We take a look at three great small press titles: Hoards of Surrey from Dave Wimblett and Rory Donald; Joe Stone’s Neurotic Fiction, and Blue Fox Comics adaptation of the HP Lovecraft classic, The Shadows over Innsmouth.
Hoards of Surrey (Dave Wimblett)
This debut book from writer Dave Wimblett came to our attention thank’s to the artwork from Griff Gristle’s Rory Donald. Hoards follows Michael a young lad in Dorking who finds a treasure map on a boring trip to the local museum with his mum. Keen to find the ‘hoards’ that are mentioned, he recruits his misfit buddies and sets off ff to find out the mystery of the titular treasure. Hoards of Surrey is a fun slice of all ages adventuring in the vein of the Hardy Boys or a millennial Famous Five. This first issue is a bit of a slow starter as we are introduced to the characters and concepts, and while it’s an enjoyable read, we’re not quite sure where it’s heading. Will it become more horrific, have a supernatural Scooby Doo sub plot, or will it branch off into Indiana Jones style treasure hunting adventure territory. However thanks to some fun characters and quirky artwork from Rory (it’s nice to see his work come out of the gloomy shadows of Griff Gristle!) there’s enough good intent to make us keep going on our quest for the hoard!
Neurotic Fiction (Joe Stone)
As well as producing the wonderful WIP anthologies Success and Failure this year, creator Joe Stone has also put together this fantastic 3 story collection. Each story is its own entity but is connected via a delivery lorry which runs through each story as a unifying concept.The stories themselves are a wonderful mix of surreal slice of life through to poignant self reflection and range from a man and his pleasure doll (who has only one thing on her mind) through to a date between two friends and also the personal reflection on a foolish moment by the delivery driver. The three stories are wildly different in style and tone, but all of them have this glorious charm and originality to them that comes from Joe’s immaculate artwork and his really relatable style of story telling (even when the subject matter is a bit unusual!). His artwork is immaculately crafted, packed full of detailed and neat as pin. The cleanliness of his line and use of colour is immaculate (Each tale also has it’s own colour scheme –one in pink, one in blue and one in green) and the whole thing is just so well put together. As we saw in Stutter and in WIP Success he is not afraid to play with the idea of what makes a comic work and he does this again brilliantly here. The interconnecting elements are delightfully subtle, while panel breaking pages contrast well with the regimented structure used throughout most it (especially the almost blank DPS in the second story – which is also told completely wordlessly). This is one of those books which is so subtle and nuanced, that it actually feels a bit lightweight on a first read. However when you look back at it, re-read it and reconsider it, you realize it is packed full of detail and subtle moments of brilliance. It’s also one of those books which you find yourself referring to in everyday situations, which is always the sign of a well observed read.
The Shadow Over Innsmouth Part One (Blue Fox Comics)
The latest creative team to have a crack at this infamous H.P. Lovecraft story is Blue Fox comics’ Simon Birks. We have to admit at this point that we are not Lovecraft experts or indeed fans of any particular note and so this was the first time we have come to this story, and based on first impressions it feels like a solid adaptation. The story feels well paced, as it introduces us to the main protagonists and the world of Newburyport/Innsmouth cleverly and without too much confusion. While the artwork from RH Stewart gives it a very vintage/period feel (especially with the muted colours) while also making the most of the more evocative characters and moments (i.e. the residents of Innsmouth), that feel as if they are very much a part of the story, and not just a fantastical addition. Whether this version will match up to some of the more celebrated adaptation of Lovecraft’s work (such as INJ Culbard’s books) we will have to bow down to other’s more informed opinions. But we found this a really enjoyable and creepy read and if this is to going be our first dip into the world of Lovecraft proper then we couldn’t ask for a better introduction.
The Shadow Over Innsmouth is coming to Kickstarter soon