Sunday, June 30, 2013

Woodboy - Bad Place Productions

Hauntingly Good Book

Over the weekend I had the great pleasure of attending the Derby City Comic Book Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.  I also had the even greater pleasure of meeting Johnathon Hodges of Bad Place Productions.  Over the course of the afternoon we spent hours in friendly conversation sharing what was clearly a mutually shared love for comic books.  Eventually John wound up handing me a comic book with the invitation to read it.  The book he handed me was the one you see pictured above, Woodboy.

Upon returning to the table I was manning with Brandon Johnson of Studio Akumakazi I sat down and began reading what would soon prove to be one of the very best comic books I've read in a long time.  There are actually two stand alone stories in the book and even though they share no common elements they somehow fit together like Yin and Yang producing a complete vision.  

The first story is that of the main character's (Woodboy) search to find his mother and thus discover his roots and origin in the world in which he dwells. I was immediately struck by the marvelous black and white illustrations of creator and artist Dave Watt.  His work is both unique and evocative.  I couldn't help but think of Clive Barker's Weaveworld.  This is how the magical creatures of the ancient times, before the coming of man, would've drawn their stories upon the cave walls hidden deep within the mountains of Fugue.

The story read and felt like an ancient myth, passed down from generation to generation since the predawn of time. It felt as if I'd discovered a sacred scroll long forgotten.  Upon unrolling it I discovered a piece of myself I'd never realized was missing until the strange symbols drawn upon it revealed its absence to me. I loved it and felt myself a better person for having read it.  I was very impressed with the execution of this story and the emotional response it evoked in my heart.

The second story in the book, Apocalypso, is a tale about the ending of times.  Although completely unrelated to the story of Woodboy in either epoch or characters it felt as if it fit with the story I'd just finished reading and somehow fulfilled a vision neither story could have completed without the other.  Apocalpalyso is at the same time both horrible and beautiful.  There is something profoundly deep and honest about it that is difficult to label.  It damn near brought tears to my eyes at the same time I wanted to recoil in revulsion and flee in horror from it.  Apocalpalyspo was powerful and unexpected.  It left me stunned and in awe of the mind that had produced such a story.

This book and the time spent in conversation with Johnathon Hodges about it afterwards made me remember why I've loved the art form of the comic book for all these years.  It was a celebration when I ran back to Johnathon's table proclaiming, "Holy shit, that was incredible!"  

The man just smiled and said, "Wait til you see what's coming next."

I can hardly wait.  This man's got something good happening over at Bad Place Productions and I'll be keeping a close eye on this group of folks.  I suggest you do too.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Binary Gray-Assailant Comics

Solid and well executed.

One of the great things about being a comic book geek is having a small treasure trove of forgotten books sitting around in plastic tubs from past events and conventions.  Every now and then when the "Big Two" seem to be deluging the market with comic books I find less than entertaining, I'll run downstairs, grab a stack of small press material and while away a few hours panning for gold.  That's just what I was doing the other night when I chanced upon Binary Gray.
This is one of those comic books that just get's it right from page one.  The immediate flashback to childhood quickly provided some nice back story elements to the main character and got the story up to speed in a hurry.  The pacing was fluid without being forced or hurried.  I was engaged from the moment I started turning pages.

The main character is a young man named Alex Gray.  He's not a scientist or an athlete capable of super-human feats.  He's just an ordinary guy working a dead-end job as an IT guy.  One day while performing a routine fix in the server room he's zapped by an electrical discharge from one of the computers and wakes up in the hospital.  The next thing he knows he's hearing a voice in his head and the hospital monitors and television sets seem to be reaching out and attempting to interface with him.

Sure the story sounds familiar.  I've read it a thousand times involving characters like Peter Parker and Bruce Banner.  The plot is archetypical of the modern comic book origin story.  That's what made it feel familiar and believable to me without being cliche.  I bought into the character right away.  The same went for his new abilities.  He wasn't given super powers, he was simply given new abilities that didn't stretch the suspension of disbelief system beyond a breaking point.

This was an origin story that didn't suffer from the same mistakes I've seen so many small press comic books suffer from again and again in trying to create a new book.  Creator/Writer Chris Charlton didn't try to reinvent or revolutionize comic books, he simply told a good story based around a believable character using familiar and time tested plot lines. I liked the book.  It satisfied me as a reader and made me want to read more of Alex Gray's story and hopefully learn more about him and the world he inhabits in future issues of Binary Gray.  You can find this book along with other fine products at Assailant Comics.  Check em' out.  I'm glad I did.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Red Hot Rebellion

"Hell...  Frackin'...  Yeah!"

First off, this review would've been a whole lot easier to write if I hadn't been leapin' around my office wailing on air-guitar and head-banging every file cabinet that got in my way.  Seriously, by track three I was outta my seat and jammin' big time.  Wow, what a great surprise.

Red Hot Rebellion is a party band, plain and simple.  If there's any kind of message to take away from their self titled album it's this, "It's better to die behind a guitar than a gun.".  Holy crap these guys are good!  If you like your vocals raw and your guitar loud and blazing fast, you're gonna love this band.  Ya wanna hear these guys the right way?  First, find a pair of the biggest damn Marshall amps you can find, second, take em' out to the garage and hook your CD player up to em'. Next, open your garage door, set up a lawn chair in the driveway, turn on the music and get ready to blow your neighborhood away.  Dude, you crank these bad boys up and the party is gonna come running to your house.

My favorite tracks were: Wait And See, For the Benefit of Evil, Hellfire, Wild One, Devil's Rope, Cooking With Gas and Open Wide and Say Awesome.  Cripes, did I just list almost every track on the whole damn CD?  That just ain't like me at all!  I haven't heard a party band this good since the days of J Geils and Deep Purple...

You know what?  Frack my boss and frack the office!  I'm outta here!  I'm gonna go home and put these bad boys on a real stereo system.  Then I'm gonna sit down on a lawn chair in my living room and party my butt off.

Do yourself a favor, boys and girls, go out and buy this CD right frackin now!  And while you're at it, visit their website, find out where they're performing next and get yer' asses out to see em'.  You won't be disappointed.

Oh, I almost forgot!  There's a comic book I would've reviewed if I hadn't shredded it after rolling it up and using it for an air-guitar.  Maybe I can get em' to send me a new one...