Spring Edition 2021
Here’s a new thing I’m trying. My collection of indie comics has grown exponentially over the years between attending conventions and supporting Kickstarters. I finally started making a serious dent in them while in quarantine, and I wanted to make a space to highlight some of my favorites. My goal is to make this a regular thing I do, a few times a year or as often as I am able to. There are so many talented writers and artists in this community, and I know from my own experience how hard it is to get anyone to pay attention to what you’re doing. I hope this small splash of a blog post can introduce some new readers to some great stories.
The Next Dance is a powerful one-shot comic about the aftermath of a traumatic accident. I remember Anna telling me about how she sought out an artist who specialized in horror, and I have to say it worked out beautifully with this story. Ken Perry’s pencils and inks really bring out a foreboding atmosphere that accentuates the depression and grief that often accompany recovery and post-traumatic stress. This story hit me close to home on more than a few occasions, and I thought the subject matter was handled with grace and refreshing honesty. I appreciate how real these characters felt in the short time I spent with them. Anna and Ken’s attention to the small moments really helped elevate the story and make it something special. The Next Dance is available on the Constellation Comics store, as well as on ComiXology. You can also find Anna’s ongoing webcomic series Half-Man in both places.
Sharksquatch has all kinds of B-Movie charm, but it also has a refreshing self-awareness that many of those same beloved movies often lack. If you like campy horror movies, never miss shark week, have a minor or major obsession with bigfoot, or all of the above–you should check this out. I especially loved the use of page reveals and double-page spreads; Shawn knows his craft and it shows. The artwork of Sergio Rios does an excellent job at capturing the campiness of the premise. Above all else, Sharksquatch is great gory fun. What more could you ask for in a Jaws meets Bigfoot premise? The first two issues of the series tell a complete story arc and sets the stage for a compelling new arc with issue #3. Sharksquatch is available along with Shawn’s other series Let’s All Die over on the Handwritten Entertainment website and ComiXology.
Tomb of the White Horse has the slow-burn feel of a classic horror movie. Clocking in at 36 pages, it’s slightly longer than your typical one-shot comic. Ian Mondrick and Benjamin AE Filby use that extra time and space to great effect. The small cast of characters felt real and true to life, warts and all. Set in the middle of nowhere during the night shift at a shipping facility, the story makes excellent use of the atmosphere and isolation as the story unfolds. I particularly love the way it combines Biblical and Lovecraftian elements for its own unique blend of psychedelic body horror. The really fun thing about Tomb of the White Horse is that it is one of four stand-alone stories. The same creative team successfully funded Tomb of the Red Horse on Kickstarter earlier this year. So if you like this one as much as I did, you will have three parallel stories to check out afterward. You can find Tomb of the White Horse on Ian Mondrick’s website and will likely be available through future Kickstarters.
We Have to Go Back is a powerful queer love story set in the aftermath of an unnamed apocalyptic event. Even though it’s set in the aftermath of unspeakable horror, the narrative focus is on the challenge and necessity of relationships. Creative team Jordan Alsaqa and Sally Cantirino made something truly special here. We Have to Go Back isn’t a story about how or why the world ended; it’s about how two flawed humans kept each other alive in the face of it. I was struck by how relatable this story felt as I was reading it during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There is something relatable here for anyone who has ever put in the work for maintaining a relationship during challenging times. It is also an undeniably queer story that speaks to the resourcefulness and adaptability of LGBTQ+ people. You can find We Have to Go Back along with Jordan’s other comics over on Gumroad.
Nook is a ghost story set in France during the early days of World War II. It is a contained 3-issue story that’s been collected as a graphic novel. I have long been fascinated with the idea of landscapes being haunted by past horrors; the way that our history lingers and shapes the present. All of those ideas are at play in Nook, which follows a family as they attempt to flee the war. Caleb Thusat weaves a deeply heartfelt story through an unsettling and creepy world, and Marcelo Biott is a perfect complement to the contrasting genres. Nook’s blend of history, horror, and fantasy is reminiscent to that of Pans Labyrinth, which is one of my all-time favorite movies. You can find Nook along with Caleb’s other books in the Village Comics store, and you can find the first issue of it on ComiXology.