Indie Comic Preview – Candles

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

“Hopefully next time we can grab a meal and go unnoticed for once” – Idris

This week I’d like to highlight an exciting new comic due to come out later this month. Candles is a self-contained fantasy graphic novel both written and drawn by Lyndon White. For any of you who picked up a copy of the Little Heroes Comics Anthology #2 you’ll immediately recognise Lyndon’s unique colourful style where each panel is it’s own miniature work of art.

Lyndon’s previous work has covered a full spectrum of genres, available at www.lyndonwhite.com. Lyndon’s art is well suited to both the fantastical such as Candles, horror which he’s worked on extensively before, and bringing out an emotional intensity as seem on Little Heroes. Candles itself promises a fun fantastical adventure, with a simple premise of an overly enthusiastic child learning magic in a sceptical and fearful society which promises characters and their personalities to shine and drive the story.

Generation after generation people are taught one thing, never use magic. The evil Witch has cast a plague known as Dark-bark over the land and one by one, infected villagers are lured into the enchanted forest never to be seen again. As a last resort to save her family, Grace embarks on a quest to steal the Witch’s magic and use it to save her dying village.

Meanwhile, Idris, a flamboyant sorcerer and his talented apprentice Ava, are outcasted from their town and begin to track the source of the Dark-bark. Wolves howl at the night sky and candles begin to glow. The Witch must be stopped at all costs, however, everything is not as it seems. Candles is a full colour fantasy graphic novel, written and illustrated by Lyndon White.

The book is being crowdfunded through Unbound, launching during the Lakes Comic Art Festival and aiming to launch the campaign by the 11th October 2018.

Lyndon has recently finished work on the fantasy, horror mini-series Mandy the Monster Hunter: Legend of the Spindly Man with Hellbound Media, after launching a highly successful Kickstarter in March 2018, for his Call of Cthulhu concertina book.

Candles will be his third graphic novel after Sparks and the Fallen Star, 2016 and The Mind of James Svengal, 2018 (written by Jordan Sam Adams), both of which were published by Blue Fox Comics.

 

Got an indie comic for us to review? Email us at lostlighthouseindie@gmail.com

Indie Comic Review – Battlecats #1-5 (Mad Cave Studios)

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

This week I’m reviewing the first volume of Battlecats from Mad Cave Studios, which collects the first arc of the series ‘The Hunt for the Dire Beast’ and contains issues #1-5. Battlecats was created and written by Mark London, with art on issues #1-4 by Andy King and on issue #5 by Michael Camelo, colours on issues #1-3 by Alejandro Giraldo and on issues #4-5 by Julian Gonzalez, and lettering and book design by Miguel Zapata.

Battlecats takes place in a fantasy world of anthropomorphic animals, mostly cats, where the titular force of highly trained warriors protect the realm of Valderia on the orders of King Eramad III. He has tasked them with slaying the legendary Dire Beast, so the Battlecats travel to the region of La Marque to fight the monster. But along the way they must deal with the rebellious Darkats, the freezing cold, and a target that may not only be too much for them to handle, but also more than it seems.

Battlecats is a very compelling read. There is a lot here that is fairly well trodden ground, but London manages to tell the tale in a way that it is fresh and original. There is a real 80s cartoon feel, but with a depth of storytelling that was often missing from those shows. London even takes an issue to backtrack and explain the world after setting up the characters and action, which at that point feels necessary rather than expository, before returning to the action. The result is a world that feels brimming with life, leaving the reader wanting more. The only drawback is that the actual Battlecats aren’t given much room to breathe and feel developed yet, but after 5 issues there is still plenty of scope to do this in future stories.

The feeling of 80s cartoon nostalgia continues into the art as well, with big fantasy action, snarling cats and powerful and terrifying monsters all deftly brought to life by King and Camelo. The action is the particular strength is this series in fact, and Giraldo and Gonzalez bring a clarity to the proceedings with their colours, with the variety of garb depending on home nation creating vibrant differences between each Battlecat.

Battlecats surprised me with how quickly I was hooked on the story, and it is well worth your time checking out. Issue #5 was out this week, with the collection of this first arc coming out next month on July 25th.

Indie Comic Review – Little Heroes Comics Charity Anthology #2

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

Following my last review of the Little Heroes Charity Anthology Volume 1, I’ve been fortunate enough to be offered a review copy of Volume 2, which is currently on Kickstarter (link here)

Full disclosure, I’ll be backing this on Kickstarter myself!

To provide a brief reminder of what the Little Heroes Comics Charity is for, the publisher is raising funds by selling these issues. Little Heroes was started by Aaron Rackley to distribute comic-making kits to children following his own experience of cancer.

The second anthology is entitled ‘Family’ and was written by talented comic book creators who provided a wonderful range of stories that make up the anthology. This anthology was bought to us by:

  • Galland and Amos – Creator – Rob Barnes
  • Escape from Casa Kaiju – Writer – Forrest C. Helvie, Artist – Joseba Morales, Letterer – Adam Wollet
  • Supermom & Catdad – Story – Rob Andersin, Artist – Rahil Mohsin
  • Vampire Squid Boy – Story – Dwight and Rebecca Macpherson!, Artist – Matt Sandbrook, Logo and Letterer – Simon Robins
  • The Mountain Wolf – Creator – Tom Roberts
  • Hot Lava Monster – Writer and Letterer – Eddy Hedington, Artist – Fares Zoghlami
  • Mandy the Monster Hunter in The Crocodile in the Carpet – Story – Mark Adams and Matt Warner, Script – Matt Warner, Artist – Lyndon White, Letterer – Nikki Foxrobot
  • Tooth and Claw – Creator – Claire Spiller
  • The Cov Kids – Creator – Nick Shingler
  • Oh God – Writter – Stu Perrins, Artist – Tom Curry
  • Family Fun – Creator – Kev Brett
  • The Vital Ingredient: A Late Knights Story – Artist Matt Stross, Story – Jon Laight, Letterer – Ken Reynolds
  • The Tale of the Chemonster – Story – Samuel London, Artist – Sarah Milman
  • How to Think When You Draw – Creator – Lorenzo Etherington

As before the comics are a lot of fun. They are aimed at the children who may well be reading them from a hospital bed or while recovering from one treatment or another. They aim to inspire a feeling of togetherness and family. The stories are told usually from the perspective of a child or a parent in a variety of family situations. This includes families with the one parent or more strained relationships as well as the usual two parent set up. There are stories of adventure on grand scales, imaginary games, more simple challenges and it does get a little heavy in places (a very good thing!)

The art varies with each comic, providing a unique style to tell each story. This ranges from more cartoonish to heavily detailed. For me, the art of Lyndon White for ‘Mandy the Monster Hunter’ and Claire Spiller with ‘Tooth and Claw’ really stood out. Each of the artists though brought their stories to life and the work throughout is excellent.

Due to the huge number of artists I’ll have to forego my usual ‘can the artist draw hands’ question otherwise I’ll be writing this all night! Needless to say though, across the board they definitely can.

Final Verdict

These comics are important, they provide an opportunity for children going through challenging times some much needed escapism through fun, heart-warming stories. I strongly encourage you to back this on Kickstarter or at least pick up a copy once it’s released.

Back it on Kickstarter here!

Score: 14 out of 10, keep up the incredible work!

 

Got an indie comic for us to review? Email us at lostlighthouseindie@gmail.com

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 Review – Little Heroes Comics Charity Anthology #1

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

I wanted to do something a little different this week. While I’m still reviewing a comic this is something a bit more special as the publisher is also raising funds for a charity by selling these. To give a brief overview of what they do, Little Heroes was started by Aaron Rackley to distribute comic-making kits to children following his own experience of cancer.

The first anthology is entitled ‘Strength’ and was written by talented comic book creators who provided a wonderful range of stories that make up the anthology. This anthology was bought to us by:

  • Totally Beast – Creator (and cover art for the anthology) – Ross Burt
  • The Bike Force – Writer – Tony Esmond, Artist – Susie Gander, Letterer – Dan Butcher
  • Ell and the Vile Alien – Creator – Kev Brett
  • Rule of Three – Writer – Vincentius Talbot, Artist – Stefan Nymzo
  • Strong / Invincible – Creator – T. Leal
  • New Fish in Town – Creator – Tom Curry
  • Strength – Creator – Simon Russell
  • The Flying Halfpennies – Creator – Nick Prolix
  • The Hero Within – Creators – Mo Ali and Andy Bloor

While the comics are primarily aimed at kids they are a lot of fun. They cover a range of genres, from action adventure to super heroes, sports to animals. The theme of strength is picked up through many different lenses, and there are homages to the superhero genre, with the creators showing a clear passion for the form of media their stories are presented in. I really enjoyed the accessibility offered by the stories where there is a portrayal of strength for everyone. Strength is far from limited to being a purely physical or triumphant act as well. Strength is shown to be facing your fears, overcoming huge obstacles or when need be punching an invading alien in the face (physical strength is still an important type of strength!).

Naturally there is a different art style for each of the individual comics and each of the artists is unique. Each of these matches the tone of the comic from over-exaggerated loony toons to accentuate the action and comedy, to simple black and white line drawings to add an edge of realism. What is more impressive is the number of small teams and solo efforts for each of the mini comics. There aren’t full teams working on these but usually one or two or at most three people taking on the whole task.

Due to the huge number of artists I’ll have to forego my usual ‘can the artist draw hands’ question otherwise I’ll be writing this all night! Needless to say though, across the board they definitely can.

Final Verdict

As I said, this is something special and can offer kids going through an incredibly hard time a creative outlet that anyone would crave. I would really recommend checking Little Heroes out. You can buy:

  • Physical issues on their website at: http://littleheroescomics.co.uk/
  • Or in person at the True Believer’s Comic Festival in Cheltenham this weekend! (3rd – 4th February)
  • Digital issues on the Comichaus app at: Google Play or iPhone App Store

Score: 14 out of 10, would read again and again.

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 – 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

 

Indie Comic Review – Lilith Dark #1 (Alterna Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“I wish I could have just one real adventure.” Lilith Dark

Another week so another indie comic. I picked up Lilith Dark this time from Alterna Comics. They have many new comics now available on www.comichaus.com/indies . The front cover itself was enough to draw me in, a kid with a sword riding a dinosaur? The only downside to it was the jealousy felt by my inner child. This story was written and the issue entirely drawn by Charles C. Dowd.

This comic begins with Lilith Dark, our mighty hero and slayer of beasts off on one of her adventures. I was immediately stuck by a Calvin and Hobbes vibe from the opening pages, Lilith Dark’s adventures seem a lot like Calvin’s Spaceman Spiff character. She lives with her older brother and sister and despite being kind-hearted and imaginative they don’t quite get her, wrapped up in their own boring lives of boys or dull, generic and legally distinct from real life video games that don’t even have dinosaurs in them! The only character who truly understands her is toy Dinozillus and above all else she wants a real adventure.

What’s impressive about Dowd’s work is that he produced all of it himself. Both the story and the art of a high standard, the light colour palette creating a very childhood-like vibe. Lilith is full of life; the comic could easily tell the same story on the art alone without any words. This isn’t to criticise the lettering, the issue does have a lot of dialogue, reflecting Lilith’s inner narrative on her imaginary adventures. Lilith’s face communicates powerful emotions from childish pouts to smiles and uncontrollable ‘squees’. Where the action picks up even the monsters are full of character and appropriately named just as a child does.

Dowd has taken on a lot with this comic, but the question remains, how well can Dowd draw hands? Pretty well it would seem. The simple nature of the art style does mean they’re less detailed than you may see produced by a different artist, however they do feel appropriate for the light-hearted story told within this issue. The only minor point, being picky I noticed was the cat paws (being a cat owner). They’re drawn with only three toes on each. Though I’ll admit this is me being very pedantic.

Final Verdict

This is a fun comic you can tell Dowd has put a lot into. My main criticism of the issue isn’t to do with the issue itself, but the adverts within. They broke up the flow of the comic at times in inconvenient places. It feels like something appropriate for all ages. Providing a relatable imaginative scope for kids and a bit of fun nostalgia for adults.

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!