Sunday, August 10, 2014

SXSW 2014 Submit Starter Pack Review Part IV

Back in March, I purchased the SXSW 2014 Submit Starter Pack, 100 digital comics/graphic novels for 10 bucks. I thought it would be fun to review the entire bundle..... slowly, ten titles at a time. This is going to take several weeks months, so bear with me here. 

My rules: if it’s a more-or-less standard individual issue (36 pages or less), it gets a one-sentence review. If it’s a graphic novel or longer work, I’m allowed to write more. I’ll start each entry with the title and creators, followed by the copy in italics as it appeared on ComiXology, followed by my review. Here we go - hope you enjoy it.

Parts I, II and III


Squid & Owl
John Holbo

Love story? Team-up? Revenge? Or merely a pleasant wallpaper pattern ...

This whimsical, gorgeously illustrated title resembles poetry on wallpaper (albeit beautiful wallpaper) more than it does a traditional graphic novel and therefore seems a little out-of-place in a collection of digital comics, but I can’t deny its beauty.


The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #1
Tom Hutchison, Alisson Borges

Take a trip over the rainbow to Oz as you've never seen it before. Dorothy "Gale" is a tough as nails cow-girl trapped in our wild-west version of the land of Oz. Follow Gale, Toto the horse of course, and a host of familiar companions as they make their way to the Emerald City on a quest to find the Wizard who claims to have the power to send Gale back to Kansas. Issue #1 of the hit mini-series which launched this fan favorite comic book title!

The Wicked West #1 adds little to the all-encompassing influence of The Wizard of Oz, this time set as a Western drawn with neat, clear lines and a rather ordinary story, even by Oz standards. 


Ultrasylvania Vol. 1: King Dracula
Brian Schirmer, Jonathan Aguilion, Edward Edgerson, Jr., Valerio Fabbretti, John Gomes, Matt Harding

At the end of the 19th century, Bram Stoker ventures to Ultrasylvania to interview its monarch for a biography. But, is this man a writer -- or an assassin?

Fifty years earlier in neighboring Bavaria, King Victor Frankenstein grants sanctuary to a young woman -- and quickly falls in love. But, is she more than she seems?

The answers to these questions will bring these men together -- and seal their fates.

Dracula vs. Frankenstein’s monster in a battle over generations. Much of it works, including the different art styles depicting different periods of time as they move back and forth throughout the book. The story itself involves lots of conversation, some of it compelling, some of it seemingly just taking up space. A good concept that's worth a look. 


Archeologists of Shadows Vol. 1: The Resistance 
Lara Fuentes, Patricio Clarey

In a world where every living thing is forced to become mechanical, the Authorities punish those who resist the transformation, although all wonder about the real reason for the changes. Archeologists Of Shadows, Volume 1 The Resistance, is a Graphic Novel that has been in development for more than 5 years. It contains well over 100 pages of story and art that combines drawing, sculpture, photography, photo manipulation and digital painting with a 3D quality to it. This edition includes the first 4 chapters of the story along with a full Art book documenting the making of Archeologists Of Shadows. Fans of the Matrix or Lord of the Rings will be captivated by this Sci-Fi Steampunk Fantasy. “Fans of science fiction will surely enjoy this and would be remiss if they didn't pick it up.” Jeff Marsick, “This story really needs to be experienced not just for its storyline, but also its beautiful artwork.” Dakster Sullivan, “A bold and ambitious project that could redefine the graphic novel industry.” Mr. Pasty, Visit to learn more about the Archeologists Of Shadows series, art, and creators.

I don't mean for this to sound negative, but Archeologists of Shadows looks like a video game. Maybe it's based on one - I don't know. The art is very nice, but I'm afraid the story wasn't quite what I was expecting. Know also that of the eBook's 100+ pages, half of them are art and sketches only.


Department O #1
Jamie Gambell, Andrew MacLean

Department O - they hyper-secret and supernatural team, established to protect the crown from all threats occult. Severely depleted by a mission gone wrong, the mysterious Department O find themselves sequestered for a diplomatic mission, with a twist!

A very interesting start with not much explanation, Department O has a Hellboy-like look and feel to it that makes it well worth your time.


Fatherhood #1
Ryan K. Lindsay, Daniel Schneider

When a father can't get the doll for his estranged daughter, he snaps emotionally and enters a pulp landscape where he has the power to do what he needs. This noir crash of a one-shot looks at how far you would go to make your child happy, and could you go too far?

The question of “How far will a father go for his child?” is answered in this issue, a story that could create lots of good discussion as well as controversy, and includes some nice art and panel choices. 


H.G. Wells’ The Chronic Argonauts
H.G. Wells, Jason Quinn, Russ Leach

Doctor Who is currently very popular within geek culture. But did you know that the character is not the first quirky doctor to adventure through time?

The mysterious Dr. Moses Nebogipfel arrives in a small Welsh town in 1887. The apprehensions of the simple rural folk eventually cause them to storm the inventor's workshop in an effort to avenge perceived witchery. Nebogipfel escapes with one other person, the sympathetic Reverend Elijah Ulysses Cook, in what is later revealed to be a time machine. After having been missing for three weeks, Cook returns, aged many years older. He talks about a journey that took the duo to the days of mankind's last stand against an alien invasion in the 41st Century, and even further into the future to a time when humans are no longer the dominant life form on Earth.

Originally written by a 22-year old H.G. Wells in 1888, "The Chronic Argonauts" is considered to be the first well-developed use of a 'time machine' in science fiction. It predates his more famous time traveling novel, 'The Time Machine', by seven years, yet has never been adapted for other media. While Wells' version ends with a cliff-hanger, New Baby Productions has expanded the story with an adventure that is influenced by the legendary writer's other works.

Quinn and Leach have done a nice job of taking an early H.G. Wells story and giving it a new look, yet still maintaining the essence of the original tone of the work, delivering to readers a story they might not otherwise have encountered.


Bikini Cowboy #1
Fresherluke (L. Frank Weber)

Set in the 1800's American frontier, a woman by the name of Whisky Jill must protect a young boy with innate abilities that his original captors seek to exploit.

Together they go on a spiritual journey that shows both the light and dark sides of humanity, and attain enlightenment.

The best of this set, Fresherluke’s Bikini Cowboy defies what we might expect from the book’s title, delivering a truly unique Western adventure story with a protagonist named Whisky Jill - a character you’ll never forget. Despite the title, Bikini Cowboy is a heartfelt tale with lots of humor and plenty of action. Weber’s art (which seems to be 100% pencil work) is astounding. 


Minor Acts of Heroism #1
Adriana Ferguson, Kristen Van Dam

It started out like any other forced hangout session with a sort of emo kid in a creepy vampire looking mansion. And yeah, maybe going into the haunted looking basement with a weird long pool that went off into the dark depths of the house wasn't the smartest, but it seriously seemed like a good idea at the time.

Minor Acts of Heroism #1 is a combination of traditional comic art and Manga, one which works well as we learn about the boys Simon and Sergio as they develop a friendship by exploring the strangeness of Sergio’s guardian’s house. 


The Black Well
Jamie Tanner

A dog-faced man, a disappearing woman, a headless vampire, a mysterious clinic on a remote island, offering treatment for "unusual ailments"...

A comedy without laughs, a horror story without scares, a mystery without solutions.

THE BLACK WELL is a strange graphic novel by Jamie Tanner, Eisner-nominated author of THE AVIARY...

Reading The Black Well is sort of like watching a David Lynch movie: you’re not quite sure what’s going on, but you keep watching anyway. Tanner’s book deserves more than one read-thorough, but don’t expect to have anything handed to you. 


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