Review Day Tuesday – The Electric Team

Ah yes, another find from Cleveland’s very own Genghis Con (yes, that’s its name). This is another book I found in 2017, much like Multi- from last week. And much like last week’s pick, this comic is another selection of intriguing writing and lackluster art. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The story opens, weirdly enough, with an older explorer explaining how he and his team – or what’s left of his team – got to where they are. They’re explaining themselves so that the older explorer can ask whoever he’s talking to, to please take in his infant daughter and raise her in safety. And you turn the page and…

Unicorns.

The main character in this adventure is a little girl abandoned by her father to be raised by unicorns.

…Ok let me talk about the authors of this book: Abigail Connor and Leighton Connor. When this comic was written, Abigail was six. Leighton is Abigail’s dad.

Now, I haven’t read Axe Cop – but that comic came to mind after I wrote that sentence. A younger child relaying the story to an older adult and the adult writing and drawing the story down? I feel like this should be a subgenre within comics.

Knowing, though, that the co-writer of this story is a six-year-old girl makes The Electric Team make a LOT more sense.

I mean – the Electric Team is a superhero squad led by a young woman raised by unicorns. And The Electric Team is introduced as they fight a squad of humanized vegetables. Led by Commander McCarrot.

And in order to save the world, the Electric Team has to fight 1000 bad guys.

This. Is. A. Kid’s. Comic.

Knowing this makes the art make a lot more sense, as well. The art is not drawn by Abigail – the depth of field within any particular panel is too deep for a six-year-old to draw.

The art is done by Samantha Albert – and Samantha has done better art since this book came out. I remember Sam mentioning that this book was one of her first comics put to print. I’m happy to say that after reading this first issue, then looking at the webcomic site, Samantha’s art has VASTLY improved over time.

This first issue’s art isn’t…awful. But it’s unskilled – which is fitting for a story aimed at children, co-written by a six-year-old. On the plus side, as Leighton put it in his afterward in the comic, Samantha can “choreograph a fight scene and draw unicorns unironically.” And both of those skills are very important in a concept as whacky as a woman raised by unicorns and her team of superheroes who must fight 1000 bad guys to save the world.

So if a child in your life is looking for the next epic superhero adventure, encourage them to try The Electric Team.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

REVIEW DAY TUESDAY: Actionthology!

Ho boy, this is one of the first comic reviews I’ve done for a while that won’t be a glowing endorsement of the book. Bear with me.

So, I got this book at Herdon this year, back in March, thanks to a trade: I traded a copy of my book, Charlie & Clow, for this. Of the selection the editor had at the table, this was the thing that caught my eye that was within the sales price range set in the trade. I originally had my sights on one of the thicker books at the dude’s table, but I only got this one.

And…well, it’s not as disappointing as another book I covered in an old video…but it’s close.

I hesitate to call this a “bad” book. But let’s get into what this book even is.

Actionthology is an anthology of action stories, or stories that involve the theme of action to them. The stories in this anthology include:

  • The Butcher & The Hound
  • Death Mask (Or as I like to call it, “The Most Boring and Obvious Short Story I’ve Read Thus Far In My Career Good God the Melodrama”)
  • Barry Baxton: Man of Action!
  • The Akron Knight (perhaps the most frustrating short in this book to me), and
  • 30:00

I would break them down story by story, but I make an effort to keep these reviews to one page or less. So here’s the keys you ought to know:

Death Mask is the most skippable short story I’ve ever read thus far. It’s uninteresting and uninterested in its main character. The art is crude and the pacing is melodramatic and predictable if you’re familiar with B-movie curses.

Barry Baxton: Man of Action! Has great use of onomatopoeia, but if you’re familiar with superhero parodies, it’s nothing must-see.

The Butcher & The Hound feels unfinished and it’s frustrating.

The Akron Knight is a sample of a much larger webcomic, making this MORE frustrating than The Butcher & The Hound. Also there’s stereotypical Islamic extremists. I’m personally getting tired of this trope.

Really, the only story I “liked” was 30:00, and even then it has big air quotes around it. I saw the twist of the story coming, though it didn’t stop me from enjoying it. Still, glad to see the trope at play – and also see that the main character is a woman in this short.

The art in all of these stories fluctuates between amateurish and flat as fuck. Arguably, The Butcher & The Hound has the BEST art in the book, and even then the posing of the action is stiff. Like, watching action figures pose off against each other. Even my favorite short of the anthology, 30:00, has overworked shadows and the line work is so busy you can’t hardly see what’s going on. The Akron Knight uses gray watercolor washes but doesn’t seem to know to let the black inks dry FIRST before applying them.

Approach this book with caution, y’all. There’s neat ideas at the core of SOME of these short stories, but you have to dig to get to them.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

REVIEW DAY TUESDAY: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

This book will likely be as “mainstream” as I get here on Indie Comics Hub, because the publisher of Delilah Dirk – First Second – is readily accessible. They have books in major bookstores as well as public libraries. So Delilah Dirk should NOT be hard for you to find and get.

With that said, you should really get a chance to read this beauty at least once in your life.

I first read this book back in 2016. I found it, weirdly enough, at the airport bookstore on my way to Albuquerque, NM for an artist retreat/vacation. When I saw that Tony Cliff did both the writing and the art, I knew the name was ringing a bell. It took a little while for me to remember, “Oh, right! Tony Cliff was one of the regular contributors to the Flight comics anthologies!”

Since he already made one of my favorite short stories ever, “Old Oak Trees,” I was 110% willing to read Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is the story of Selim, a lieutenant in the Ottoman Empire who’s not too keen on his position. But it’s a mundane life until Delilah Dirk, adventurer extraordinaire, breaks into the palace and proceeds to wreck the place. Due to misunderstandings and a lot of shenanigans, Selim gets caught up in Delilah’s adventures, and the two set off into the world to plunder treasure, explore the Turkish countryside, and discover what friendship looks like out on the road.

First of all, kudos to Tony Cliff for the research done for this book. You can tell there was a LOT done, because the details of the period and the location are lovingly rendered. It’s wonderful to look at. Plus all the Turkish characters greet each other with an actual Arabic greeting, “Selam-un Aleykum.” I love that little detail.

Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for road trip stories (which I am), but the locations and set pieces are gorgeous to look at. I remember it took me a long dang time to read this book the first time through because I would just stare at the environments in awe.

The characters Delilah and Selim are charming as heck. Of course, it’s the traditional “hot-head adventurer and the grounded, sensible companion” dynamic. But it’s charming to see these characters and read their banter. The detail of Selim being obsessed with tea is a nice touch. The interest in tea doesn’t play out in major ways in the narrative, but it’s a detail that perfectly encapsulates Selim: a gentle man with a taste for the calm and refined.

Reading this book is like a cup of tea – warm and comforting. It’s a simple adventure story with charming characters. What more could you ask for?

Again, I highly recommend you read this book. It should be easy to get nowadays, and in fact, it has a sequel! I’ll be getting my hands on that soon.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Review Day Tuesday: The Ballad of Pluto

During Genghis Con (yes, that’s its name) last year, I got to meet Roan, the artist behind The Ballad of Pluto. As of this writing, it doesn’t have a webcomic equal. You can only get it in print. That said, volume 1 is out now, and you can get the book wherever Roan makes a convention appearance. (Check his Facebook page for updates on that.)

The Ballad of Pluto is the story of the planets of our solar system as people. So Pluto’s a person, the Moon is a person, etc. In fact, Pluto is a shepherd in the Outer Orbits. And his poor herd keeps getting attacked.

By what? He doesn’t know. But he suspects that whoever attacked his animals has a connection to what made him lose his status as a planet.

Volume 1 is the story of Pluto ‘s adventure into “the Inner Orbits” to get some answers. In this comic, the Inner Orbits are illustrated as a town. Don’t think too hard about how the planets can escape their orbits to congregate in a town and do business.

Part of the charm of reading this comic is seeing how the characters are drawn and fleshed out as a result of the lore. One of the details that made me laugh is that Earth (in the book called Eorde) says, “Let me just check my satellites.” …And she opens a laptop labeled NASA. That’s charming as heck.

Also, I need to give some major props to integrating agender representation, but not in a forced way. See, the Earth’s Moon (Lune, in the book) is vouching for Pluto so he can walk around town unmolested by Mars’ guards. Later, it’s revealed that Lune was once so powerful that they were almost queen of the solar system.

To which Pluto says, “Queen? So are you…?”

And Lune says, “That was a just a title. I have no gender.”

And all Pluto says in reply is, “Oh.” And the story continues.

Agender representation, and the plot doesn’t have to stop to talk about it. That’s how you do it.

I’m interested to see how the Moons of the solar system play in the story – there’s definitely some tension with Lune. They had so much power before the other planets of the solar system became known and joined the Council. So now that Lune is Eorde’s assistant, you get the impression that they’re a tad bitter about it. I want to see how that plays out.

The art, as well, is GORGEOUS. My only complaint is in regards to the lettering. For the most part, it works. Although…

When a character says something in a whisper or as a quip, the words are not in a speech bubble. This is a call-back to manga as an artistic influence, which is fine…usually. But the text is in color. And so is the background. So it can be hard to read that text at times.

The only other critique I have for the book is more meta: the book is in full color, sure. It’s not a standard comic size, but it’s also not magazine-size, either. It’s 44 pages, and that includes covers.

So why is the book $20?

Is this a cost-per-issue to print problem? Is it that the printer who made this book doesn’t specialize in comics? I find that latter question likely. There were pages that either cut off portions of speech balloons, or were not cut to bleed. Thus allowing paper margins to show.

(Roan, I know some comic book printers if you need to find a new guy to print your stuff with. Printers who specialize in comics and don’t charge a boatload to print. Email me!)

It’s a shame, because this is a darn good book to read! I can’t wait to read the rest of the story! But $20 for a 44 page comic is a bit much, even by comic standards. If a book is going to cost $20, it should have double that page amount, if not more.

But that’s one person’s opinion.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.