Our latest round-up of small press comics standouts range from dystopian science fiction in Peace of Mind, to mature themed musings in Dregs: A Short Story Collection, to out and out nightmarish horror in the aptly titled 1,000 Nightmares.
Dregs: A Short Story Collection
This collection of short stories from London Horror Comic editor John-Paul Kamath looks at some of the darker elements of the world in a series of quite adult themed one off stories. It starts with two sons visiting their fathers gravestone in One For The Road, before telling a tale of childhood trauma and adult recriminations in Hero’s Journey, before wrapping up with the costume party from hell (quite literally) in Nun’s And Monsters. Of the three stories this is the stand out by some distance and feels like it could have been part of Madius Comics’ Horrere collection with it’s mix of acerbic humour, monstrous creatures and quirky concepts (A Cthulu bride anyone?!). WhIle the other two are solid dark stories with some standout moments, they just lack that uniqueness that the final story has, both in terms of story telling and also the superb art. With a cover from Simon Myers that reminded us a bit of Mike Allred’s work in Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy, it helps give the whole book a slightly lo-fi and old school fanzine feel that sits well with its title. This is a more than solid first issue and a series which has the potential to grow into something dark and interesting if it continues in the right direction, however the £8 price tag is a bit steep for a book of this type.
Peace of Mind #2
The first issue of Peace of Mind leapt out at us from the screen of the Comichaus app and was one of our highlights of the beginning of this year. It’s world of cyberpunk dystopian sci fi felt like a Matrix reboot and it’s eye catching white cover was a real stand out, so we were very excited to find out a new issue was heading our way from writer Calum Fraser and artist Emiliano Correa. This second issue builds on the premise of the first, which saw a group of workers living in the sewers rescue a young woman who has been ejected from a high-tech VR system. This second issue really begins to expand their story, rather than focus just on the woman they rescue, it introduces us to more of Leroy, Suzie and Mickey via a series of flashbacks. The issue builds really nicely to introduce new elements of the overall world around the characters too, as well as looking deeper into just why they are there in the sewers and why they want to help, which helps make them much more identifiable as characters. Visually it looks incredible, and while artist Correa’s work was pretty good in the first issue, it has really levelled up in this second volume with the work feeling more orthodox in some ways, but much more polished and slick as a result. It reminded us a bit of the excellent Paradiso in it’s intricacy. The layouts and textures of the pages feel both gritty and high-tech and give this sophomore issue a much slicker and more polished feel (which is ironic given the dingy location!). With a cliffhanger that is set to reveal even more of the world of Peace of Mind, this is a really smart and ambitious piece of small press sci-fi that has the potential to be something very special.
Peace of Mind #2 will be hitting Kickstarter on December 1st
10000 Nightmares #1 & #2
We were sent this truly horrific collection of short stories from writer Bil Richardson. Issue 1 features grim short stories like Oracle about a terrifying new religious figure covered in mouths. And Hard Times which is a slice of American Gothic about a family struggling to survive in the mid west and doing everything they can to live. (as well as an awesome Simon Bisley cover) While issue 2, which is slightly shorter, has just the one stand out: the aptly titled, STD, about the ultimate nasty disease caught from a one night stand (which has some wince inducing images on the opening page!). With other stories touching on themes of religion, conflict and even child molestation it’s not an easy read and some of the artwork is brutally graphic – especially issue 2’s story about a child suicide bomber. Along with the mix of short stories in each issue, there are are also some found image stories, which are a different approach to sequential story telling and also a long form article on Edgar Allan Poe called Nevermore which gives the first issue some added depth. With such hard hitting adult content it is definitely not a book for all, but if you like books with plenty of gore and shock value, like to be challenged by what you read, and enjoy a dark twist in the tale then this is worth checking out. But be warned, it’s not for the easily shocked!