Thursday, January 10, 2008

IF-X #1 - A Review and Pulp Dreams #1 - A Review

Hamtramck Idea Men sent us two comics to review. Lee has a review of If-X#1 and Gwen has a review of Pulp Dreams #1. These are very much a small press type book, meaning they do not have access to the normal distribution channels, so if you like them check out this website and order their comics or other products.

The writer and artist on both books is George McVey. On with the reviews.

Lee: This is an anthology series in the vein of Tales from the Crypt and other EC Classics and I have to say… I LIKE IT! Honestly, when I saw this I was worried that it was going to be a generic, fanboy comic book but I was wrong.

The first couple of stories were short but they set up the last longer story quite well. McVey has a pretty good handle on the dialogue the characters all sounded authentic. These were respectable little stories with some neat twists for endings.

The art wasn’t so polished. It isn’t bad but it appears that McVey hasn’t had any formal training. The perspective and body proportions tended to come and go. At times, the art was overly rendered and it appears to be done in ball point pen instead of pencil and ink.

To his credit, McVey tried all sorts of different things on the pages. On one page, backgrounds were done in a pointillism style and the next was a heavy cross hatch. There was plenty of background as McVey tried to cram as much detail as possible into each page.

He also varied the page layout quite well. There were a different number of panels on almost every page. McVey tended, especially near the end, to use the same medium distance shot over and over but it still worked. A couple more closeup, bird-eye, or worms-eye views would have really spiced it up. While the art certainly wasn’t polished, I liked the “home grown” feel of it.

The biggest problem with the book is the cover. From an art point, it’s catchy and has a pretty good layout but it looks out of focus and that gives it a cheap appearance. And, unfortunately, this isn’t a simple solution. I understand that most small publishers have very limited funds. That’s why most indie books are b&w. But, if you have any money to spare then spend it on the cover. Or at least make sure the lines are crisp.

Other than that, I enjoyed the book and it’s a fun read for those that like horror anthologies.
Overall: B

Gwen: At a first glance the cover of this book seems to imply that the reader will be venturing into some sort of sci-fi horror world in which a blue, one-eyed Mr.T rules with an iron fist.

Good thing I made it past the cover!

Pulp Dreams: Terra 2920 is very much an flashback pulp sci-fi drama. Both the art and the story reflect this.

The story was entertaining on an idle level. While I wasn't emotionally vested in the characters by the end of this issue they have room for growth. I have to say that the main character, Richard, is rather whiny, but his droid girlfriend is more likable. The plot slams you with a lot of back history up front but manages to move you along at a good pace once it's past the history lesson. I really liked the monster, very horrific and creative. Richard's monologues are pretty painful though.... they bring me back to some of the old Silver Surfer comics.

The art is alright. While it's not something I'd hang on my wall it manages to tell the story. The characters need work - the facial expressions are off and the main charter seems to have an overbite. The backgrounds are great though - very rich in detail and creativity. The 'futuristic' clothing made me laugh (in a good way)... it reminded me of the Captain Kirk Star Trek days. As with the story itself, here I especially liked the monster at the end - very grotesquely rendered!

For what this comic presents itself to be it held up. I like the ideas behind the publishing company - a return to fun comic books. Still, it's a bit rough around the edges, but that could easily improve with time.

Overall, a fun read, if you like older sci-fi space fantasy you may want to try it out.

Grade: B-

I like to thank Mike Marcus of the Idea Men for sending up these review copies and giving us a chance to look at their books. I have to really give credit to people who are willing to put so much effort and work into a product and try to market it and make it a success. It is a tough business to try to make it in and getting noticed is never easy.


  1. Hi, guys, and thanks for the reviews! I have only two major gripes with the IF-X review. First, George did *not* write two of the stories in that book. Robert McCarthy, who writes Hell On Wheels ( wrote Red Meat, and I wrote "The One Shoed Rascals Eat Pastry" at the end of the book. Second, while IF-X *is* an anthology book, it is not always going to be as horror-heavy as this first one happened to be. It's just that we were looking forward to Thanksgiving, and what better feast for your zombies than brains? We *are* shooting for bringing back all the fun from the Golden Age, including fan-contributed content, prose fiction, and contests, so I look forward to sending you more of our stuff as it comes out! Thanks again for the reviews, and as George would say, see you in the funny pages.

    Michael Marcus, editor
    Hamtramck Idea Men

  2. Lee & Gwen;

    As creator/writer/artist of most of the work presented in IF-X #1 and PULP DREAMS #1 I'd like to thank you both for your insightful comments. You can be assured that the issues brought up have been, or are being, dealt with in future issues. Both of the books are mainly early work, so you can expect improvements in all areas. Glad we could entertain. Geo