Submit Bundle 2015 review

Comixology did another Submit bundle for this year’s SXSW, but it was a slightly more manageable 30 comics instead of the insane number from last year. I read through 100 and gave my quick impressions, so I thought I could manage 30 this year. Although it seems like it’s taken longer than it did last year anyway.

I decided it would be fun to give them letter grades this year, too. A couple I rated as “Pass” simply because I didn’t feel like I should rate them poorly just because they didn’t appeal to me.

  1. Andrew Jackson Throws a Punch. (B+) Literally. A fun little digital comic.
  2. Animals. (B+) This is an odd one. The story is a fairly straightforward coming-of-age story of an awkward girl. Except she and her family are chickens. And she has a brief fling with a literal pig. Since the second issue came in another bundle (that I hadn’t read) I was able to discover that it is a backwards world, where the animals are people and the humans are killed in slaughterhouses for food. But that backstory doesn’t really figure in the first issue. However, I liked it: story and rough, scratchy artwork. (I was not surprised that the writer was Eric Grissom, of Deadhorse, another odd but often compelling comic.)
  3. Dash. (B-) A fairly clichéd private eye tale for the most part, with a couple of nice twists that were surprising and genuinely touching.
  4. Dayglow. (A) I love a good end-of-the-world story, and this one gets off to a good start. At first I thought the art was a little rough, but it’s close to having an animated look, so I think that was the sparse nature of the first couple of pages; after that the style establishes itself.
  5. Doc Frankenstein. (C-) This one looks professional and it’s no surprise: it was written by the Wachowskis, still billed as brothers since the copyright is from 2004. The art is fantastic but the story is melodramatic and humorless.
  6. Dragon Slayer vol. 1. (C-) The art has moments of looking very stylish, but unfortunately it often is unpolished with bland layouts. The story is a bit muddled as well.
  7. Exterminite. (A) A lot of fun. I checked to see if there’s a second issue but I don’t see one. (In the time between writing this and posting it, a second issue has appeared!)
  8. Frankie Holliday. (B) Cute story and art, but a little obvious and not really to my taste.
  9. Golden Age. (B+) A cute story of childhood wonder even in the aftermath of loss. The art and coloring is particularly well done.
  10. Harold. (B) WTF? If that was supposed to make sense, I didn’t get it. But it was a rather engaging bit of nonsense. So there’s that.
  11. House Party. (C) Read to page 46 of 90. Okay story of twenty-somethings trying to make the transition from college to adult life. Art looks a little Scott Pilgrim, but less stylized and more amateurish. Not bad, but it seems as aimless as its protagonists. Maybe I’m just too old.
  12. Jack Zero. (B+) It’s the end of the Wild West, with the true story behind a (fake) legend. Good start, with excellent art by one of the Pander Bros. A bit short for a full comic (8 pages of story), apparently these were originally published in Dark Horse Presents.
  13. Kid Code. (Pass) Not for me, even though it has some serious style.
  14. Lady Mechanika. (A-) I picked up a printed copy of a couple of these at DragonCon a few years ago, but never read very much. The art is wonderful, which enticed me to pick it up in the first place, but steampunk is more interesting to me visually than in its often overly convoluted pseudo-Victorian fake histories. However, I was more charmed by this issue #1 than I remember being before. If you like steampunk, you should take a look.
  15. Leaving Megalopolis. (A+) By Gail Simone and James Calafiore. I thought I’d already read this, but turns out I was misremembering Welcome to Tranquility. Instead, this was Kickstarted a couple of years ago. On the one hand, it’s yet another superheroes-gone-bad comic, but that is entirely outweighed by the other hand–it is fantastic. Really, I only have nitpicks and I’m not even going to mention them. The art and layouts are wonderful and dynamic, the pacing feels like a big budget action movie. I’m not sure where the story could go from here, but I want to know what happens to Mina. This bundle was well worth it for this one graphic novel.
  16. Lionheart Tales. (Pass) The artwork is good, and part of it is reprinted from Usagi Yojimbo, so there must be something to it, but it didn’t click with me.
  17. Lit Brick. (A) I want to read Lysistrata now, and I laughed out loud several times, so success! Recommended.
  18. Love Machines. (B) The artwork for the main story is very well done in the manga style. The writing is a little stiff, but not bad.
  19. Outcasts of Jupiter. (A-) I always like to see a good action science fiction comic rather than the usual superheroes, and this delivers. It gets off to a slow start, but has some interesting worldbuilding and dynamic artwork. Another good project that got its start on Kickstarter.
  20. Punk Rock & Trailer Parks. (A-) The artwork is a grungy “underground” style that doesn’t appeal to me, but I gave it a chance and the story of awkward teens discovering the early punk scene really got its hooks into me. Good stuff.

Next time I’ll wrap 2015 up and compare this one to last year’s. (Spoiler alert: it was better.)

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