Monday, January 30, 2006

Comics from the future!

I got a couple of advance copies of indy comics, and I thought I'd share my impressions. One book doesn't seem to be on a release schedule, and the other one comes out this Wednesday! In case you want to check it out.

The first book is The Miscellaneous Adventures of Stykman by Jonnie Allan, published by a.k.a. Comics. Issue #1 hits the stands on Wednesday, and I doubt if you'll be able to find it many places, but you can always go to the web site and order it there.
 Posted by Picasa

Stykman is a fun little book. Allan obviously has fun with the characters and the situation. Stykman is a wanna-be superhero who is, quite literally, made out of sticks We first see him with his sidekick, Al (presumably short for "alien, as he looks like something from The X-Files), playing Go Fish at home (it's that kind of book). A news report comes over the television explaining that the Jolly Roger, a pirate skeleton with a flying ship, has stolen an "ancient Aztec recipe for the gumdrop!" (Did I mention it's that kind of book?) The news warns potential superheroes to stay away, but Stykman's television is on the fritz a bit, so he doesn't quite catch that last part. One wonders if he would have stayed away anyway, as he seems to live in a bit of a fantasy world where he is desperately needed to save the day. He goes to the scene and, predictably, mayhem ensues. In the end, it's his sidekick that saves the day, but save the day he most definitely does!

There is nothing terribly original about this comic, but Allan's joie de vivre carries it along, and it's goofy fun. And, if you're going to rip something off, Cervantes isn't a bad choice. Because that's what Stykman is, basically - Don Quixote. Part of the fun of the book is Stykman's internal narration and how it clashes with the events depicted on the page. Just a random example (and I mean that, because I just opened a page and took the first thing I saw): when Stykman is confronted by Handsome Dan, Jolly Roger's henchman and someone who is much, much bigger than he is, he gets punched out. His narration reads: "Leave it to Dan to exploit my lack of vigilance. Negotiations went nowhere. Only one option left ... play possum." Lucky for him that he is unconscious!

Stykman is a gleeful book, with a hero who has a rope for a head, a pirate with scantily-clad women at his beck and call, a lawyer with a flaming head, an alien sidekick, and lots of mayhem. It's nothing that is going to change the world, but it's a lot of fun. The art is very crisp and vibrant and suitably goofy, and the story is shamelessly wacky. It's only 3 dollars, and I'm sure Allan would be more than happy to send you a copy. Why not?

The other book is Far-Fetchers by Brian Clopper:
 Posted by Picasa
I haven't seen this solicited in Previews, which may be because it's not big enough. It's also possible it hasn't been solicited yet. I'm not sure - I feel kind of bad about not discussing this sooner, because Mr. Clopper sent this to me late last year and I haven't gotten around to reviewing it yet. It's another fun book, but not as goofy as Stykman. The basic premise is that creatures of imagination are seeping into the real world. It has a bit of a Fables vibe, but these creatures are "becoming" real and they're quite confused. Of course, the government steps in and creates an agency called the Far-Fetchers (nice play on words) to take care of these "figments" before they cause a panic. It's a nice conceit, and Clopper plays it relatively straight - the fun comes from the situation and the interplay between the characters. They consult works of children's literature for how to deal with the figments, and in the preview, they have to deal with an unusual monster that isn't exactly what it seems. After dispensing with that, they return to their headquarters, where they all have to deal with internal politics and a leader who has a hidden agenda. Clopper even manages to add some poignancy, as the Flying Mummy misses the love of his life, who is still trapped in the books. There's a hint of a larger story here, too, as the figments are all from the works of one author, who mysteriously disappeared when they starting entering the real world. It's an interesting read.

Clopper has done a nice job establishing this strange world and the dynamic between the characters. Even though they are bizarre and might seem like monsters, they all have insecurities and fears and, of course, they are trapped in a strange new world and have to adjust to that. Therefore, even though there is a true sense of fun throughout the book, Clopper hints at darker things to come - granted, it's not "dark" in the sense that recent DC books seem to think of "dark," but it has the potential for drama in the sense that it won't always be light-hearted. The characters look grotesque, which adds to the sense of wonder and weirdness, but Clopper offsets that with the idea that danger can and will show up.

I haven't mentioned the art, because I'm a story snob, but it's nicely cartoonish with a nice bizarre edge to it. I won't try to describe it, because I can show you some of it:
 Posted by PicasaIt's neat.

There's a lot to like about Far-Fetchers. Like I said, I'm not sure if it's out yet - I doubt it, because the preview is uncolored and incomplete, but if you keep your eye out for it, I doubt if you will be disappointed.

Read More


Blogger melvin p. mouse said...

nice reviews! I especially how you called a comic gleeful! (a big difference forom what usually gets called fun.)

and I think you coined a new term... story snob. :)

1/31/2006 02:13:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home