Paper Cuts: 05.03.2017: Albatross Funny Books

Paper Cuts: 05.03.2017: Albatross Funny Books

By Ryan “HB” Mount

Albatross Funny Books is the creative endeavor of Goon creator, Eric Powell.  The indie publisher relaunched in 2016 with Powell’s written and drawn books Hillbilly and SSBII (aka Satan’s Sodomy Baby 2).  The line has already grown and this week we got three books from the publisher.

‘Namwolf #1 (Albatross)

Back in December, we reviewed Bad Moon Rising by 451 Media.  It was an average book, but what I wanted more than anything from that title was just to give us a story of a werewolf running around during the Vietnam War.  Although that book did not deliver fully on that front, this week, we were treated to that basic premise in ‘Namwolf #1.

While most folks might look at Logan Farber’s art and wonder if it is a good fit for a horror genre book, pick up Jeff Lemire’s The Underwater Welder, which was a creept tale of madness.  There is no doubt that people will draw parallels between Farber and Lemire’s work as they share some style notes, but Farber goes for a simpler line structure than Lemire’s scratchy line work.  Looking from panel to panel, you will notice not a lot of detail in the backgrounds and that could be very deliberate.  This is without a doubt a character driven piece and the art drives that home.

The writing from Fabian Rangel Jr. was well executed and overall fun to read.  One thing that came through with his overall writing was how well he works with his artist and knows when to let the art tell certain parts of the story.  The best part of this working chemistry is on display with a half-page six panel introduction to the Army team.  It felt like reading the back of an old GI Joe figure and was solid fun.

This issue could have been a stand-alone one shot and still would have been great, but the story is advanced with the final three pages to keep you tuned until the next issue.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

Spookhouse #4 (Albatross)

The tag line above the title says this book is “scary stories fit for kids” and it says it all.

This ongoing horror anthology is on par with any other collection of short stories being published in comics.

The first tale written by Eric Powell is great, but the art work by Steve Mannion is reminiscent of Bernie Wrightston and Richard Corben.  Exposing younger readers to this type of art in this context is only going to add to appreciation later down the line for the masters of horror comics and books like Scary Stories.

The other two tales are bright and vivid with art that is easy on the eyes for any reader.  While none of the tales are going to lead to long conversations and thought discussions afterwards, they are above all entertaining.  There is the perfect amount of all ages humor and scares.

This may be the best issue in the entire series.

Ratings: 4 out of 5

Hillbilly #6 (Albatross)

If there was a week that spoke to me as a comics fan, this would be it.

This issue of Hillbilly tells us the story of how our hero became friends with a bear.  We could stop there and I would probably give this book a fantastic rating.

However, not everyone is as easily as tickled as I am with that premise, so luckily there is plenty of other things to draw in any reader to enjoy.

The art is simply incredible.  If you have never picked up a book by Eric Powell, then what are you doing reading comics?  His art style is all his own.  His work is incredibly beautiful and perfectly suited for a book about a wondering ax wielding hillbilly.

Powell is great on story telling as well because whether this be your first issue of the series or you have been reading since the beginning, each tale is fresh and new and all a jumping on point, while still telling a larger narrative.

Ratings: 5 out of 5

 

If you like what  you read make sure to like it and share it.  What are you reading right now?  What would you like to see us reviewing?  Make sure to reach us at @hebruise and @horror_writers

Paper Cuts: April 26, 2017

Paper Cuts: April 26, 2017

By Ryan “HB” Mount

Redneck #1 (Skybound/Image)

Modern day Hatfield and McCoys is one of the families was full of vampires and the other led by a preacher.

While the story is not breaking any new ground, it was extremely well written and a perfect first issue.  We immediately get a sense of the Texas town, the Bowman vampire family and their rivals of the Landry Family.  Even the beginning where many creators get bogged down in info dumps, the set up here was done without feeling like I was reading a poorly constructed novel and the opening two page spread certainly helped.

The rules of the world seem simple.   Vampires drink cow blood and paint thinner to avoid human blood.  They are still vulnerable to sunlight but nearly immortal.  There also appears to have some telepathy, but not fully defined.

The art of Lisandro Esterren has a lot of sketchiness of Jason Latour with some facial work similar to Howard Chayakin.  As with any book written about vampires, creatures of the night, you would expect the book to have an overall dark appearance.  While the book certainly let the reader know if you were in the woods at night or in a dimly lit, you were not staring at pages soaked in black ink.  The coloring from Dee Cunniffe contained a lot of cool blues and soft reds and accented the book perfectly.

This book was a perfect first issue.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

 

Jughead: The Hunger #1 (Archie)

This is simply an elseworld style tale of Jughead was a werewolf and Betty was a monster hunter.  The story is not bad, but it is not compelling.  The tone of this book was closer to Riverdale than to Archie Horror.  There was some injected humor, but I believe fans read these books for the straight horror aspects.

The art of Michael Walsh feels like a cross of Jeff Lemire and Francesco Francavilla.  Now while to compare the art styles to two of the greatest working in the industry right now could seem like high praise, there was also some art that felt extremely rushed and not finished.  While the art did fit into the Archie horror universe well, it simply does not hold up against Afterlife with Archie and The Chilling Tales of Sabrina.  This is the second book reviewed this week that features colors of Dee Cunniffe.  Her color palate is perfect for horror books and should be a name to look forward to seeing when it comes out.

One thing that always made the Archie Horror universe so special was that even though the books came out sparingly is that they were so well done, it was worth the wait.  In this case, it was such a step down in overall quality that this is a totally passable book.

Ratings: 3 out of 5

 

Quick Cuts:

Plastic #1 (Image) – What is Joaquin Phoenix from Her was in love with a plastic doll and a murdering psychopath?  Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

The Atoll #2 (Big Pictures) – Human vs Shark fighting ring drama.  Ratings: 4 out of 5

The Beauty #14 – This arc is Hannibal Season 1 type of drama and creepiness. Ratings: 4 out of 5

Grimm Tales of Terror: 2017 April Fools Edition – It certainly lives up to the title of April Fools, with each story providing a “twist” ending.  However, it still was incredibly unclever and not scary. Ratings: 0.5 out of 5

Grimm Tales of Terror (Vol. 3) #4 If you fear clowns, this will terrify. For the rest of us? Ratings: 1 out of 5

 

If you like what  you read make sure to like it and share it.  What are you reading right now?  What would you like to see us reviewing?  Make sure to reach us at @hebruise and @horror_writers

Paper Cuts: Tribute to Berni Wrightson

Papercuts: Bernie Wrightson Tribute

By Ryan “HB” Mount

Recently comics and especially horror comics lost one of the all-time greats in Bernie Wrightson.  If you ever read an old issue of Creepy or Eerie, or an older issue of Tales of the Crypt, you would have seen Bernie Wrightson’s work.  He and writer Len Wein also created Swamp Thing in the pages of DC Comics’ House of Secrets.

He had an incredible nearly 50-year long career in comics spanning from the late 1960’s until just this past year.

We decided to do some back-bin issue diving and celebrate and review some of Wrightson’s work.

Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #1 (IDW)

Wrightson published the definitive comics adaptation of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein back in 1983 for Marvel Comics.  This series, which began publishing in 2012, was billed as the sequel to Frankenstein.

Very often when sequels are so announced to classic years later, they tend to fall flat or feel uninspired.  Once you open to the first page of this book, this is one of those rare cases of being able to go home again.

While the story was well written by Steve Niles, the true masterwork is Wrightston’s beautiful and haunting black and white art work.  The art in here was meant to be looked and pondered over as each page is filled with incredible detail.  Although, there is plenty of black ink on the page, there are enough pencil lines showing through that make this book pop as much as any colored book on the stand of today.

The series only lasted 3 issues until Wrightston fell too ill to continue work on it.  It is hard to know the future of this without him, but these three issues are worth the read and should be added to any horror, Frankenstein, or even comics fan and collector.

Ratings: 5 out of 5

 

Bernie Wrightson: Master of the Macabre! #1 (Pacific Comics)

A perfect horror anthology.  One tale of Frankenstein.  One of a lake monster and the monster of a man who hunts him.  And a rendering of an Edgar Allen Poe’s Black Cat.

While these are all tales of horror, Wrightston again shows that his style can fit into anything from 1890’s horror to “modern times.” There is not a single wasted or rushed space in every panel.  While the coloring does seem to date the book a little, the artwork still really shines through the 1980’s coloring techniques.

Ratings: 5 out of 5

The Masterworks Series of Great Comic Book Artists: Berni Wrightson #3 (DC)

Out of all the Berni Wrightson books reviewed, this is the only one that seemed like a slight misstep.

While the artwork remained top notch, the writing of each story was bogged down in an overabundance of text boxes.  It a progressive build on text as well as each tale went on.  The first tale of the sculptor and his wife sits next to any great stories, but then once the next two stories got rolling, they had so much text on the page that it took away from even the brilliant artwork.

Ratings: 2.5 out of 5

 

Quick Cuts:

The Weird #1 (DC) – The title says it all.  Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Batman: The Cult Book One: Ordeal (DC) – An off the beaten path tale for Batman.  One of the scariest Joker renderings ever.   Ratings: 3 out of 5

Tales From the Crypt #2 (Super Genuis/Papercutz) –There is one Wrightson reprint and one lost tale. Two other short stories, one great, one not so much. The Wrightston work alone is worth picking this up. Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Bernie Wrightson: Master of the Macabre #2 (Pacific Comics) – Another classic.  Features a HP Lovecraft tale. Ratings: 4 out of 5

Bernie Wrightson: Master of the Macabre #3 (Pacific Comics) – Monsters under the bed. Monsters on space planets. And a cautionary and creepy tale made for the Twilight Zone. Ratings: 4 out of 5

 

Thank you for those who stuck with the column while I had to take a small break.  We are back with a regular schedule.

If you like what you read, please like and share this post.  If you have a favorite Berni Wrightson work, make sure to tweet @hebruise and tell us all about it!  When I am not writing for horror-writers.com you can also find some work I do over at twoheadednerd.com

Papercuts: 03-22-2017

Papercuts: March 22, 2017

By Ryan “HB” Mount

This week, we take a look at the reintroduction of two fan-favorite characters, Vampirella and Marvel’s Man-Thing with new jumping on points and big departures from status quo of the characters long histories.

Vampirella #1 (Dynamite)

After reviewing the #0 issue, there was a ton of mystery of where this series was heading.  I never would have thought from #0 that we were getting Vampirella in dystopian future Los Angles.  Perhaps as comic readers, we should welcome drastic changes and see where the story leads before rushing to conclusion.

This should not come as a surprise, but it felt like Paul Cornell was writing another episode of Doctor Who and not Vampirella.  There was a huge world presented with a lot of mystery and not a lot of explanation.  There was also some future speak dialogue which was alright for an opening issue, but hopefully does not bog down the story for the long term.

The art in this issue was fantastic.  While I appreciate the mood that the zero issue had set up, this set up a much different landscape.  There are remnants of Kirby and Moebius in the design work and spoke to my sensibilities.

There is also something to be said about a book taking a lot of chances.  There appears to be another narrative happening outside the panels on the page and certainly not conventional, I again think that a book taking some risks, should be something given some praise.

While this book is anything but traditional Vampirella, there are so many interesting things happening that this new launch deserves several issues before making a full judgement.

Ratings: 4 out of 5

Man-Thing #1 (Marvel)

If you were a child of the 1990’s and you saw that teen horror writer, R.L. Stine was writing a comic book, you would naturally be excited.

While for a long time, Man-Thing has been a lumbering and haunting character with oddly defined powers of portal jumping and instilling total fear into people, Stine decided to take the character in a completely new and different direction and is bound to rub some longtime fans the wrong way.

After reading this issue, you are left wondering if Stine had recently watched the 2005 film, Man-Thing which wanted to tell a funny story of how that film came to be made.  There were certain references from character designs to statements from characters in the book that leads us to that conclusion.  I was unsure if Stine was going for a Howard the Duck type of story for this book, but there the writing was not clever enough to hook readers.  The departure was so far removed from the original character that many old-time fans will have nothing to grab onto and new readers won’t have enough either.

The art was fine and seeing Man-Thing on the page was a real treat, when it came to everything else, it seemed clunky and rushed.

Ratings: 2.5 out of 5

 

Quick Cuts:

Zombie Camp #1 – This is a book has its issues, but it is intended for kids. Enjoy the simplicity.  Ratings: 2.5 out of 5

The Darkness Visible #2 – Mike Carey continues to tell a compelling story of a society where demons and humans struggle to co-exist.  A couple more layers added on in this issue.  Ratings: 3 out of 5

Eclipse #5 – New Arc.  Go back and pick up the trade, then jump in. Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Grim Tales of Terror (Vol. 3) #2 – Teen horror meets idle hands. Ratings: 2 out of 5

Grim Tales of Terror (Vol. 3) #3 – New art style for the book. Typical fare. Ratings: 2 out of 5

Richard Corben’s Shadows of the Grave #3 – The art alone is enough to add this to your monthly reading, but the creeps and scares keep it essential for any fans of the genre.   Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Lady Killer 2 #4 – Dexter meets Mad Men. Beautiful art.  Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Spook House #3 – Horror Anthology for kids! Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

When not writing about horror comics, Ryan enjoys long walks on shark infested beaches or at least watching them on the screen.  If you like what you read, tweet out the link to the column and use the #papercuts.  If you want to read more, follow Ryan @hebruise and look his other comic columns and interviews over at Two-Headed Nerd.com.

Papercuts – 03/03/17

This week was very exciting as we got four brand new titles.

However, the divide in quality between the four books was glaring. Two near flawless issues and two, well, let the reviews tell you…

 

Crypt of Screams #1 (American Mythology)

If you had told me there was a horror anthology comic that is going to include a Western Ghost story, a mysterious body of water story, and a space monster story, then I would bet that it would at very least have all the makings of an interesting read and would have to be featured on this column.

I always want to encourage new comic companies and know these independent publishers take time to find their legs and their voice.

However, this book was nearly unreadable.

The one story entitled, “The Pond” had 54 text boxes in the first 5 pages. The entire story was 8 pages long.  In those 5 pages, there were also word balloons.  Leave the actual writing out of it, it is clear that the writers do not understand the medium fully.  If you have 8 pages to tell a story and you need that many text boxes to tell the story, then change your story.  Know the limits of the room you have and work with it, not against.  It also shows a lack of trust with the artist to tell the story with their craft by having to force that much exposition onto the page.

Neither one of the other stories could save this book from being worth a read. While “Speed Demon” was fine, it was a bit wordy.  “Burn Out” suffered some of the same text box overload as the Pond and even though the art was a little stronger.

 

Ratings: 0.5 out of 5

 

 

Bedtime Stories for Impressionable Children #1 (American Mythology)

Another horror anthology from American Mythology.

Next to Crypt of Screams, this was leaps and bounds better. Perhaps that is because comic legend, Jim Shooter wrote the first story in this book.

While a lot of independent comics are black and white and sometimes rougher for up and coming artists, that does not mean it has to be lazy. The narrator of the tales, was so simple, with no backgrounds, very little line work, that it really stuck out as perhaps a last minute addition, or the publisher simply did not care once they could put Jim Shooter on the cover.

While Shooter’s tale “40 Wacks” was a creepy fun read with passable art, the rest of the book suffered from Crypt of Screams overload of text boxes. It was not quite as bad, but at least I was able to finish this book.

 

Ratings: 1 out of 5

 

The Belfry (Image)

 

Gabriel Hardman is hands down one of the top artists in the comic’s industry. Whether it is on his current Image series, Invisible Republic, or his work at Marvel, or his fantastic run on Planet of the Apes.

This book started as one simple sketch at a con. From there it moved from a con-exclusive book and finally to Image and onto the shelves of retailers.

It is a very simple, uncomplicated horror story, told in mastery over just 22 pages.

The art is unclean and rawer than we are used to seeing with Hardman as it looks like somewhere between Hardman’s classic style and the static work of Jock.

This was a master class in comics and a must read for any horror fan. Even non-horror fans will enjoy this one.

 

Ratings: 5 out of 5

 

The Darkness Visible #1 (IDW)

When a movie starts with a long exposition at the beginning of it, that usually says that we did not trust our audience to understand the world we have created or that we failed as storytellers to deliver something compelling that audiences will hold on to. (Also, see above reviews)

The Darkness Visible not only trusts its audiences, but sets up a world where demons and humans live together and there are clearly racial and class divides between the two species and made it all feel organic in the dialogue of the main characters.

It gave the reader just enough to understand, but left enough open to make the reader to come back more and want to sit in this world to see what is really happening.

The story telling is done at a break neck speed and immediately thrown a twist and a fantastic cliff hanger at the end.

You add all that to some wonderfully creepy and horrifying art, and this felt like the next Mike Carey epic, who delivered such classic such as Lucifer and The Unwritten.

 

Ratings:5 out of 5