Indie Comics Round-up: London Super Comic Convention 2016 Special

indie-round-upAfter a fantastic weekend at London Super Comic Convention 2016 we came back with our bag and iPad weighed down with a great range of new titles to review and check out on the site. Here is our rundown of some of the more interesting titles we picked up including: Bret Uren’s toy box noir Torsobear; Sian Jefferson’s charming fantasy fairytale The Book of Fey; Dean Beattie’s utterly unique Random Trials and Ryan Jenkyn’s The Bold Tales of Whiskers McFadden.

Torsobeartorsobear volumes 1 aND 2 (Torsobear)

Not quite a book *from* LSCC but rather the books we read on the way *to* LSCC having picked them up at True Believers. We reviewed the very first chapter of Torsobear years ago when it appeared in Norwegian anthology Outre Press and we could tell then that it stood out from the crowd  and so we were glad to see that creator Bret Uren has continued with the world of Toyberg tales ever since. The world of Torsobear sees classic crime noir tales told out in a city entirely populated by toys – many of which will be familiar, but just different enough not to be legally problematic! Uren and his crew of writers really go to town with every tale creating a  rich world where money is ‘buttons’ and the slang they use refers to toys rather than the real world (sometimes even going too far and making you have to double check your understanding of certain points). If you can imagine Toy Story rewritten by James Ellroy and drawn by Hunt Emerson then you get somewhere close. In the first volume the main arc revolves around our hero Ruxby investigating the sinister torso murder which leads him on a trail right to the very top of city hall and even involves his wife and son. While in volume 2 Ruxby is imprisoned for corruption and we begin to learn more about the events of the mysterious Saturday Morning Wars ^ which star a host of flashback action figures familliar from any 80s childhood! With Uren only handling some of the stories, the others being handled by a revolving roster of writers and artists, both volumes have a very fragmented feel and lurch from story to story when you read them in their entirety. However the sheer depth and variety of ideas mean you come to forgive this as it helps to create a really rich and vibrant world and reminds you how strong the characterisation is. Needless to say, the stand out episodes are the ones which involved Uren and his old school ‘Comix’ style and halftone print style makes this into a really unique read that feels like it really gathering momentum in time for a third volume.
Purchase Torsobear volumes 1 and 2 for £5.99 each from ComiXology

Chapter 3 - Press Pack VersionThe Book Of Fey  (Sian Jefferson)

Another series we rediscovered at LSCC this year was Sian Jefferson’s fantasy fairytale series The Book Of Fey. We reviewed the first chapter of this delightfully quaint webcomic last summer, but met up with her in person for the first time at LSCC along with her table mate Sarah Millman (Heart Of Time), and picked up a further 3 volumes to check out! The Book of Fey centres around young princess, Fey whose family are killed by the evil Prince Arin. When attempting to fight him they end up stuck in an elvish tomb where Fey encounters the mysterious fire demon Inarus who becomes her indebted servant thanks to a magical bracelet. Chapter 1 concluded with Fey and Inarus stuck at the bottom of the tomb and chapter 2 sees them head off on their journey north to meet up with Fey’s brother after a moral dilemma about whether to leave the unconscious Arin in the tomb when it begins to crumble around them. Volume 3 then sees Fey and Innarus encounter another mysterious demon, before volume 4 gives us more insight into the world of the nasty Prince Arin and his equally sumbaggy family. As with previous chapters, The Book of Fey is a quite slow read with not a lot of obvious action happening from page to page, however this sedate pace is part of it’s charm and the characterisation of Fey and Inarus in particular makes for a really enjoyable read. Visually it has manga and animation influences and feels quite like Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona – except without the sugar rush pace – so would be perfect for fans of that awesome book. Since the first chapter Sian has changed around the lettering style to help make it read better, and while it is more legible in chapter 2, it is still quite small, and it is only by chapters 3 and 4 that she gets the balance more appropriate. So why not give it a try and check out all 4 chapters, and more, via Sian’s website.
Read The Book of Fey via Sian’s website

Random TrialsRandom Trials (Dean Beattie)

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Dean Beattie! In Random Trials his lead character Charlie Cooper is just your average bloke, who on a late night trip to the local shop to buy crisps and beer realises he can shoot fire from his eyes after being confronted by some hooligans. It turns out Charlie and a host of others are victims of clandestine testing from a pharmaceutical company and they have all been inflicted with an increasing array of weird and wonderful powers – including a guy who can shoot little white men from his belly – make of that what you will! Beattie’s world is utterly bizarre, completely unique and Random Trials is one of those books you will either love to hate. For those who embrace it’s anarchic sense of humour, it’s twisted visuals and surreal characters, then it is compulsive reading. However if you don’t like it, it’s not going to be one of those books that wins you round in the end as it just gets wierder and weirder and weirder. We love it, and Beattie’s gangly watercolour artwork is a thing of beauty while his character design is utterly unique. There are few books out there like Random Trials, which is probably a good thing, as reading it makes you feel like you might have been through a medical experiment yourself – and not nessarily in a good way!
Purchase Random Trials for £4 each from Dean’s Big Cartel Store

 (Ed’s note: if you enjoy Random Trials then also check out Dean’s other book starring Charlie Cooper called Charlie Fights. It sees Cooper take on a variety of other characters as part of a competition Dean entered on the website Pencil Jack – and if you’re lucky he’ll write some abuse on the cover for you, as it’s designed to have a gap left on the front page for your own personal abusive message from the man himself!)

Whiskers McFaddenThe Bold Tales of Whiskers McFadden (Ryan jenkyns)

If ever you need proof that having a great title will get you readers, then look no further than Ryan Jenkyns ‘The Bold Tales of Whisker McFadden’. Like an indie comics magpie we drawn in by the title, and then hooked by the primary colour artwork of Whiskers and co leaping out from behind Ryan’s table! The story sees government agent Newton Baker thrown into the deep end of fieldwork when he encounters a robot bank robbery on his first day as an agent in the mall town of Odenberg. Meanwhile across town precocious child Margo has managed to persuade her Mom that she can keep the cat she just found, but unbeknownst to her Mom the cat in question is the 6 foot tall alien Whiskers McFadden. When the two plot strands cross, Whiskers and Margo help Newton save the day, but there are more sinister things going on in Odenberg than just a simple robbery. Set in 1950s USA Whiskers McFadden has a wonderfully nostalgic feel and real innocence to it that many comics lack at the moment. It’s a perfect all ages book with Jenkyns superb art that could be straight from a Cartoon Network show, while Jose Exposito deftly handles the colours with a strong primary palette. The story may not be the most coherent and requires a bit of a leap of logic to explain Whisker’s arrival in Margo’s world, but it’s so much fun you just go along for the ride. We challenge you to read this book without a stupid great grin on your face from start to finish – it can’t be done!
Purchase The Bold Tales of Whiskers McFadden for £3 from Ryan’s Big Cartel Store