Grimm Ignites Crozonia

ignition cityOkay, here’s a look at 3 recent indie first issues.

I haven’t read a lot of Warren Ellis’ work, though I’m familiar with his recently wrapped (but not finished) Anna Mercury, also from Avatar. It was a simple and unashamedly fun 4 ish mini centred on a red head’s crazy sci-fi adventures. Similar to Mercury, in that it stars a sassy female character surrounded by men in a mish-mash world of hi-techerry, with low-tech solutions, Ignition City is entertaining enough. City throws in lots more swearing, vomiting and toilet humour than an America Pie film. It’s amusing in a way, but not exactly novel. Fans of Ellis will know exactly what to expect. He seems to present similar ideas in new packaging. I’m not saying he’s not a great writer. He definitely is, but perhaps he’s over this quasi sci-fi vibe he’s dealing with now, he can show the diversity he’s capable of once more. City is concerned with Mary Raven, a pilot who travels to the grimy titular location to discover what happened to her famous father before he died. Gianluca Pagliarani’s art is mildly distracting. Facial expressions often look awkward, but he draws ugly cosmonauts and grimy, steel plates well, so that’s something. The 1956 setting is sold ably with his unusual designs for weapons and transport, as well as the look of Earth’s last spaceport. Its diversions from our history’s space race and its effects on he world’s superpowers are played out with promise, but this title is off to a slow start. For Ellis fans only.

grimmIDW’s American McGee’s Grim is a new series bringing the apparently popular game character to the printed page. Grimm is a surly pirate-like dwarf who runs amok through fairy tales, jumping on things wit his butt to put the darkness back into the tales. Yes, that’s right. I’ve heard of American McGee (yep, that’s his real name), and his games such as Alice, and Scrapland, but never played them. Grimm is currently being released weekly through Written by Dwight L.Macpherson, each issue of this mini-series is focused on Grimm’s intrusion into a different genre of comics. Naturally, first up are do-gooder superheroes. I didn’t laugh once. There’s just not enough room to play with. It’s a vaguely interesting concept, as Grimm empowers the assorted baddies to defeat the ever-victorious Freedom Friends, but it’s all been done before. Lobo, the recent Bizarro arc in Action Comics, or even Justice League International have all run with this idea, but they were given more than 22 pages. Once Grimm has introduced himself in the first 6 pages, the remaining 22 are just a one-sided battle during a parade through the streets of Megalopolis. There are over a dozen costumed characters – all the obligatory homages to popular characters, but none are obviously given the time to develop character.  Superheroes being surprised that they’re getting beaten just isn’t funny, by itself. Grant Bond’s art does work though, with its loose Mike Allred style and Golden Age colouring, and having Grimm rendered in a style separate from the rest of the universe is a nice touch. I’m sure MacPherson is an accomplished writer, as he’s been doing this for a while but he’s not given a lot to work with here.

CrozoniaThe team behind Beach Studios, and Crozonia must be a confident bunch, competing with Fathom and its assorted spin-offs from Aspen MLT. Like the late Michael Turner’s best creation, this new series is focused on an attractive young woman torn between two undersea worlds. Writers Jim Su and Dan Merisanu have wisely set this story in 1948. I don’t know why exactly, but it’s enough of a deviation to make things a little more interesting. Essentialy a young  man, Matt Stark works for a publisher, with hopes of becoming a writer. One bad day he realises that perhaps his dreams are fruitless, so hits the bar and goes for a walk at night. Then he sees the aforementioned woman “drowning” and dives in to save her. Like Lenny from The Simpsons says, “Alcohol and night swimming – it’s a winning combination!” Matt becomes the rescued instead of the rescuer and wakes up to an amazing undersea city. The woman he attempted to save is actually a princess and a war is brewing. The whole issue has 1996 written all over it, from dialogue to the early-Image like art. The up-sides are some groovy pin-ups and Jim Su’s encouraging reflection on the journey it took to get this to print. So far Crozonia appears to be something that comic book newbies would gladly read, but those hankering for something more contemporary should look elsewhere. It’s not without promise though, and the production values are higher than the average indie (or even Big Two) book. With three colourists, including Su (who also did the lettering!) the look of this issue does hit above its weight class. With some more character development and surprises it could be one to watch.

Crozonia pg

Diamond: In The Rough?

July PreviewsI went to one of my comic shops yesterday and was aghast to discover that 5 books I ordered in February were now cancelled. Thanks Diamond! Actually, I wasn’t aghast exactly, as I never remember what I order two months after the fact (I like the surprise each week). It must be terribly frustrating for self-publishers now that the world’s biggest distributor of comics demands a minimum order before they carry it. I kind of get where Diamond are coming from, in a business sense, but it’s no fun for retailers, publishers or consumers. The Previews catalogue is only going to get smaller and that’s so depressing. I order way too many unheard of books each month from Previews, and look forward to new discoveries from unique talents and brave creators. Now it’s going to be very difficult to find them. I’m glad I’ve managed to do my tiny bit for great books like Harker and Kid Beowulf with Extra Sequential, but it’s not enough. New distributors without such restrictions will continue to gain new ground and the digital distribution model will attract more creators though. One company can’t kill the magical diversity in comics, and if anyone risks their talents, time and finances on actually creating a comic, they’ll be determined enough to find an outlet for it, I’m sure. I recommend keeping your eyes open every time you visit the LCS and check out what indie books are gaining new fans on-line. There’s a world beyond the familiar out there, and they need our support.

Retailers and publishers may find this interview with the minds behind Haven Distribution hopeful reading.