Slush Pile: Robots in Love, Rotting in Dirtville, I Am Spartacus, Emily Edison

The following PDF review copies were sent to me over the past month. Since they’re online, I can’t comment on print quality, and I tend to be a little more impatient with them, since I can’t easily flip pages until something catches my eye.

Robots in Love cover

Matt Boyce sent along his new minicomic “Robots in Love”. His primitive, chunky style hasn’t changed. It’s still direct and present, which I find appealing, but then there’s the opening, in which the robot yells at the reader before saying “You’re drifting. Are you bored already?” Yeah, I was.

This section is labeled “the author meets his creation they have an argument then some other stuff happens”. I suspect many creators think that this kind of approach is modern and “deconstructive”, but I’ve seen it so many times that to me, it reads as “I couldn’t bother to come up with a story or convince you why it’s worthwhile, so I’m copping out.” I quit and moved on to the flipside, “more humilation!”, a followup to his previous life is humiliation.

This side begins with the author showing us the sketches he drew instead of working on his comic. In the following pages, there are small flashes of the humor I liked in the previous offering, but too much of this comic gives me the feeling that the author doesn’t care, so why should I? A couple of funny pages isn’t enough to keep this from feeling like a waste of time for both creator and reader. Information and samples can be found at Boyce’s website.

Rotting in Dirtville cover
Rotting in Dirtville
Buy this book

Rotting in Dirtville is the first book from Gigantic Graphic Novels not done by Rick Spears and Rob G. It’s also the first graphic novel by James Callahan, an artist that the press release says “is most known for his numerous record covers, skateboard deck illustrations, and most recently the Strange Detective Tales miniseries.” Oh, I liked that.

The plot is described as showing how a guy deals with an alien invasion. Milton is coping with the deaths of his parents, which left him with a half-collapsed house, funeral debts, and no way to make money but chopping wood off his land. Callahan’s creepily detailed art is excellent for creating an air of uncertainty. The world looks right in detail but very wrong at the same time.

As with Teenagers From Mars, the appeal for me was looking at how two people connect with each other during a time of stress. Kids living in an area they don’t want to be in have different strategies for coping, from destructive to simply getting by as best they can until they can get out. Unfortunately, there are some strong scenes in that direction early on, but then the book becomes a monster movie-style zombiefest, which I had no interest in.

Sawdust: The Workshed Anthology cover
Sawdust: The
Workshed Anthology

The book is due in August and can be preordered now. I’d give you the code, but they didn’t send it to me. (Tip: publishers should put their order code on EVERYTHING promotional. Update: it’s JUN06 3145.) Sample art from Callahan is also available.

Sawdust: The Workshed Anthology is the first issue in a four-issue miniseries that starts next month. Generic art and stories make for one bored reader. I don’t need any more mediocre superhero or adventure stories in comics — I am given absolutely no reason to care about this work, unless I was related to one of the creators. More information can be found at the publisher’s website.

I Am Spartacus cover
I Am Spartacus

I Am Spartacus postulates a vigilante attacking a corporation by murdering its officials in a story by Dan Wickline. The most unusual feature of the comic, immediately obvious, is the painted-look art by illustrator Ilkka Lesonen. I find this style distracting. It risks being too static, and it draws attention to individual panels instead of focusing on storytelling flow. The colors chosen don’t help; they’re murky, with most of the book blue-green.

I gave up a few pages in as a result. More information can be found at the publisher’s website.

Emily Edison is a teen superhero with divorced parents. Mom returned home to another dimension, and Grandpa wants to destroy the Earth so Emily has to live with them instead of only visiting every other weekend.

I had hoped that this graphic novel would blend family drama with exotic adventure, perhaps as Amethyst did once upon a time. Unfortunately, it’s heavy on action and stupid comedy with next to no in-depth characterization. The personalities are two-dimensional, there mostly to provide plot.

I am glad to see a teengirl hero who doesn’t have powers that make her stand back and point at things. Emily gets in there punching, but she’s often on the losing end, getting stomped by robots or sent flying when a fist connects, although she eventually saves the day. I also wasn’t impressed by the way Emily sleeps through class as a recurring gag.

The creators also write themselves talking to us, another negative in my book. The book is actually a collection of stories, which made me think someone really wants to do a Saturday morning cartoon (thus the episodic nature with little character development) but settled for comics. I couldn’t finish it. After two of the chapters, I wanted to kill Emily myself. More information is available at the publisher’s website.

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