By Terry Stock and Colin Stanford
Black Harvest Moon picks up five months after demons have taken over LA. Joining the floods of human refugees fleeing into the surrounding states, the tales focuses on Bobby and Lisa, a long term couple coming to terms with the new balance of power in the relationship. That is, Lisa being vampire and Bobby, her punishment-reward meal ticket.
Torn between loyalty to his fellow humans, huddling together and farmed by demons, and his still strong sexual desire for what’s left of Lisa, the story charts Bobby’s descent into the darker and degraded depths of his human nature.
It’s very well written. Terry Stock though guilty of a few too many word embellishments in places, tells the story tautly, gives you just enough information to jump from scene to scene and never lets things get dull. The script is also full of flashes of tenderness, reminders of a gentler humanity that the remaining humans are rapidly losing. When Bobby admits a plot against the vampires, Lisa’s revenge is exacting. The leaders are executed and at the burial, the other humans acknowledge Bobby’s betrayal without judgement:
“They told me it was alright and all it took was a simple nod”.
Bobby goes on to reflect that there was more compassion in that exchange than in the last four months with Lisa.
There’s also some humour. Bobby muses on the first vampire he ever saw, a university professor with a tan, hocking his new book on a talk show.
Black Harvest Moon is an interesting exploration of an idea where vampires are not the shadowy enemy of many generic stories, but instead the blatant governors of a terrified populace.
Terry Stock’s script is matched with accomplished looking artwork from Colin Stanford. It’s clean and dramatic, Stanford’s obviously learnt his craft but at times it misses it’s mission of storytelling and lags behind the script.
The opening page being a prime example of this; Stanford decides against using flashback imagery and depicting the demon take over, instead showing us derelict and empty streets. I’m curious as to the motivation for this. Stanford’s too talented to take the easy option (hell, I wouldn’t fancy drawing a demon invasion either but I’m pretty sure that Stanford could if he tried). It’s a curiously blank opening then, and I don’t think it works. Flat and visually boring, it’s only the writing hat encourages you to carry on.
That said, it does pick up and the rest of the comic is steered capably to its fitting conclusion.
The story is followed by the inclusion of a sketchbook and preliminary layouts, which I wasn’t too keen on. I think the work deserves to retain its mystery a little, anything more strike you as merely filler. A shame, as it’s detracts from an otherwise strong piece of work.
Probably fuelled by a fug of Bacardi Breezer and Marlboro Light, this flirty, giggly anthology of strips comes courtesy of libidinous cartoonists Jeremy Dennis, Mardou and Lucy Sweet. Comprising work created individually but with (mostly) symbiotic intent, the collection manages a cohesive, light-hearted whole, coloured by muted sophistication.
Dennis offers 'The Society Of Dead Poets', an amusing, character-driven piece which describes an interruption to the cartoonist’s discipline and art-time by lusting literary sorts of yore, amongst them: John Keats, Aubrey Beardsley and Aphra Behn. (No, me neither.) Kind of lacking direction, and consequently impetus, this erotically charged strip is best savoured for its spellbindingly fluid cartooning of the clean-line variety, which dances oh-so-seductively from panel to panel with pic-teasing allure.
The Sweet section opens wide with double entendre-strewn 'Justin Timberlake Laid My Laminate!' - "Ooh! You are awful!" indeed! - then frantically follows with short, punchy strips which mostly revel in the excesses of fad-informed life. Occasionally shooting blanks script-wise, but always with endearing Carrie Bradshaw-like exuberance, Sweet’s sound design sense and delightfully earthy cartooning prove an irresistibly lovable combination.
Appealing goofballery abounds in 'Dojo My Love' as Mardou beckons with a sequentially indulgent reworking-of-sorts of also-featured 1-page gem 'Sillitoe’s Baby' – both of which are sexually concerned with The Karate Kid’s Mr Miyagi, among others! With Mardou’s artistic effort seemingly inverted towards achieving a visual polish at the expense of detail and textural nuance, her cartooning is mostly reduced to role of functional support. No bad thing this when final strip 'Fahrenheit 50/50' offers a clever script and fitting climax as it adapts book/movie 'Fahrenheit 451' for a comics audience - to hilarious and slightly unsettling consequence.
Whores Of Mensa? You’ll not find intellectual experiences peddled here. No, these whores are faking it. However, if you yearn for a bit of frothy, lip-glossed entertainment that tolerates little emotion and eloquently says nothing, this is the trick for you. It’s the perfect book-buddy!
32 A4 pages for £3 from Jeremy Dennis, 18 Hawkins Street, Oxford, OX4 1YD. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
'It Lives' is a collection of old and new comics by US talent Ted May. It's one of those lesser spotted hybrids which though really belonging with alt-comix, betrays an unsanitary amount of superhero culture festering around the fringes. Which in this case is no bad thing.
Mixing American slacker culture (immortal lines from a departing reject, ejected from a band audition, "my brother's a DJ...in case you care.") with troublesome tiny toilet-battling superheroes. One of the troll-faced crusaders shouts "Coupon! 50% off your face!", to which his turd-fisted enemy replies, "Library! You in history book, me in POWER book". It's Golden (shower) Era, classic stuff!
The sharp, if a little meandering, writing is matched with energetic artwork, a little sloppy at times but you can see all the elements are there in Ted May's technique and you can only expect to see him getting better and better.
A funny and endearing little comic book, with plenty of punk spirit, nicely printed by Sparkplug comics.