Madius Comics are back with the 5th installment of their signature anthology Papercuts and Inkstains (however just to cause maximum confusion it’s numbered as issue 4!). But will it continue the upswing to greatness they managed with the double bill of Papercuts #3a and #3b and can they continue to be one of the best indie anthologies around?
Publisher: Madius Comics
Writer: Robin Jones, Mike Sambrook
Artist: Darren Smith, Jim Lavery, Mike Smith
Price: £4.00 from Madius Comics Big Cartel Store
Papercuts and Inkstains is going through a great run at the moment as they continue to build on their humble beginnings and start to really find their voice and identity in the world of indie anthologies.
We start with muscly barbarian Hogarth on an epic quest in The Forebearer and it’s a great example of what makes Papercuts work so well. Writers Rob Jones and Mike Sambrook, who pen all three tales in this issue, take a fairly generic fantasy premise and make it really stand out thanks to add bags of personality and offbeat humour in every panel. It has a very Terry Pratchett feel to it (which makes sense when you get to Profits of Doom!) and although it is played quite straight at first, the exposition panels are packed with so many little gags about aspiring tavern proprietors and pumpkin headed villains that it gives the whole thing a really enjoyable tone and makes it very readable. It also means, when you get to the slightly more surreal moments, like the career hungry trolls and the big reveal of Hogarth’s actual mission, you are prepared for full-on weirdness and so the whole thing really delivers!
They do the same in Flight of the Valkyrie, taking a generic group of gun toting road warrior misfits (who could have taken a wrong turn out of a Mad Max convention) and make them much more engaging thanks to a to a load of tongue in cheek humour. They are definitely helped on this one by the superb art of Jim Lavery who gives the whole book a Jamie Hewlett Tank Girl kind of vibe with bags of energy and great clean lines. He also manages to pack in plenty of great visual gags (like the Valkyrie’s chest armour) which matches up perfectly with the tone of the script.
Then of course, there are the Profits of Doom – the true stars of Papercuts! Although it doesn’t feel like the most in-depth story in terms of driving the plot forward, there is still plenty of bickering and banter as they team up with a mysterious hat wearing bearded book collector called Terry and learn about the origins of the the evil Bulgeroth. Artist Mike Smith uses these flashbacks to create some absolutely mind blowing pages, especially those based around the demonic origins of Bulgeroth, that are some of the best pages from the entire run so far. They have so much detail and texture to them, he must have been in league with Cthulhu to make them work so well!
With all three stories hitting on all cylinders, it means this is probably the best edition of Papercuts yet. From start to finish it has a really high quality to it and the only downside to this is that Rob, Chris and co. have set themselves one hell of a high bar to live up to for issue 5
Author: Alex Thomas
Alex Thomas is the Editor and founder of PIpedream Comics. He grew up reading comics in the 90s, so even though he loves all things indie and small press, he is easily distracted by a hologram cover.