❉ Our latest comic book roundup! This time: Fractured Worlds, Nasty Girls and Gold Rushes.
The indie/small press comics landscape is awash with talent and creativity. Super news for your average connoisseur of indie comics, but where are the rest of us meant to look? How do we pick the best of the best? Indiequential is the column to help guide through the worlds of independent and small press comics and zines that are well worth your time!
From The Bookshelf
“snarling, punk feminism distilled into sequential form… Catriona Laird and Gaby Epstein’s sharp, evocative art is a crisp match to Erin Keeper’s rapid-fire script.”
A visually and thematically invigorating riot of a read, Nasty Girls is snarling, punk feminism distilled into sequential form. Nasty Girls is a story that firmly places its all-female rock band protagonists in the centre of a vile man’s world, so much so that what begins as a rock’n’roll road trip, writer Erin Keepers injects a healthy dose of vigilantism into the story.
Catriona Laird and Gaby Epstein’s sharp, evocative art is a crisp match to Keeper’s rapid-fire script that also places great emphasis on the character’s expressions. Laird and Epstein draw forth a rich variety of emotions from Lexx, Mercy, Yun and Rana. A defiant touch of humanity, as they face against never-ending odds in music and in life on the road.
Tales of Fractured Worlds
” a taught yet cryptic collection… illuminated with dexterous skill, thanks to the comic’s routinely warped, evocative artwork.”
Vintage-themed sci-fi comics with a socially-minded twist on contemporary topics? Sign me up! Following on from their debut anthology, Tales of Fractured Minds, Fracture Press’ second anthology is a taught yet cryptic collection of cautionary comics. Seven strips, all written by Roddy McCance and illustrated by separate artists, immerse themselves in forgone scenarios.
Global warming, globalisation and indigenous civilisations are all touched upon and illuminated with dexterous skill, thanks to the comic’s routinely warped, evocative artwork. Rolands bonds the strips together with a grim, exhausted feel to them that reflects the taboo-esque scale of the comic. Kuba Wisniewski’s Cathedral of Ice is a particular highlight. There’s a confident vision at play here that rewards multiple readings.
I Am Hexed
“A comic that lays down its progressive politics with gusto… anchored by its message of fighting for equality.”
Another comic with a robust, sure-fire flavour is Kristen Thompson’s I Am Hexed. A fantasy conspiracy thriller where witches live under the scrutiny of a tense society, it’s a comic that lays down its progressive politics with gusto. The nimbly-paced #1 follows Charlie Helm’s efforts to untangle a web of deceit following a government scandal involving the integration of witches into society.
Thompson’s story rattles through an abundance of socio-political issues, anchored by I Am Hexed’s message of fighting for equality. Amidst the fantasy however, Christianne Gillenardo-Goudrea’s artwork gives I Am Hexed an identifiable link with reality. It’s rich with an easy-going warmness, the convincing fantasy visuals sitting comfortably alongside the domestic realities of Charlie’s life. #2 is coming to Kickstarter soon.
PICK OF THE KICKS
After the Gold Rush
“A stimulating read that poses intriguing questions about the compatibility of science and religion”
Since 2015, Miles Greb has steadily crafted a nuanced collision of science and religion in After the Gold Rush. Together with inker Issac La Russa and colourists Micheal Shepherd and Adrian Geller, this awesome foursome continue to produce a narratively and visually arresting scenario for Titan-born scientist Scout, who travels across the stars after a cryogenic sleep to her ancestral home – Earth. What she discovers however is an Earth that’s somehow regressed into a superstitious, heavily-religious landscape, of which she’s determined to uncover what’s gone on.
After the Gold Rush bears a playful sense of mystery as Scout’s youthful charm plays well against the comic’s densely-packed themes of science and religion. Russa, Shepherd and Geller’s distinctive combination of visual styles gives After the Gold Rush a calm, almost serene feel. Scout’s explorations reveal an unspoilt world dominated by nature. Greb’s inquisitive story-telling matches Russa, Shepherd’s and Geller’s lush, spirited art to create a stimulating read that poses intriguing questions about the compatibility of science and religion. Issues #1-#5 are currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, well worth investigating.
Killtopia Vol. 2
“Riotous, snarling blend of unflinchingly raw artwork and engrossingly character-driven story-telling”
The cliché of presenting a title that needs no introduction feels very apt here, given how successful Killtopia Vol. 2’s campaign already is. Last year’s smash-hit cyberpunk smash-hit from Scottish creators Dave and Craig spread its neon-soaked glow across the Internet with a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign.
Back for its second instalment, Killtopia’s follow-up chapter was listed in our 2019 preview edition of Indiequential. With its riotous, snarling blend of unflinchingly raw artwork and engrossingly character-driven story-telling, Killtopia is highly recommended for fans of smart, action-orientated science fiction. Fans of Akira and Ghost in the Shell will be well served.
“A brisk, all-ages gem (with) a surreal sense of mysticism.”
The second issue of Blue Fox Comics’ gender-flipped take on Robin Hood is a brisk, all-ages gem. The Simon Burks-scripted and Ege Avci-illustrated reimagining of the classic mythos is both rustic yet unexpectedly steampunky. Burks reinvents the fabled hero as a younger, lone vigilante whose adventure-seeking nature gives the story a rattling, unpredictable pace.
Avci’s glorious artwork is as sharp and confident as Robyn herself. His intensely-detailed characters and landscapes are baked in an orange glow that gives Robyn a surreal sense of mysticism. #2 of this ongoing story promises to kick the adventure up a gear as Robyn is forced to do battle with a gargantuan mechanical knight. After crowdfunding #2 alongside #1 last year, Robyn #2: Bucket Full of Brains is now gearing up for general release.
Our Final Halloween #2
“Mike Lee-Graham’s vibrantly decadent art is well-suited to Mike Garley’s tale of energetic dread.”
The forthcoming release of Mike Garley’s follow-up to Our Final Halloween appears to be evidence that you can’t keep a good comic down. What began as a one-shot, digital-only venture will return to Kickstarter for a second issue and in print form. #2 will see this comic welcomed back with blood-soaked arms, as Michael Lee-Graham’s vibrantly decadent art is well-suited to Garley’s tale of energetic dread.
#1 of Our Final Halloween chartered the enjoyably horrific journey of five kids uncovering the truth when they find themselves in an abandoned house, caked in a stranger’s blood, and standing amidst a portal that’s allowing deadly creatures from another world to pour in. At 30 pages long, clearly the one-shot left appetites whetted for further nightmarish adventures. The Kickstarter for Our Final Halloween #2 launches April 1st.
❉ Fred McNamara is a contributing writer for a variety of digital and print publications, covering comic books, films, TV and more. His work has appeared on such websites as PopMatters, WhatCulture, Flickering Myth, Grovel, the Official Gerry Anderson Blog, ScreenRelish, and in such publications as Starburst Magazine, Andersonic and Comic Scene. His work has also appeared in anthologies published by Watching Books and Who Dares Publishing.