Posted by Mardou
A one-shot story from Engine Comics, ‘Seer’ is the tale of an urban witch doctor called in to solve murder cases in his own unique way. Jonathan Parkes, the witch doctor in question can ‘see’ the last thing a murder victim sees at the point of death. The only drawback is, he has to taste the victim’s eyeballs to share the vision.
He’s an uncanny ‘Cracker’ if you will, and the TV show comparison bears up in other ways - the strength of the writing, the pacing of plot twists, the believable characters.
One thing that is missing from the story however, is women. The absence is strongly felt as so much in the story relies on the protagonist’s relationship to his wife, it’s not enough that we are just told about her. We need to see her too, and this omission dents the credibility of the final line alluding to a sexual throb (though I’m trying not to include spoilers here)!
Gary Simpson’s writing is accompanied by deft artwork. From the opening foggy outline of Manchester, to the intricate lab scenes, to the brick fortresses of rows of terraced houses, Lee O’Connor’s artwork isn’t short on detail. Added to this, the more abstract art depicting the ‘vision’ scenes, fuses really well with the more gritty reality.
What lets the artwork down is the inking. It’s too spidery-thin and mechanical looking for such a chunky story about humanity in all its gross, indigestible glory.
My favourite thing about ‘Seer’, is that it’s so ugly - and I mean that as a compliment! This is professional looking stuff, yet no attempt has been made to slicken or prettify. The characters are ordinary blokes with weight problems, and this is so refreshing to see in a medium where chiseled jaws and manly brows still rule the roost.
All in all then, ‘Seer’ sets a high standard for small press crime fiction and is well worth the read.
Seer is by Gary Simpson and Lee O’Connor
Published by Engine Comics
£2 from Engine Comics
Shooting Star Comics Anthology #3
Posted by Mardou
Shooting Star Comics Anthology is an American publication with contributors from all over the English speaking world and boy is it ‘dynamic’! Having a long-time predilection for all things ‘sluggish’ this really wasn’t my cup of latte at all, but oh well, here goes…
First out of the bag of verbose and windy titles is an ‘Aym Geronimo and the Post-Modern Pioneers’ story called ‘Aym got Game’. Creators J. Morgan Neal and Todd Fox deliver a breezy, let’s introduce all the characters, slick from the lip kind of story that doesn’t do very much other than feature action and bad guys and snappy one liners. Y’know, popular stuff.
Continuing in the popular vein, I almost choked on my skinny-soy mochaccino as I at first thought that the indie doyen, Jessica Abel had been given a makeover by creators Jon Hook and Sinclair Elliot (like that horrific moment when you see Ally Sheedy preppied up by Molly Ringwald in ‘The Breakfast Club). But no! It’s just Fey Wilde, a witch P.I. with a badge and a gun, and star of ‘Wilde Magick’. It’s well drawn with careful attention to keeping the tension and pace going with use of angles and whatever, and it all ends with werewolves and silver bullets. And a cute oneliner.
There’s more super-vigilant action with stories such as ‘Feeling the Sting-part 2’, byScott McCullar, which contains action, vendettas and a flashback to seeing God (or is it?) and he looks a lot like Ice Cube.
In a similar mindset comes, ‘Passing in the Night’ by Sean Taylor, Lorraine Sammy and Luis Alonso, a slice of teen power kids, with a night off from fighting crime and a penchant for indulging in some hormonal action. It leaves me sighing, ‘Why can’t more boys be like the ‘guru of gases’ Mist Master? Actually, I might think it was actually kind of funny, if it weren’t so deadly dull.
Shooting Star is one of those small press comics that tries to look as much as a ‘real’ comic as possible. And I can’t argue with that, It’s just that it’s all so boring. I don’t have anything against ‘dynamic angles’, ‘in your face’ inking or even computer lettering. It’s more to the point that they’ve tried so hard to make it look professional, they’ve lost sight of what actually looks attractive. The cover is ugly, seen ‘em before action poses in sludgey colours, it just doesn’t look nice. There’s lots of talent here, that’s undeniable, it’s just really uninteresting.
And so mention must be given here to the one artist who looks completely out of place and was my favourite by far. ‘Bedbug’ by Scott Rogers looks homegrown, uses genuine pathos to provide a point to the action sequences and veers away from formulaic and overpolished scripting. “What’s your name, you look like a Stephanie to me”, “Julia.”.
And it’s hand-lettered, a sure fire way to my heart!
Well, lots of people are going to disagree with me as this comic will probably find a sizeable, mildy interested audience. For me though, it’s just too soulless.
Available from www.shootingstarcomics.com
$4.95, via paypal.
In the Doghouse
Posted by Mardou
'In the Doghouse' by PD at first glance struck me as being done by one of those people who really can't draw and so learn to draw just one thing, as their 'party piece'. It's usually a drawing of a cartoon dog playing the piano, or something like that.
Happily 'In the Doghouse' isn't like that at all I discovered. Whilst the 'broken' strips that largely make up this 'zine, do fall under that catagory, the other story featured here 'Xilian' is actually very lovely to look at. Beautifully rendered in pencil and cross-hatching it begins the story of a suicidal young tyke who's attempted self lynching is thwarted by the arrival of a crashing space pod. No more is really given that that but this chapterlet is so nicely done, I'm curious to see how the rest of the tale unfolds.
Artist/writer PD has a talent for quirky and unusual layouts that allow the reader's eye to meander across the page rather than follow stories in a traditional panel-to-panel fashion.
It's early days and there's plenty I wasn't too crazy about, too much filler for one thing. There's 2 pages of Viz-style advert parodies which I wouldn't necessarily mind if, like the Viz ones, they were actually funny. They're not unfortunately and they give an otherwise muted and endearing comic, an annoying Rag Week vibe.
But at a 70p cover price, the minus points are minor ones.
A brief but pleasing read.
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