- Posted by Johanna on September 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm
- Category: Indy Comic Reviews
It’s tough out there for an indy comic, particularly one telling slice-of-life stories about young adults. There are plenty of webcomics one can read for free with similar setups, so it requires a great deal of quality to stand out and justify the cover price.
More, there’s the whole distribution question. People don’t know they want your comic unless they see it and know it exists, and that requires somewhere they can browse it, which requires a storeowner to take a chance, or spending money to appear at lots of conventions, where you can hand-sell.
Writer Brad Abraham knows about all these hardships. He’s been working to raise awareness of his old-fashioned print comic Mixtape since the first issue became available in April 2012. In fact, he’s given me a video interview about the struggles he’s faced in doing so, and how much of a challenge the comic market can be these days for a new name with talent.
Mixtape #3 became available last month, with #4 scheduled to debut at NYCC 2013 next month, and #5 (concluding the first arc) due in December. The five issues will be collected next year as Mixtape: Left of the Dial. (This issue has lost the Ardden Entertainment label that the first two carried, hopefully making things simpler to arrange and the schedule more settled.)
Now, when I say Mixtape is old-fashioned, that’s a compliment. It focuses on character development and strong storytelling, instead of gimmicky tie-ins or flashy effects. The art by Marco Gervasio and Jok does a terrific job keeping the visuals interesting, even with conversation-driven scenes. (Although there were one or two moments where I read the word balloons out of order, so there were a few tweaks I’d make. There’s a lot of dialogue in this issue, which makes it difficult to manage.)
This issue works just fine as a starting point. Every one so far has focused on a different teen. This time, it’s Noel (rich kid) and Terry (music snob), who are taking a road trip to a concert. Since it’s 1990, the car phone is hard-wired and impressive to notice. Terry also gives Noel flak over getting a CD player instead of a tape deck, because “you can’t make a mix CD!” Remember back then? How far technology has come.
The boys’ squabbles are symptoms of a bigger problem — they’re high school friends, but their lives are going in different directions, with different likes and different goals, and they’re afraid of the future. I could strongly relate to the fears and struggles, although I’m far away in life from their decision point. It’s a key realization in life, yet it’s not something I’ve seen much in comics before, which made me value this issue. This is the kind of story you can come back to at different points in life and gain different realizations from.