Saturday, 3 September 2016

Review: Freelance Blues #6

Writers: Ian Daffern and Mike Leone
Artist: Becca T-R
Cover Art: John Lang
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Released: 27th July 2016

A mere glance at the above will indicate that this review is well over a month late/in the making. The reasons for this are personal, which makes them subjective and boring to anyone not involved, so I won't torment you with them. I have read comics in this period, but struggled with the drive and motivation to put into words how I feel. What has been important in this period of introspection has been the value that comics have to me, not mere financial face value, but something more intrinsic and dare I say spiritual. Comics have quite literally saved me. I have much more to explore surrounding this subject so look forward to further posts/essays.
Back though, to the matter at hand. Freelance Blues has been part of the healing process for me and issue 6 is the culmination of several months worth of storytelling rife with mystery and intrigue. Overall it's a satisfying denouement to a cracking story arc.

Lance is a compelling protagonist and I feel that most of his appeal resides in how readers are able to relate and identify with his struggle. Lance is really just a common man trying to make his way in the world and provide for his family. Who can say that they don't face that struggle most days in life? Lance ends up fighting monsters and beasts of myth, but this is just a weave of metaphor and hyperbole for what we mere humans view as our internal struggles externalised. Daffern and Leone have created the perfect foil for telling the story in this way, and with this issue they continue to tell this tale superbly. The pace picks up bringing the story to it's end nicely and revelations are exposed in great little pieces of storytelling and character work. I know it's been out a while now but I still won't include any spoilers just in case there are a few stragglers dragging their feet.
Now in the previous five issues the duty of art has fell to Vicki Tierney, taking up the pencil for this issue is Becca T-R, and to be honest the style of art is so similar that is almost indiscernible. There are only a few subtle differences in their styles that the storytelling doesn't suffer. Becca has a good grasp of the characters and the gifts of her art rest in it's ability to convey story, which for me is always the measure of a great comic artist. Tierney told the the first five issues excellently and I will always be a fan of hers, but T-R takes the reigns over just as well and brings the story to it's exciting conclusion.

As I've said, this issue has been around a while, so if you're following the series it's likely that you have already picked it up, so if you have then great, you'll love it too. However if you're completely new to the series and to Lance, then do yourself a favour, get all of the issues and immerse yourself in a wonderful world of storytelling.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Review: Freelance Blues #5

Writers: Ian Daggers and Mike Leone
Art: Vicki Tierney
Inks: Diego More no
Cover: John Lang
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Release date: June 29th 2016

I'm a couple of weeks later reading this. It's been on my list since a few days before its release and unfortunately I've only just managed to find the time to indulge myself. It was well worth the wait.
It is well documented that I'm a rather large fan of Freelance Blues. I have been since its release and it's intricate barbed hooks laced with the venom of fantastic storytelling are such know well and truly in me.
Part of what makes this series so likeable, is the empathy and compassion you cannot help but feel for the central protagonist Lance. He's just an honest hard working chap desperately looking to catch a break. Though his struggles are tinged with the supernatural, the core of his conflict is common and easily relatable. Add in some snappy dialogue and we'll paced storytelling and Daffern and Leone are suddenly giving a master class in comic book writing.
I'm a huge fan of Tierney's art work and have been since my eyeballs first exploded taking in its greatness. Her grasp of characterization is a great strength in her story telling bow, but combined with brilliantly detailed panels and pages and you get a spectacle on each page.
If possible this issue is only stronger that the previous run, my only regret is that it took me so long to read it. If you have any sense you will get a hold of this comic and devour it. Though hopefully because it's been put a while, you already have.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Review: The Dark #1 Boo Hag

Writer/Artist: Kelly Williams
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Release date: 22nd June 2016

It's been a while since I've written a review, life has been rather hectic and I've really struggled to juggle everything around. It's a shame as writing reviews is a cathartic experience that I enjoy. I've read 'The Dark' several times since its release and it really is a fantastic comic.
I've been a fan of Kelly Williams since I was directed his way by Peter Simeti on twitter. His artwork is detailed, atmospheric and jaw dropping. Such is the depth of my admiration for his work that I've actually written comic scripts with his work in mind, adjusting panels and mood in order suit how I think his art process works. It's a little sad I know own but it's made me a better script writer.
Anyway, coming back to the tangent. Williams is a despicable genius who has written and drawn this standout comic. His take on certain myths about Witches, Boo Hag is a tense tale about Steve Rankin, a writer in search of truth behind legends, and finding something altogether more horrifying.

I know Williams firstly as an artist, from flicking through Twitter and seeing the gorgeous artwork that he posts sporadically. So the fact that he is a stellar writer is a pleasant surprise. For a story that consists mainly of dialogue between two men, the writing is wonderful work.  Conversation is a tricky thing to do well, as is giving each character a voice, but Williams does both with style. The story flows well and the dialogue helps to accentuate the tensions that Williams' art projects off the page.
The artwork is a master class in storytelling. It positively drips atmosphere,  each panel is lushly detailed and feels almost alive. The pages are deliberately inked and each line made aids in bringing the panels to life. At times I forgot I was reading a comic and looked up to discover that I wasn't in fact sat in a dark, haunting forest.

It's been around a while now, so the chances are you already have your paws on this excellent comic, but if you haven't then I can't recommend it highly enough, even if horror isn't your genre, this work is to be enjoyed.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Review: Trespasser #3

Story: Justin M. Ryan
Art: Kristian Rossi
Letters: DC Hopkins
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Release date: June 15th 2016

The only problem with Trespasser is that after I've finished reading an issue, I have to wait for the next one. So I've been waiting for what feels like too long for today, and it didn't disappoint.

After the events and issue 2 and with the cover as enticing as it is, I was expecting this issue to be based a lot more on our science fiction extra terrestrial friends. However the focus of this issue is on the building anxieties in the house, the tension builds as things go from bad to worse. Ryan is a master craftsman, friction is woven into the script and as you read, the tension builds in you too, your heart begins to race and sweat beads on your forehead, it really makes reading quite the experience. Rossi's art once again is a fantastic spectacle to behold, it is moody and atmospheric and a master example of storytelling at its finest.
This issue is a study in character and relationships, to me that seems to be what trespasser is about, the dynamic between man and daughter. Ryan has a wonderful grasp of his characters and you can feel the personality behind each one, their spirit crackles on the page.

I cannot praise Trespasser enough, so be sure to believe the hype and get involved with a wonderful series that I really cannot do enough to praise.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Review: Charge #1

Writers: Dan Jury and Chris Jury
Pencils: Adhitya Zulkarnaen
Inks: Christopher Bryer
Colours: Pamela Siega
Letters: Michael Lagace
Cover Art: Jordan J. Nering
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Release date: June 1st 2016

Charge has been put for a week now. Everything I've sat down to try and write this something seems to have come up that I am unable to get out of. So it's nice to finally be able to get a moment to put something together about this cracking comic.
Actually a few days before this comic came out I fired up my Dropbox and found the review/preview copy of Charge #1 sat there just begging to be read. So it was quite serendipitous when I got the email from Alterna with the release details and link to review copy a few days later, forewarned is forearmed.
Charge is a great piece of tense science fiction thriller. It's got all the ingredients, a shady corporation, an uptight suit from head office, a remote cut off location and some scientists working on a clandestine experiment. Intersperse that with some time travel and you have a wonderfully crafted story in your hands.
Dan and Chris Jury have a wonderful understanding of their characters and material. With such a ensemble cast being used it would be easy for some of the characters to get lost in the crows and become a little one dimensional, but that doesn't happen here. The plot is well paced and reads smoothly, there are no clunky page turns or jilted storytelling that put off your reading experience.
The artwork is sublime, each member of the team performing their duties perfectly,  then combining to create pages that are wonderful to look at and are an excellent paradigm of sequential art and, more importantly to me, storytelling.

In short this is a wonderful comic, the story is interesting and engaging, without over complication. The art is fluid, dynamic and a joy to view. I can't wait to see where the plot takes us next. Get yourself on comixology and treat yourself. You won't regret it at all.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Review: Freelance Blues #4

Story: Ian Daffern and Mike Leone
Art: Vicki Tierney
Inks: Diego Moreno
Cover Art: John Lang
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Released: May 25th 2016

If you've been here before, if you've seen my reviews of previous issues then you may be aware that I am a fan of Freelance Blues, this issue does nothing to change that.

The spectacularly creative minds of Daffern, Leone and Tierney have crafted another immensely enjoyable chapter in poor unfortunate Lance's tale. In #4 we find Lance working on a ranch trying to make an honest living but, as always, things take a sinister turn. In the previous issue Daffern and Leone began to hint at some underlying familial conspiracy behind Lance and the twins plight, and that juicy vein of story is continued here. The information is teased out skilfully and woven into the structure of the plot, keeping the readers attention. It's another example of superb writing, with the story crafted wonderfully, paced excellently and peppered with humour throughout, this series has become a fine paradigm of excellent comic writing and storytelling.
In Lance they have created an ultimately likeable protagonist, in fact it must be impossible to dislike him, each issue comes with a wonderfully thought out supporting cast too.
 
I'm unashamedly in awe of Tierney's artwork, each panel crackles with life and energy, she is an excellent storyteller and her artwork is the perfect companion to Daffern and Leone's script. This issue is no different and her artwork seems to get better and better the more I look at it. Her command of characters is particularly impressive and you can feel the life that she puts into each one. 

This was a fantastic issue to read (twice.....ok three times) and I can't recommend it highly enough. Do yourself a favour and read it, if you haven't already dipped into this series then go back to the start and enjoy a shining example of excellent comics. Daffern, Leone and Tierney, thanks for the fun, I can't wait to see what's next. 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Review: Corktown #1

Writer: Mario Candelaria
Art: Scott Ewen
Letters: Zakk Saam
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Released: May 18th 2016

This week I've been blessed to read another stellar release from Alterna Comics in what has been a fantastic tenth year for them, and for us as readers.
Corktown follows the tale of a ghostly detective, trying to stop her reanimated body commiting a series of gruesome murders. This initial issue sets up the premise and some of the supernatural mythos really well. One of the most common flaws with an opening issue is the level of exposition required, after all generally they set up the story. However Candelaria has crafted a well told story that shows us, rather than outright tells-and that makes for a much more interesting read. Stephen King said you should never assume your reader is less intelligent than you (slightly paraphrased) and Candelaria puts us right up there with him and just tells the story with an exuberance that shines through.
There's some interesting takes on different supernatural myths at play too, namely vampiric and ghostly lore, but I don't want to delve too much into for fear of spiders, but needless to say it works well and adds interesting elements to the book. Torrie is an interesting and compelling protagonist, though I get the sense that there is still a lot more to come from her. 
The comic is set in Detroit, I have never been to Detroit and I'm unsure if I ever will. So it is testament to Ewen's art that he can so vividly bring a city to life to one who has never set foot in its boundaries. That fused with excellent character and sequential art, makes this book a true feast for the eyes. You almost become an inhabitant of Detroit, experiencing this story through your own eyes, as though it was unfolding before you.
I have recently begun to make my own comics, I've been writing for a while and it seemed like logical progression. So I thought lettering them would be a breeze, oh how wrong I was. Anyone who can letter should be immortalised as a genius and Saam is no different, so in my eyes he deserves special mention.

This was a fantastic book to read, wonderful writing with great characters and beautiful art to take in. It's well worth a look and is available on comixology digitally now. So do yourself a favour and give it a go.