100 Indie Comics part 4

This is part 4 of my read-through of the 100 comics in the SXSW Comixology Submit bundle. One more to go after this, although it will probably be another couple of weeks before I can finish it up. Then I hope to do a wrap-up to sum up my thoughts, what I’ve learned, highlight the stand-out comics, and come up with a moral of the story to make us all better people.

But that’s in the future. Now, there are 20 more comics.

  1. Snow. This graphic novel of a girl breaking out of her rut has good moments, but it takes too long to get to them and has too many scenes which don’t pull their weight.
  2. Sorcery 101 # 1. There are lots of echoes of other urban fantasies here. The humor doesn’t quite stick the landing, and the art is a little rough. Not horrible, but not good either.
  3. Squid & Owl. This is not a comic, it’s an illustrated book. It’s very weird–half sciencey children’s book, half acid trip. A bit Lewis Carroll, but I don’t want to go too far. If this is your kind of thing, you might like it. I didn’t make it very far…
  4. SUNRISE # 1. Heather L Sheppard. Delightful. Each page is two painted panels with no captions or word balloons. The story of a bear-like monster journeying to find the sun which has set. It’s very short, and comes to no ending, and I’m not sure how much farther it could go (perhaps very far!), but what is here is wonderful and whimsical.
  5. Super! # 1. It’s about superheroes.
  6. Tara Normal # 1. There’s a girl who punches ghosts, and a TV show about ghosts, and it starts with a flashforward to the main character in an asylum, and the black guy is the first one to die. Confusing, and yet very familiar. The art is a little rough, and so is the writing.
  7. Template # 1. Another digital comic (a la Moth City and Relaunch), which starts out promising with an explosion and artwork reminiscent of Sam Keith, but quickly devolves into a lot of talking heads and a confusing story.
  8. Testament Vol. 1. Read to page 29. Interesting mixture of Biblical retelling (the almost sacrifice of Isaac) with a futuristic dystopian surveillance state. The art is mostly very good, and the writing is solid if a little overwrought in spots. I’ll probably come back to this one.
  9. The Accelerators # 1. I can’t believe I read the whole thing. Apparently, there are some sort of gladiatorial time travel games, which almost got me to stop reading immediately, but then the other three-quarters of the book turns into a soldier chasing a scientist through time jumps which was just interesting enough to get me to the end, where the Time Games show up again.
  10. The Action Bible. Stopped on page 38. This would be the perfect gift from a grandparent to a child in Sunday school. It is a completely inoffensive adaptation of the Bible with straightforward artwork. Of course that means it leaves out all the weirdest and most interesting stories, like Genesis 9:20-27, where Noah’s son Ham and his descendents are cursed to be slaves because he saw his father passed out drunk and naked. Those stories are not here. Instead, it is propaganda for the Protestant, even including commentary to make the Bible more Christian, claiming at the end of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden that “Already, God has a plan to redeem his creation… One day he will send a savior for His people.” So yeah, I was pretty surprised and disappointed to find this in an indie comics bundle.
  11. The Antler Boy and Other Stories. Read the first story. Whimsical and endearing, if bizarre, artwork and story. Not sure it’s my thing.
  12. The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay. Stopped on page 20. Apparent murders by Big Foot bring an anthropology professor to advise the police in a small town. The dialogue, especially of the teenagers, is clunky.
  13. The Black Well. I read the whole thing because man with the head of a dog. Starts off a little Metamorphosis, then vears off into Twin Peaks by way of Naked Lunch. It never really all comes together however, so I’m not sure I can recommend it.
  14. The Bunker # 1. It’s the bunker from Lost (they even lampshade it!) with time travel and flashforwards and a plague that destroys (most of) the world. Lost already burned me once, so I’m gunshy of their future history being consistent, and the characters didn’t pull me in. Well done, but didn’t win me over.
  15. The Chairs’ Hiatus. Matthew Bogart. Terrific. It’s like one of those quiet indie movies that slowly reveals character and builds to a devastating finale where slight actions have deep resonance. It’s about a girl who used to be in a famous band, and her former friend and bandmate meeting back up with her after 18 months. Good stuff.
  16. The Dead # 1. The afterlife is a house, and everyone gets their own room, but someone’s room is a bar that a lot of people visit. The bar’s owner collects bottles from other rooms that can be magically re-filled in the barroom. Starts off with a lot of meaningless action, then bombards us with confusing worldbuilding, but there is hardly any character development. A lot of these comics that haven’t grabbed me have this problem. If I don’t care about the characters, it’s going to be hard to hold my attention, even if the worldbuilding is interesting.
  17. The Deep: Here Be Dragons # 1. For instance, here’s a book that starts off with an action sequence that I thought was unnecessary, but the dynamics of the Nekton family on their submarine were engaging, and timing of the gentle humor was excellent. (Aside: Humor is a great icebreaker to get the reader into the story, but it’s tougher than it looks, and timing is everything.) This book is not really my kind of thing, but it’s a great comic, with a feel something like a good Pixar movie.
  18. The Demon’s Sermon on the Martial Arts: A Graphic Novel. An adaptation of parables by an 18th century samurai. I was not familiar with it, and was expecting the Art of War, but instead the first parable is a musing on transformation and re-birth centered around the Buddhist tale of the man who dreamt he was a butterfly. The art is nice. I might come back to this one.
  19. The Heroes of Echo Company # 1. It was like a Battlestar Galactica knock-off until the soldiers (apparently instantaneously) put on fantasy armor for combat.
  20. The Infidel, featuring Pigman # 1. WTF? I’m trying to decide if this is racist as hell or satire. I had to check Google to see, and indeed it’s confirmed that the creator has a serious hate-on for Islam. But I also found a good review that suggests this comic is more accomplished and nuanced than a pure polemic. Still, I don’t think there’s enough of worth here to recommend it or to read further.

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