After a short hiatus, Small Press Sunday is back. One of our first goals here at Comic Booked is to strengthen our relationships with the small press publishers. We do that by offering them an opportunity to show off their work here on Small Press Sunday. This week, I am looking at some great comics sent to me by Daniel Boyd. I will be giving you a background on him and short reviews of both graphic novels.
Daniel Boyd is best known as a filmmaker involved in creating some great movies with Troma Entertainment, such as Chillers, Strangest Dreams: Invasion of the Space Preachers, and Paradise Park. He is also an Assistant Professor of Communications at West Virginia State University. His foray into graphic novels has included two volumes based on the Chillers film and his newest release, released to comic shops in August, Carbon, designed to shed some light on the importance of coal to the West Virginia economy and the impact to the people involved.
Chillers: Book Two – This is one of those interesting comics where there is an ominous foreshadowing on the opening page telling you a short tale about someone, similar to the openings in Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone TV shows. Then, as the story unfolds, mysterious, scary, even deadly things happen to that person. The book is told by the bus driver of the Babylon Bus Line, Peterr Jesus. He is a old Jamaican, so his accent comes through in everything he says. Fourteen stories of terror fill this second volume of Chillers, written by Daniel Boyd and several other authors. Each story is about someone getting their comeuppance or of some twist of fate that leads to the death of who you thought was the hero of the story. All of this spinning out of the Troma film Chillers.
A good example of what you can expect in this book can be seen in the very first story, “Sin Flowers”. This story is about a scientist who had worked for the United Nations in Tanzania, creating genetically modified plants to resist the ravaging wildlife of that area. Through his work, he designed a modified version of the sun flower that could withstand the harsh conditions and it grew very quickly. The scientist is so happy that he heads back to give a report. In a week, when we returns, the village is empty and he finds the bloody remnant of the woman he loved. He burns the field and leaves, but years later, when punks continue to chop down his normal sunflowers, he plants the sin flowers from the seeds he salvaged. The final scene is the punks returning and meeting their fates at the gnashing teeth of the evil flower monsters. The scientist ends up dead and hauled off by Peterr in the bus to Hell.
Pretty cool stuff. Chilly and scary and just plain fun to read. The art is good, even in black and white, and the mix of artists from one story to the next helps to keep the stories interesting. I love the twists and really enjoy this book. My Rating: 4/5
Carbon – This was a really interesting graphic novel. Set in a West Virginia community that relies on the local coal mine for its very survival, Carbon tells the tale of a time before history when a being placed himself above others and created a society of beings. Was he God or just a god? It doesn’t really matter for the terms of our story, but he created two distinct species of beings, man and the sheves. Mankind were the only beings who prayed to this god, while the sheves were more like our ideas of demons. The two races could not live together, so this being allowed man to rule the upper world and the sheves ruled the underworld. Things were fine until the waste of man began to pollute the sheves’ home. In the end, as punishment, this god banished all the first beings underground until the world replenished itself. The humans were to revert to their natural dormant state and the sheves were to act as their protectors until that day that light was returned. “In a time after the first time, the people live, not as humans, bus as… CARBON!”
The story progresses, following the ruthless coal company always trying to cut costs and find the next thing that will make them rich at the expense of the people and the earth. There is one mineshaft that is more dangerous than all the others, but also the one that the company wants to exploit, because they retrieved a piece of coal that burned hotter and showed no sign of deterioration while burning, a virtually infinite source of energy. The rest of the tale is about the teams that have been sent into that shaft and how the latest team may be the last team ever sent. It has some really cool art and the writing is pretty engaging. This is a different kind of story that I really enjoyed. My Rating: 4.5/5