Welcome back to Independent Comic Spotlight, the column devoted entirely to the creators we should all be paying more attention to when we venture to the comic shop each and every week. Here are just a few highlights from my ever-growing stack of awesome!
MAD’s Greatest Artists: Don Martin – Three Decades of His Greatest Works
Don Martin, one of MAD Magazine’s best cartoonists, was a master in the industry for over 30 years. Born in 1931, he died in 2000 and the MAD finally has gotten around to entering him into their hall of fame by way of adding to their Greatest Artists series of books. This hardcover collection delivers over 200 pages of over 200 of his funniest cartoons. The paper quality is high, the colors bright, and the overall presentation is quite professional, which is a great irony for a book entirely composed of satire and silliness. A great collectible item, this book includes some full color cartoons and numerous black and white pieces. But I have to admit, the greatest highlight for me as a superhero fanatic is the almost dozen superhero comics and spoofs. They’re hilarious. They’re heartfelt. They’re wacky, zany, and altogether MAD. This is a great gift for anyone who likes the ongoing publication, a piece of art history, or even someone who just likes a good giggle now and then.
My Rating: 3/5
With a story by James Maddox and artwork by Brandon Lauhon, this comic is a rarity and truly unique. It features a dystopian future where our main character has become a circus clown. But one day, he saves the life of a fellow carnie and is witnessed doing so by the leaders of said world, and put to work as a clown for them. Without giving away too much of the plot, it is worth noting that this comic feels super professional and not like a typical indie book right off the bat. Maddox and Lauhon do a great job setting up a character who is not only believable, but very likable. A twist ending that works really well makes me think that even though this might be a one-and-done one-shot comic story, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of the main character in a sequel or possibly in another project. Do yourself a favor and pick up your own copy as soon as you can. You won’t be disappointed. Black and white.
My Rating: 3/5
The Devil You Know
Created and written by Frank Mula and pencilled by Kellik, this comic is another fun entry into the battle between good and evil genre. Without giving away too much, the opening sequence reveals that our main character and his quest is all to familiar, but it is nonetheless expertly executed. “One late night, Greydon Cross found his family slaughtered and the Devil himself standing before him. Struck down before he could have his revenge, Greydon makes a deal with God upon his death. In exchange for power, Greydon agrees to travel to Hell and assassinate the Devil. There is one catch however, once Satan is destroyed Greydon would have to assume the mantle.” If that’s not enough to interest you, you’re obviously not a fan of the genre. Check this one out. It’s a fun read and I cannot wait to see more from these creators. Full color, 3.99 retail.
My Rating: 3/5
Dash: The Case of the Mysterious Zita Makara
Writer Dave Ebersole and artist Delia Gable present a new classic in the making with a murder mystery that may or may not have a touch of supernatural… with a twist! Great artwork and honest storytelling create a world that is not unfamiliar to our time period, but perhaps a bit risque for the one in which it takes place. The main character, Dash, is charming, suave, intelligent, and gay. But this is by no means a “gay” comic. After all, as the publisher openly states on the covers and logos of all of their products: “comics are for everyone.” This has never been more true. I can’t wait to see how this mystery wraps up, what happens to Dash next, and if everything works out in the end. And after just two short issues, I’m sure you will be wondering the same things. Full color, 3.99 retail.
My Rating: 3/5
Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948
As a teacher myself, I am always on the lookout for a good potential textbook. So when one arrives at my doorstep and it has something to do with comic books, you can rest assured that I will be putting it at the top of my reading stack. Noah Bertlatsky does some great research into a topic that most people are either ignorant of or simply only aware of peripherally: William Marston was all about slipping in lots of interesting and ground-breaking stuff in those early Wonder Woman stories. The research is astonishing. The dedication is breathtaking. And the fact that this would actually be usable as a college textbook in either a women’s literature, comic history, or even pop culture class is awesome. Part of the Comics Culture series, this is another interesting installment that would fit nicely on anyone’s bookshelf. It’s eye-opening and perfect for anyone who is willing to have interesting and relevant discussions about an era of comics that is grossly ignored. Check it out.
My Rating: 4/5
So what did you think? Will you be checking out some of these great titles? For more information (or to send me review copies of your own independent comic or comics-related project), please email me at JeffHill@ComicBooked.com or leave a comment below. See you next time, folks!