go in expecting some PG level/mature for all readers content. This is rated R, hard R at that, and when you start getting into the meat of what ails Dahlia White and the city of Tcensi you’ll realize the sex and violence are exactly at the level it needs to be for the story. If you want a book that brings you some horror, some sci-fi, sex, and romance then make Widow's Web your choice!
STORY: Kevin Cuffe ART: Paul Gori COLORS: Hedwin Zaldivar, Paula Goulart
Where to buy: Oathbound
Price: $1.99-$5 (Varies on book options)
Synopsis: In Oathbound, the epic nature of Sword & Sorcery and the style of a Spaghetti Western collide to create a world where a six-shooter or a spell can change a man’s destiny. Our alternate history begins in 1849 when the world is forever changed by the discovery of a gateway that unleashes magic and monsters into the Old West. The country has been torn apart by back-to-back wars. The South has emerged victorious in the recent Civil War, leading to the general enslavement of the mythic races, with Elves being the most prevalent among the enslaved.
Review: Oathbound is still in its infant stages, but everything about this series looks amazing! Writer Kevin Cuffe has crafted a really cool alternate history story here involving something you might see from a World of Warcraft game mixed with some good ol’ fashioned six-shooting westerns! Heck, the main character might as well be played by a young Clint Eastwood! With Oathbound you’ve got robbin’ goblins and all sorts of fantasy creatures running around. With a lack of western-themed comic books these days (aside from East West from Image Comics), this could be the niche series for you! So definitely go give the series a look as it’s absolutely beautiful!
Trill League #0
STORY: Anthony Piper ART: Anthony Piper
Where to Buy: Trill League
Price: $2-?? (Various Items on sale)
Synopsis: Trill League is a hilarious parody combining the world of superheroes, anime, and hip-hop culture.
Review: What started out as a series of funny sketch drawings of “hip-hop” versions of classic superheroes slowly turned into a series of short web comics, and now a full blown series from hilarious and super talented creator Anthony Piper. Another example of a highly successfully Kickstarter campaign, Trill League gave as a reward to all backers an issue #0 which was its own self-contained story featuring Trill Robin and his struggles with being replaced by Blackmayne (essentially Trill Batman) with Chris Brown. Yes, that Chris Brown. Things get “real” and ridiculous as Trill Robin needs to take down Chris Brown in a dance off! Piper has a serious hit on his hands and he knows it, but rather simply slacking off and doing the bare minimum, he’s been painstakingly working hard to create the absolute most perfect version of the series he can. With a plethora of characters being used to parody some famous heroes, Anthony still manages to give each character their moment to shine in Issue 0 as well their short one page web comics. If you enjoy comedy, and have even a remote interesting in pop culture, you cannot miss a chance to read Trill League!
So there you have it! Some awesome self-published books with connections to crowd funding and social media! Is there a series you know that can't be missed? An awesome new book currently being crowd sourced with some major talent? Definitely shoot me an e-mail and sound off in the comment section below!