This weekend saw the great and the good of the UK indie and small press scene descend of the Cardiff Masonic Hall for the Cardiff Independent Comic Expo. Although we couldn’t make it on the day, we were lucky enough to be sent some preview copies of 4 of the fantastic books being released this weekend at CICE, so here is our pick of what we would have got, if we’d been able to make it to Wales!
Don’t be put off by the slightly flippant title (shoodles is short for ‘shit doodles’), this new collection of auto biographical comics from Emily Owen is a highly personal look at anxiety and depression. You might think of her as being one of the more outspoken characters on the small press scene but here Emily has put her innermost thoughts and feelings down on the page and gives the readers a glimpse into what goes on behind the bravado. A bit like Rachel Smith’s Wired Up Wrong it deals with mental health issues in a highly personal and very open way and Emily does a great job of explaining how anxiety and depression affects her day to day interactions with the world in a very simple and relatable way. It really shines a sympathetic spotlight on the subject of mental health and so if you feel like you are struggling with these issues, or know someone who might be then be sure to pick up a copy as it does a wonderful job of reminding you that you are not the only one out there feeling like this.
Mulp: Sceptre of the Sun #4
As it nears it’s epic conclusion, Matt Gibbs’ and Sara Dunkerton’s mouse archaeology adventure MULP continues to be one of the most sublime small press books around. It begins with our hero Jack Redpath in peril as he has to escape from an underwater tussle, before we catch up with the rest of the gang who are being held prisoner by a group of bird worshipping savages. As we have come to expect from MULP, Gibbs brings together all the classic elements of 1930s pulp adventuring, from crazed natives to jungle temples and fedora wearing heroes which is then brought to life by some utterly magical artwork from Dunkerton – especially in the mountain top jungle temple scenes which are just breath taking and supremely detailed! If this was published by Dark Horse or Boom! it would be getting rave reviews, and once collected we’re sure it will continue to get the love it so richly deserves. But for now it’ll have to be small press’ special secret, so be sure to pick up all the issues you can and not miss out on one of the most action packed and adventurous small press books around.
This debut zine from the brilliantly named Wine and Zine Collective, is more of a collection of pin ups than a comic, but the work on show is so fantastic that we couldn’t help but give it a mention. The W&Z collective comprise Bryony Evans, Claire Spiller, Jess Leslau, Gemma Roberts and Zara Williams and for their debut they have gender swapped classic characters from film, tv and geek culture. This leads to such cracking pages as ‘The Attack of the 50 Foot Man’ from Zara Williams, a heart-breaking take on Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame by Jess Laslau, a superb Harry Potter page from Gemma Roberts, Super Maria Sisters from Claire Spiller and a kick ass Walking Dead page from Bryony Evans, to name but a few! It’s a fantastic showcase for these super talented artists and we can’t wait to see more work from all of them – hopefully some sequentials in the next Wine and Zine anthology?! (And be sure to follow them on twitter, if only for their amazing team photo!)
The new issue of Sarah (Heart of Time) Millman’s Cardiff based fantasy tale about orcs and elves in the real world, continues to excel with it’s blend of mystical creatures and mundane reality. Having discovered the fire element Belenus is working in a tea shop in Cardiff, our human heroine Hannah gets offered a job and has to overcome her admiration for her new boss while balancing it with her uni studies. Meanwhile another student group are looking to develop their summoning skills – which they achieve with somewhat worrying results! NPC-Tea is an utterly charming and truly wonderful book, that in our minds is fast becoming Millman’s calling card (sorry Gertrude the pug!). Whether it is the stunning cyan and magenta colour scheme that make its stand out as one of the most distinctive books on the small press scene, or the utterly believable and often laugh out loud hilarious dialogue, NPC Tea is endlessly entertaining reading. Even though not a lot happens in this issue, Milman’s ear for dialogue and cast of utterly fascinating characters make this a truly essential read as you are welcomed into the world of Hannah, Bryn and co. And if that isn’t enough to keep you contented, then issue #3 will be following fast on it’s heels as it is on Kickstarter now!