Vids I Dig 068: Literature Devil: Is Comicsgate Wrong? (In 4 Parts)

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 1): ComicsGate claims that modern Marvel’s diversity-focused comics are far inferior to the works of the past. Are they blinded by hate and nostalgia or do they have a point?

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 2): So maybe Diversity Marvel isn’t about superhero battles or heroes fighting villains. Maybe it’s about character development. Let’s try tackling this question from a different angle.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 3): Before we get into the grand finale of Is Comicsgate Wrong? I went ahead and addressed the most interesting counter-arguments sent my way. Watch to the end… I’ve tossed in a little hint on what the FINAL BATTLE will cover.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 4): All things come to an end. One last battle to see which side is right and which side is wrong. Also, special announcements at the end.

Comic Review: Jungle Comics, Issue #1

Published: May, 2019
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Kelsey Shannon

Antarctic Press, 32 Pages

Review:

I backed this on Indiegogo awhile ago but I guess I could’ve just bought it off of the shelf before it actually shipped to me. But that seems to be the case with most crowdfunded projects that get picked up by Antarctic Press.

Still, this was pretty inexpensive and I was pretty happy with the end result once I got this in my hands.

I’ve been reading comics by Chuck Dixon since the ’80s and the guy wrote one of my favorite runs on G.I. Joe, so I’ll support most of the projects he’s involved in.

Plus, I’ve really come to enjoy the art of Kelsey Shannon. When the dude is on his A game, he’s one of the top guys working today. In fact, I’m surprised more people aren’t scooping him up. Unless they are and future projects haven’t been announced yet.

This comic is like a time machine though. It takes the reader back to an era where jungle comics were actually a thing in pop culture. It was a popular genre back when Tarzan was a popular fictional character in the mainstream.

This does feel like a more modern take on the genre and the second story in the comic has a sci-fi twist to it. But it still captures the spirit of the pulp stories from over a half century ago.

If future issues come out, I’ll probably give them a shot. This is listed, officially, as part 1 of 4, so I guess we’ll see.

Although, I don’t know if Dixon and Shannon are involved going forward.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: I guess future releases of Jungle Comics by Antarctic Press.

Comic Review: Bigfoot Bill: Shadow of the Mothman

Published: March, 2019
Written by: Doug TenNapel
Art by: Doug TenNapel, Kelsey Shannon, Katherine Garner

Doug TenNapel, 96 Pages

Review:

I’ve got to say, this was the most fun I’ve had reading a comic book this year. Doug TenNapel did a stupendous job in creating this graphic novel and I have to say that this was the best end result out of anything I have ever helped crowd fund.

I have absolutely no buyer’s remorse in supporting this and I actually have some disappointment in not picking up the sketchbook TenNapel did, as well as an extra copy. The finished product was presented beautifully and in fact, when I opened the package, I was completely stunned, smiling ear to ear. And because of that, this didn’t get added to my read pile, instead I immediately sat down and read this cover to cover.

The book was energetic, hilarious and I loved the title character immediately. This is something that doesn’t happen in 2019 but TenNapel crafted a fun world with depth, character and a real spirit.

I’ve always enjoyed cryptozoology being that I have grown up around the Everglades. While I don’t believe in the local legends like the Skunk Ape, I have always been fascinated by the idea of them. TenNapel did a fantastic job at creating a lovable Bigfoot character, as well as other cryptids with rich and unique personalities.

The story serves to set up a larger world that we will hopefully be able to see these characters live in for years to come.

The art was superb and I really loved the colors, which were provided by Kelsey Shannon and Katherine Garner.

Everything about this book is perfect.

In the end, I’m just glad to say that Bigfoot Bill was right up my alley and I loved every panel of it. I’m incredibly enthused about what could come next from Doug TenNapel.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other Doug TenNapel graphic novels and I’m sure, his future Bigfoot Bill releases.

Vids I Dig 005: Douglas Ernst Mentions Talking Pulp’s Twitter Page and Parody Comic

This is from back in October of 2018 but when there were a lot of developments regarding the lawsuit between Richard C. Meyer and Mark Waid, I was making a parody G.I. Joe comic about it. YouTube commentator Douglas Ernst brought it up in a video. Talking Pulp is mentioned starting around 4:07.

Comic Review: Graveyard Shift

Published: February, 2019
Written by: Mark Poulton
Art by: Jon Malin, Anthony George, Eric Weathers

Haunted Pizza, 46 Pages

Review:

*The featured image is from the interior. I couldn’t find a JPG of the cover.

Man, this comic book is so ’90s! Which is a great thing for some people and a not so great thing for others. Being that I’m a fan of the ’90s, I found this mostly enjoyable.

What sold me on the project is that it was said to be like X-Men mixed with the Universal Monsters franchise. While that’s not quite the vibe I got from it, I do like the idea of there being a superhero team comprised of classic literary monsters, even if it’s not a wholly original idea.

Also, the series’ title isn’t that original, as Image Comics already had a series called Graveyard Shift just a few years ago from 2014 through 2015.

While I enjoy Malin’s art for the most part, the criticisms I had in my Jawbreakers review still apply here. The characters still look overly sleek and svelte with elongated limbs and uncomfortable looking poses. Now I’m not talking about the dynamic motion stuff, that’s all fine; I’m talking about the poses that see them just standing around. He definitely has his own anatomical style but it doesn’t always work for me. That being said, Malin is still better than what the industry standard is in 2019. Most of his women look the same though, throughout all of his work. They just have variances in hair color, hair length and skin tone.

I was also critical of how the action flowed in Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers and I saw that as maybe an issue with the writing on Meyer’s part but having now read Graveyard Shift, I see similar problems. Sometimes I can’t tell what’s happened from panel to panel without having to go back and examine the previous one harder.

There is also some nonsensical stuff thrown in, which I guess is writer Mark Poulton’s sense of humor. Some of it feels odd, out of place and the gag doesn’t always work. There is one panel with a pregnant news reporter in the background with her bare belly exposed and half of her tits hanging out. In the next panel, there is a massive explosion behind her and we see her screaming as her belly bursts open, ejecting the fetus from within it. I don’t get it, man. That’s some hardcore ’90s edgy boi shit but it made me stop reading and I had to stare at it, baffled, distracted and completely dumbfounded by the whole thing. It was random as shit, added nothing to the story and hurts the book, overall. I wasn’t offended by it, I was just puzzled by it. And from a physics standpoint, it makes no sense.

Additionally, the cover for this was weak. I’m glad that Malin didn’t use the cover to promote this on Indiegogo because it’s not a true reflection of the good art inside the book. It’s just a green glowing logo on a black background. If this were on a shelf, I wouldn’t see this moving into the consumers’ hands with that cover.

Getting back to the writing, there is a ton of shit wedged into just 46 pages. A lot happens and the book jumps around in time, here and there. If you’re not paying close attention, it may be a bit confusing. But with so many characters and time shifts in this book, I don’t feel like I really got to know any of the core people other than a few surface traits. There needs to be more depth for the primary characters and this almost feels as if it was too much, too soon.

That all ties into one of my criticisms of these crowd funded indie projects. It’s as if the creators feel like they need to tell as much of the story as possible because they can only do one to two releases per year. If this was drawn out a bit more and properly paced, the story might not conclude for years. And by that point, a lot of the initial audience will move on. This is why I prefer the monthly model of mainstream comics or the idea of doing a full, proper graphic novel that tells a single, self-contained story. Most of these Comicsgate projects end with a “To Be Continued”. Well, when? Six months from now? A year from now? Oh, you have three more projects on your plate before coming back to this?

It probably sounds like I’m shitting on this and I don’t mean to. But if I can’t objectively review it and hold it to the same standard that I do every other comic, then I’m just being dishonest. I’m not Comicsgate, as the creators of this book are. But Comicsgate claims that they want better comics. Well, if they aren’t criticized and held to the same standard as mainstream comics, then they’ll never produce better comics. Those who review these books and praise them without being objective and honest, don’t actually want better comics. The criticism should be constructive, fair and honest or else it isn’t valid. I want good comics, not the Christian rock version of comics.

That being said, this has promise. It’s a cool concept and it looks great for the most part. I’m interested in seeing where this can go but I’m also not going to care two years from now.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Other recent Comicsgate books like Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers, which Malin also worked on.

Comic Review: Lonestar: Heart of the Hero

Published: February, 2019
Written by: Mike S. Miller
Art by: Mike S. Miller, Kyle Ritter (color on covers)

Blacklist Universe, 48 Pages

Review:

If I’m being honest, I can’t say that Lonestar was the Comicsgate associated book that I was most looking forward to. I bought it just to see how it was and to review it. But with that being said, it is the best Comicsgate related comic that has made it to my mailbox, thus far.

I didn’t know much about Mike S. Miller until I saw him enter Ethan Van Sciver’s orbit. But as I got to know him through YouTube and Twitter, I was made aware of more of his past work and I do own a lot of the stuff he’s worked on and find his art to be really good.

Now at first glance, one might see Lonestar as a mash up of Captain America and vigilante heroes like Daredevil, the Punisher, Deathstroke (on good days) or the Vigilante. And one might think, “Do we need another vigilante superhero?”

Lonestar is pretty interesting though, as he isn’t just a street level vigilante but he works on a special black ops team that fights supernatural threats like vampires. So there is almost an element of G.I. Joe and classic horror also thrown into the mix. Since these are all things that I love, I found this pretty damn fun to read. And it is also well-balanced between all of these various elements.

This release is 48 pages and the story will be continued in a future volume. But there is enough here to really make you understand the hero, as well as this comic title. Miller did a solid job with the plotting as he gave this character depth, personality and purpose all within this first release. He also established a real threat for our hero to face down the road. The pacing of the story was good and a lot happens in a limited space. I’m not too keen on the dialogue, however. It’s not terrible but it’s also not very good. I think it’s an indicator that these Comnicsgate titles need an editor. I felt the same way after reading Jawbreakers. There just needs to be an extra step where these things can be fine tuned better.

In the end, I like this character and that’s the most important factor in selling me on the idea of supporting future releases.

Mike S. Miller’s art is also the best that I’ve seen from the Comicsgate camp. I think that Ethan Van Sciver’s Cyberfrog will take the cake, once it’s released, but Miller is an accomplished artist with decades worth of experience working for major publishers and his level of craftsmanship is made very apparent just from the first page of Lonestar. His style might not work for everyone but art is subjective and people have different tastes. But this looks like a top book from a top publisher and boasts more artistic skill than a lot of what Marvel and DC Comics are putting out in 2019. That’s not to say that every panel was great. There were a few spots where I didn’t like the perspective or the anatomy.

If I’m being honest, the primary cover of the book didn’t make me want to buy it. The variants were much better. The picture used in this review is of the second cover, which is the one I purchased.

Lonestar: Heart of the Hero surprised me. It really caught me off guard and that’s not a knock against what I think of Miller, it just didn’t immediately resonate with me at the same level as other comic books I’ve backed over the last year on Indiegogo or Kickstarter. But I am happy that I supported it and I will continue to keep an eye out for Miller’s future campaigns.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: I’m sure future Lonestar and Mike S. Miller releases, as well as other recent Comicsgate books like Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers.

Comic Review: Jawbreakers – Lost Souls

Published: February, 2019
Written by: Richard C. Meyer
Art by: Jon Malin, Brett R. Smith, Eric Weathers, Simon Bennett (Book One), Kelsey Shannon (Book Two), Ethan Van Sciver (cover), Kyle Ritter (cover)

Splatto Comics, 120 Pages

Review:

Well, after a very long wait, Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers – Lost Souls has finally arrived. It took awhile to come out but Meyer has kept people clued in every step of the way due to all the roadblocks and challenges that popped up during this comic’s creation to it finally getting in the consumers’ hands.

I’m glad that I finally got it, as I’ve wanted to review it for a long time.

Full disclosure, I’m not a Comicsgater but I get lumped into that label by people who don’t like those of us who question things or criticize the comic book industry. Also, when I reviewed Meyer’s Iron Sights, I upset a lot of those who lean in a direction opposite of Meyer and most of his supporters. But I liked Iron Sights, despite its issues, and gave that one a 6.75 out of 10.

That being said, Jawbreakers is a step up from Iron Sights but I still have some issues with it, overall.

For the most part, the art in the Lost Souls story is pretty good. Jon Malin is talented but I’m not always a fan of his characters. Everything looks very sleek and his characters seem a bit slender and elongated in certain poses. Still, he’s much better than the average bear and he’s only getting better with more high profile projects under his belt. I’m pretty excited about his Graveyard Shift comic, which are now hitting mailboxes.

Brett R. Smith’s colors are absolutely fantastic though. I also love the cover by Ethan Van Sciver and Kyle Ritter.

This release also features two “remastered” versions of older Jawbreakers stories. One is drawn by Simon Bennett while the other is done by Kelsey Shannon, who also did the Iron Sights cover. These two additions to this release don’t look as good as Malin’s work. Bennett’s parts need more refinement. Shannon’s are better but I’m not a huge fan of the style he uses here and it’s not as polished as his Iron Sights cover, which was actually stunning.

I thought the story was decent, as it is similar to a G.I. Joe story with a kaiju thrown in. I love both of those things, so mixing them is a cool idea. However, this isn’t G.I. Joe. I’d say it’s better than what IDW Publishing has done with the actual G.I. Joe franchise in the years since Chuck Dixon stopped writing it but this feels a bit thin.

If I’m being honest, I need to know something about the characters’ backstories. Here they are thrown into a situation and you just go along for the ride. Meyer needs to develop these characters a bit more but since he has plans to use these characters in the future, maybe we’ll get to know them better. Right now, they feel like generic placeholders or those G.I. Joes that would pop up into a story because they had an action figure but they weren’t popular enough to get more than a minor cameo.

This might sound harsh and I don’t mean it to be but G.I. Joe had a lot of toy companies that knocked them off with toylines like The Corps! and X-Troop. Right now, this feels more like The Corps! than G.I. Joe. It is kind of generic but again, that’s probably because these characters need more depth. I need to care about them and I don’t just off of this story.

I do like that this just gets to the action and it’s pretty much balls to the wall from start to finish. But over time, we’ll need more than that. I can excuse the lack of depth being that this is, right now, a one-off action story.

Jawbreakers is a good start to something but it will take some time to turn it into a brand. The problem with that though, is that crowdfunded comics take a long time to create and distribute. This is one of my criticisms of doing comics this way when I’ve lived in a world where my favorite heroes and teams hit my pull box on a monthly basis. It is much easier finding yourself invested in characters and stories that come out with some regularity. I don’t know if crowdfunded comic franchises in the making can succeed in that way. Plus, people lose interest in things when there’s a long wait.

But for now, I did enjoy this. I certainly don’t have any sort of buyer’s remorse. This was a cool experiment and the end product mostly delivers.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Richard C. Meyer’s Iron Sights.