VISUAL FRIGHTS: Equal scare time for independent creators
INDIE COMICS HORROR Volume #1, Issue #1 (Aazurn Publishing, Winter 2012)
For more than a year now, INDIE COMICS MAGAZINE (http://www.indiecomicsmagazine.com/) has been providing a showcase for “the best story and art from independent comic book creators.” Sold almost exclusively through pre-orders at local comic book stores, the success of the flagship title has made it possible to add this second title, dedicated to the horror genre.
INDIE COMICS HORROR is a somewhat smaller version of its brother/sister title, with 48 pages in black and white and focusing on the works of six separate creative teams. This is a high-quality endeavor, and has been nominated for The Horror News Network’s 2012 Horror Comic Award. (http://www.horrornewsnetwork.net/)
Things get off to a ferocious and testosterone-fueled start with “Immortal Resistance”, a re-telling of the final battle at Thermopylae in 480 B.C., most recently depicted in the 300 movie. King Leonidas leads a determined force of 300 Spartans against an overwhelming, unending mass of Persian warriors. Xerxes has peppered his troops with zombies to help reinforce his lines, hence their description as “immortals” in reference to the undead. Writer Rob Anderson has Leonadis attempt to become directly infected with the zombie fever, believing that he has a strong enough will to resist the undead urges while the virus fortifies his endurance and strength. This has dire consequences and Leonadis has a message of doom that carries forward for centuries. The art by Dafu Yu is incredibly detailed, and his battlefield depictions deserve to be lingered over.
The story that taps the horror vein with blunt force, and my favorite of the bunch, is “Students Of The Unusual – Worm Cheese” by Terry Cronin, Pat Martin, and Joel Rivers. It’s a dark, sick, twisted and graphic tale of a retailer of fine cheese tasked with obtaining a rare delicacy for a pale and shady appearing client. The artwork is appropriately rancid and seedy looking. The story has a nice little twist that leaves an aftertaste.
And if one twisted ending isn’t enough to satisfy, “The Standard” by Glenn Moane and Adrian Rodriguez takes three turns before ending. Readers who live or have lived in large sprawling planned residential developments will be familiar with strange and odd by-laws and community rules that seem to stem from more Puritan times. Here’s a case in point.
The very fine penciling skills of artist Dafu Yu are on display again in “The Belt”, a futuristic tale of custom-made vacations in space by Joe Sergi. Sometimes the effort to recreate a realistic experience can go too far.
The only story in this collection that seems to lack the appropriate punch is “Minister To The Undead” perhaps because the title is a little too revealing. However, the concept by writer C. M. Beckett is clever and shows much potential. I’m hoping he returns to this setting again. The art by Dan Lauer is warm, friendly and aptly reverent – – as suits the dialogue and subject matter.
Writer Paul Bradford and artist Allen Byrns wrap things up with “Witch Hunters!”, a short but violent little story you may lose your head over. The art is very reminiscent of the style of Ben Templesmith and works well within the grim, grey scenery and background.
Both INDIE COMICS MAGAZINE and INDIE COMICS HORROR are the brainchild of writer, artist and publisher Gary Scott Beatty, who employs a unique and effective business model. Each of the creative teams featured each issue assumes a partial share of the printing costs, and in return receives a partial share of the income. Even more importantly, the magazines offer a larger forum for the presentation of their works, and each issue includes links to their own websites where they can offer more to interested buyers. That doesn’t mean that anyone with the money can buy their eight pages of space. There are standards and rules that Beatty enforces and only the cream of the crop makes the final cut and is published.