Tiny Pages Made of Ashes 4/26/2013: Genre ReignsA comic review article by: Kelvin Green, Jason Sacks, Daniel Elkin
Tiny Pages Made of Ashes is Comics Bulletin's roundup of small press comics reviews.
London Horror Comic #5
(John-Paul Kamath, Drew Moss, Dean Kotz, Hi-Fi Design)
The previous issue of John-Paul Kamath's anthology was quite good but wasn't very, er, horrory. Call me a stuffy traditionalist, but I'm not sure that somewhat comedic superhero stories -- no matter how good they may be -- belong in a comic with the word "horror" on the cover. This new issue has a tighter focus on the ostensible subject matter but remains rather varied in tone, with two light-hearted tales featuring classic supernatural monsters and two more mundane -- but much more sinister -- stories.
The writing is good throughout, as Kamath adapts well to the different tones; "The Game", for example, is quite touching and heart-warming in places, while "Dead Love" delivers a couple of genuine shocks. There's also an interesting use of recurring themes -- I can't tell if it is deliberate or not -- as three of the four stories concern dating and romance. On the other hand, the two darker stories each feature a character called Ed, drawn to look similar in both, and it's only natural to think they are connected, except they're not. If this was deliberate then I can't work out why, and if not it's an unnecessary confusion that could have been resolved with a simple name change.
As with the previous issue -- Dean Kotz returns as one of the artists -- the art is excellent, and well-chosen. Drew Moss makes use of clean lines, expressive characters and exaggerated storytelling -- one might say "cartoony" -- and as such is a good fit for the more light-hearted stories he's given to draw. Kotz's art on the other hand has a more realistic look and his storytelling is more subdued -- although it never devolves into static photo-realism -- and so is quite appropriate for the dark and perverse concepts explored in his stories. The colors from Hi-Fi Design are good, but also intelligent, matching the mood and style of the individual stories well.
This is the strongest issue of London Horror Comic to date. The tighter focus on, well, horror is welcome but Kamath also finds a way to draw on different ideas of what horror means as a genre to deliver a varied anthology with different types of story.
- Kelvin Green
Find out more about London Horror Comic at londonhorrorcomic.com.
Lone Star Soul
If I told you this new graphic novel was a philosophical sci-fi western with Blaxpoitation overtones was pretty spectacular, would you think I was crazy? Would you force me off this website, question my critical skills, ponder just how much the process of collaborative writing with Daniel Elkin has corroded my thought process?
Because I swear to you that Elkin is a genius who makes the most amazing sandwiches between here and Alpha Centauri. And I swear to you that Lone Star Soul is pretty damn awesome.
This book reads like a reminder of the old, classic days of Heavy Metal when the likes of Moebius and Jodorowsky pondered mankind's existing in a surreal, beautiful universe where the eccentric threats our characters faced seemed to be painfully, beautifully out of your grasp as you worked your way through spectacularly imaginative landscapes.
"I walk. Across vast, desolate, soulless sands. I walk. And search for my soul."
Peter Campbell creates a world of vast deserts and glassy water that you can tread upon. He creates a cosmology of gigantic, almost indescribable locations on an unfeeling landscape and ramshackle country shacks, astonishingly titanic man-made (?) monuments that feature frescoes of amazingly Afroed men in impossibly peculiar creations that look like they came from the strangest Arizona you've ever seen.
This comic is as much a manifesto for the Tiny Pages Made of Ashes column as any small press creation I've read recently. Lone Star Soul is a true celebration of individual creativity, of the intensely personal lust to create a work of art that is sincere, something that could only be created by Peter Campbell. Lone Star Soul can only be the project of hard, longtime work, of a devotion to this one very specific, personal story that defies easy rulemaking.
Lone Star Soul is exotic and bizarre, fascinatingly odd and intriguingly complex. This comic has significant flaws -- the figure drawing is a bit loose, there's a bit of an Eisner allusion that reads strangely campy -- not to mention that, honestly I have no idea of all these wacky disparate story elements have any hope of coming together at all.
But that's kind of the point of a comic like this, and that's kind of the point of Tiny Pages. There is, quite literally, a world beyond the ordinary. There's a place that Peter Campbell lives in and dreams in. We're all richer for Campbell sharing that world with us readers.
- Jason Sacks
For more information on Lone Star Soul, go to thelonestarsoul.com.
Silence and Co.
(Gur Benshemesh, Ron Randall, John Workman; Crystal Productions)
If you like your disillusioned hitmen stories to be full of twists and turns, hot jungle action and gritty New York streets, political intrigue and financial shenanigans, then Silence and Co. may be right up your alley. This 176-page black and white page-turner is pretty much a straightforward retelling of a story that's been told before and before and even before that as well. From time to time it puts its own stamp on the expected walk-through, but for the most part you pretty much know what to expect from whom and when it's going to happen.
According to Crystal Productions' press release, the logline for the book is: "a young hitman takes on the world's most powerful criminal bank." And that pretty much sums it all up. Yep. That's what happens all right.
Writer Gur Benshemesh has put together a book here that pretty much reads like he really wanted to make a big budget action film. A matter of fact, if Silence and Co. were an action film, I'd probably go see it just to hoot and holler at all the bullets flying (and there are a lot of flying bullets in this book) and because I know I could fall asleep at any point during it and really not worry too much that I missed anything important.
You know.... because you've, like, seen it before.
I don't want you to think that I didn't like this book. It is what it is -- perfectly serviceable. Ron Randall's pencil work is good, not great. He makes some interesting choices in terms of perspective from time to time, and he does a fine job crafting the obligatory sultry dame, sweaty guy, and side of the head exploding from a gun shot. It's not earth-shattering stuff, but it's not crap either. Just like the rest of this book, it's perfectly serviceable.
I wish there was more I could say about this book. Benshemesh certainly seems excited about it, and his enthusiasm is kind of infectious. If I was more of a fan of this genre, perhaps I could muster up more here, but I am having trouble distinguishing this book in any way. I guess I just want a little bit more out of my re-tellings of tired tales.
But that's me.
- Daniel Elkin
Find out more about Silence and Co. at silenceandco.com.