Indie Comic Review – Cognition #3

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Bit melodramatic… I bet he destroys the cauldron.” Sigma (Demonic Mouse)

Time for another Indie review this week. This time I’m taking a look at Cognition Issue #3, which is currently on Kickstarter. I’ve previously had a look at the Cognition series and was curious to see how it was coming along. Although this is very much an indie comic lead by creator Ken Reynolds it has a very distinct story, art style and left an impression that made me want to come back to it. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Script and Letters – Ken Reynolds
  • Artist – Sam Bentley
  • Editor – David Hailwood

Set in Victorian England, Cognition combines steam punk with the occult and mystery to deliver a cast of steam powered robots, demonic mice, investigators and Shuck, the terrifying monster dog who recently joined their party. As with previous issues the interactions between the characters, the snark of Sigma the demonic mouse bouncing off the Cal the robot is a particular enjoyment of mine. The on-going investigation brings the team to the Welsh Countryside where they encounter Gwinddonod, a mysterious old crone whose tales of legend provide further insight into the investigation. Reynolds’s strengths are certainly at play here as he delivers a narrative which hooks the reader in, with vivid language which Bentley turns into fantastic imagery.

Bentley provides a unique and distinct art style which I cannot help but associate with the series. The black and white presentation adds to the atmosphere and sense of dread while also reinforcing the feeling that this is a tale from a bygone era. The two tone style could easily lead to a rather bland read, but Bentley manages to instead embrace it and provides a level of detail in the panels, particularly with the characters which evokes a sense of realness I wouldn’t have expected from the premise of the comic. One issue I did find is when I first read this comic as a digital PDF on my phone. I have a fairly decent size phone but I did fine the art was less clear when viewed one that sort of device and it made the story harder to get into. My second read on a computer screen was a totally different experience though, which lead to the praise I’ve given above. When you read this I strongly recommend either a hard copy or if a digital done on a screen which does justice to the comic.

It’s also worth noting that Reynolds does an excellent job with the lettering, providing distinct styles for each character, which adds personality to how I imagined their voices in my head. I’ve seen Reynolds’s work on lettering in other comics, though I feel he’s at his best in Cognition.

Final Verdict

Kickstarter is currently open for this series (link here), and if it sounds like your kind of thing then get on there and back it. In my opinion this series started strongly and is continuing to improve as it goes. Check it out on Kickstarter and be sure to pick up the previous issues too.

You can also follow @CognitionComic on twitter to keep updated

 

Have an indie comic you’d like reviewed? Get in touch with Kit at lostlighthouseindie@gmail.com!

Indie Comic Review – Lizard Men #2 (Comichaus)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Shit. No offence, guys, but this isn’t my scene” The British Prime Minister in the Year 2020

The leader of the country is a celebrity with little to no idea what he’s doing as he’s totally out of his depth while the real establishment (lizard people) are trying to get him to ‘bend the knee’ and serve them as all other world leaders do. No, this isn’t a crazy internet conspiracy you’ll dig up about the ‘deep state’ on various message boards, it’s the plot of the aptly named comic ‘Lizard Men’. This comic came up through the Comichaus app and it caught my attention this week. This is bought to us by:

  • Writer and Cover Art – Steven Horray
  • Artist – Catia Fantini
  • Colourist – Chiara Bonacini
  • Letterer – Ken Reynolds
  • Editor – Mira Manga

The story kicks off at the Brit Awards in 2019 where Dylan, a pop star decides to get political. Fast forward to 2020 and somehow he’s won the election and is in charge of Britain, however his past drug habits and creepy lizard overlords aren’t giving him an easy ride on it. I picked this series up on Issue 2, which managed to provide enough exposition in the core concept to understand the state of play. The power behind the throne as such wielded by the lizard men is shown to be great and the main cast each provide intriguing back stories you want to learn more about. There’s more at play here than the surface story as well. The concept of a pop star miraculously becoming Prime Minister is one that would have sounded crazy ten years ago, but not so much now. There is a definite element of satire here at the expense of a certain president, perhaps trying to explain what on earth is ‘really going on’ (though this main character is a hell of a lot more likeable!)

As for the art – there’s a very professional feel to issue, backed up with a slightly ‘trippy’ aesthetic to match the surrealist nature of the story. The imagery often comes across as a distorted real world, matching the tone of the comic.  The characters are expressive and the conversations portrayed well, with body language communicating a lot through the character stances.

As for the lettering, Reynolds has a little fun early on in the dialogue between Dylan and the other popstars with emphasis on words like ‘totes’ in their conversation. Throughout the issue he provides a high standard of letting which weaves the reader’s eye through the pages.

Final Verdict

This comic was more than I expected. The art in itself is enough to keep reading on, which is portraying a fascinating story which you have to wonder where it will end up. There are a lot more questions than at this point and its worth reading on to find out.

You can back the Lizard Men Kickstarter here!

 

Have an indie comic you’d like reviewed? Get in touch with Kit at lostlighthouseindie@gmail.com!

Indie Comic Book Review – The Ether #1

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“I don’t want you getting hurt” Rubi

Time for another Indie review. This week I picked up The Ether, a new comic released recently putting a spin on a classic vigilante tale. The comic was brought to us by:

  • Writer – Matt Garvey
  • Artist – Dizevez

Although this comic has a high quality front cover, what really caught my attention to begin with was the variant cover on the second page. It’s a playful send up and tribute to classic comic book art styles. The other key feature is the Question/Rorschach style mask, covered by a map in place of a weird pattern of blank expression. Part of me may have thought of EastEnders when I first saw this, but it does show the masked vigilantes used for inspiration for The Ether. As with many vigilante stories this issue deals with heavy themes at times within the issue.

As for the plot, we’re introduced to a familiar tale – a badass vigilante who doesn’t play by the rules but gets results, a secret identity and a tenuous relationship with the cops. Don’t let this familiarity put you off. The format provides a foundation for an unexpectedly deep level of characterisation, with character interactions being the priority during the early parts of the comic. As the story develops unique twists are introduced which bring the story to life, providing a unique spin of the familiar tale. It also plays to the strength of the medium, with the visual nature of the comic communicating the twist without the features of say a television to potentially give the game away beforehand.

I was very impressed with the art in this issue. Dizevez’s Ether carries a level of definition which the other characters lack. The eye is always drawn to the mask and the intricate detail of is a stark contrast to many of the other characters whose features are often less set. There’s a particularly powerful scene where we see the Ether’s true self shine through where Dizevez’s clearly defined art creates a powerful and lonely moment in the issue.

But I have to ask, can Dizevez draw hands? As I’ve already said the art is of a very high standard in this issue. Hands are drawn in a wide variety of situations, positions, actions and communicate powerful emotions when need be throughout conversations. 9.5/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

I was a little apprehensive when I first opened this issue, unsure if it was going to offer anything I hadn’t seen before. But it certainly did, using the familiar setting to pursue themes too often overlooked within the comic book industry.

You can pick up The Ether #1 digitally here!

 

Indie Comic Book Review – Grief

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“… and I’ll NEVER let you go.” Mya

It’s time for another indie review. This week its Grief by Frank Gogol. Grief is a collection of short issue comics, each of which deals with a degree of heavy content, from mental health to drug abuse and the challenges of parenthood. This series is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Frank Gogol
  • Artists:
    • Nenad Cviticanin,
    • Bethany Vani
    • Ryan Foust
    • Jey Soliva
    • Kim Holm
  • Colourists:
    • Esther Gil-Munilla
    • Luca Bulgheroni
    • Nenad Cviticanin
    • Bethany Vani
    • Emily Elmer
  • Letterer – Sean Rinehart
  • Cover Artist – Dani Martins
  • Editors:
    • Marc Sumerak
    • Andy Schmidt
    • Molly Lazer

As you can see, a lot of people worked on this comic, and I’ll be honest – when I opened it and saw it was 84 pages long my first instinct was to only read the first chapter or two and review them only. The next thing I knew I was hooked and finished the whole thing. The stories all follow a similar format – they’re a few pages long, and gradually build up with a character’s internal monologue towards a twist in the final panels. These range from heart-warming, to shocking and disturbing. Gogol demonstrates great versatility moving around a range of genres, from the fantastical to the very down to earth and very real, producing a wide range of emotions in a short number of pages.

It also helps that the first character monologue references the Greek Legend of Troy, and I love stuff like that.

The art changes to match the story being told. The different artists offer a wide range of styles which each complement story. Two that stood out were Bulgheroni producing a dark atmosphere with a pallet full of strong earthy colours to match the darker tones of The Debt, Cviticanin’s strong bright style adds impact to twists. Across the board the art is of a very high quality, getting the colouring right in indie comics makes all the difference, and the team has done so. Rinehart’s work on the lettering also should not be overlooked. The font, colouring and placing of speech bubbles is constantly great throughout the whole volume.

Also, there’s something I couldn’t help but notice throughout – Superheroes. They’re not in every story, but some of them involve superheroes and in some of them superhero toys are present. There’s always a running theme with them – hope. Even when they break, with enough love and enough work they’re repaired and can lead to better things. I’m not sure if this was a deliberate choice by Gogol, but intentional or not it’s a theme I couldn’t help but pick up on.

As with all comics though, I will ask, can the art team draw hands? You’ll probably already know I’m going to say yes. The art throughout this comic has been of a very impressive standard and there weren’t any pages where the way the hands were drawn either looked out of place considering the context or the art style. 9/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

I was very impressed with this comic. As I said, I went in planning to check out the first two stories and found myself finishing them all and wanting more. This is the sort of indie comic very much worth supporting, which you can do through their Kickstarter campaign here.

Indie Comics Review – Land of the Rats

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

_1613385_origLand of the Rats is a series from writer and artist Mark Nasso, published by The Underground Forest, and it follows the story of Jack Natari as he traverses the Great Southern Vastness of Blask. Jack is a rat-man from the Kingdom of Raelak, miles from his home in Rat City. I read the first two stories from Land of the Rats, ‘Gastrolithicus’ and ‘The Woman from Iltharra’, which follow Jack as he winds his way home.

In ‘Gastrolithicus’ Jack escapes from prison, only to be captured and enslaved by the mysterious South Men. While trying to run away, he runs afoul of the monstrous Gastrolithicus that dwells near the territory of the South Men. In ‘The Woman from Iltharra’, he loses two people he was protecting to a woman hailing from a state at constant war with his homeland. He confronts this murderous barbarian, and a vicious battle ensues.

One of the strengths of Land of the Rats is Nasso’s world-building. Blask feels lived in and complete, with plenty of potential for hundreds of stories taking place there. While at times it gets a little heavy on the exposition, the mystery of the world that Jack interacts with works well. The stories themselves are well written and interesting, although there are a few instances where the dialogue feels a little out of place, with phrases like ‘ass-kicking’ interrupting the flow of the otherwise standard fantasy-style dialogue.

_317087_origThe other real strong point in these comics is Nasso’s art. The heavy and bold lines and shading create a unique and stylised black and white book that is a real pleasure to look at, despite the subject matter largely being fairly grotesque. The most striking example of this is the titular Gastrolithicus from the first book, which is terrifying to behold but wholly original and striking.

Land of the Rats is well worth checking out for the art alone, but Nasso’s world is full of potential and these stories are compelling. The first four, including Gastrolithicus and The Woman from Iltharra, are collected in Land of the Rats IV which can be found here. All the comics can be found on Comixology. You can also find more information over at theundergroundforest.com.

 

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 Comic Review – SinEater (Insane Comics)

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

“She has evil inside her”

This week I’m taking a look at another indie comic, Jojo King and Chase Dunham’s SinEater.

To kick things off before I even read the first line of dialogue the artwork stood out to me a lot, in a good way. Its black and white drawings feel like much more of a manga style than a western comic book; though you do still read from left to right across the page. I very much liked seeing this, and it immediately made the comic feel unique and stand out a little from the some of the other indie comics I’ve read.

Getting into the story itself though, our hero is Cassandra, a young girl who holds the less than prestigious title of Sineater within a village. Sineater’s do exactly as their job title implies, they literally eat people’s sins. This purifies the patient’s soul so they’re able to go to heaven. People’s sins are drawn out of them as demons which the Sineater then devours, because they then have a literal demon inside of them and are clearly putting themselves through hell to help others you’d think a Sineater would be received well out and about town, right? Wrong, of course not. They are both thanked and then shunned for their service to others and it’s getting to Cassandra.

A lot of the exposition in the first issue I felt was done very well. A conversation between a mother and child about Cassandra’s treatment of the father provides a decent enough basis and then we’re shown what happens as opposed to each little detail being printed out for us to read first. For the most part the dialogue is handled very well.

If I’m being picky I’d have two complaints about the dialogue though:

  1. There’s a few expletives throughout the comic, nothing wrong with that in general, and some fit the conversation perfectly, but a couple of them felt a little unnecessary.
  2. When Cassandra is by herself, talking to herself it felt a little forced. It wouldn’t need much to improve this, either have her summarise this in a later conversation or change it from her talking to herself to her inner thought process.

But these are largely very picky complaints and don’t take away from the fact I certainly enjoyed this read.

I enjoyed the other characters in the book too and it feels like a very solid basis for a series. The plot of this issue feels like a good start as such and this book could certainly go places.

If you want to check SinEater out, you buy it here and check it out digitally or in print!

Score: 8.5 Sins out of a Patient