Tiny Pages Made of Ashes: Small Press Comics Reviews 12/14/2012

A comic review article by: David Fairbanks, Daniel Elkin, Jason Sacks



Tiny Pages Made of Ashes is Comics Bulletin's roundup of small press comics reviews.



(Gabby Schulz; Secret Acres)




I visited CAKE this past June and stumbled upon the wonder that is Secret Acres. They are, perhaps, one of the most interesting small presses I have discovered. 

Among their books, I was already familiar with Only Skin, which I actually picked up a couple of single issues for (expect to see that hit Tiny Pages Made of Ashes sooner or later), but Gabby Schulz was there and I was drawn to his comic, weather, for its very simplistic cover and its muted tones.



The story he presents is done almost wholly without words, relying on a scant few word and thought bubbles that are occupied by images. It is a beautifully illustrated, somewhat surreal tale that tackles issues of mortality with an appropriate level of awkwardness.

The thing about weather is that it is really something to be experienced. It can be a very quick read, but Schulz's style demands that you linger on double page spreads of clouds, on the all-too-real caricatures of airline passengers, and every page when he brings out those bright red inks.

You can purchase weather directly from Secret Acres, and I would say that it is easily $5 well spent. Keep up with Schulz's other work on his website.

- David Fairbanks


Archeologists of Shadows Volume 2: Once a Nightmare

(Lara Fuentes, Patricio Clarey; Septagon Studios)




Almost a year ago, I got to review Archeologists of Shadows Volume 1 for Comics Bulletin and I was very pleased with what I had found. Volume 2 takes up where Volume 1 left off, but this time Patricio Clarey's art is even more breathtaking.

Whatever inconsistencies in storytelling or character development there are in this series -- and there are some (though not many) -- they are easily forgiven because they are subsumed in the expansive world building and intricate creature creation that Clarey commands. His work features drawing on top of digital painting on top of photography on top of sculpture, all of which, when combined, gives a depth and a nuance to each page. The alien nature of Clarey's art is heavy in its presentation, but somehow there is still something familiar about every page, every landscape, every character.



The story of AOS continues along a relatively predicable hero's journey path, but Fuentes is able to throw in some unexpected moments. She seems to be struggling at times with the breadth of the tale she has taken on, but the story drives forward on its potholed path, having the benefit of some pretty large tires underneath. Really, the only time I found myself pausing while reading Archeologist of Shadows was to spend more time looking at everything Clarey had poured into each panel. I found myself pausing quite a bit.



As with Volume 1, Archeologists of Shadows, Volume 2 has the last third of the book filled with Clarey's photographs and sculptures, his sketches and layouts. It's as if Septagon Studios clearly understands that the real draw of this series is Clarey's work. Which it is. Which is enough for me to keep coming back for more. I've said before that Clarey is an artist who brings to the table something uniquely brilliant to the medium of comics. I stand by that and  look forward to reveling in whatever he produces next.

Find out more about Archeologists of Shadows at the Septagon Studios website.

- Daniel Elkin



(Jon Judy, Dexter Wee)




Yeah, well, some things are exactly what they seem like they're going to be. This book seems to be a hardboiled crime melodrama set in the world of professional wrestling, and that's exactly what it is. There's nothing especially innovative about this book, but it delivers precisely what you'd want from a book like this if you're a fan of these sorts of things.

So rather than waste everybody's time with a long, in depth analysis of this digital GN that's available on Comixology and likely on other outlets, let me just say that if you like stuff like this:



And this:



Preferably together, then this is probably the book for you. The writing is drive-in movie fine, and the art isn't the most polished but it moves the story ahead just fine. Sometimes there are some pretty nicely composed moments, like this well-done progression:



Yeah, you've seen scenes like that a million times before, but that's kind of what you'd want out of a book like this, and look, it is pretty well done, isn't it?

So, yeah, rasslin' and crime. If that's your bag, check out Swerve on Comixology.

- Jason Sacks




David Fairbanks doesn't get many things right the first time. He studied physics in college, loves science, music, comics, poetry, movies, books and education pertaining to all of the above. He will talk your ear off about Grant Morrison and Ben Folds, has an indie bookshelf larger than his Marvel, DC and Vertigo ones combined and if he ever actually grows up, more than anything else, he wants to still be happy as an "adult," whatever that is.

Mostly self-indulgent ramblings can be found at @bairfanx and untilsomethingbreaks.blogspot.com.




Daniel Elkin wishes there were more opportunities in his day to day to wear brown corduroy and hang out in lobbies. He has been known to talk animatedly about extended metaphors featuring pigs' heads on sticks over on that Twitter (@DanielElkin). He is  Your Chicken Enemy.





Jason Sacks is Publisher of Comics Bulletin. Follow him at @jasonsacks, email him at jason.sacks@comicsbulletin.com or friend him on Facebook.

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