Duppy 78 Review

Duppy78coversmall_0414The newest production from UK based publisher, Com.x (Cla$$war, 45) Duppy 78 is beautifully realised, with luscious visuals and a daring desire to do something different and disturbing with the unique voice that sequential art offers.

Set in Kingston, Jamaica in 1978, this is a location and era that gets little focus in comics. That, plus the bold characters and surprisingly effective combination of supernatural scares and crime drama make Duppy 78 an engrossing read. The publisher describes it in three words – “voodoo, violence and vilification,” and that sums it up pretty well.

Too Bad, Martin Isaac and Chris Mansfield are the three main crime lords of Kingston but an unfortunate incident with an American photo-journalism student whittles the three down to two, ramping up the tension and the means to which the remaining crime lords will go to keep, and expand, their power.

There are some bad characters within these pages, but writer, and former DC/Vertigo editor, Casey Seijas never allows them to be so repugnant that we don’t want to know what happens to them. We are also given glimpses into the gangsters’ lives outside of their criminal activities, such as the mature way Mansfield deals with a dangerous and troublesome rock star who’s staying at the luxurious resort he owns.

The story is divided in to four chapters, each with a short primarily black and white flashback which reveals more of the main characters’ history and motivations.

The dialogue is filled with the lingo of ‘70s Jamaica, but is never indecipherable, plus there’s a handy glossary in the first few pages, but thankfully the tale can be enjoyed without constantly referring to it. In case you’re wondering, a duppy is a mischievous spirit in Rasafarian culture, and those who are able to see and control them are known as Obeahmen, or Duppy Conquerors.

The three ruling gangsters each have one of these Conquerors, in the form of “gifted” children who have ties to the men. The wheelchair bound Judah wears a bag on his head to stop the terrifying visions, and there’s also Santa, and Elena is Mansfield’s daughter. The way these children are used by the gangsters as mere pieces on a chess board, and tools of vengeance drives this intense, well-paced tale.

Amancay Nahuelpan’s artwork is suitably nightmarish in a way that goes beyond the gang violence, as you can glimpse in the trailer for the 116 page OGN. Combined with Daniel Warner’s colours and the well researched details of the period, this is a comic that almost has dirt, smells and grime coming off the page. With the childrens’ terrifying visions of demons highlighting the ugliness and hatred that surrounds them, Duppy 78 looks like an ’80s horror film, with grotesque monsters jumping from the shadows. I haven’t seen this many disturbing visions on the page since I read Junji Ito’s alarming manga Spirals.

Also included are a few pages of concept sketches and cover designs from Nahuelpan and other talented artists.

Duppy 78 is available now from digital comics distributor (and recent Amazon acquisition) comiXology for only $4.99.

November Previews Goodies

Previews is a 500+ page, monthly catalogue filled with mainly comics, but also toys, games, clothes, etc, that both retailers and customers can order from. Each issue lets you know what is coming out in 2 months’ time. The latest Previews has 3 goodies that are definitely worth ordering.

On page 279, there’s an OGN that I’ve been looking forward to for some time, and even moreso now, as I recently watched the documentary Marley, set in same era and location. Com.x are a unique publisher whose output is always bold, and worth paying attention to. Duppy ’78 is written by Casey Seijas with groovy art by Amancay Nahuelphan-Bustamante. Below is the official description, and new trailer.
Duppy ’78 – Three crime lords fight for control using black market guns, potent narcotics, and young mystics called “Obeahman.” These children possess the power to control the Duppy – malevolent spirits known throughout Rastafarian culture as a source of mischief and harm. When one of the crime lords is killed, the Jamaican capital is thrown into chaos as the remaining factions vie for control and race to find his now-orphaned Obeahman – rumored to be the most powerful of them all. A re-imagining of Jamaican and Rastafarian ghost stories, told in the context of a 1978 gangland drama.
Writer Bryan J.L. Glass of Mice Templar fame, (and also Thor, Superman, and many others) has a new 5 issue mini-series out from Dark Horse, with art by Victor Santos, his Mice Templar collaborator. Famous is described as, “where celebrity, fame and super-heroes meet.” Here’s the official lowdown, and it features on page 62 of Previews.
Staring into a fractured mirror of her life, the world’s first superhero, Furious, seeks to atone for her past sins by doling out rage-fueled justice! But the spotlight of our celebrity-obsessed media threatens to undo her noblest efforts and expose her true identity before she can achieve redemption.
furious1
Finally, on page 236 is a publisher I haven’t heard of before – Adventurist Corp. they have an OGN called Roll Hard, and it was Billy Tucci’s name that caught my eye. The creator of Shi, and very talented artist (see Sgt Rock: The Lost Battalion, or the A Child Is Born Christmas one-shot) is the writer, along with Robert Young Pelton, and artist, with Tom Novak. Below is the official description.
A team of misfit Blackwater contractors must run ‘RPG Alley’ every day. Kicked off the ‘Pretty Boy’ CIA and State Dept security details, the team, with the help of the insanely talented ‘Little Bird’ pilots struggle to stay alive on Baghdad’s mean streets. When a famous war correspondent decides to spend a month with them they rebel at first, but then slowly each man tells his dark story until the team is hit by a deadly IED on the most violent day for contractors in Iraq’s history.
Roll Hard
Previews is always worth looking through, as you never know what treasures you may uncover. All of these items will arrive at comic shops in January 2014 and can be ordered now.

Babble from Com.x

UK publisher Com.x (Monster Myths, Seeds, 45) has an intriguing new OGN coming out in December called Babble. Below is the cover and synopsis. It’s a full colour 128 pager written by Lee Robson, with art by Brian Coyle. Look for it in October’s Previews catalogue, which will be out at the end of September.

Carrie Hartnoll is a girl lost in a life going nowhere fast. A chance encounter with an ex-boyfriend affords her the opportunity of a new career in Ivy League America, working as part of a research team attempting to resurrect the language of Babel – a language, it is theorised, that can be understood by any human, from anywhere in the world. As Carrie pieces together her fractured personal life, she becomes embroiled in the mystery surrounding the apparent suicide of the project’s original team leader, which propels her to uncover the horrific truth about the language and why it was written out of the history books…

Seeds to Become Animated Film

Out of all the major announcements that came from San Diego Comic-Con last weekend regarding comic book films, this one may have slipped by, but it’s one to get excited about. Seeds is an engrossing, and real, OGN based on creator Ross Mackintosh’s own experiences with his father’s cancer. Mackintosh’s debut book came out last year and at first glance it may look simple, but there’s a real heart that’s easy to connect with. It’s obvious that every page is real, and not desperately trying to be that way. Now, the tale is being turned into an animated film. Persepolis has shown that animation can definitely work for stories based on dramatic sequential storytelling, so I’m rather curious to see Seeds on screen. Below is the press release.

SEEDS by Ross Mackintosh has been garnering critical acclaim in the US and UK since its release in 2011. It tells the story of a man’s relationship with his terminally ill father.

Space Age Films producer Robert Chandler said of the book:

“This is comics at its best. This is the death of Superman, the agony of Batman, the quest of Wolverine. And it’s all here in this simply illustrated book about a man losing his father to cancer.”

Benjamin Shahrabani from Com.X spoke of the film’s ambition to sit up there alongside serious animated fare such as WALTZ WITH BASHIR and PERSEPOLIS:

“Animation and comics can tackle any subject in the world. Ross’s book walks the same line as Harvey Pekar’s AMERICAN SPLENDOR series and Aneurin Wright’s THINGS TO DO IN A RETIREMENT HOME TRAILER PARK, works that look candidly and personally at life, family and death.”

The LA Times described Seeds as:

“A tribute to every father-son relationship. Seeds is an honest, inquisitive and candid memoir.”

Further information about the writer-director team behind the project, as well as pre-production artwork, will be issued soon.

The film is to be released Spring 2014.

In July 2009, Ross Mackintosh learned that his father had cancer. Seeds is the autobiographical story of one man’s experience of family, life, love and death. Beginning with the diagnosis, then taking us through the journey of his father’s eventual decline, it is a powerful account combining humour, philosophy and honesty.

Robert Chandler is an award-winning producer, currently producing the animated feature film OSCAR WILDE’S THE CANTERVILLE GHOST with Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Freddie Highmore.

Com.x is the UK’s most exciting comics house. Its releases include classics such as THE LAST AMERICAN and CLA$$WAR, and new cult favorites 45, BLUESPEAR and MONSTER MYTHS.

Com.x’s Monster Myths

UK publisher Com.x (45, BlueSpear, Seeds) next project is Monster Myths. It’s in the current Previews catalogue (catalogue code APR120985) for release in June and is by John Lupo Avanti who has done work in the diverse fields of animation, tattooing and fine art. Here’s the official description. Monster Myths is a 120 page OGN, with black and white interior pages and a full colour gallery section. As a first time comics work with an intriguing plot and distinct visuals, this could be another winner for Com.x.

 

Alfredo, a recovering felon turned working stiff, resides in Lower Scabo where working-class people live under the tyranny of the evil Cannibals Motorcycle Gang. After being beaten and left for dead by the gang, Alfredo decides to recruit a group of graffiti writers to instigate a war between the riff-raff of Lower Scabo and their neighbors in the well-to-do community of Northview. In doing so, Alfredo transforms from a two-bit perp into an iconic rebel, determined to free Lower Scabo from the control of those seeking power. An over-the-top, dark comedy pitching biker gangs against clean-cut, real estate developers and, in the middle, an unlikely hero stirring the pot in the hope of saving his neighborhood.

The Last American and Overrun

UK publisher Com.x may not publish a lot, but what they do is worthy of your time. Their next project is a new edition of a classic work. Here’s the official lowdown.

Exactly 8 years after its publication by Com.x in 2004 as a trade paperback, we are proud to announce the DIGITAL publication of The Last American.

Originally a four-issue comic-book mini-series released under the Marvel Epic Comics imprint in 1990, The Last American was written by John Wagner (Judge Dredd, A History of Violence) and Alan Grant (Judge Dredd, 2000AD) with art by Mike McMahon (Judge Dredd, ABC Warriors, Slaine). Innovative and groundbreaking on its initial release, its message and tone are still completely relevant in today’s political and social climate.

Eddie Deighton from Com.x comments:

“We are so pleased to finally be bringing this amazing book back to market, albeit in digital format only. Readers may or may not be aware, but as the book was created in the 1990’s it precedes digital technology, so the pages only exist in their original form or as reprographic film separations. We’ve spent the last six months painstakingly scanning the pages from our printed collected edition, retouching them and boosting the colours for today’s mobile devices whilst retaining the wonderful quality of Mick’s line-work and colouring technique.

Unless you were lucky to pick up a (much sought after) copy of our collected edition, or copies of the original 4-issue mini-series, this is the best opportunity you’ll get to own and read a book that was way ahead of its time.”

“…for me this is one of the very best comic-books ever published… Pilgrim has a gallery of nightmares to face beyond

anything mere science-fiction or horror could offer. But he also finds hope, in the story’s last and most affecting sequence,

and that – perhaps – is The Last American’s greatest surprise.”

GARTH ENNIS

“Under the editorial guidance of the late greatly missed Archie Goodwin, with darkly funny scripting by John Wagner and Alan Grant, Mike fashioned some of his finest pages. Here are all the elements that characterise his work. His idiosyncratic vision, his command of storytelling, his sense of humour, his sense of drama and his sheer good craftsmanship.”

DAVE GIBBONS

“…Reprint, please…”

FORBIDDEN PLANET INTERNATIONAL

“…Our pick this week…”

MICHAEL RYAN, COMIC VAULT

“It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s incredible, it’s almost unbelievable. But it retains enough realism that it could happen… Order it today… I don’t care how you get it. Just get it.”

CRAIG JOHNSON, COMICS BULLETIN

The Last American is available on ComiXology, Graphicly and iVerse on 4th April 2012, priced at $4.99 for 128-pages.

An upcoming OGN called Overrun has been getting some well deserved attention lately, and the book is currently looking for a publisher. Overrun is by Andi Ewington, the writer of Com.x’s unique 45, with Matt Woodley and artist Paul Green. Check out the just launched website for heaps of great artwork, and the teaser video and official description are below.

The city is at breaking point. Living space is running out.

Those in power are forced to execute a desperate measure – introduce a poison to wipe out a huge part of the population.

This is no ordinary city, however.

Overrun takes the reader into the heart of their own computer.  Citizens are files. There are .xls business people, sexy .jpegs, hip musician .mp4s.

The space which is running out is memory – the poison a computer virus.

Political intrigue and epic action scenes take place inside the brilliantly crafted world as we follow a group of friends, forgotten computer game heroes, as they fight their way through the virus infection which is transforming their fellow citizens into memory sucking zombies.

Com.x’s Babble

From English publishers Com.x (Cla$$war, 45, and it’s spinoff BlueSpear-out next month!) comes Babble. All we know so far is that it’s written by Lee Robson with art by Bryan Coyle and is described thusly:

Carrie Hartnoll is a girl lost in a life going nowhere fast, until a chance encounter with an ex-boyfriend affords her the opportunity of a whole new career in Ivy League America, working as part of a research team attempting to resurrect the language of Babel – a language, it is theorised, that can be understood by any human, from anywhere in the world.
As Carrie pieces together her fractured personal life, she becomes embroiled in the mystery surrounding the apparent suicide of the project’s original team leader, which propels her to uncover the horrific truth about the language and why it was written out of the history books…
That’s a pretty intriguing premise, and I like the promo image too, with its use of Genesis in the logo. Nice.

Extra Sequential Podcast #41-BlueSpear Interview

54 mins. Our interview with two lovely gents from English publisher Com.x. Also wrestling, the fake apocalypse and yes, Arnie’s love child.

LISTEN TO IT BELOW, DOWNLOAD IT HERE OR ON ITUNES


NEWS 1: 21

Tintin on the big screen

Supanova Pop Culture Convention in Perth and Sydney in June. Get your tix now.

Batman villain Bane as played by Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises is revealed. Well, some of him anyway.

EDDIE DEIGHTON AND ANDI EWINGTON INTERVIEW 9: 35

Our first ever interview via the wonders of Skype. English creators Eddie Deighton (co-publisher of Com.x and co-writer of  BlueSpear) and Andi Ewington (co-writer of BlueSpear and writer of 45-whcih we talked about here) talk to us about the 45 spinoff one-shot BlueSpear, which comes out in July.

The chaps talk about the business behind publishing Original Graphic Novels rather than monthly issues, what they look for in a story pitch, how they find new talent, advice for new writers and publishers, and a lot of laughs.

Also mentioned are subjects as diverse as our lack of sporting knowledge, amusing convention tales, the classic Marvels, I Kill Giants, Kingdom Come, and creator Bryan Talbot.

45 Review

Publisher Com.x has been putting out unique books for the last 7 years and are most known for Cla$$war, but that book may very well be eclipsed by this ambitious Original Graphic Novel. It’s one of those superb, “why didn’t I think of that?!” ideas, and even though it’s been in the works for a while, the buzz surrounding it can only grow now that it’s out. If you’re still not convinced that Com.x is a publisher to take note of, check out this splendid trailer. OK, now before we get to the meat and potatoes of 45, here’s some perty pictures from it.

And yes, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To see more visual treasures from 45 (18 pages in fact, go here. Now.) Apparently this is the first comic work of UK based graphic designer Andi Ewington. As revealed in an interview with CBR, Ewington first conjured forth this concept when he and his wife were facing the birth of their chid. From there it was a matter of convincing Com.x of it’s validity (of course, they wisely saw its potential) and then beginning the Herculean task of rounding up dozens of different artists as contributors. The attraction of 45 is twofold. Firstly, the concept of a journalist interviewing a bunch of different superpowered people to see what kind of life his own potentially superpowered child faces is brilliantly attractive as a unique narrative structure. Secondly, embracing the potential of the comic medium by giving 45 different artists free rein on one page each (focused on a particular superhero) creates a diverse array of art and makes it feel like  a portable gallery.

I recently read, or at least attempted to read, Max Brooks’ widely praised novel, World War Z. It also follows a journo as he interviews a bunch of different people across the globe. However, I soon lost interest as every interviewee sounded the same. Regardless of their relation to the future-set zombie epidemic, from scientist to military strategist to man on the street, their was no huge difference to the way they spoke. It didn’t sell the concept to me. Thankfully, Ewington knows better.

The world in which 45 is firmly entrenched begins immediately. Well after some praise from writer Jim Krueger and AICN’s comics reviewer. The foreword is written by James Stanley and it is he who leads us through the book. He’s a British journalist facing the birth of his first child in a word where “Normans” in other words non-powered individuals, co-exist with those possessing the Super-S gene, granting them unusual abilities.  Expectant parents can choose to have their babies tested for the Super-S gene to somehow prepare themselves for a possibly powerful offspring.

The first interview sets the tone splendidly, and feels like sitting down in a large, comfy chair you don’t want to leave. English couple Michael and Felicity Brown have only been parents for 5 hours, but knew instantly that their son was gifted as he began flying around the hospital room. Stanley then asks the logical question, “How did you manage to catch him?” to which Michael replies, “The midwife caught him just as his ability waned. Good hands, that one! I joked that she should try out as goalkeeper for West Ham-God knows they need one…” Classic, and a most pleasant introduction to what this book is all about. Let’s face it, “realistic” portrayals of superheroes existed long before Heroes stormed TV land. From Astro City to Marvels to Rising Stars, comics have played with the concept of more grounded powered individuals and how they affect society. However, Ewington brings the notion to the next level by filtering our experience of this world through Stanley’s eyes, or rather, questions. This combined with tantalising glimpses of the world beyond his interviews makes for an attractive and engrossing view, offered in bite size portions. With each new page turn we are presented further morsels, such as the existence of shadowy organisations taking an interest in these special kids, to government monitored S-Zones, to what life was like before the proper support was available.

Each interview begins with a quick intro of the parents and child (with names often changed for their own protection) and the location of the interview. It’s obvious Ewington has thought long and hard about the nuances of each interview. He doesn’t merely throw 45 conversations at us peppered with, “So what power does your child have?” and, “How does that make you feel?” Stanley’s asides, written in italics, let us know how the subjects feel, or what they’re doing during their brief interactions and all these flourishes add much realism to the proceedings.

For example, the Miles-Millers seem to want to talk for their gifted son Nathan and their interview comes across like a delightful Monty Python script. This kind of light humour is rare, but does offer a respite from the mainly serious tone throughout the book. In fact the very next child, Richard Lewis is kept isolated from the world by his frightened mother. When asked what his power is Richard simply answers, “I hurt things.” Creepy. Ewington knows that kids in fiction are a blank slate, used for cute laughs or Japanese horror-styled chills. The diversity of the Super-S interviewees, their personalities, family dynamics, backstories, and powers is very impressive. There’s playful twins in New Zealand. There’s an amputee called FullyArmed who is a so-called 2nd Degree, who was born a Norman but received his powers (morphing arms) via a freak accident. Major Action is a combination between Batman and Captain America. Frenchwoman Katrin Dupuis controls plants. 20 year superhero veteran, Ireland’s Shilelagh tells of giving up due to the constant criticism from the press, going into seclusion. He reveals, “It was incredibly dull. It was perfect.” Shilelagh’s story reminds me of Superman’s in DC’s 1996 epic mini-series Kingdom Come, but like every tale in this marvellous tome, it reads fresh, which is becoming increasingly difficult in this age of superhero saturation.

The words work so well that the page of art for each interview isn’t always necessary. Sometimes they grant greater clarity to the interviewee, and at other times they’re unnecessary, but most of them look great. The standout pages for me are Amy Turner by Jock, LunarBlade by Kit Wallis, and Sean Phillips’ Auroron. There’s enough artistic diversity within these pages, that by themselves they serve as a tremendous example of the variety within today’s comics. Everyone will find at least a handful of pages to simply gaze at.

Once I turned the last page (of 132) , I wanted to visit Ewington’s world again, and that’s essentially what 45 is – a new world, a new universe. With names, superpowers and identities for 45 different characters filling these pages, Ewington has essentially created a new platform from which Com.x could easily spin off an endless series of one-shots and series. For now though, this is an enchanting book and a great testament to the diversity and creativity that the medium of sequential art can fully embrace. For the naysayers out there who believe the death knell sounded for superhero stories years ago, a book like 45 is the perfect example to give hope for the future of this unique art form known as comic books.

Path Review

Publisher Com.x has been around since 2001 and are mostly known for their Cla$$war series and the innovative 45 project which is being released this month. They seem to be one of those publishers who’s not in a hurry to flood the shelves with new books. Each new endeavour seems to be assessed as to how it relates to the Com.x line as a whole. Perhaps I’m reading too much into their limited output, but with a focus away from monthly comics, and squarely on OGNs, plus offices in London and California it’s obvious that they’re not just another comic book publisher.

Path is a black and white Original Graphic novel by Gregory S. Baldwin. It’s not a new book, having been released in 2008, but it has “timeless” written all over it. The plot is simple enough. Doppler is a rabbit who is simply trying to stay alive in a foreboding terrain when he runs into (or rather almost gets squashed by) Dodge, an elephant. Those always amusing Bugs Bunny or Road Runner cartoons would be the obvious comparison with Path showing the same kind of loose, child-like approach to story telling. Yes, child-like, not childish.

It’s a classic set-up, with two strangers with wildly different personalities learning to rely on each other while trying to stay alive. It’s a premise that makes those ’80s buddy cop action/comedies work so well, and Baldwin uses his two protagonists to great effect here. It also kind of reminds me of those great Jim Henson tales, Labyrinth and Dark Crystal with its sense of zany fun in the midst of danger.

Baldwin is a great artist. Path never suffers from being black and white, as other books sometimes do. Baldwin uses silhouettes, panel sizes that vary greatly and an attention to white space that must be noted. A video game designer by day, Baldwin takes to sequential art with enthusiasm and I’d be curious to see what he could come up with next. He was nominated for the Russ Manning Award for most promising newcomer, and deservedly so. His character designs, with Dodge’s large hands and feet and droopy eyes display his inner strength, while Doppler’s wild expressions give Path most of its humour. There’s all manner of creatures in this barren world though, from round robotic suits to nasty crocidogs, which just adds to the hectic nature of the travelling pair as they traverse the harsh environment, led by Dodge who’s strangely driven to his destination. The conclusion is a bold one, but surprisingly touching.

Path really is a visual feast and is a simple story populated by characters who are given distinct personalities, even if they only appear for a few pages. This 80 page adventure is rounded out by a few pin-ups of Dodge and Doppler. Path doesn’t have much of a plot, being an energetic journey leading to the next danger around the corner, but it’s simply a kid-friendly romp that looks great to boot.

Creature Box, the just revamped site of Baldwin, and Dave Guertin, is definitely worth a look for more fantastic imagery.

45 Preview

Indie publisher Com.x made a splash with their series Cla$$war in 2003 but haven’t done much since. However, their new project, entitled 45 looks set to be another winner. In the current Previews catalogue, and set for a December release the book seems like one of those, “why has no-one thought of this before?” ideas. Com.x can describe it better than me, so here goes…

What makes “45” unique is that each page of art has been illustrated by a different artist, with no predetermined brief given; just the written page as guidance. It truly is an original attempt at redefining what people expect from a comic book format. Featuring the art of Liam Sharp, Jock, Sean Philips, Randy Green, Charlie Adlard and Dan Brereton, to name but a few of the 45 contributors. The story is a series of interconnected interviews documented by the fictional James Stanley. As a soon-to-be father, James wants to find out what lies in store for his family if his unborn child turns out to have a Superpower.

The dedicated blog has more info on the 132 pager. It seems like a fresh spin on the spandex genre and a great entry point for the superhero-curious.

45 Preview

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