Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review: The Asylum of Horrors # 1

The summer is slipping by, and between my career and my family I have had precious little time to sit down and review lots of good material that I've come across the last couple months. Of course, mowing the lawn, tending the pepper plants, and wiping out vast amounts of beer while hovering over the grill has something to do with it as well. Don't let the secret out, but horror comics fans are real people with real lives, aren't we? Anyway, I'm going to try to play catch up over the next couple weeks.

From Frank Forte at Asylum Press comes the first issue of "The Asylum of Horrors," which is a MUST have! This thing is a huge anthology, with over 18 stories and vignettes from creators ranging from Tim Vigil to Billy George to Kevin Golden. Even better, it is almost entirely in color and printed on top quality slick paper. A bargain at $4.95!!! Think of the old Steve Bissette "Taboo" books if they were published by "Heavy Metal" and you'll get an inkling of what Forte has put together here. Like I said, this is simply a MUST for horror heads, and trying to elaborate beyond that would be futile. Just go get it!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Review: Evil Inside/Amour # 3

Consider this another "retro review" for Bart Thompson at Approbation Comics. As a fan of this horror genre, I don't think I can do enough for the indy publisher, but I try to give as much deserved exposure as I can!

Anyway, this was the first of the horror/romance crossover issues that Approbation did, and in my opinion the better of the two. The first story is "Mirror/Mirror," written of course by Thompson and illustrated by Ezequiel Pineda. About a guy who sees the image of a girl in a mirror throughout his life, this is possibly the best story I have ever read from Bart. The college roomate/antagonist Eddie is something of an unbelievable character, simply a vehicle used to trigger (no pun intended) a plot device, but other than that this story really stirred some interesting emotion in me and I have reflected on it (again, no intended pun) several times since reading it initially. THAT is the mark of good storytelling.

The second tale is "Love Sprouts," about your average guy who falls for the pretty new neighbor across the hall. Art is by Ezequiel Pineda again (he does all the art this issue), who is one of the stronger artists Thompson has worked with, IMO. These characters are somewhat endearing in the short time you get to know them, and you find yourself pulling for their relationship to work. The only "downfall" of the story is the hazy ending, which Bart does an admirable job of trying to explain with several narrative boxes. Still, it is something of a headscratcher, but the story holds up regardless.

Last story is "Happy Family," and it was the least enjoyable of the three yarns. Hard to explain what this one is about as the plot is a tad convuluted, but essentially there is a couple in which the man is trying to attempt to cope with the death of his previous love. That said, what follows is a series of unrealistic events (yes, I understand we are dealing with a sometimes "supernatural" theme) that I suppose are set up for no other reason than to reveal the final panel. Something of a let down. Oh well, they can't all be classics.

Anyway, overall this is one of the best Evil Inside issues of the entire series, and I'd encourage you to seek them out!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Review: Leprechaun # 1

Bluewater has picked up the comic rights to this pint sized film "icon," one that honestly I'm not much of a fan of particularly. Not that I dislike Leprechaun, I've just never been interested enough to watch the movies. I'm a fan of what the Bluewater team has done with Warlock though, so I'm hoping for a similar experience.

I've got "Cover B", but I don't know who did it because "Cover B" is credited three different ways inside. Hello, editors!

Anyway, writing credits go to Zach Hunchar, and he does a decent job in laying out an interesting plot. Basically, the Leprechaun (a king of his people) has his gold stolen by his enemies the Clurichaun who in turn give them to a coin dealer. The dealer has sold the coins across the world, and now the Leprechaun must attempt to gather them back up at apparently any cost. He somehow lands in the middle of the life of one Ethan Thomas, which is sad since Ethan is a stereotypical geek with the most annoying of dialogue. By the end of the book still, even after witnessing the Leprechaun materialize in his apartment from nowhere etc, etc, Ethan continues spouting drivel like "Seriously, who are you?" and "This makes less since than blah blah blah." He's an unbelievable cookie cutter "nerd," so it's a shame because the rest of the story flows very well.

On the art side we have Kris Carter on pencils, Thomas Torre on colors. Carter does an apt job, but I really enjoyed his "flashback" panels to the war between the Clurichaun and Leprechaun peoples. Carter makes an exceptional fantasy artist. Torre goes above and beyond with the colors, using his palate to full effect to set mood.

At the end of the day this isn't a title I'd be chomping at the bit for just yet when held up to other current "horror" offerings, but with a little dialogue tuning I think it would be a contender.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Review: Tomb of Bloke

From Virus Comix comes Tomb of Bloke, which originally appeared as an online comic on Myspace. The print version has been reworked and expanded for your reading pleasure.

This book is an indy labor of love by artist Ju Gomez and writer Jason "Bloke" Crawley. ToB features a color cover and B&W interior, and the book is priced affordably at a measly $2.99 a shot. How can you pass that up?!

As for content, ToB is your basic "zombies take over the world" concept. The twist presented to us in this book, is that we see much of the action from the perspective of "Bloke," a recently reanimated zombie who retains some human thought process and emotions. I found the idea to be refreshing. As for nuts and bolts writing, Crawley does a good job at keeping the flow of the story going, and I for one GREATLY appreciate his use of narrative text panels to help tell the story. I think with further practice and polish, he has potential to be a very good horror comic author.

Concerning the art, Ju Gomez is quite good. His work is much better than many, many indy illustrators out there. I don't think you can find any faults with his approach. Really, the only downside on the visuals was that Ju uses lots of heavy darkness in his linework (not a problem - I like "heavy/dark") and somewhere along the production line it tended to translate poorly in a couple panels, blurring detail or making it hard to follow certain actions. Looks more like a process problem, and overall does not take much away from this book.

I say, if you want to support good, horror-loving indy creators like these guys, then you had better not let this one slip passed...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review: Vincent Price Presents # 5

Another top notch book from Bluewater Comics. I'm not sure which style of anthology title I prefer more: the traditional 3 or so short stories style packed into a single issue, or the single story per issue version that Bluewater is using for VP. Guess it doesn't matter, I like both styles at the end of the day.

This issue is a story called "Here to There," with writing credits to Scott Davis. I don't know what other writing credentials Mr. Davis has, but this is certainly a fantastic story, much more intellectual and thought provoking than most "horror" fare. One gets the feel that this was first a text short story that had possibly shopped around the world od literati before finding a home in comics. It's a character study of a "once-was" author who is living a life of self exile as a cabbie, and the strange events that unfold in his life during his daily grind. I won't give anything away other than to say you actually feel like you are READING a book rather than breezing through a comic. It's brain food and it's satisfying. I hope Scott Davis writes more for VPP.

Cover and intro/outro art is by Joel Robinson and his cool computer aided style. Interior art is all Rey Armenteros and each panel looks like a dreamlike painting. The only problem I had was that the hazy quality really makes it hard to follow the action in a few panels, and then a couple recurring characters are not really illustrated the same in a couple places, which makes you ask yourself "who is this?" for a moment until you figure out it's a guy from the previous panel.

Overall, the issue is a must read for horror comics fans. GO GET IT!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Review: Amour/The Evil Inside Antholgy # 6

So, I believe this is actually The Evil Inside # 6 (with an illustrated cover, no less!) with an Amour tie-in. Amour being a romance anthology from Approbation, not a character ( I think! ). Therefore, I guess these stories are supposed to have a "romance" theme to them.

First up is "Submerged" and (as always witht his series) is written by publisher Bart Thompson. This has a nice twist end to it, and I guess because it appears to take place on a singles cruise (although that is never stated) and there is a "connection" between our leading female and male characters, I suppose there is a romance vibe going. Main downfall here is the art by Paco Zarco. Not that he is "bad," because he certainly isn't, but the action on pages 2 and 4 is so muddied that it is hard to say what exactly is going on. Maybe Bart could have helped him by adding a couple narrative boxes here and there.

Next is "Promiscuous" with art by Kevin Richardson. Witty dialogue and unique plot are the highlights here. Art is crisp and clear with no flow problems. Much better story overall than the opener.

Lastly is "Barhopper" with art by Ezquiel Pineda. Creepy little tale with probably the best art of the book. Pineda's "wife" is eeriely crafted. Good gross-out ending, and like I said, just plain creepy.

All in all, another good effort from Bart Thompson and Approbation. I wish he'd keep publishing the Evil Inside books, but I think he's done with them after this one. So, check it while you can!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Review: Warlock # 1

Looks like Bluewater Comics has acquired the comic rights to Warlock from Lionsgate Films and are launching an ongoing series here. Sweet!

I have the Cover "B" version, which is a nice portrayal by Matt Bellisle. Interior art is penciled by Jacob Bear, who works in a realistic type fashion. He gets the point across well, and the reader is never left trying to decipher what is happening. He teams well with writer Nick Lyons, as the panel layouts and angles are imaginative and pull the reader in.

Lyons' script is fast paced and aptly done. In one issue we are introduced to quite a few characters without overload, and are given the basic premise of the series in a fashion that leaves the reader wanting to pour into the next issue by the last page. The gist of the series appears to be that there is a spellbook guarded closely by a small group of people, in which a spell is contained that imprisoned a group of six warlocks who had laid waste to all in the past. Somehow, there is a Warlock on the loose who seeks to destroy the book, which would free his fellow warlocks. Good stuff, and I don't see fans of the movies being dissapointed at all. Go buy it!!!