Spinner Rack: Ed Contradictory, Harker, Cownt Tales, Order of Dagonet, Talisman

I’ve been sent the following comics by the artists or publishers for review. I don’t read a lot of independent periodical comic issues any more — when I have the time, I prefer to read manga or a graphic novel, because they provide bigger, more satisfying chunks. I can enter the world they’re creating for a longer time, and whether or not I ever see another chapter, I’ve usually had a worthwhile read. With shorter comics, I sometimes find myself just getting into them when they end, and given the vagaries of the business, I’m never sure I’m going to see another issue, which can be frustrating.

Short version: Comic issues have to try harder to please me, because they have limitations to overcome. So, keeping that hurdle in mind…

Ed Contradictory #1

Ed Contradictory #1

by Thomas Conley
Self-published, $4.99 US

Conley is collecting his weekly webcomic into 24-page comics whenever he has enough material. (With two strips per page, he says that’s about every 10 months.) They’re print-on-demand from IndyPlanet.com, in color. Since the sample pages show that the color is minimal and unnecessary, printing black-and-white to get a lower cover price might be a better idea.

The art is secondary to the text-based humor. Often the images are merely people talking, and they’re thrown in among the words in sometimes confusing fashion. That said, the jokes are unusual and are frequently funny. I’m glad he doesn’t stick to the typical, overused topics and approaches. Just to shake things up, there is also a very cute panda bear named Pinder. As with the other characters, we just see his head, talking.

Eh, it’s a webcomic. Go check it out online. I doubt you’ll feel the need to own your own copy on paper, but it’s an amusing weekly read for free.

Harker #1-2

Harker #2

by Roger Gibson and Vincent Danks
Ariel Press, $2.99 US

Last decade, this had the potential to be a sleeper hit. This decade, I’m not sure there’s much of a place in the US market for a serialized British mystery comic. It reminded me of an English CSI, a procedural that doggedly advances to the murder solution. However, the first six issues (yes, I’m way behind), have already been collected into one graphic novel, with the second (issues #7-12) following soon. That may be easier to order or import.

And I recommend you do. There aren’t enough mysteries in comics, still, and I found the deliberate pace of this one a good choice to show us detectives Harker and Critchley as they investigate a Satanic disemboweling.

The art is occasionally a bit stiff (hazard of photo-referencing) but I appreciate the details, especially when it comes to locations. The humor’s morbid, involving bits of dead person, which may be what reminded me of certain TV shows. The two playing off each other is the true appeal, with a bald guy hitting on everyone and the wackier hair-and-sideburns being clever and observent. I’d like to talk with them in person, which is a recommendation for good characterization.

Cownt Tales

Cownt Tales

written by Michael May, art by Gavin Spence, Paul Taylor, and Jessica Hickman
Cahoots Studios, $2.99 US

If you find the idea of a vampire cow innately funny, this is the comic for you. There are three short stories and a smattering of pinups in this 20-page black-and-white issue (also available from IndyPlanet).

The tales have very different moods. The first is an origin, with the feel of a traditional moody vampire piece. The second, drawn in more cartoony fashion, has the cow talking to a busty doctor about removing her udder. The third ignores the questions raised by the second (ostensibly for humor, but it plays a little too psychological for that) in order to pit the cownt against a country girl vampire hunter right out of L’il Abner (to the extent of her wearing overalls with only one strap fashioned). This one had more of a nudge-nudge-wink-wink feel to it.

Overall, this comic struck me as an idea in search of something to do with it — the mixed bag isn’t successful at showing the humor of the idea, because a character like a vampire cow should be used sparingly, as supporting cast to something else, not asked to carry a book all on his? her? own. That milks (heh) all the funny out. Robot 6 has posted an online preview.

The Order of Dagonet #1

The Order of Dagonet #1

story by Jeremy Whitley, art by Jason Strutz
Self-published, $4 US

I’m not a huge fan of the premise — Merlin in modern England enlists a new group of knights from amongst authors and entertainers to defend the country from fairies — and I got lost in the dialogue once or twice, but I love the coloring. It looks like chalk, but with vibrant hues. Check out the online preview by clicking on issue #1 to see for yourself.

The Talisman #3

Or, to give the full title as the publisher would have it, “Stephen King and Peter Straub’s The Talisman The Road of Trials”.

script by Robin Furth, art by Tony Shasteen
Del Rey Comics, $3.99 US

You’ll notice that, although Stephen King and Peter Straub’s names are prominent on the cover, they aren’t credited as actually working on this book. This is a cynical attempt to cash in on their fans by adapting a novel they wrote 25 years ago into comics. And what poor value they are, too. This issue is $4 for 32 pages, of which only 22 are comics. That’s the same ratio as superhero books, but due to the lightweight paper, the issue feels throwaway. It’s slight, suggesting poor value. Bad publishing choice.

This was promoted, such as it was, as Del Rey’s first comic (although they’ve been publishing manga for half a decade), and I fear it sets a tone for what they aim to focus on in the future: adaptations of known properties by franchise authors, brand extensions that allow more sales from the same stories.


One Response to “Spinner Rack: Ed Contradictory, Harker, Cownt Tales, Order of Dagonet, Talisman”

  1. May 2012 Previews: A Month of Reprint Editions » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] like Harker, the British mystery comic I reviewed a couple of years ago, is getting a collected edition from Titan Books ($19.95, MAY12 1287, due July). The Book of [...]

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