This week’s indie comics round-up feature 4 eclectic all-ages tales featuring: a struggling artist discovering a new vocation in Finding Molly: An Adventure in Catsitting; surreal fantasy from Todd McCullough in Land of the Witching Hour; monsters under the bed in Edie OP’s Maleficium; and re-telling of the classic Rudyard Kipling tale of a mongoose in Rikki.
Finding Molly: An Adventure In Catsitting #1-3 (Emet Comics)
Molly is a frustrated art student who is struggling to find her way in the world post uni – her friends are either much more talented or much more interesting and she is stuck working in a book store with a sleazy boss for no money and at home living with her parents instead of living the dream. However when a chance encounter leads to a successful job as a cat sitter, she develops a new career path as a feline friend that helps give her life identity and purpose as well as some much needed cash and credibility. This coming of age, young adult tale comes from writer Justine Prado and artist Jenn St-Onge and has a very polished and slick feel to it. The art feels like it has come from the sketchbook of an animator with tons of expressive faces rendered in a soft, westernised anime style (in other words with big eyes and crazy mouths!) and the whole thing has a slick digital coloured veneer thanks to Carey Pietsch that gives Finding Molly a stunning look and feel. Story wise it feels a bit like John Allison wonderful Giant Days, but with a slightly older cast, without the British sense of sarcasm and with a lot more cats. Although the his lack of an edge makes it a bit slow and overly saccharine for cynical English senses, it is still a really fun read and if you love books about cats then you really need this in your life!
Purchase Finding Molly #1-2 for £1.99 from comiXology
Land of the Witching Hour #1 (Todd McCullough)
After the dark and twisted werewolf/ vampire world of his last book Who Needs The Moon, writer/artist Todd McCullough has opted for something very very different, with a surreal kids fairytale that reads like a mix of the Brothers Grimm, Studio Ghibli and Adventure Time. The story sees two kids wake up in a strange fantasy land and go on the run trying to escape the voices in their heads caused by a big purple three eyed monster. (Who at one point gives birth to some weird red evil jelly baby creatures from its head!). Although it may seem all sugar and sweet there is still a sense of darkness throughout the book, as well as a surreal psychedelic horror, which juxtaposes nicely with the innocent visuals. Todd has tweaked his style slightly from Who Needs The Moon to create a much simpler and more cartoonish approach that sees him use a rough almost hand drawn inking style, but done in a digital environment, to give the book a real vibrancy and energy. His use of bright colours, and extreme close ups also helps make it very animation like, and a complete about turn from the darkness of his debut, but it still allows the more horrifying moments to be both scary and surreal in equal measure. Perhaps our favourite part of the whole book though is the lettering which mixes hand drawn sound effects (reminiscent of Fiona Staples) with small avatars on some of the speech bubbles which are used when characters are talking off panel or in the distance of a shot. This not only gives the whole thing a fresh style which we have not seen before but also allows Todd a greater freedom to do wider angle shots that don’t need the characters in to tell the story and instead help to build the fantastical world around them. In terms of story, this debut issue lacks a bit of focus and doesn’t entirely make sense, however the unique visuals more than make up for this and Land of the Witching Hour is a book which we are very excited to see develop in the coming months as it feels like it could be something very exciting (and also terrifying!)
Purchase Land of the Witching Hour for £0.69 from ComiXology
Maleficium (Avery Hill Publishing)
We discovered the peculiar world of Edie OP via Avery Hill’s wonderful anthology Reads, but those were only in short 8 page bursts and so it’s great to be able to see her unique take on comics given room to breathe in her first full length graphic novel Maleficium. Huxley and his sister live with their Dad in a small house and Huxkey likes playing wizards. But when a mysterious shadow monster comes out of the wall and begins tormenting the kids he has to put his wizarding skills to the test. With echoes of horror movie the Babbadook as well as the works of Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton, Maleficium is the right side of scary to be accessible to all ages, but is sinister enough to give adults a bit of a fright. Edie’s mix of pencil and ink (with the monster rendered in jet black ink) gives the book a haunting and dream like quality and although the pacing feels a bit slow at times this is mostly out of a need for Edie to draw larger panels to fit in her work. While some pages may have up of 6 panels (and often less) these are invariably the panels that look like elements have been squashed in and so you end up forgiving the slower pace. Although the story is fairly straight forward and lacks any real shocks or twists, that isn’t as much of a negative as it sounds, as instead it means you have time to soak in the sinister artwork and creeping dread that will have you checking under the bed for malicious forces!
Purchase Maleficium for £11.99 from Avery Hill’s website
Rikki: Collected Edition (Karate Pet Shop Comics)
A fun retelling of the classic Kipling tale about a young mongoose looking to make his name and win the respect of his burrow, in particular his prospective father in law. After losing a fight with a cobra he loses his memory and ends up being looked after by a human family, but when they are threatened by a cobra in their garden he regains his memory and saves the day. With a disney animation style and updated modern dialogue Rikki makes for a really fun and enjoyable update. The whole thing has a fantastic energy and the story has a great mix of the plucky underdog overcoming an all powerful adversary that feels like it could be a movie. The updated dialogue and style works great for this version but does make for a few incongruous moments as a result of the family being updated to be a white Anglo American group instead of the colonial English family in India of the original and so it feels a bit odd for them to have cobras in their garden and mongeese and elephants on their doorstep but this is a minor niggle for what is an excellent all ages book.
Purchase Rikki for £6.99 from ComiXology