Back in the 1980’s there were some pretty awesome indie books out there. If you were looking for something different than what the “big two” had to offer there were some unique ones out there, one I was quite intrigued with was ‘Roachmill’! What? You say you never heard of Roachmill? Well this ultra oddball superhero came on the scene in 1986. He was a professional futuristic exterminator, a killer for hire and he was bad to the bone.
He also had two bizarre cockroach arms that extended from his body making it easier for him to kick the living tar outta people and shoot guns a’ plenty . The series was set in New York City during a time when there were hoards of aliens from other planets moving to Earth. Apparently this caused a lot of crime and chaos in the city and they needed badasses like Roachmill to keep humans and aliens alike in line.
This rad indie series was written and drawn by Rich Hedden & Tom McWeeney and had a heroic dose of grit & comedy evenly bound within it’s pages. I’d really like to revisit it soon to see how it holds up in 2017 and being part of my comic book cover of the week posts Roachmill stuck with me all these years as having some totally excellent cover art. In the late 80’s it got picked up by Dark Horse Comics. I totally dig these weird offbeat 80’s series, hey who knows maybe Roachmill will make a return?!
The Dregs is easily one of the most compelling comic books out there. After a amazing first issue this new series from Black Mask keeps this unique mystery building, leaving you with plenty to think about after the last page. We’ve got one of the most original books on the shelves that breaks the mold of of anything you’re likely reading at the moment. Issue #2 starts off with a bang as we follow the exploits of Arnold, a homeless addict who’s hell bent on solving the mystery of a missing friend named Manny who’s seemed to vanish into thin air from the streets. The first issue also let us in on something incredibly sinister going on in the gentrified area of of the city where it appears that a hip bougie restaurant was serving up plates of food with people on the menu.
I don’t want to give too much away about the plot but the second issue delivers the tension, mystery & then some. The opening sequence of it sets a dark tone unlike many other comic book I’ve read. This series is full on grit and hits some serious issues in our society you rarely ever see in the pages of comic books. Aside from those the story doesn’t rely entirely on social commentary to be interesting, it’s pages bring about a truly creepy and hopeless air that’s hard to shake. The light at the end of the tunnel looks very, very dim at this point. Continue reading
The Skeptics #1 (Black Mask)
I just read the debut issue for the new Black Mask series “The Skeptics” and was quite pleased with this sweet little intro to a thus far promising retro adventure. Brought to you by Tini Howard and Devaki Neogi we’ve got a solid story of two teenagers during the Cold War era that are brought in by the US government to test for paranormal abilities. There’s a claim made by the Soviets that they’ve got a new breed of soldier in the works, ones with intense psychic abilities. But is it just a hoax to scare us Americans during those tense times? Either way it doesn’t matter because of course the US is determined to find people with similar unique abilities here in our own country to face off with the Soviets.
Well all just is not what it seems when Mary and Maxwell are brought in for testing, for unknown reasons these two have figured out a way to to trick the scientists and even the President into believing they’ve got telekinetic abilities. The President claims they’re the key to stopping World War 3 but it seems there’s more going on than meets the eye. The two young “psychics” quickly decide to take matters into their own hands when they realize that perhaps it’s not a hoax. The Soviets may indeed be harboring people with superhuman abilities.
I had a pretty fun time with the first issue, it’s really simplistic, pure story telling with some decent artwork as well. It’s a refreshing break from all of the ultra edgy stuff being cranked out these days, I’ll check out issue number two and see just where this all goes but either way the debut is worth a look if you’re looking for something a little different.
Black #1 (Black Mask)
Here’s another decent debut issue that finds it’s plot ripped from the media headlines. It’s a story about police corruption and racism in America with a superhero twist. We’ve got corrupt white cops who shoot down three black teens who’ve done nothing wrong in broad daylight on the streets of the inner city. Sound familiar?
Well things get more interesting when one of the teens who’s presumed dead awakens alive and well in the ambulance on the way to the hospital with seemingly superhuman energy and endurance. On the run from the cops he meets a Morpheus like character (from the movie The Matrix) who helps him to safety and soon it’s revealed that people do indeed exist on this planet with superhuman powers….except only those who are black can have them. This like The Skeptics is also a pretty quick and simple read with an interesting spin on the superhero genre. This idea spun out of a Kickstarter campaign and was soon picked up by Black Mask. The art adds to the experience as it’s really well drawn and in black and white.
The writing for this by Kwanza Osajyefo is solid yet at the same time a bit on the predictable side. Starting out with a fairly popular view point being, corrupt cops are running rampant and they kill black people for no apparent reason. I think it’s fair to say from most of the news stories we’ve heard reported on point to this similar scenario. So we’ve definitely got a story here thats basis is controversial and hotly debated. I can already see people being upset about the race issue presented here, it is indeed written to get a response from white readers and continue the much needed dialogue about racial tension today. I think however it’s not much really of a different concept than say “Y The Last Man” yet this comic’s timing probably is the most controversial aspect of it.
Overall I dig it, the idea of just one race being graced with superpowers is an odd angle but given the recent headlines this one’s certain to make some waves. It’s also written & drawn by an all black team as the above The Skeptics is an all female team. So we’re getting a lot more projects out there now that are created with race appropriate and gender appropriate teams attached. It I guess raises questions about whether or not it’s ok in modern times to have people writing books that aren’t of the same gender or race of the characters in the book? This topic alone has become somewhat of an issue lately for movies, books and tv shows. I’m still under the belief that at the end of the day in works of fiction, in a free society none of that needs to really be micro-analyzed. So therefore I welcome anyone to bring a unique story to the table no matter what their race, gender, sexuality or association may be. With that being said I’m curious to see where the story of “Black” ultimately goes. I’ll be back for a second issue…
It’s been a long time since I picked up a DC title, a very very long while. However something inspired me to give Doom Patrol #1 from new DC imprint ‘Young Animal’ a shot. Young Animal is supposed to be like the edgier, quirkier, “indie” feel of the DC universe. It’s also self proclaimed as ‘comics for dangerous humans’. I guess what made me gravitate to try it was one of the several covers done by a personal favorite artist of mine, the legendary Brian Bolland and yearning for a cool superhero title to get into. So was this the answer I have been looking for? Is this storytelling really for “dangerous” humans?!
I’d say this was a decent first issue, more cute honestly than dangerous but still an entertaining and at the same time, empty read overall. It wasn’t the type of debut that punches me in the gut or anything and honestly I’m not quite sure I will be back for seconds next month. It’s got some sweet art by Nick Derington and some really unique covers to choose from. The story is a bit confusing and wierd, which I assume is on purpose. I mean this is the new hip and quirky Young Animal comic book right? So it better deliver the goods!
The story follows a young “quirky” (yeah that word again, I know) EMT named Casey Brinke and her partner as they rush across town in an ambulance to save a man’s life. It’s got an interesting moment where her partner analyzes the possibility of a separate universe happening inside of a gyro he’s eating. There’s also random explosions that happen around Casey who’s for the most part un-phased by the occurrences. There’s then a couple other random characters one hanging out inside of a abandoned building near a pile of bricks and another scene where a man in the woods is playing a keyboard. Then there’s a meeting of business men and women who’re from another planet talking about meat and Robotman being busted up into pieces by a garbage truck. There’s more random stuff that happens as well an I’m sure it will eventually make some sense and i’m probably not cool enuff to get it all. But you get the picture.
The book and new DC line is headed by Gerard Way from the band My Chemical Romance, a band I really just can’t stand. I really wasn’t a big fan of his Umbrella Academy either. That being said I could still see this new ‘hip’ Young Animal line of Comics likely taking off, but for me thus far it just isn’t my cup o’ Joe. It might all click later down the line – Sometimes it’s hard to get hooked off of a debut issue & I’d be willing to give the next couple issues a shot, but with the high price of comics I’m sure I could find something else to take a risk on.
Issue number five just dropped of Portland Oregon’s FREE comic newspaper! Vision Quest is a collaborative effort put together by local comix writers and artists and it’s a great change from all of the mainstream stuff out there flooding the market. It’s got a real feel to it as well, black & white, hand drawn ink on paper quality that will likely bring you back to the good ol’ days of self published comic books and zines of the nineties.
It’s a ton of fun too as each issue showcases 30 plus full page bursts of old school comic strip mayhem. You never really know what to expect within it’s pages either, stating on the cover it’s recommended for mature readers so it’s not quite the comic book either for your kid. You get a fine collage of the all of the local talent here in Portland and beyond & yeah it’s free and can be found all around town. Cool artists like Alex Chiu, Tim Root, Erin Nations, Liz Yerby to name a few are featured in issue five and some of the artists are veterans in the underground & local comic scene.
Tim Goodyear (Teenage Dinosaur / Video Tonfa), one of the publishers and contributors elaborated on the inspiration behind it saying “Vision quest is a boiler plate we got from The Intruder up in Seattle. I have been bummed on the commercial structure of comics for a long time and have tried many times to get comics to folks with out all the barriers that are in place. Ian Sundahl asked me how The intruder paper was structured and I told him what Max Clotfelter had told me. He asked if I’d want to do that here, I said I wasn’t sure. 6 or 8 months later he asked me again and I said yes. It’s been great. I love it.”
With regards to submissions to be included in Vision Quest, Goodyear advises that “people should write to us at Visionquestcomix@gmail.com – people should look at the paper and they should make the comic that they want. Not everything fits, whether it be math or tone or outside our interests. Hand lettering is a big key.”
Check this shit out around town here and I’m certain copies can be acquired via the Vision Quest email!
There’s a cool little project of grand proportions that recently came to my attention that could change the world as we know it! This cool Kickstarter campaign intends to pose some big questions about the future of our modern society and the radical change technology casts upon our world. wiFree will be a short film offered to everyone on the internet for free upon it’s completion, now that’s something we can all get behind!
The short will tackle some questions about modern technology and the human gods that deliver it all to us. Most fascinating is premise, where a Steve Jobs type character dying of a terminal illness decides to unleash ground breaking new product that would provide free energy to the people of the world. Sounds wonderful huh? Well guess what, a situation like that might be the biggest threat to the giant corporations who’re behind the curtain of our pulling the strings of our elected officials. wiFree presents a grand conspiracy to silence real change for the betterment of the planet by those trusted govern over us. Continue reading
There’s a cool little indie horror flick wrappin’ up production right now called Gehenna and from what’s been revealed thus far it’s looking like it’s going to be quite a spectacle! Directed by effects wizard/master sculptor Hiroshi Katagiri who’s worked on movies like Pacific Rim, Looper & The Hunger Games comes this full on practical fx driven horror flick.
Also add Doug Jones into the mix as one of creepy creatures and you’ve can bet that you’re in for something special. The movie was successfully fund via Kickstarter and thus far this is all we’ve got in way of a plot synopsis:
“A group visits Saipan to search for locations for their company’s newest resort. As they find what they think is the perfect spot, they discover a hidden bunker on the property which they decide to explore. However, they soon find out that curiosity can kill.
As each member faces their most private secrets and the secrets of the bunker itself, the results lead to a most shocking conclusion. …”
Keep your eyes peeled on this one as it looks like it’s going to be pretty awesome and follow it on Facebook here!