Saturday, May 24, 2008

Indies Preview Review for July Part 1 of 3

Jim: Well we are a little late with getting this out and that is part my fault and part Lee’s fault and partly because we both went on vacation. The good news is you still have time to bug your retailer and make him order some of these titles.
Lee: Better late than never. Jim’s right, you may have to ask your store owner to order but you can still get everything we talk about.

A-Okay Comics
Myth of 8-Opus: Prologue Expanded Ed. GN by Thomas Scioli
You've thrilled to Thomas Scioli's vivid imagination in Godland from Image Comics, now return to his roots with The Myth of 8-Opus: Prologue, back in print with 20 extra pages of story art! 8-Opus, god-hero of the cosmos, is held captive in an otherworldly prison by the snake-like Sons of Nashek. To survive, he must evade a series of galactic traps while piecing together the riddle of an enigmatic robot serpent! Pages: 90, 7x10, B&W
Lee: I really like Scioli’s art on Godland and I like finding out how an artist has grown over time so this appeals to me. BUT, even for me this is an art book because I’m not convinced Scioli can write.
Jim: Well damn, that is quite the sales job Lee. Since I’m not an art guy I can’t see me saying yes to this pick.

Dugout GN
by Adam Beechen & Manny Bello
It's action on the field and off as two great American pastimes collide in a new graphic novel by the team of Adam Beechen and Manny Bello (Hench)! It's 1960, and the only thing that can save in-debt manager Cookie Palisetti and his sinking pro baseball team is getting his star pitcher out of prison. When the courts won't show mercy, Cookie plans an exhibition game against the prison team - as cover for the wildest, most unlikely jailbreak ever! Pages: 88, 7x10, B&W
Lee: AIT always seems to find interesting things to publish. I remember Bello’s art from Hench and I liked that so I’m thinking this is worth trying.
Jim: The premise sounds great and it sounds like it would make a great TV movie.

Homeless Channel SC by Matt Silady
When Darcy Shaw starts a twenty-four hour cable network called The Homeless Channel, she thinks she's got everything figured out. But confronted with an unexpected romance, a sibling out on the streets, and corporate sponsors who think they know what's best for her network, Darcy starts to wonder which is more important: saving the world or saving herself. Pages: 168, 6x9, FC
Artist here
Lee: Occasionally, I like to read slice-o-life books to not be about abuse and terminal illiness which is seems so many of them are about. This sounds like a nice coming-of-age in corporate America which, as a long time reader, is always worth investigating. I really like Silady’s art. It has a nice clean line that’s perfect for this kind of story.
Jim: I’m not getting the same vibe off this premise as Lee is getting. Maybe it is slice of life, but it sounds like it could be preachy and I avoid that at all cost usually.

Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics
Tiki Joe Mysteries Vol. 01: High Stakes Patsey SC
by Mark Murphy
Las Vegas, 1959. WWII veteran, Joe Halliday is enjoying the good life running Tiki Joe's Restaurant, courting a beautiful girl, and making time with steadfast friends. It's all good until the local mob moves in with demands for protection money. When the police are unable to help, Joe calls in a few old army friends. Together they decide to pay the mob off - in lead! Tiki Joe is an Ocean's Eleven-style graphic novel set in Las Vegas and using Polynesian pop-culture and Las Vegas kitsch as a background. Part murder mystery, part hard-boiled thriller by newcomer Mark Murphy! Pages: 96, 7x10, B&W
Preview here
Lee: I’m not sure when I started to fall in love with crime comics but somehow I did. This looks really interesting and the art reminds of Terry Beatty (Wild Dog from DC, Johnny Dynamite) which is a good thing.
Jim: Sounds like this might be a gem. Also I like to see someone’s first work, even if rough it can often so where the potential is for the future.

Ape Entertainment
Fiction Clemens #3 by Josh Wagner, Joiton Marmontel & Alejandro Marmontel
As lovable madmen launch their assault on the City, the final confrontation between Fiction Clemens and Tiberius Kitchens - both best of friends and worst of enemies - collides with the Clockmaker's conspiracy to launch their Old West world into the Space Age! Pages: 52, FC
Official website here
Lee: I really like the exaggerated style to the art which is what sells me on this. But, the Sci-Fi western is a big draw too.
Jim: Look at the cover, how can you not help by love that type of style.

Arcana Studio
Tales of Penance: Trial of the Century #1
by Ryan Foley & Goof
Tales of Penance: Trial of the Century is the first in a series of superhero/detective comics to be published by Arcana Comics. The masked vigilante Penance's private war on crime escalates to a national stage when a news camera crew captures evidence of the hero murdering a super-villain. Captured by the police, the subsequent trial of a masked superhero begins to dominate the nation's headlines as the country waits for a verdict in the self-proclaimed "trial of the century." However, the evidence does not line up for seasoned police detective LJ McCloud. As she begins the investigation, the media circus surrounding the case could leave the city of Atlanta and the entire south hanging in the balance, especially when a mob of vigilantes come seeking vengeance at the police station! Pages: 44, #1 of 4, FC
Previews here
Jim: Sounds like a kind of real world meets super-hero thing. I like the premise, but I have no clue about who the creators are at all.
Lee: I have to agree that the premise is intriguing and certainly seems realistic if superheroes existed. And, the hardest thing about Indies… you never know any of the creators. That’s what makes it so much fun.

Archaia Studios Press
Bond of Saint Marcel #1 by Jennifer Quintenz & Christian Gossett For centuries, a mysterious order of priests jealously guarded the secret of the Bond of Saint Marcel: an occult ritual that enabled priests of the Order to enslave vampires and use them as unwilling soldiers against their own kind. When 16-year-old Kat Johnstone inherits an ancient family signet ring she is swept into a world of fatal secrets and a centuries-old quest for vengeance. But with the ring, Kat has also inherited the power to command a vampire, and he may be her only hope of survival. Art by five-time Eisner nominee Christian Gossett (Red Star). Pages: 24,1 of 6, FC Gossett’s sketch blog here
Jim: I hope that Archaia Studios Press is not in danger of going away, but the company has been so erratic in getting their books out that I’m concerned. This company has some wonderful books out on the market (Mouse Guard & Robotika to name two); I just wish they could publish them on a regular basis. So I have high hopes for this book and hope it reaches the stands.
Lee: Now the art really excites me because I thoroughly enjoyed Red Star. But, the story isn’t as enticing. I’m just not into the big fantasy epic thing. Now give me a house full of serial killers whacking their neighbors and I’m all over that. Huuummmm, there’s something very odd in that last sentence but I’m not sure what it is.

Titanium Rain #1 by Josh Finney & Kat Rocha
To be alive is to be at odds with the world. Man against nature. Man against man. The instinct to survive is what has made us who we are. In the year 2031 mankind's survival instinct is put to the test when a civil war in China spirals into global conflict. Nations are destroyed. Millions are killed. And for many, like US Air Force pilot Alec Killian, survival will mean shedding some of his humanity in exchange for biotech and machine. Is this the ultimate corruption of nature? Or the birth pains of a new chapter in mankind's evolution? From the team who brought you the acclaimed cyberpunk series Utopiates comes a sci-fi war epic for the post-millennial age. In the spirit of books and films such as Ghost in the Shell, Innocence, and Black Hawk Down, Titanium Rain follows one pilot's journey through mankind's worst, only to discover its best. Pages: 32, 1 of 12, FC
Check out Josh and Kat here
10 page preview here
Jim: The concept sounds great. I like sci-fi concepts, I like the post apocalyptic type material, so it is hitting some hot buttons for me.
Lee: The story sounds good and the art looks good too. It looks like they lifted this straight out of a video game it's that clear! It's well worth checking out the preview. As for the creators, they're actually pretty cool and agreed to do a small interview with us. Keep your eyes out in the next couple of weeks for that!

Avatar Press Inc
No Hero #0 by Warren Ellis & Juan Jose Ryp
The hottest series of the summer is beginning right now, as Ellis and Ryp unleash their next epic on the world! The superstar team that made Black Summer an instant fan-favorite are back and revolutionizing masked heroes yet again! Warren Ellis & Juan Jose Ryp have created an exciting new universe that explodes into action in this zero chapter. In 1966, a group of superhumans emerged in San Francisco, guided by the man whose unique new drugs gave them their incredible powers. Calling themselves The Levellers, this unified front stood against street crimes and corruption, in defense of their city against any and all assault. Years have passed, and we fast-forward through the tumultuous events of those early years to today, where the idealistic Levellers have gone through four incarnations to become The Front Line. But the team is not the only thing that's advanced over the years, and there are no easy victories when their luck finally begins to run out! This #0 issue is not a preview, it features the essential first chapter of the story and is available with a Regular or Wraparound cover by Ryp.
Jim: Now Black Summer has not ended as I’m typing this, so I still have reservations as no book is truly good, bad or great until we see the end, but Ellis is doing some terrific work at Avatar. I think many of Ellis’ best ideas are ideas that are good for shorter runs and then he is not tied to any one character so doing extended runs on his or company owned characters is just never going to happen. Regardless this should be another good book.
Lee: I’m a Ellis fan too so this is an easy sell. I loved Black Summer so I’m really looking forward to this too.

Warren Ellis' Aetheric Mechanics GN by Warren Ellis & Gianluca Pagliarani
The newest addition to Warren Ellis' Apparat line of original graphic novels has arrived! The year is 1907, and Britain has entered into a terrifying war with Ruritania, whose strange metal planes darken the skies, and whose monstrous war engines cast looming shadows from across the channel. Doctor Robert Watcham, lately returned to London from the front, makes his homecoming to Dilke Street. There lives his old friend, and England's greatest amateur detective, Sax Raker. Even as his beloved city prepares for war, Raker is himself about to embark on the strangest, and perhaps the most important, investigation of his career - the case of the man who wasn't there. This is no simple matter of murder; Sax Raker faces haunting questions to which there are no cut-and-dried answers. Is the mysterious killer, at last, evidence for Raker's long-held belief in a secret criminal mastermind? Is it some apparition uniquely belonging to this singular city, a place that seems to have lost all semblance of sense two years ago? Or do all the signs point to something much, much worse? This may very well be the last case for our Raker: a spinning tale of mystery, a tangled story of science, a twisting account of thwarted love, a fleeting glimpse into the aetheric mechanics of the world itself - and, of course, death. Following up the huge success of Crecy, Ellis turns his spark of mad genius to bring us a fantastical tale in this all new original graphic novel illustrated in detailed perfection by Gianluca Pagliarani. Pages: 48, 7x10, B&W
Jim: Crecy was absolutely brilliant and I’m looking forward to this project more then any other current Ellis project. Crecy was both educational and a great comic book.
Lee: I’m hard pressed to call 48 pages a graphic novel and not just a double sized issue but that’s just me. I have the trade of the single issues that made up the first set of Apparat books, and it was good. I’m more of a trade guy these days so I might wait to see if this gets collected with other some of Ellis’s other single issue stories.

Boom! Studios
Challenger Deep #1 by Andrew Cosby & Marcelo Mueller
When an experimental nuclear submarine is marooned in a deposit of methane ice deep in the Marianas Trench, an elite salvage team mounts a daring rescue to prevent an explosive chain reaction that could lead to global disaster!
Lee: WOW! A sunken submarine story that doesn’t involve an underwater secret society or giant squid! It’s a miracle. That said, this is an appealing concept and worth looking into.
Jim: This is what I love about BOOM studios, they look for good stories first and foremost and don’t worry about whether they fit a niche or not.

Catastrophic Comics
Sparks #2
by Christopher Folino & J.M. Ringuet
William Katt's monthly superhero noir thriller continues as masked vigilante Ian Sparks discovers the dark side to heroism. Going after the nation's most notorious super criminal leaves Sparks' life and reputation in ruins.
Jim: If you did not sign up for issue #1, go back and get this and then hop onboard for issue #2, which really takes this series down a dark road. This is a golden age super hero comic, done with a strong modern noir writing style. Great story + Great art = Great Comic.
Lee: Jim and I have been lucky enough to read issue two already and it’s just as good as the first. It is highly recommended! You can read our review of issue #1 here

Critical Mass
Age of Insects Vol. 03: Not Human by Sparky Greene & Louis Pieper
Description: Flynn Morgan's continuing struggle to deal with the terrible secret of his origin intensifies. Pursued by the hybrid leader, Darwin, and attacked by the murderous boy who has haunted his dreams, Flynn comes to the horrified realization that his existence is at the center of the escalating war between mankind and the insect kingdom! Pages: 60, TPB, FC
Age of Insects website here
Lee: Now this is one of the rare times that I am sold on the concept but not so much on the art. The preview art is ok but the premise is great. This is volume 3 so the creators must be doing something right.
Jim: Kind of makes you want to go back and get volume 1, before jumping into it.

Del Rey
Me & the Devil Blues Vol. 01: Unreal Life Robert Johnson GN
by Akira Hiramoto
This brilliant literary manga series retells the story of the bluesman who changed American music forever - and became an American legend. Pages: 544, 5x7, B&W
Lee: As I’ve always said, I’m not a huge Manga fan but I can always be swayed under the right conditions. In this case, Del Rey, one of the more conservative publishers is releasing this. For one of the larger publishing houses to attach their name it must be good. Plus, I’m a sucker for historical fiction and music too, so this is pretty much a done deal for me.
Jim: I know you love music, you love history, so this is a natural for you, not for me.

Desperado Publishing
Atheist Vol. 01 SC by Phil Hester, John McCrae, Will Volley
Antoine Sharpe is a scalpel on two legs - skeptical, brilliant, ruthless. A special agent with a shadowy department of the U.S. government, Sharpe applies his unconventional intellect to any paranormal threats that arise. When countless teenagers show signs of otherworldly possession, Sharpe and his partner must not only find the truth, but stop the apparent plague from destroying civilization itself. How far will Sharpe go to save humanity? Farther than you can imagine! Pages: 112, B&W
Lee: I hate to say this but we’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t always remember what we pick as good books. But there’s a good chance you have forgotten too so it’s a “push” as they say. I am a huge fan of John McCrae and own almost everything he has drawn. Meaning… I’ll be getting this too.
Jim: And Phil Hester has certainly done some quality work, so it seems like an easy one to pick up.

Blue GN by Phil Hester, Chuck Satterlee & Kevin Mellon
AA for monsters! Semi-pro baseball player Justin Ullrich has a problem - he's a werewolf and he wants to talk, but nobody's listening. Not his Mother, Priest, stoner pal, or his ex the succubus. So where does a monster with bloodlust issues go? He enters a twelve-step, self-help program, of course! But instead of finding answers he finds himself swept up in the identity politics of the monster set! Pages: 136, 6x9, B&W Art previews here
Lee: What a hoot! AA for monsters is a great concept. And based on the previews, the art looks pretty.
Jim: It has a pretty sounding premise, but I was recently disappointed with a series called “Urban Monsters”, so I don’t know.



  1. Thanks for highlighting all these great independent titles!

    Lee - I feel the same way about fiction that ends up being preachy. That's why I worked really hard to keep The Homeless Channel from going down that road.

    For a video and chapter one preview, I invite you to stop by my website!

    All the best,


  2. I really appreciate the write-up on The Myth of 8-Opus. I didn't know this existed until recently and I love the art in Godland.

    I fear for Archaia Studios Press too. I really enjoyed the books I read from them: The Engineer and Killing Pickman. Whats interesting tome is that those books don't even get mentioned when people talk about that publisher, so chances are the other titles are even more entertaining.