Small Press Spotlight: Hopper! Detective of the Strange, Stan and Jack, Neotheric: Return of the King
With the world still in a state of self isolation we take a look at three more great small press comics to keep you entertained, including rabbit detectives, silver age creators on a space age adventure and dinosaurs with machine guns!
Hopper ! Detective of the Strange (Fair Spark Books)
This latest series from Fairspark Books is a truly delightful throw back crime caper tale. We loved creator Rob Barnes’ classic comic strip humour in Gallant and Amos and he does it again with Hopper. Our hero is your classic 40s gumshoe who has to investigate a series of museum robberies – that may or may not be perpetrated by reanimated mummies. There’s a hint of Scooby Doo silliness in there as a result, along with plenty of classic crime cliches. However what makes it so fun is that there is no post modern snarkiness or deconstruction in there. Instead it’s played for goofy laughs throughout and feels like something from a vintage kids anthology or a classic newstand comic from a bygone age. When done well we are big fans of this kind of no nonsense comic making and this is a great example of how to make a fun book for everyone. Hopper is another fantastically fun series from one of the most endearing and enduring small press publishers around. If you are tired of your kids reading comics which only have plastic tat on the cover and no actual comics, then get them read this instead!
Stan and Jack #1 (Pete Doree)
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are already heroes to most of us as the creators of some of our favourite superhero characters. Yet we don’t often see then as the heroes of their own comic, which is about to change with Pete Doree’s awesome new series Stan and Jack. With a story that takes place “between page 23 of Kamandi and pages 9 to 15 of Fantastic Four #30”, this is a pulsating, action packed, surreal and spacey adventure of the two silver age comic creating legends. When the two are sucked into a Kirby krackle wormhole, they are taken on adventure through space and time that sees them cross paths with a number of other classic artist and creators, from Steve Ditko to Gil Kane and Wally Wood. It’s a story packed with loving nods and quirky in jokes about the two comics legends. Whether you are an expert on the period, or just a fan with a passing appreciation for their work there is something in there for everyone. For example Stan’s vocabulary is verbose and over the top, while Doree plays with artistic convention and parodies the artists tropes, from Kirby’s love of crackle, to Steve Ditko’s shadowy nature to Gil Kane’s ‘up the nostril’ shots. It very much feels like a fanzine style book with the artwork being quite cartoony, but also quite rough and raw. However it is packed full with passion and charm which makes into a genuinely enjoyable read.
You can purchase Stan and Jack from Pete’s online store or from Gosh Comics in London.
Neotheric: Return of the King (Rainy Road Comics)
Published over the last 4 years, this new collected edition of Neotheric (coming soon to Amazon) brings together the first 4 issues of Michael T Gonzalez’s outrageous and over the top dino alien adventure. When alien dinosaurs land on Earth, it is up to the residents of Riverside Junction USA to be our first contact, and try not to end up getting eaten. However these aren’t your usual alien dinosaurs as they speak English, love guns and are just up for causing mayhem and chaos. The dinosaurs in question are foul mouthed, aggressive and violent, and the people they encounter are largely idiots. All of which creates an over the top, and frequently hilarious read, which reminded us a lot of the excellent Man vs Rock with it’s take no prisoners attitude. The artwork from Andrey Portilla and Dave Mims has the kind of scratchy and loose quality of Leinel Yu’s work, but also has the rawness and originality to it which we loved in Man vs. Rock. In this collected edition it’s also great to see the story evolve and get more outrageous and over the top with each volume. While it’s perhaps not a book which will appeal to everyone, if you like your books to be OTT, very sarcastic and self deprecating (as well as violent and crude) then this is the book for you. After all, you don’t get many books with machine gun wielding T-rexs in these days do you, but perhaps you should, and so you really should make the most of this one!!