I’ve noticed in past months that small publisher Monkeybrain Comics has been putting out comics at a rate that seems almost unreal. To keep up with the constant, high-end output of this indie powerhouse, we here at bagandbored.net are going to try out a feature here that will cover recent comics. For the inaugural piece, I’ve got three title, five books total, to run through with you, faithful reader. No matter what your feeling on indie comics as a whole, I’ve found that Monkeybrain is constantly at the top of its game.
Amazing Forest #1 & #2
Story – Erick Freitas and Ulises Farinas
Art – “Tank” by Julien Dufour, “Wolf Mother” by Matt Rota, “Ronnie the Robot” by Melody Often, “Bird Watcher” by Yumi Sakugawa, “Detective Dunk” by Caitlin Rose Boyle, “Van Dark” by Angelica Blevins
Cover – #1 by Paul Chadwick, #2 by Ulises Farinas
Cover Colors by Derick Skuds McKinley Jones
I love a good anthology. When most comics right now seem to be focusing on the long game, with huge story arcs that encompass several titles, (I’m talking to you Bat-verse), it’s nice to read a short story that begins and ends, with an ending perhaps tidy and perhaps not so, but an end nonetheless. This is what is offered in Amazing Forest from Monkeybrain. Neat little stories, some creepy enough to give you that Twilight Zone shiver across the back of your neck, which will keep you entertained for their entirety and not ask you to read across titles to keep up.
Issue #1 is a conglomeration of the fantastic to the fantastically mundane. From future apocalyptic worlds to the humdrum of bird watching, each tale has a common theme, and that is love of family.
“Tank” is the gaining of a world of books only to have your glasses broken.
“Ronnie the Robot” and “Wolf Mother” are about the love shared by family, and to what lengths that love will drive people. “The Bird Watcher”, despite being one of the quietest sounding, is a poignant tale that showcases the difference between obsession and love.
In issue 2 we have two tales that are more ironic in nature, but still quite enjoyable. “Detective Dunk and the Cannibal Cult” tells the story of down-on-his-luck Detective Dunk and his case of missing ancient swords. “Van Dark” is a bleak take on the interpersonal relationships that take place in the world of evil empires, and the lengths to which one would go to escape them.
Each of these books has qualities that you couldn’t see in a longer book. The art is as varied as the stories, which makes for a visually interesting book. “Tank”’s look reminds me of something from R. Crumb or MAD magazine. It has a familiar caricature style that is intriguing to look at. “Wolf Mother” and “The Bird Watcher” have a more thin-lined look that reminds me of a European style. “Ronnie the Robot” is a little rounder and cartoonish hand.
The collection of styles and stories is what makes an anthology such a cool thing. They expose us to new artists and writers that we haven’t heard of, and can direct our likes and dislikes. I will most definitely be looking up some of these again.
Written by Jeremy Holt
Art by Francesca Ciregia
Letters by Adam Wollet
Covers Colors by Renzo Podesta
I almost always do what my elementary school librarian encouraged me not to, and that is, to judge books by their covers. From the cover, you can assume it’s a Frankenstein monster one off, and by all accounts that seems to be in the right vain. It’s all in black and white, so there is some evocation to James Whale’s 1931 original. That’s a nice, comfortable connection. We are following the trouble youth Victor, a college student who is having trouble finding his way. Francesca Ciregia has done some wonderful work in the book, with interesting angles in some of the panels and great figure work. The only problem I have with it is that, as a first issue, it’s really short, whereas many first issue, especially digital ones, are going for an extended issue to get readers interested in a new book. There are only 10 comic pages in this first issue. The author, Jeremy Holt, has added a three page article about breaking, or not, into the comics game, and it is interesting, but not necessarily what I’m looking for when reading a new book.
Strange Nation #2 and #3
Written and Lettered by Paul Allor
Art by Juan Romera
Edited by Rob Anderson
Issue #2 tells the tale of Merc, another of the hapless Sasquatches that have been cut up by this mysterious Duma Corporation that reporter Norma Parks is attempting to infiltrate and expose. The first issue ended with the death of Joe, one of the corporation’s intelligent apes, who had told all to Norma.
Now we have Merc, a friend of Joe’s who has been assigned with quieting Norma and her search for Dr. Milo, attacking her at her apartment. Her partner, Jesse, shows up in the nick of time to save her, and we end issue #2 and start #3 with an aged Elvis fighting Sasquatch. What more could you ask of a comic book?
Norma runs home and right back into the nest of secrets she is only now discovering there. Her parents are hiding something from her. Her mother gives her a tip, one, which will change the entire course of her life, and one that I’ll not spoil here. You’ll just have to go and buy the book.
I love the idea behind this book, something I mentioned in the review of issue #1, and the writing is such that it makes you want to keep going with the story. Where will it go next? The beauty of Allor’s story is that even though he’s brought Elvis and Sasquatches and villainous corporations into the mix, you still find the next thing to come just as believable.
Stay tuned for more great comics from Monkeybrain!
Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter: @comicwasteland