‘Free Comic Book Day’ is the day of the year comic book store swing open their doors in a desperate bid to bring people into a medium crippled by limited runs, overpriced and delayed issues as well as shake ups and sexual harassment. Now you’d think that giving stuff away would be a fairly easy affair, turns out not so much. While they are given away for free the comics still cost someone something and this quickly knocks a lot of the smaller publishers, who could do with the support, out of the running. Then once the printing costs are met it is up to ‘THEY’ to determine who gets to make the list.
‘Alternative free Comic Book Day’ launched on the 7th of May with about sixty or some odd issues to choose from; ranging from child friendly books to comics that would make a serial killer blush. Now the problem is that at the time of writing about half of said issues don’t work. Of those left I’m going to just automatically discount the completely out there books that would make ‘Heavy Metal’ stop and go “Wha?”
I’m also going to get rid of CAE studios “mix tape” anthology as while it has some good stories that are well told, drawn and handled such as the thrilling tale of a tubby guy wandering round a fallout esque future where Super-Mutants wear top hats and hang around comic book stores guarding strange statues. They have a decent flash back to some kind of Earth mother Gaia-esque witch who will spawn a line of “chosen ones”. The whole book is badly put together, with stories cutting out mid-flow with seemingly no idea if they are coming back to it or if that counts as enough of a preview.
I’m also going to discount Astral Sass as a pretensions pile of poop. Set in some distant future where people have finally mastered on how to ascend beyond the mortal realm. Now to explain I downloaded these books fairly early this morning in an effort to get this review out in something approaching “on time”. Thus when I struggled through the crazy art and overly wordy dialogue spread across pages where the weird art is literally repeated several times in a row I was tempted to push this to the bottom and come back to it later. Of course when I get to the end of your strip and you pretty much tell me I’m an idiot if I dared to not understand or worse not appreciate your pretension I opted to give it a pass.
So where does that leave us?
Well we have the return of Dead Duck; a small blue water foul tasked with ushering souls over to the other side with the aid of his zombie assistant. For those who have never encountered Dead Duck before I think the best comparison would be something like the old Ren and Stimpy cartoons for that “slightly adult” very off the world sense of humour. For instance here we see a flash back to the first encounter between Dead Duck and Zombie chick where she is literally made out of bits from the trash can and a much later set story where the two have to go and claim the souls of Arthur and his Knights while a group of fairies insist that they must stay here on the shores of Avalon until England needs them again.
From here it’s onto Displacement Oasis a first issue of a series seeing a small group of disparate criminals from different realities. Well the question of their criminal background is called into question when people are sucked into their new bubble prison along with dinosaurs and other such creations after stumbling upon apparently out of bounds areas. The art work for this one is that weird c.g that seems to be becoming big on the internet as of late, though that isn’t to say that’s the only thing we get in the book with this, along with other books, using different art styles for different planes of reality and dimensions.
A lot of the other books are fairly forgettable with vampire hunters in black and white and even a book where Elvis has faked his death to work for the F.B.I both fail to grab me in any lasting way.
We get a few “adult” books that lay on the blood with ‘Ichabond’ being a potentially clever idea with a character turned into a psycho killer by the voices in his head in order to do the work of the lord, while the reanimated cancer stricken christian killer in “Rot” comes across as far less interesting despite the powers and backstory.
The furries are out in full force in this collection with a man seduced from his bed by a sexy avatar of the cat he’s just run over, a wannabe Hellboy/ Atomic Robo~esque Europe where Frankenstein leads a robot army out to obliterate the monsters in the world while his “son” Adam attempts to learn about life and death. Though judging by his doctor-ship at the end he knows less than Zoidberg. Though the big one is “Rotten Tail” a rape revenge story that replaces the rape with the murder of a childs bunny rabit and goes via “Black Sheep” to get its revenge.
Questions is probably the most indie comic in the package, beating out slice of life web comics that star the writer, this is a fairly short comic made as part of 24~hour comic day that tries to get across what it means to live with multiple personality disorder or “as part of a system” as the writer/s prefer.
Comics like ‘Savants’ and ‘Up the river’ both sounding interesting and don’t manage to ruin it unlike other such books in the line up. Though I would argue that neither manage to go far enough for me to really push the books. Their set ups sound interesting and I’ve got to wonder whether they are really good or just appear that way compared to other books like ‘Monstrous’ which managed to squander its set up in about the same amount of time.
The award for best book I was able to read probably has to go to ‘R:IL Persona’ a magical future series where a stealth ninja assassin wakes up after killing an entire room full of people to find out he has no memory of who he is or how he got there.
So should you check out “Alternative Free Comic Book Day.” Well maybe, if you give it some time for them to sort out the problems and then so long as you keep in mind that not only is this an indie collection but a free one meaning that most of it is pretty bad.