A huge thanks to everyone who tweeted and commented on our post last week as we embark on a new way of doing this here at Pipedream Comics. It made the return all the sweeter and confirmed we were doing the right thing. We continue our ‘new normal’ columns (until we can find a better name for them), as this week we catch up on some books that have a decidedly historical theme. They include supernatural highwaymen (Dick Turpin and the Vengeful Shade), master magicians (Hocus Pocus) and time travelling Victorian inventors (Defend Milford Green). Plus we look at three more fantastic Kickstarters.
Dick Turpin and the Vengeful Shade (Time Bomb Comics)
The latest comic from Flintlock’s Steve Tanner sees everyone’s favourite dandy highwayman, Dick Turpin, and his partner in crime Tom King caught up in a supernatural whodunnit. When a coach they were about to rob crashes on a stormy night, Turpin, Tom, General Charles Andrews and his wife Mary, along with coachman Mr Beevers, head to the nearest abandoned building to wait out the storm. Unfortunately this happens to be a spooky monastery and there they are haunting by a sinister apparition in a plague mask. But who is this? And what happened to the monks in the monastery? Dick Turpin and The Vengeful Shade is a cracking read and feels like a mix of an Agatha Christie murder and an episode of Scooby Doo with all it’s ghostly goings ons. Tanner’s unique brand of historical fiction comics are a consistent delight, whether it is the clever genre twisting tales of Flintlock and the Clockwork Cavalier, or this supernatural mystery. He tells a really great, rip-roaring yarn and is ably assisted by artists Roland Bird, Brett Burbridge and bolt01 who give the whole thing a really classic, yet unfussy feel which matches perfectly with the subject matter and never tries to be too faddy. While the story feels a little lightweight in places, and you have to pay attention to follow the characters and logic at times, it is such a fun and absorbing read that you can’t help but be swept along for the ride. It’s also another fantastic addition to the excellent Time Bomb line up, and if you are longtime fan of Steve’s work then you won’t be disappointed. But if you are new to this world and looking for something that is a bit different from the norm, and quite old school in it’s approach, then you will not feel robbed if you pick this up!
Purchase Dick Turpin and The Vengeful Shade and other Time Bomb Comics from the Time Bomb online store (and be sure to keep reading to check out more of their work!)
Defend Milford Green (Signal Comics)
One of our favourite things about following indie and small press comics, is discovering a creator and watching them develop from a promising debutant to a seasoned veteran with a raft of increasingly confident books filling up their online store and convention table. A great example of this is Milford Green’s Samuel George London. From his quirky debut, which was packed with potential but still trying to find a voice; via the increasingly confident space adventure Beyond Milford Green; this third and final instalment of aliens invading a quaint Victorian village has branched out and literally crossed galaxies to become a thoroughly entertaining slice of all ages sci fi adventure. Defend Milford Green follows Alfie Green and his love interest Mary Wells who are shocked when the small village they live in gets invaded by aliens. In the past two issues the pair travel the universe and help the galactic president battle evil alien forces, but now they must return home and help defend earth from the invading Cinux – with help from Queen Victoria! London has a really charming and endearing style to his writing (much like his persona behind a convention table) and the world of Milford Green is a very well conceived one which has been smoothed out across the three volumes, with unnecessary elements pushed into the background. As such it has a tone similar to classic 80s adventure serial cartoons like Mysterious Cities of Gold. While some elements of the story don’t always make total sense (the time frames in this volume feel a bit odd for example) the whole thing is so well conceived and put together you are just happy to go with the flow and let the story absorb you. It also doesn’t get bogged down in trying to be gritty or edgy and as such makes for a really fun and well paced read for comics fans of all ages (although perhaps better suited for a young teen or older audience). It’s definitely aided by stunning artwork from Mikael Hankonen. London has really lucked out here and found a very promising artist who has been able to commit to the entire series and delivered the work in a reasonable timeframe too. His anime infused style felt a bit out of place in the quaint Victoriana of the first book, however once the story goes intergalactic it really flourishes, and the roster of outlandish aliens and hi tech space crafts are truly spectacular. With some gorgeous colours and finishing to boot, it helps give the Milford Green series a fantastic and unique look and also a well deserved layer of quality throughout. A really fun and enjoyable series with plenty of room to return and expand the story further – but in the mean time we look forward to seeing Sam continue to stretch his writing muscles with titles like Ella Upgraded and Saffron as well as his podcast series Comics For The Apocalypse.
Hocus Pocus #2 Seance
Rik Worth and a Jordan Collver’s Hocus Pocus has been one of the most interesting discoveries of the year, and so finding out a second issue was about to appear was magical news. Created in association with paranormal expert Dr Richard Wiseman, Hocus Pocus is a mix of comic and paranormal history lesson. It takes a look at different elements of paranormal history each issue and turns them into gloriously entertaining and gorgeous comic strips, packed with equal amounts of invention and information. This second issue is about seances and spiritualism, and has various stories focusing on a particular character related to that theme. For example, we follow early mediums the Fox Sisters and Davenport Brothers, we meet Harry Houdini’s seance sleuth Rose Mackenberg as well as delve into the history of the Ouija board. The stories are a fascinating look into the popularity of seances in the Victorian era and also looks at some of the secrets of how they would work. Wiseman and Worth lift just enough or the curtain to pique your interest, but not so much that it becomes a ‘How To’ guide. With it being so well researched and written its compelling and fascinating stuff, however the whole thing is really brought to life by sublime artwork and design from Collver and Owen Watts. Collver’s overall style mixes character filled panels with informative infographic style pages. This is amazing, but he is also versatile enough to mix things up, creating one story done entirely in the style of a vintage Popeye strip. He is aided by some exquisite colouring from Owen Watts and some gorgeous productions values, all of which makes Hocus Pocus into one of the most complete small press comics out there. We were lucky enough to see this version in print as well and thanks to its over sized format it really is a thing to behold. This is definitely one of UK comics best kept secrets, but if it continues to keep this high level of quality for each issue then it won’t remain a mystery for long!
Knights vs Pirates Kickstarter
It’s a bumper season for Kickstarters at the moment, with some huge titles hitting the crowdfunding platform in August. As huge fans of Reckless Hero’s Last Sheriff and Operation Boom the prospect of a full length graphic novel from the team was too good to be true and we have been following their social media teases with interest. As such, the arrival of Knights vs Pirates on Kickstarter this week is an absolute must-back. Artists Chris Imber and Chris Jenkins have teamed up with ALV writer Jay Martin to bring us, what looks like a high concept slice of all action adventure. Based on a classic ‘what if’ concept that was probably drawn up over post-convention beers, this story looks set to see that classic Reckless Hero art style really pushed to the limits in this genre spicing mash up. However, it looks like a challenge that Imber and Jenkins have embraced full on and this looks set to be a truly epic read from all involved!
Joining Knights vs. Pirates on Kickstarter this month are also:
Harker: The Book Of Solomon Book One
Joining Dick Turpin in the Time Bomb Comics roster is this hard boiled uk crime comic from writer Roger Gibson and artist Vincent Danks. Harker is the revival of a classic 00s small press crime series that has been brought under Time Bomb’s experienced eye. We’re a sucker for a great crime drama and this look set to take the classic elements we love but give them a classic British slant to it. it promises to be packed full of “humour, wit, adventure, devil worshippers, and pubs” which is good enough for us!
The Mighty World of McCREA – John McCrea
One of the UK comics world’s most experience creators, John McCrea (Judge Dredd, Hitman, Preacher) has brought together a collection of some of his earliest creator owned titles (including early work with Garth Ennis) alongside several new stories to give us this fantastic annual style collection. As you would expect with an artist of the calibre of McCrea it looks incredible and it’s mix of stories and articles looks set to create a really interesting product that is more than just another assemblage of old pages gathering dust in a creators desk drawer.