True Believers Comic Festival 2016

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Kit headed off to the True Believers Comic Festival at the Cheltenham Racecourse this year. Here’s what he thought!

Mission: To put the comics back into Comic-Con!

Do you like comics? Well you’re reading this so I’m going to assume that yes, yes you do. With that in mind you really need to check out the True Believers Comic Festival. There are many conventions around the UK, you can go to the likes of MCM Expo, which although fantastic and a hell of a lot of fun is not for the faint of heart. I have many fond memories there, but also less fond memories of being stuck in queues for entire mornings or being caught in a crush of people trying to get to the loos. If you want something similar, but on a smaller, far more relaxed scale then True Believers is for you. It’s only been running for two years, and I’ve had the very good fortune to have been to both cons so far.

It’s based in Cheltenham at the beginning of February each year, located at the Racecourse. When my partner, Charlie, and I got there (her in cosplay, a dress down Black Cat and looking fantastic… I was lazier this year and didn’t dress up myself…), 15 minutes after opening we were greeted by a packed entrance hall! There were a lot more people there than last year (no figures to back this up, but it certainly felt like this!) but once we’d hacked through the small crowd to the entrance we made our way in. The main hall itself was full of stalls with plenty going on around each. There’s collectible figures, merchandise of all the mainstream comics, there’s artists, cake and my personal favourite – indie comic books!

One of the things I love about attending True Believers is the time you can spend chatting to the indie artists and writers. They have a great chance to promote their work here and are naturally very passionate about it. When you pass a table and something catches your eye take the chance to talk to them and next thing you know you’ll be even more intrigued by their work, will be the proud owner of a new comic book and a few pounds worse off. I’ll be doing my next few comic reviews based on the comics I picked up at True Believers.

We attended one of the main panels, Celebrate Cosplay lead by GCC, Kurostyler, Limegreenjelly and Tris Trinket. They talked about all things cosplay, they gave advice, spoke about their experience and answered questions. The whole atmosphere was fun and relaxed, plenty of people in the audience felt comfortable asking things or contributing themselves. They promoted a very positive attitude towards cosplay, focusing on enjoying it whoever you are and discouraging elitism.

TB1

There was also a new table-top gaming area, where anyone could step in and play a board game and get to know other con-goers. There were group meet ups (Charlie joined in the Marvel and DC group) and some incredible costumes.

TB2

TB3There was also a real family friendly environment, plenty of kids dressed up as their favourite character and enjoying themselves.

The main event in the afternoon was the cosplay catwalk. I didn’t take part this time, but Kurostyler did an excellent job MCing it. He kept the crowd entertained and introduced all of the excellent costumes.

All of the people working there, from organising the big events to shepherding people into the convention, work really hard, and as a note if any of them are reading this – thanks a lot for putting on a fantastic event. We’ll definitely be back next year!

Anything they could have done better? Well as the convention is growing, the demand for panels and other activities (maybe a video game area) is going to grow. So basically yeah, the same again please, but even more!

Kit

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 Showdown Vol. 1 (Broken Icon Comics)

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 The Showdown, an indie comic coming up this month from Broken Icon Comics. Volume 1 was very kindly sent to me by its creator, novelist Russ Lippitt. Joining him on The Showdown is illustrator Tony Guaraldi-Brown, with colour assist from Jeremy Rodriguez and Jessica Lippitt editing the book.

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 this first volume we are introduced to several of the teams as they gather for The Showdown. The diverse range of monsters and their rides are really interesting, from the greaser ‘500’s’ and the ‘Dead Belles’ to Samhain’s ‘Mischiefs’ and the terrifying looking brother-sister team ‘The Freak’. Fights and threats are thrown around both on the night before the race and as the chequered is waved to start things off, but between two lovers, Stitch from the 500’s and Betty from the Dead Belles, there is also a promise to each other, despite the disapproval of their team mates.

the showdown2I think the most impressive aspect of The Showdown is the groundwork that has gone in to this first volume, a set up for when the actual race begins in the next part. Lippitt quickly introduces an array of different characters, teases their motivations and ultimately makes it easy for the racers to seem a little less two dimensional when it comes to the actual Showdown. The general approach of the story and atmosphere feels something like a mash up of the Wacky Races, Mad Max and Hammer Horror, resulting in a unique plot that was very enjoyable.

Guaraldi-Brown’s art is heavy and rough, giving an oppressive style to the book that makes the air of hell feel thick and hot. The designs of the different characters and vehicles are fantastic and really helps to sell the rich variety in the teams that Lippitt has come up with. The colour work complements all of this with a subdued and dark palette, providing a dirty, grungey looking book that really captures Dante’s vision of hell with a added punk aesthetic.

As a set up for what is to come, volume one of The Showdown is a success, and left me eager to find out what will happen when this death race kicks off. The book currently has a Kickstarter to fund Volumes 2 and 3 that ends in 4 days, so go and have a look at that now, where you can find out more about the plot and check out some more of the art.

Score: 8 Hot Rods out of 10

 

Indie Comics Review – Young, Talented… Exploited! (Sloth Comics)

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

“Faced with a cascade of such the tantalising and enticing offers. I was forced to accepted one of their offers”

Before you get picky with the wording of that quote, this comic was originally written in French by Yatuu, translated by Fnic. It tells a story that will be worryingly familiar to you if you are, or were, a twenty something year old, bright and optimistic graduate.

This isn’t a traditional graphic novel as such, the pages are minimalist in their art, jumping from scene to scene with at times little to no transition. This isn’t a bad thing in this case as it tells an overarching story. It tells the story of a young girl trying to make her way in the world. She starts off bright and optimistic, having previously graduated to obtain her degree, but as she tried to start a career in the games industry but instead just finds herself passed around from one internship to another.

As someone who’s been around the houses a little bit in trying to start their career after university this hit home a little bit. She tried her best for her first few internships but never gets anywhere with it. The comic book focuses on her next attempt to break into the industry. It has a choose-your-own-adventure style aspect across the comic (I did cheat and check all of the options!)

It shows a lot of the hardships faced by the late 80s – 90s graduates today, who were told that life would be easy and they’d land their dream job if they just went to university. And then they’d get their perfect job if they just worked a little harder. As we see in this comic it’s easy to give nearly everything you have and still get nowhere. She meets the supportive janitor, the eccentric bosses and unsympathetic employees who just seem to be waiting for her to leave.

YTE1

As the art on each page is very light it’s very easy to read, it’s not a comic I’d expect to see Marvel or DC fans clamouring over but it would be a great comic to get out to the wider public. It would be great to see it passed around students before they go to university, but that’s incredibly unlikely of course.

I won’t go into what happens at the end, but it fits the tone of the comic perfectly.

Final Verdict

This is a very good, very real one off story. The tale it tells is relevant during the 2010s and I’m sure plenty of people will be able to relate to it. I’d recommend it if you’ve graduated and you’re finding times tough, if you want to get into something a bit heavy, but I’d especially recommend it to any employers out there. Even more so any who offer unpaid internships. You can pick it up over at the Sloth Comics website!

Final Score – 8 overworked late nights out of 10.

Indie Comic Review – The Kings of the Wastelands #1 (Hound Comics)

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

“Hold on to your britches partners! We are in for a bumpy ride!” – Gib the talking turtle.

Hound comics are up again! This time with a review of The Kings of the Wastelands! This was written, pencilled and inked by Delbert Hewitt Jr (now that’s dedication!) and coloured by Ross A Campbell, for pages 1-4, then Juan Marquez.

So, what are we looking at here? We have a post-apocalyptic setting, talking animals and no people. Well I’m game, that’s for sure. In this world there was some kind of explosion, not gone into in this first issue, that seemingly left every human dead, or at least out of Vegas and resulted in the animals walking around on two feet and speaking, wearing clothes, fighting and struggling for survival.

We begin with a very colourful front cover, a dog is flying through the air about to stab a gigantic hippo. This is a good lead in to the art in this issue. Every page is full of colour and detail, I didn’t actually notice the change of colouring styles during the comic until I reread it for this review. There are some minor differences in the colouring, mostly in the sky when you look for it. Otherwise the change in colourist is seamless. As for the art itself Hewitt has done a very good job. His style is seemingly simplistic but he packs in a lot of detail and expression into his characters.

Speaking of his characters, each of the cast appearing in this issue is full of personality. Jacob, our hero is a loner dog who’s moping around the wasteland and out for revenge. The cat… isn’t actually named… but is clearly a dependant, openly needing to be part of a group, unlike most actual cats. And then there’s Gib, the awesome, old, car driving, apparently southern turtle. Plus a whole host of bad guys for the gang to fight, varying from lizard nomads, to panthers, to Hunter the tiger – the apparent antagonist and finally the Dragon… or hippo… dragon does sound more intimidating, but damn, I would not like to fight that hippo myself.

The story follows Jacob’s integration into a loose group with the cat and Gib, whilst seeking revenge on Hunter the tiger, who killed his family. There is no mention of what’s happened to the humans, or why increased intellect apparently means animals care about wearing clothes now, but this isn’t a comic that feels hugely deep as such. It’s a very fun ride for a first issue, successfully setting the stakes, the good guys and the bad guys whilst packing in some kick ass fights, but it doesn’t feel like there’s any hidden meaning or much to stay up discussing in the early hours of the morning to it. This in itself isn’t a bad thing, not every comic has to be deep and philosophical and it’s refreshing to read about a berserk warrior dog stab everything it comes across unapologetically.

Final Verdict

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. You can order The King of the Wastelands #1 here or digitally (with a preview) here!

Final Score – 8.5 lizard nomads out of 10.

Indie Comic Review – Reapers #1 (Insane Comics)

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

“Well… You did it… You killed yourself. Not what I was expecting. On the bright side there aren’t any people around” – Reapers

Time for another Indie Comic review. This time I’m looking at Reapers from Insane Comics. This was written by JoJo King, the art by Adrian9 and the lettering by John Palmer IV.

The story begins with our protagonist, Violet, being rushed to hospital, where she dies, having cut herself with a razor. As she passes away she finds herself in a different afterlife than what she was expecting. Here she runs into a stranger, another recently deceased girl. They are met by someone who clearly knows the score around the afterlife, The Reaper, although he apparently prefers ‘Victor’. The Reaper then proceeds to offer the two girls a deal: they work for him as Reapers and he’ll give them what they each desire. A new life for our protagonist’s companion and nothingness for our protagonist herself.

They agree and head out on their first collection, they find a rotting corpse where they’d been expecting a regular guy for them to kill. It seems somebody got there before them, with their assistant ‘Michah’. Turns out Michah is a demon and they battle it out.

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. As the issue progresses and we get to take a look at the characters. 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. However there’s a lot more to be explored the first issue doesn’t manage to touch on, although this is largely due to a large portion of the comic being given to Violet’s origin story. This is fairly necessary for the start of this story though, Violet’s death and subsequent exploration of the afterlife is pivotal to giving an insight into her character.

One of the elements that didn’t fit so well with me was The Reaper, Victor, much as the Grim Reaper aspect works the language he uses feels disjointed and a little out of place. However this could just be a first impression, a little more characterisation over further issues could easily rectify this and flash out his character a lot more.

Final Verdict

I’d say this comic is off to a solid start. It’s an origin story so a lot of the issue has to be dedicated to explaining what’s going on. In this case it’s a good place to start and give us a chance to see the key players on Team Reaper. The art fits the setting very well, particularly when showing the afterlife Violet finds herself in.

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

Score: 7 Newly Recruited Reapers out of 10.

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

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

Indie Comic Review – Man Vs. Rock #1

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

I’ve been doing comic reviews for a while now, and one of the great things about plugging away at them is that gradually more and more people have started sending us advanced comics and more eclectic stuff for us to check out and review. Last week we were sent Man Vs. Rock #1, a digital indie comic written by Victor DeTroy and Kevin Bieber and drawn by Jared Lamp, which you can find out more about at manvsrock.com.

Man Vs. Rock is an absurdist, macho and retro-80s action film style story about Professor Buck Stone and his desperate attempt to stop the oncoming destruction of humanity brought about by rocks. Over the millennia, human beings and rocks have co-existed, but mankind has abused and kept the rocks down. In the present day, they have had enough and they are about to wreak havoc on the species that scorned them. Buck Stone knows this is coming, and in preparation he has travelled the world and secretly planted 1,000,000lbs of C4 explosive in every rock outcrop near a large metropolitan area, and he’s prepared to detonate it as soon as the rocks strike. Buck Stone is crazy. But he is right, the rocks are coming…

If that all sounds ridiculous, it should. Man Vs. Rock is over the top and insane, but it is also very funny. The whole thing reads like a parody of the first few scenes of any random 80s action film, with more swearing but probably the same amount of casual sexism. The dialogue is snappy and fun, and the overall tone is intentionally absurd, a little offensive but entirely tongue in cheek. Importantly, the writers haven’t tried to take themselves too seriously, which would have fallen especially flat in a story this ridiculous. I do think I may co-opt the name ‘Fuck You Academia, The Rocks Are Out To Get Us’ as my PhD thesis title later this year. As for the art, while it is fairly basic and pretty scratchy, was incredibly reminiscent of early 2000AD strips, especially Carlos Ezquerra or Mike McMahon on Judge Dredd (which is a good thing).

Man Vs. Rock #1 is a lot of fun, and I’ve read the next couple of issues and can say that everything gets a lot more manic and ridiculous very quickly. Check out their website where you can find links to buy the comic online at places like Comixology, Amazon or Scribd, with plenty of other random Man Vs. Rock content too.

Score: 7 Bricks of C4 out of 10