Indie Comic Review – Tragic Tales of Horrere Halloween Special

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Octopus, are you digging for clams?”

Another indie comic, issuing this a day or two later than would be ideal (entirely my bad, it’s been a busy period!) but this time it’s the Tragic Tales of Horrore – Halloween Special. Why this one? Because Halloween is awesome, I love horror and should try to get some more horror comics reviewed and this issue happens to treat us to three horror stories. This comic is bought to us by:

The Quiescent:

Writer – Michael Sambrook and Robin Jones

Artist – Joe Becci

The three stories in this issue each have a different approach to horror. The first, The Quiescent is a tongue in cheek tale of an old man visiting an old friend, who appears to have fallen to some kind of Lovecraftian monstrosity. The art in this is of a very high quality, the greyscale and line work provides a black and white TV show feel which fits with the aesthetic of the setting – sometime around the 1800s or so. While its clear what the plot will be in the first couple of pages the narrative is delivered in an entertaining way with the art supporting it well. One criticism I had is with the lettering – while I understand and very much like the choice of a font which looks like handwriting to fit with a journal being written as an internal monologue the specific font chosen made occasional words a little unclear as to what they were meant to be.

Octopus & Raven

Writer and Artist – Matt Pringle

The second story is an interaction between two spirits, Octopus and Crow, observed by three Native Americans. I like the exploration of horror within a different cultural context than European/American (USA) and while the conversation between Octopus and Crow has a very limited verity of words much more of their interaction is in expression and body language. I found the use of three observers and their apparent indifference to the skeptical an interesting choice as well, showing perhaps an acceptance of the natural world and the way it will always be. The art is good, its simpler than in The Quiescent which fits with the simplicity of the story being told.

Do You Want To See?

Writer – Michael Sambrook and Robin Jones

Artist – Alexa Renee

Finally there’s Do You Want To See? The tale of three bored kids giving into curiosity to explore a mysterious cave and are tempted in by some strange travelers. The interactions of the kids is fun and feels pretty real. I couldn’t quite gauge when this is meant to be set – the outfits of the travelers being very different to those of the kids but the tension was there and the imagery of the horror was great. I did like the use of lettering, particularly when things step up a gear.

Final Verdict

This is a great way to keep in the horror spirit now Halloween is over. I’d suggest picking it up here

 

Indie Comics Review – Packs of the Lowcountry

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I’m reviewing another horror themed comic in honour of the season, this time the original graphic novel Packs of the Low Country (on Kickstarter here). Packs of the Lowcountry is written by John Dudley, with pencils and inks by Don Cardenas, colours by Mark Dale and Kelly Fitzpatrick with colour flats assist from Drew Browne, and lettering from John Westhoff and Don Cardenas.

In a post apocalyptic world, humanity only retains some form of normalcy within walled fortifications. Those unfortunate enough to be  left outside have to try and survive packs of ‘invaders’, monsters of various forms that recently appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and started killing humans wholesale. Bastion is a soldier dropped into the Lowcountry (South Carolina), following up on intel from Agent T regarding the Baker pack, a group of invaders that are essentially werewolves. But Bastion’s superiors haven’t told him the whole truth, and there are other invaders at play in the Lowcountry. He’s about to find out how the invasion started, who started it and make some pretty weird friends along the way.

Packs of the Lowcountry feels like a book very much inspired by 90s comics (and by extension, 80s action films), and as such is a lot of fun while being hugely over the top. Dudley’s characters are well rounded with just enough detail to make them fully realised, without bogging the story down with unnecessary exposition. The plot itself feels like a complete OGN, while the ending and world certainly leave things open for more stories in the world.

The art is expressive and kinetic, but the monster designs are the star of the show here. The wolves and ‘dragons’ are terrifying looking, while ‘The Connect’ has one of the more interesting designs I’ve seen in a long while. The bright colours splashed over the forest environs of the book rounds off the more retro feel of the comic.

Check out Packs of the Lowcountry. It’s a fun action-horror book that is well worth a read. Check out the Kickstarter here.

Indie Comics Review – The Showdown Vol. 2 (Broken Icon Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

Its Halloween soon, so this week I’m reviewing The Showdown Volume 2, the follow up to the indie comic from Broken Icon Comics that I reviewed back in 2015. The Showdown was created by Russ Lippitt, with illustrations by Ezequiel Pineda and colours by Nae Esteban.

In the depths of hell, once a millennium, The Showdown takes place, a brutal death race which draws the attention of every monster in the underworld. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, skinheads and demons all fix up their cars and roll up to the start line, eager for a chance to make it to the finish line first and claim the grand prize – the chance to raise hell on earth once more.

In Volume 2 the race is in full swing, and Lippitt wastes little time in whittling down his cast of characters. Across the layers of hell, teams who get a little too close for comfort start brutally eliminating each other, either through wrecking vehicles or direct slaughter. The Dead Belles face off against killer clowns, the Hell Howlers try to fend off the Rompers, and the skeleton Bone Crusaders creep ahead of the Marauders. But who will make real progress in the race, and who won’t make it to the end at all?

After a first volume that was largely set up, this is high octane action from the get go, with plenty of surprises along the way, including match ups not playing out quite how you would expect and the arrival of a late contender that is pretty audacious and shocking. The story continues the atmosphere of a crossover between Wacky Races and Mad Max, with a dose of campy horror thrown in that is very enjoyable.

Pineda’s heavy and oppressive style fits right in with the world created in Volume 1, with the various hot rods and vehicles speeding through the various layers of hell, and haunting looking creatures and monsters. There is a level of camp horror that is brought out in the art too, which helps underline a book that definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously.  The colours from Esteban fill the dark and depressing world of hell out, with the sharp contrast of bright hellfire and colourful monsters making the dreariness appear more real.

The Showdown. Volume 2 currently has a Kickstarter, with just over 2 weeks remaining, so go check it out here!

Score: 7.5 Layers of Hell out of 10

 

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 98 – Dumb in a Smart Way

Welcome back to The Weekly Rapture, our fortnightly pop culture news and reviews podcast!

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Big News

This week we chat about The PunisherTomb RaiderStar Wars Battlefront 2 and Red Dead Redemption 2 trailers.

Screentime – IT

We review the new IT movie, the rom com starring handsome go-getting Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

Now Playing – Reading/Watching/Playing

Adam The Iliad by Homer/Star Trek Discovery on Netflix/Destiny 2 on PS4
Ian – The Fifth Season (Broken Earth 1) by N.K. Jemison/Conan the Barbarian on Netflix/Destiny 2 on PS4

Check out any of those through those Amazon links and we get a kick back! Or you can go through here.

You can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.Fancy supporting our site? Head on over to our Paypal donation page! It’s completely optional, set your own price! Even £1 helps us with hosting costs and we’d really appreciate it! Cheers!

Comic Review – Modern Testament Vol. 4 (Insane Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I’m reviewing the fourth and final volume of the Modern Testament: Anthology of the Ethereal series by author and creator Frank Martin. Volume 4 is another collection of three short stories (one split into two parts) published by Insane Comics, each illustrated by a different artist. Each story in Modern Testament takes a biblical or mythological being and places them in the modern world, following how they adapt to our times and how they choose to aid or affect mankind. As Martin says in his letter closing out the book, he saved the big guns for this final volume.

The first story, split into parts 1 and 3 in the volume, is ‘Better the Devil You Know… Than the Devil You Don’t’, with both illustrated by San Espina and with colours by Adri Pratama. A spin on the classic deal with the devil story, abusive husband Jack laments his financial situation, screaming at his wife and daughter. The devil appears to him in disguise, offering an extensive contract to trade Jack’s soul for enormous wealth. In part two, the devil comes to collect.

The art in this tale is the strongest in this volume, and the story the most compelling too. There is a solid twist that keeps it fresh, and the devil himself is brilliant and threatening as the lord of the underworld should always be. Espina and Pratama team up to create oppressive and dark looking art that 100% fits the mood.

The second story is ‘God Complex’, with art by Martin Szymanski and colours by Miguel Marques. An eminent and popular scientist calls a press conference to announce that he has discovered the theory of everything, one of the most elusive concepts in modern science. And in response, a bored God (capital ‘G’) applauds from the back of the auditorium, before telling his creations what he really thinks of them.

God Complex is the most depressing of Volume 4, and considering the subject matter it also manages to be the most nihilistic. That makes it immensely enjoyable, if you are a terrible cynic like me. The art boasts some of the more impressive visuals in this volume too, as God takes the scientist Professor Florence on a reality-bending tour.

And the final story finishes out the Horsemen of the Apocalypse theme that has spread across all 4 volumes, drawn by Anthony Pugh and coloured by Julian Dominguez. In ‘At Death’s Door’, Cain visits a depressed and out-of-shape Death, and tries to get him to embrace his role again. But the inevitability of his job, and how little effort it seems to be for him, has made him disillusioned. So Cain must try to get him back into being Death again.

The art in ‘At Death’s Door’ is simple but effective, belying the status of the characters involved. The story itself is a fun end to the theme that has played out across Modern Testament, ensuring that the collection and entire work finishes strong without taking itself too seriously.

Verdict

Modern Testament Volume 4 is a fitting end to a strong series, and is well worth picking up. You can order it online physically or digitally!

Comic Review – Modern Testament Vol. 3 (Insane Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I’m revisiting the Modern Testament: Anthology of the Ethereal series by author and creator Frank Martin, Volume 2 of which I reviewed a while ago. Volume 3 is another collection of three short stories published by Insane Comics, each illustrated by a different artist. Each story in Modern Testament takes a biblical or mythological being and places them in the modern world, following how they adapt to our times and how they choose to aid or affect mankind.

mt3-1The first story is ‘Shoulder Djinn’, illustrated by Lucas Urrutia and with colours by Ezequiel Dominguez. Tommy struggles with supporting his sick mother and falling behind with paying the bills, while hearing constant advice for what he should do from an evil red djinn on one side, and a good-natured blue djinn on the other. When it comes to breaking a few laws to get the money he needs, or doing the right thing, the two djinn confront each other. But it is down to Tommy as to which one he listens to.

Shoulder Djinn takes the old devil on the shoulder story and gives it a twist. Its a quick yet challenging story that questions the nature of influence and free will, and even brings into question whether Tommy is even hearing the djinn at all. The art is simple but evocative, with strong colour work that washes out when the djinn are talking, with just the two figures taking focus with their bright ethereal colours.

mt3-2‘The Abandoned’ is the shortest of the three tales, drawn by Francesco Conte and coloured by Macarena Cortes. A mother chastises her son over his failing grades, leading to an argument about his absent father for what is clearly not the first time. A transformation in her son leads to questions about how human his father was, while darker questions about the nature of his conception also arise.

The second story in this volume was an effective tale, if a little heavy handed, looking at abuse, its long term effects and how people deal with them. Of all these stories so far, The Abandoned is the clearest example of using the mythological creatures to tell a story that could easily be told with regular people, making it that much more engaging. The art feels claustrophobic and heavy, with the brief transformation of the son taking on a hint of body horror before quickly receding, which made the story beat all the more effective.

mt3-3Finally, following on from the theme in the final story in Volume 2, the third tale in this collection was ‘Down With the Sickness’, drawn by Joaquin GR and coloured by Matej Stasko, was about another Horseman of the Apocalypse – Pestilence. As with the story of War, this was again perhaps the most light-hearted story. Adam Prescott, CEO of the Apollo company, is dying. And to public outcry, he devotes all of the resources of his company to saving his own life. But his final doctor, Pestilence, has a few uncomfortable truths to reveal to Prescott about the nature of life and death.

The inevitability of the message behind Down With the Sickness was very strong, if pretty depressing. Of the three tales in Volume 3 this was the most entertaining, with razor sharp dialogue and wit. The art was low on action but the bold line work and skillful facial work made it stand out.

Verdict

Modern Testament Volume 3 is another fun read with more strong dialogue from Martin and three interesting stories each with a morality to its core. All three art teams turn in very strong work, while remaining distinct and appropriate for the story too.  You can check out Martin’s Facebook page here, or order Modern Testament direct from Insane Comics either physically or digitally.

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 72 – OK Spookums

Welcome back to The Weekly Rapture, our fortnightly pop culture news and reviews podcast!


Download this episode (right click and save)

Big News

This week we chatted about The Tick being picked up for a series on Amazon, No Man’s Sky being investigated by the Advertising Standards Agency, and Elon Musk taking us to Mars by 2036.

Screentime – Blair Witch

We checked out the new Blair Witch film, and reviewed it in this week’s episode. Fairly full spoilers for the film between 34:37-56:22.

Now Playing 

Adam – Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake/Luke Cage on Netflix/Bioshock on PS4
Ian – Birthday Stories by Haruki Murakami/The Girl With All the Gifts/Super Ghouls and Ghosts on Nintendo Wii

You can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.Fancy supporting our site? Head on over to our Paypal donation page! It’s completely optional, set your own price! Even £1 helps us with hosting costs and we’d really appreciate it! Cheers!

jcvj

Comic Review – Modern Testament Vol. 2 (Insane Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I’m reviewing Modern Testament Volume 2 – a collection of three short stories published by Insane Comics that was sent to me last month by the author and creator Frank Martin, with each tale illustrated by a different artist or art team. Each takes a biblical being struggling to fit in and adjust to the modern world, as they try to find meaning or remain relevant.

schoolyard monsterThe first tale is ‘Schoolyard Monster’, illustrated by Adrian Crasmaru. Joey has a common schoolyard problem – bullies. Specifically another kid named Rudy, who is seemingly the ringleader for all the other children. But after being pushed down in the mud again after school, the mud around Joey starts to coalesce into a silent and stoic golem. And the next time Rudy hassles Joey, he is in for an unwelcome surprise.

Schoolyard Monster is an engaging tale with a framing device that plays up the ‘careful what you wish for’ story beat. The art was scratchy and rough (in a good way!), with detailed and heavily expressive facial work and an almost watercolour palette, that gave an overall feel that reminded me of Jeff Lemire’s work.

 

great huntThe Great Hunt’ was drawn by Igor Chakal and coloured by Stanislav Leanov, and tells the story of two big game hunters heading out on safari to bring down a beast of unimaginable power – a behemoth. Despite warnings from the reserve warden, the pair head out to seek the monster they have heard so many rumours about. And obviously that all works out fine for them.

This second story was probably my favourite of the three. It was simple, it had strong and natural dialogue, and I do enjoy a tale of idiotic hubris. The art was especially good too, with nice renderings of a savanna environment and a really oppressive and claustrophobic edge as darkness falls. The behemoth itself was terrifying to behold, and the ensuing action was fantastically brutal.

 

warFinally ‘What is He Good For? (Absolutely Nothing)’, drawn by Noreus Teves and coloured by Laura Ruggeri, was perhaps the most light-hearted yet chilling story. An injured war veteran relaxes aboard a cruise ship, his family somewhere else on deck, and he is approached by a mysterious stranger. This man hands over his business card ‘War – Horseman of the Apocalypse’, and shows he isn’t joking by showing visions of the savagery he has had a hand in over the years. Having been content to sit back and let humanity do most of his work for him, he has now come up with a plan to speed up his end of the apocalypse. And it involves the cruise ship.

This final tale was entertainingly bleak, with an arrogance behind War that was a lot of fun to read. The art was bright and laid back and light on action, with the vibrant ‘vision’ page to the right accounting for most in the story. instead focusing more on body language and facial expressions with some fairly heavy line work that worked well.

Verdict

Modern Testament Volume 2 is a fun, quick read with strong dialogue and three intriguing tales that show a lot of potential in the writer. The art in each is distinct and suits the story, as well as being great to look at. You can check out Martin’s Facebook page here, or order Modern Testament direct from Insane Comics either physically or digitally.

Book Review – The Honours by Tim Clare

Our pal (and Total Reroll DM) Ian likes books. Here is what he thought of one of them.

Hand-grenades fashioned from condensed milk tins; shotguns tracking winged shapes through dark forests; inscrutable conversations overheard from hidden passageways; creatures and beings from another place, inscrutable, impossible. As you read this book, the taint of moss and gun smoke is tangible.

The Honours is the first novel by poet and author Tim Clare, following thirteen year old Delphine Venner in Norfolk 1935 as she tries to unravel a mysterious cult-like organisation (are they Bolsheviks? Anarchists? Republicans!?). This society have set up operation in a sprawling country estate replete with dodgy accents, hidden passages, secret tunnels, and dark secrets. Delphine’s damaged father and insipid mother have taken her to live here, amongst the society, the only child in a morass of desperate adults. As Delphine struggles to fill her days and fight her isolation she spends more and more time spying on her mysterious companions, cutting keys and stealing mail. Her friendship with the damaged groundskeeper Mr Garforth is scant solace, but at least provides ample training in shotguns and hunting traps.

The honoursThis slow burning first half establishes Delphine as a piteous figure, spirited and full of righteous anger but ultimately lonely and largely ignored. A peppering of odd occurrences and mysterious figures keep the narrative driving forward, and the second half of the novel picks up pace incredibly quickly and soon a Lovecraftian horror thriller is unfolding, culminating towards a series of revelations showing the society to be far stranger and potentially dangerous than anything Delphine could have conceived of. This pace shift is deftly handled and the deluge of creatures and concepts that emerge between the action set-pieces are never less than intriguing. Delphine as a character ran the risk of being unsympathetic (so brave, so very clever!) but she is wrought with such flaws and pathos that she is impossible to dislike.

Throughout this novel Clare’s descriptive prose and extensive research help anchor the narrative firmly in time and place which contrasts excellently with the otherworldly intrusions to come. Any fans of Mervyn Peake, H.P. Lovecraft, or China Miéville will certainly enjoy this well-crafted gem, proudly showcasing elements of classic horror and weird fiction. Check it out.

You can pick up The Honours here and follow Tim Clare’s other work at his website or @TimClarePoet

You can follow Ian too @IanTheGreen and his own writing on his website

 

Total Reroll Holiday Special

Welcome to Season 2 of Total Reroll, our Dungeons and Dragons podcast! Adam has been playing some some good old fashioned D&D with some friends in London, except it isn’t old fashioned because it’s 5th edition. After finishing ‘Hoard of the Dragon Queen’, we’ve moved on with the same characters to ‘Rise of Tiamat’, the second part of the Tyranny of Dragons storyline. You can find a mega-post of all of the Season 1 content here.

This week we present our holiday special, in which we played 7 gnomes trying to escape a terrible fate on winter solstice. This was an extra long episode, and we drank heavily throughout it. It doesn’t start great, and takes a significant dip halfway through. There is a lot of cross talk, yelling and gibberish. I can only apologise. Listen at your own peril.


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If you have any feedback email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk, tweet us @lost_lighthouse or get in touch via our Facebook! Subscribe to the podcast feed or on itunes, and feel free to share or retweet too! Fancy supporting Total Reroll and The Lost Lighthouse (and after an episode of such high quality why wouldn’t you?)? Check out our completely optional, pay-what-you-want Paypal donation page!

Our sexy new music is ‘Acid Splash’ by Rich Thomson, and our “adverts” are provided by Anthony Walsh.

Enjoy!