Our latest round-up of the best of small press comics features battling wizards, an anarchic afterlife, a feline super assassin and the discovery of a new small press superstar in the making!
A surreal one shot about a pair of bickering wizards whose world is rocked when a rip in the fabric of reality reveals a giant baby face. The two attempt to figure our how to resolve it, but neither succeed and are met with a surprising resolution. It’s a strange and rambling tale which reads like a very traditional fantasy story at first – albeit a relatively simple one – as the good and evil wizards each call upon their own champion (a king and a Lovecraftian tented beastie). And then things get really weird! The tone is strangely modern, with quite a bit of swearing and is one of those stories which is made or broken by the quality of the art, and fortunately Jeff Sadzinski’s artwork is really great. What starts off a fairly familiar Tolkien-esuqe world of hairy wizards turns into this surreal and crazy world which grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags you into it’s vortex of weirdness.
Book of Joe
When our hero curses god for his unluckily lot in life, only to get hit by a bus. Catapulted to the afterlife Joe is forced to confront his maker and make his case for going to heaven or hell. What follows are an outlandish selection of flashbacks about Joe’s life, ranging from his birth, through to school in Palestine, his childhood on the Isle of Wight and finally his student days and early adult life. Although it sounds like it should be very slice of life, instead it is all rendered in a Hunt Emerson/Comix style with outrageous caricatures of his family and teachers, alongside cartoonish and animated depictions of his own state of mind. These are mixed up with some fantastic lettering which reminded us of Nick Prolix’s Slang Pictorial. It’s a really fun and outrageous read and the mix of retro visuals and off the wall personal reflections , which make for a really fresh and funny read.
An all action, ultra-violent story about a cat assassin who discovers his job has been scuppered by an elite group of feline ninjas called The Hells Bells. While the cartoony artwork may make it look like a Saturday morning cartoons, it’s anything but as the opening pages are packed with buckets of blood and guts and plenty of claret soaked violence. While not the most sophisticated story in the world, it has a certain enthusiastic charm to it, and the introduction of the Tarantino-esque Belles gives it a fun Kill Bill vibe. The artwork is slick and polished, but the amount of graphic violence can be a bit over bearing in places. However if you like your books violent and with plenty of cat puns then this is the book for you!
Area 07 by Anna Readman
The old adage ‘less is more’ could not be more apt for Area 07, an incredible piece of work from newcomer Anna Readman. While some creators struggle to stretch their ideas out to 28 pages, Anna’s short comic is a slice of succinct perfection, that is packed full of more visual invention and sublime line work than we see in a lot of books that are ten times its size. The story is relatively simple – a young girl returns home to visit her family, but it is the originality of what she encounters that makes this so good. From the opening page that sees the text of the headline merge seamlessly into the fabric of the house together in the spirit of Will Eisner, it signals this book out as something special. The next page sees our heroine Anna interact with her brother on the stairs who is drawn as this gigantic blue creature that stretches across two stories and looks like a refuge from Where The Wild Things Are. As Anna enters her room she is sent spiralling into a vortex that feels like something from the sandman, before being brought back to earth with a bump. With a ridiculous amount of detail on each page and some truly breathtaking compositions and ideas on display, this is one of the most exciting discoveries we have found all year and reminds us of the work of Tillie Walden, it’s that good. All of which means Anna is going to be top of our list of ones to watch h in the coming months.