Kit’s Top 5 Indie Comics of 2015

Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to be sharing our top 5s of 2015, from everyone who writes here at The Lost Lighthouse. Here is Kit’s Top 5 of Indie Comics of 2015 (Adam picked the featured image for no reason other than it amused him)

My turn to hop on the top 5 bandwagon! My articles in 2015 have mostly been either comics or short stories, to decide what to go back to I figured that actually I’ve read some amazing Indie Comics this year and it would be great to go back and give my favourites some more publicity. Also, it frees up the mainstream comics for Adam if he feels like procrastinating from his thesis some more! (if it had been me by the way it would be: Batman, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Saga, Wicked and Divine and Barracuda!)

Anyway, the top 5 Indie Comics I’ve read in 2015 are:

5 – Reapers – written by JoJo King, art by Adrian9, published by Insane Comics

Available here

Untitled

Reapers, the story of a young woman who dies, only to be recruited by ‘Victor’ aka the Grim Reaper to do his dirty work and collect souls of the dead and battle demons! What does she get in exchange? Sweet oblivion.

I like the art in this comic, a lot of detail is packed into each of the panels and the imagery in the early pages showing the afterlife is unique and captures the mood. The non-human characters appear full of personality and look very cool.

The concept for the story is interesting and a lot could be done with it. Violet’s death and subsequent exploration of the afterlife are really cool and give pivotal insight into her character.

The only thing that didn’t quite work for me in this comic was The Reaper, Victor, much as the Grim Reaper aspect works the way he spoke kinda bugged me, which is why this comic makes my top 5 but not higher.

 

4 – The Revival – written and drawn by Tom Kyzivat, published by Hound Comics

Available here

the_revival_pic

A post-apocalyptic wasteland after a global war and the survivors just scraping to get by? No, this isn’t Mad Max, but sign me up!

The world is ruled by the mysterious figure Patriarch. However, Patriarch has died, and the world has been a worse place for it. Those with magic battle those with technology and our heroes are doing their best to scrape by. And my favourite part? You pick up so much of it naturally, there isn’t the often made mistake of beating you over the head with exposition. Also, one of the characters is a bear.

The art is good, if not the highest quality on this list, however I do love the use of barcodes when the Cabbage Heads speak.

If you like Mad Max, Fallout, Firefly or anything at all like them then this is the perfect comic for you!

 

From here it’s on to my top 3, where picking the order gets really hard…

3 – Sineater – written by JoJo King and Chase Dunham

Award: Best Concept

Available here

Sineater

Right, Sineater is third. Am I sure about this? Umm… maybe, my top three are all fantastic comics and all very different to each other, I spent way too long trying to work out the order for them and even changed it twice writing this article. To make things a little easier I’ve decided to cheat and award them their own titles for what each of them are best at as well.

Sineater gets Best Concept. This is a really cool idea for a story, a young girl named Cassandra works as a Sineater, and she goes around and literally eats people’s sins. It’s a thankless job and she is hated for her strange powers. The whole idea is communicated brilliantly at the beginning in a conversation between a mother and daughter while Cassandra gets ready to do her job.

The art feels a little like a manga, which isn’t a bad thing and it helps Sineater feel unique.

Speaking of manga, if you like manga or anime like Soul Eater or D-Gray Man this would be a very good comic to pick up as it feels a lot like them in tone.

Some minor dialogue issues put it slightly lower than the next two comics for me, but that was being REALLY picky.

 

2 – Young, Talented… Exploited! – written by Yatuu, Translated by Fnic and published by Sloth Comics

Award: The Best Non-Traditional Comic

Available here

YTE2

This was perhaps the biggest surprise for me as a comic. It’s not a traditional comic book at all, the story isn’t fantastical, the characters are based on real people and it even has a choose-your-own-adventure element to it.

The story follows a young girl and her attempts to make a career for herself in the gaming industry and the challenges she faces. This really hit home to me as someone who, although in a very different industry, is trying to build a career for himself in our post-recession economy. It isn’t easy at all, and this comic sums it all up perfectly, the long hours, give it your all but only be left feeling unappreciated and completely disposable to businesses.

The art is minimalist and used to illustrate the words more than tell the story itself.

There’s the choose-your-own-adventure bit to it as well, which again hits the nail on the head for what it’s like trying to work these days whatever path you choose.

This really is something I wish employers, and students should read. Students to manage their expectations that things are not as easy as some people will lead you to believe and employers to give them a little perspective for their interns and graduates. I’ve put this as second as it isn’t a traditional comic as such, but it is really worth the read.

 

1 – Kings of the Wastelands – written, pencilled and inked by Delbert Hewitt Jr

Award: Best Artwork and Characters

Available here

kings

Here we are, my number 1 Indie comic I’ve read in 2015! There’s a lot of good stuff out there, but for me this one just edged it over the competition!

To start with this comic looks fantastic, very professional and the characters are full of colour and life. The characters are all animals and each has so much personality packed into them.

The story itself is very cool as well, it’s (another) post-apocalyptic wasteland, where Jacob is out for revenge against Hunter the Tiger and forms a loose band with Gib the driving Turtle and a Cat with a catapult. The plot itself is fairly simple, but that’s a good thing, it allows for fantastic character inter play, they all bounce off each other to create a fun, vibrant comic. The combat looks great and I love the touch of having the ‘Dragon’ be a Hippo.

This is a fun start to a promising series, if you want an action comic with fantastic fight scenes or if you like Mad Max, but kinda wished they were all talking animals then this is for you. The art is also fantastic and the author and colourists should feel proud of what they’ve made here.

This is why this comics (just) makes it to my number 1 spot.

 

Kit

Indie Comics Review – The Infected #1 (Hound Comics)

Our pal Kit sometimes write for the site! This is one of those times.

*This is the second review from a spotlight we’re going to be doing on Hound Comics, a private publishing company with their own ongoing comic series and web series. We’re going to be reviewing first issues of some of their comic series over the next few weeks. You can buy issue #1 of ‘The Infected’ here.*

 

“On May 21, 2020 A virus began infecting the Super Human population of Tower City.” – First Line of The Infected

Zombie style viruses: the sort that turn a person into a mindless flesh eating monster.

Superheroes: People who have transcended humanity in some way and fight for a better and brighter future with their new found powers.

Mixing these together can prove a hell of a lot of fun! Many of you may have read the Marvel Zombies, if you haven’t and you like zombies then you should get to that immediately! But it’s not just the big names in comics that get to have all the fun. Today I’ll check out The Infected by Chris Hartmann and Dave Mimms.

To try and be balanced here I’ll break my review down into four parts before giving an overall total. I’ll check out:

  • The Concept
  • The Plot
  • The Characters
  • The Artwork

Anyway, on with the review!

The Concept: 

As I mentioned before, this isn’t unfamiliar territory for me. I’ve read my fair share of zombies, superheroes and zombie-superheroes so this isn’t a revolutionary concept. That isn’t a bad thing though, after all apparently there are only really six stories out there, taking a look at an established idea at a new angle can lead to an excellent series. Also, not having any pre-established superheroes to work which means the novelty of seeing Spidey eat his Aunt May won’t distract from what’s going on here. The idea is taken a bit further with a little exposition on the first page:

  • The virus seems to only affect super humans (or ‘Supers’ as they’re known after)
  • This has been going on for a little while
  • The city is on lockdown and the national guard are moving in

So looks like a Walking Dead, drop you in the action approach and seems your average Joe can’t be infected so it has the humans vs. super humans spin on it.

So, concept score – as this is covering familiar ground for me this will need to take things in a fresh direction, if it can do that then this could be great. 7/10.

The Plot: 

So interesting idea, but need to add something new. Time to see if it can deliver. Our hero is Jacob. The first issue focuses on him waking up in the middle of the city in chaos and trying to work out what’s going on. The first half of the comic has him trying to work out what’s happened, whilst other character’s provide exposition to him. Going with the amnesia approach I can see why they did this. The thing is as a reader I just had all of this explained to me on the first page, so it just feels like unnecessary repetition here. Either loose the summary or skip in character exposition, have it explained off screen and give us a bit more plot.

Jacob joins up with John ‘Freedom’ Winters, some kind of lone vigilante, who saves Jacob from being gunned down by the National Guard and they find a spot to hide crash for the night. Some of the exposition Freedom gives seems to contradict itself so I can’t say the world is making a huge amount of sense here.

So, plot score – I can see what you’re trying to do, but half the comic could have been put to better use and some of the exposition makes no sense. 3/10.

The Characters: 

Jacob – Doesn’t seems to have much going on for him to be honest. He’s a bit of a blank slate. He’s suffering from amnesia but not much personality really shines through otherwise. I think what sums it up is I can’t really add much more to his personality than this. He’s boring. 2/10.

Freedom – I can’t tell if this guy’s name is supposed to be a parody or played straight. Either way he has a bit more going for him than Jacob does. I wouldn’t call him the smartest guy in the world though. He apparently hates Supers, but kills the National Guard who were about to take down a potential virus crazed, flesh eating super, then let’s said suspect tag along with him, knowing nothing about him. Still, say there’s a sub plot about this guy having been driven insane by the state of things and battling monsters for so long and this could be interesting. 4/10

Character score – Only these two really had much going on in this issue so I’ll average their scores: 3/10.

The Artwork: 

The art is interesting. A lot of detail has been squeezed in, some of the proportions of facial features and the characters themselves seem a little skewed. However that seems deliberate. It adds to the feeling that by now there won’t be many ‘normal’ people left. The front cover looks cool as well and certainly grabbed my attention. There is one bit where a monster appears out of the blue, which seems a little ridiculous when you look at the size of the thing. But to be fair that may be a plot issue more than an art issue.

Still, the art is one of the strong points of this comic book. Art Score – 7/10.

 

Final Verdict

Overall, The Infected is OK. The idea behind it works and it looks good, but the first issue lacks substance. The characters weren’t engaging and the plot lacking. There is potential to turn this into something great I think, but maybe calling this one a first draft and having another go may be the best approach. If you want to support a more indie publisher and writers and enjoy this sort of thing then check it out.

Final Score – 5 Freedoms out of 10.

 

Kit

Indie Comics Review – The Revival #1 (Hound Comics)

Our pal Kit sometimes write for the site! This is one of those times.

 

*This is the first review from a spotlight we’re going to be doing on Hound Comics, a private publishing company with their own ongoing comic series and web series. We’re going to be reviewing first issues of some of their comic series over the next few weeks. You can buy issue #1 of ‘The Revival’ here.*

 

“It’s been five years since the war began. Three since the war ended. And longer than anyone can remember since anyone had a decent cup of coffee.” – The Revival describing my idea of hell.

Time for our first review of a Hound Comics comic! This time I’ll be getting my teeth into The Revival: The Red Age, written and drawn by Tom Kyzivat. Why did I pick this one? To be honest I just saw the title and thought it sounded cool. For my review I’ll use the following criteria:

  • The Concept,
  • The Plot
  • The Characters,
  • The Artwork.

What we will be getting into, as you may imagine from the quote is a post-apocalyptic world where a rag tag bunch of soldiers of circumstance struggle for survival. Also, there’s no more good coffee. Hell, I wouldn’t last a day without my regular caffeine fix, I’d be screwed!

The Concept: As I’ve already said this is a post-apocalyptic set up, there’s been some kind of large scale war (global I assume?) that’s left the world blighted and any survivors just scraping by. The first page describes Patriarch, some kind of mysterious authoritative figure who it seems people listened to. Patriarch is now dead. This concept itself doesn’t get picked up too much more during this first comic, which I like, it adds an air of mystery to whatever’s happened to this world and leaves you wanting more.

The first page also sets up a bit of a magic vs technology deal for this world, which I imagine may play out a little like Saga. As I love Saga, this is a good thing. Again, this isn’t picked up too much during this first issue, but it does help set your expectations and add a little flavour to the world.

As for the characters it’s the scrappy crew doing their best to get by in a desolate world. Their dynamic very much feels like Firefly, which I’m very sure provided some inspiration for this.

For a concept score. 8.5/10.

The Plot: As with many comic book the first few pages are spent introducing first the world, and second the lead characters. This is done well I think, the world is shown from the perspective of the main character (Red) which both fleshes her out and sets up the world itself. Once you get a feel for who’s who the team set out on a raiding mission to pick up supplies. You discover bits of the world as they go, you’re introduced to ‘Cabbage Heads’ – a clone army of The Engine, the hopelessness of the world – delivered quite naturally throughout the comic book. The exposition is generally done well, a lot is put across to the reader without being too in your face or ‘here is why things are like this’.

The story itself is pretty simple for a single issue, which is natural for a first comic, it leaves you wanting to know more about the big questions and gives you time to get to know the characters.

Plot score then, it’s a solid start. 8/10.

The Characters: There’s quite a few you’re introduced too this issue so many of them don’t get too much more development than their clear archetype. Even so you do get at least a little time to get a feel for who each of them are.

Red – Our captain and main character. You get to know her pretty well over the first few pages while she describes the world. She seems to be serious in all that she does and apparently has a taste for coffee (worth at least an extra point for me!). She could go either way, with an interesting back story and some decent challenges to come along she could end up an excellent character, though there is a risk she could end up the boring one if she isn’t explored properly. For Red I’d say 8/10.

Tater – the Engineer who probably features the least in the comic. He’s a background character for the first issue but seems to be a bit older than the rest, providing a bit of a father figure to the crew it seems. He’s off to a solid enough start, but there’s much more to go here, so for Tater I’m thinking 6.5/10.

Woods – the Scout. I very much like his design, he’s been given a unique way of talking and I think a lot of personality is packed into both his appearance and his actions. He’ll likely be the butt monkey for jokes and stuff going forward but that’s often needed in these sorts of stories. 8/10.

The Pessimist – her Lieutenant. For starters he’s a bear, bears are cool. He’s the muscle and serious one of the group. He has a cool design but like many of his archetype his stoic nature means we don’t know him too well yet. Still, he gets bonus points for being a bear. So 8/10.

Finally we have Rainbow – the demolitions expert, T&A, fourth wall-breaker and comic relief of the group. She does provide some much needed colour to the comic and it’s the sort of story where having a character who knows how to smile does make a positive impact. Unfortunately I felt it was done a bit too heavy handedly at times. Good in theory but maybe dial Rainbow down a little next time. 7/10

Character score – For an overall average: 7.5/10.

The Artwork: Overall the art very much gets the tone right, the world is bleak and browny-red, the characters look good, Rainbow does add some much needed colour (and enjoys doing it!). I also really like how the Cabbage Heads speak in bar codes. Unfortunately, the faces do look a little off at times I feel. Red’s nose just kinda bugs me…

Still, the art is solid overall. I’d say Art Score – 7/10.

Final Verdict

I enjoyed this comic. This is a good start to a series and leaves you wanting to know more. There are some minor character points I think need ironing out, but hopefully that’ll come with time/character development. There are some great ideas here and it’s worth checking out! The average is 7.75/10. I’ll bump that to 8!

Final Score – 8 Decent cups of coffee out of 10

 

Kit