It’s that time of the year (any damn time I please, fyi) that I look at some random zines that have either come my way through conventions, or have been sent straight to me. Very few of these are available print-on-demand, and all the artists involved are smaller than those who I feature in single novel reviews. Today, I look at four small nuggets of independent creativity, review them briefly, and give a shoutout to the artists’ social media and website.
Super Hero Kim (Volume 1) by Richard Larios
Kim is the eponymous superheroine who faces down the swathe of rapists and pimps who terrorize her area of the United States. The drawing isn’t pretty, but the surroundings and the subject matter aren’t either. What the story lacks in finesse, it makes up for with a swift execution style and no-holds-barred exposition that leads to impending consequences in a matter of pages. My favorite segment was a five-person television panel arguing about rape culture and why Super Hero Kim should exist in the first place. It quickly set up the themes and environment that would be explored in the overarching story before the plot quickly progressed to setting Kim up against her first big villain. The studio that produces Super Hero Kim is called Feral Publication (catchphrase: Comics that Hate You!), and they will be producing a story called Jesus the Asshole around Christmas, and it’s exactly that sort of abrasiveness that made me like this short volume in spite of the spelling errors, generic font, and off-model drawing. We all have to start somewhere and this is a solid foundation.
The Silver Sparrow and Bloodmachines, Season 1, Author’s Edition by Brian Delaney
This is a double-sided, double-storied zine that features twelve strips each from the webcomics The Silver Sparrow and Bloodmachines by Brian Delaney. The craftwork behind each comic is consistent and exquisite, and completed in his spare time by a man with a day job and a daughter. There is more to read on Delaney’s website for both comics and the layout of the website is a unique design innovation in and of itself. I won’t reveal much about the details of the story because I think it starts off well enough to stand on it’s own without any relaying from me to you. Just go check out website and read through the strips. I know I’ll be doing it tomorrow.
Nerida, Chapter 1 by David Lujan
The cover makes for the most eye-catching part of this short story, written and drawn by David Lujan. It features a nice pencil drawing of the cast on the front and neat rough scan of a group of geometrically placed birds of prey, all drafted out on graph paper. It really shows the work put into it. The comic itself isn’t quite as interesting. A sea nymph travels with a cat but is then captured and we learn her story of how her transformative mermaid silke was taken by humans and she has to wander around nude to try and get it back. She makes a raw deal and ends up even more naked and afraid. It isn’t particularly deep at this stage and I wasn’t left clamouring for more. Regardless, you can find the comic and David Lujan below.
Tyranny of the Muse, Issue 1, by Eddie Wright and Jesse Balmer
Eddie Wright provides the simultaneously witty and brooding dialogue and Jesse Balmer brings absolutely gorgeous and unpredictable linework in this masterpiece of a zine. A validation-seeking and creatively-stunted man with a hole in his brain seeks help from a demanding muse who gives him his fix of an unspecified substance. The artist projects his wants and desires onto the muse, and what the muse gets out of the interaction is still a mystery. There’s two more volumes out, one of which I already own and have read, but I don’t want to give a series’ life story on Zine Stash, so I’m just looking over this one. The art is transformative and fluid, the sequencing of the panels keeps returning to the same subject matter, positions and faces over and over again, but the faces, consistency, and moods are constantly changing. It’s absolutely great moment to moment transitions like these that make the comic work fantastically as a masterful use of great penmanship and control of tone.
Eddie Wright’s Website: http://www.eddie-wright.com/
Jesse Balmer’s Website: http://www.jessebalmer.com/
Comic Tumblr: http://tyrannyofthemuse.tumblr.com/