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Sombria by Kiko Garcia

Sombria http://kikomics.com.br/ is a 96-page, full color, horror comic written and illustrated by Kiko Garcia and published by Kikomics.

Kiko puts pen and brush to paper in Sombria and delivers a psychological drama that witnesses an artist’s slow decent into madness as he agonizes over which tool to use, the right line weight, page compositions, and everything else that fills his cluttered mind! But that’s not where this artist’s troubles end, oh no. His downward spiral into a mental breakdown extends to his hand. His hand that has taken to thinking for itself and deciding what the artist must do to attract readers and win over editors! This hand has its own thoughts on how things should be done and with it in charge things begin to change…but the change isn’t good for all involved!

Kiko does a great job of communicating the agony of the artist as he tries to please others while dealing with distractions, publishers, and overwhelming self-doubt. As the artist slips into insanity he goes to extremes for his art and to appease his sinister hand. Through it all Kiko uses vibrant colors with dramatic contrasts that really bring a feeling of dread and anguish to the pages. He also incorporates a series of black and white pages that adds even more drama to the overall story!

There are so many great things about this comic! On the surface you have an artist struggling with the art of making comics. The sketching, drawing, inking, and then you have the self-doubt and self-criticism. Then Kiko has even thrown the “Reader” in as a character that interacts directly with the artist, complaining about the art! Just great stuff with fantastic, bold artwork!

You can go crazy in the mind of an artist with Sombria at http://kikomics.com.br/ and have a sneak peek at https://youtu.be/-rMBEmiKRqA and find more from Kikomics at https://www.facebook.com/kikomicsquadrinhos/

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Blubber #5 by Gilbert Hernandez

Blubber #5 http://www.fantagraphics.com/blubber5/ is a 24-page, standard size, Black and White, ADULTS ONLY comic with color covers. Written and illustrated by Gilbert Hernandez, published by Fantagraphics. un

Men, women, transsexuals, mutants, and cryptids all cum together to explore the many ways they can satisfy their carnal desires in this fetish filled funny book! The stories and art are full of physically enhanced characters determined to fill every orifice or warm fold of flesh they can find! The underlying plot suggest all the humans are somehow caught in an alternate world of cryptoid creatures and copulation is the only way to escape. I admit, I couldn’t completely follow everything that was going on in this comic. Maybe if I went back and read the previous issues it would have helped, but I didn’t. Anyhow, the art is clean and delightful (just as you’d expect from Gilbert Hernandez).  The storytelling was a little jumbled, but I think the bizarreness of the situations added to the disjointedness (and made me feel like I was missing out on an inside joke that others “in the know” were privy to). 

You can get your fingers all sticky with Blubber at http://www.fantagraphics.com/blubber5/ and find more from Fantagraphics at  http://www.fantagraphics.com/

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The Man in the Black Cloak by Kiko Garcia

The Man in the Black Cloak http://kikomics.com.br/ is an 82-page, black and white, horror comic written and illustrated by Kiko Garcia and published by Kikomics.

An old storyteller starts this collection of tales off with a piece titled “Sleeping with the Deceased.” In it he remembers a not so pleasant time when he became trapped with an angry corpse! Next the storyteller’s rival “Hank” spins a yarn in “Quarrels and Prowess,” a tale about himself and his father taking matters into their own hands to settle things with a pesky werewolf! The storyteller and Hank compete with each other attempting to demonstrate which of them is the bravest by the events they describe in their stories. To finally determine which is the bravest they decide the title will go to the one that kills the “Saci,” an annoying, one-legged, magical prankster that lives in the marsh! Things don’t go as planned when the two men come face-to-face in the overgrown vegetation of the marsh. After the encounter the storyteller closes this comic with “Not Even a Patch Could Save Me” and “A Very Scary Bet,” both of which lead to an unforeseen and completely satisfying twist ending!

Kiko weaves an entertaining narrative full of twists through four horror stories within a larger, all-encompassing story! His bold black lines with heavy shadows contrast great against the white spaces and injects drama into the stories at a perfect pace. His characters are drawn with lots of attention paid to individual details, and his writing keeps the action moving with unpredictable outcomes! The Man in the Black Cloak is storytelling and art at its best!

You can walk with The Man in the Black Cloak at http://kikomics.com.br/ and find more from Kikomics at https://www.facebook.com/kikomicsquadrinhos/

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Rooftop Stew by Max Clotfelter

Rooftop Stew https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/products/rooftop-stew is a 120-page, fictional and autobiographical, black and white, perfect bound, standard size comic written and illustrated by Max Clotfelter. Published by Birdcage Bottom Books.

A while back I gave a short pre-review of Rooftop Stew while it was still in development. Back then I praised Max Clotfelter’s art and storytelling after seeing just a small piece of this 120-page monster of a comic. Well, now I’ve had the pleasure of reading the whole thing and all I can say is wow! What a great collection of bizarre stories and wonderfully weird art! In the pages of Rooftop Stew Max takes the reader on a comically curious trip through a world of clods, creeps, and cretins all beautifully illustrated in bold black ink!

Max’s cast of misfit characters stumble through a neglected plane of existence littered with drugs and filth set against a greasy stained background dripping with sex and open sores. Unique characters such as the much maligned “Redeye” find themselves in the midst of violence, schemes, and abandonment while dealing with less than ideal parental role models. Other characters, to include Max himself, wander through corrupting and salacious scenarios involving stealing porn from the underprivileged, smoking PCP, shooting explosives, hunting tail with dad, and getting into bar fights! Plus a bunch of other stuff that completes this portrait of working class pain and suffering in the seedy south as well as other squalid settings!

Max Clotfelter’s old-school, underground art style perfectly captures the grimy gist of his tortured tales. His penchant for delicious detail fills each panel of every page with entertaining elements of a soiled life that begs to be consumed by the curious and examined with eyes wide open!

Get you spoon ready for a big helping of Rooftop Stew at https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/products/rooftop-stew and find more from Birdcage Bottom Books at https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/

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Blood and Drugs by Lance Ward

Blood and Drugs https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/products/blood-and-drugs is a 176-page, black and white interior with full color cover, standard size comic written and illustrated by Lance Ward. Published by Birdcage Bottom Books.

Lance Ward tells a tragic story about real life struggles with addiction and all the unforeseen consequences of one man’s fateful decision. Through the pages we’re introduced to an assortment of interesting characters living on the fringes of society. We’re brought into their worlds through the eyes of the main character as he rubs shoulders and exchanges grasps at happiness with each of them. Through it all the gravitational force of defeat continues to pull everyone down into the shadows of addiction and despair with only the saving grace of friendship, comics, and music providing a glimmer of something more worth reaching for.

Lance brings a raw realness to the self-loathing and disillusionment of the story with his rough and bold artwork. The heavy lines, sparse backgrounds, and subtle character details combine to establish a believable world in which this tale takes place. It quickly becomes easy to relate to the main character, Buster, and all of his acquaintances as the people you see every day walking the streets of your own city. The people you may not talk to, or even make eye contact with, but you know they are there and you wonder what their story is. Within the pages of Blood and Drugs Lance Ward offers you a chance to find out, and what a fascinating and gripping story it is!

You can walk the streets and visit the halfway houses with Buster in Blood and Drugs at https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/products/blood-and-drugs and find more from Birdcage Bottom Books at https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/

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Future Corpse by Eva Muller

Future Corpse https://buff.ly/2rWvyOO is a 20-page, digest size, full color cover with black and white interior, anthology covering themes of feminism, anxiety, punk rock, immortality, labor, and robotic vacuums! Written and illustrated by Eva Muller. Published by Birdcage Bottom Books.

So here I am reading Future Corpse by Eva Muller and in occurs to me we’re all really different yet connected. I mean, sure the paths we follow through life define us, but the circumstances that put us on those paths is often beyond our control. In Future Corpse Eva illustrates a piece about growing up as a feminist in ‘90s Germany. She relates vignettes on bullying and music and general acceptance. Although I assume I’m a bit older than Eva, I too lived in Germany in the ‘90s, as an artist and an American soldier. I remember the punks, skinheads, and mopeds she writes about and here I am decades later reading her comic! Kinda neat.

Anyway, in addition to her recollection about coming of age in Germany, Eva goes on to share other interesting pieces such as the roamings of a Roomba, words of wisdom from a yoga posing Karl Marx, the sweet, sweet feeling of buying new clothes when you should really be buying food, and a silent piece about a Japanese demon anxiety snake!

You can dig up Future Corpse at https://buff.ly/2rWvyOO and find more from Birdcage Bottom Books at https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/

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Bell Time by David Robertson

Bell Time http://www.fredeggcomics.com is an 80-page, digest size, mostly two-tone with some full color pages, time travel comic written and illustrated by David Robertson. Published by Fred Egg Comics.

The bulk of this comic is made up of the main story, “Bell Time.” In that tale a young man is having a bad day at school when he hears a mysterious bell ring. Soon his life is turned upside down as he realizes he has become older all of a sudden and is now an adult in the same school! As he works out what is happening he also must contend with unruly and disrespectful kids that only see him as yet another authority figure! About halfway through Bell Time David takes an intermission and inserts a series of single page comics titled “School Tales.” Each of these provide short anecdotes about school life that is delivered from the pupil’s perspective. Then it’s back to the main story where our hero continues his struggle to make sense of things, figure out where that strange ringing is coming from, and keep bratty kids in an orderly line!

You can return to school through the pages of Bell Time at http://www.fredeggcomics.com and find more at https://www.fredeggcomics.blogspot.co.uk and https://www.facebook.com/david.robertson.18488169 and https://fredeggcomics.tumblr.com and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdLBIsMZOzJg-b1M8xdFlAg

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Malarkey #4 by November Garcia

Malarkey #4 https://buff.ly/36aXpdS is a 28-page, digest size, full color, autobio comic written and illustrated by November Garcia. Published by Birdcage Bottom Books.

In the pages of Malarkey #4 November shares several personal stories. Among her confessionals is one story about becoming obsessive over a band discovered a little late in life and another, which all comic creators will relate to, is about taking the plunge into comics and not getting the expected splash you anticipated! November goes on to offer travel tips from Tokyo and a not so romantic look at the loss of virginity while avoiding frogs! She continues by providing a brief look at the lengths her mother and others will go to for beauty, and the long shadow religious indoctrination casts. November closes things out by offering some words of advice to her younger self!

The stories are all written and drawn in a lighthearted manner that keeps the comic fun and upbeat, even when dealing with some self-deprecating subjects. The colors really work throughout this comic. At times color is only used as a background while at others it’s used to frame and bring attention to the subject. The palette also varies from pale tones that almost fade from notice to patches of vibrant and clashing hues that grabs your attention!

You can join November Garcia in the pages of Malarkey #4 at https://buff.ly/36aXpdS and find more at https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/ and https://www.novembergarcia.com

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Calamine Prunt in Would A Turkey Vote For Christmas

Calamine Prunt in Would A Turkey Vote For Christmas is a 34-page, single sided, mini size, illustrated anti-voting zine published by The Bubblegum Dada Corporation.

In this little mini zine Mr. Prunt receives some sound advice on voting as he prepares to go to the polls. Among the advice offered are helpful bits of wisdom such as voting only empowers a new master, keeps you in chains, and is like a hanged man begging for a more comfortable rope! You can indulge your anti-establishment tendencies in such insightfulness by contacting:

The Bubblegum Dada Corporation

c/o 15 Dartington Walk

Plymouth

Leigham

Devon

PL68QA

UK

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All Those Weirdoz #1 by Nathan Nelson and Chase Keetley

All Those Weirdoz #1 https://outcastcomics.bigcartel.com/product/all-those-weirdoz-1 is a xx-page, black and white, standard size comic written by Nathan Nelson with art by Nathan Nelson and Chase Keetley. Published by Outcast Comics.

Two crews of taggers fight over territory in this gritty, violent series of graffiti based tales. The main crew, “The Weirdoz,” is made up of a group of misfits including a stoner, a drunk, a girl called Fury, and a guy wearing a tin hat! After a member of their crew gets jumped by a rival crew, the gloves come off and the paint cans and bats come out! Soon walls are getting covered and skulls cracked as the city’s buildings become the canvases on which this struggle for respect and dominance is played out!

The story telling here does a great job of introducing the different characters and setting the scene where the drama unfolds. Each of the characters have a distinct personality and individual motive behind their actions. The art captures the tenacious mood of opposing gangs battling for their place and the dog-eat-dog reality of life on the streets! The whole thing is a refreshing work of unpolished, underground comix that has nothing to do with spandex wearing heroes or emotionally fragile anthropomorphic animal characters!

You can grab a can of paint and take to the streets with All Those Weirdoz at https://outcastcomics.bigcartel.com/product/all-those-weirdoz-1 and find more at https://www.facebook.com/OutcastComics/ and https://www.instagram.com/bastard_of_canada/