This week on Zuda Weekly, we have a look at April’s contenders for the big prize of fame, fortune, and 60 more screens! Take a look after the jump for a breakdown of each and every contender, along with what my personal take is on each of them as well.
A personal note: this is the best month of any I’ve reviewed in our Zuda Weekly column to date. Every contender is solid in some way, and some are superb. Also, bravo to contenders for coming up with original concepts throughout as well.
Mr. Trildok Sings the Blues by Brian Joines, Julia Bax & Michael David Thomas
Current Rank: 1
Synopsis: A demonic creature struggles to overcome relationship issues and crippling depression as he works towards the destruction of mankind.
My Take: What words do I want to use for this entry…it’s very tough. How about fiercely original? Hilarious? Unexpected? Well crafted? Beautifully designed? Clever? Immensely entertaining? Man, all of those work. None of them are right, but they all work. Really, when it gets down to it, this has to be one of my two or three favorites of any contender in the three months I’ve been doing these reviews. Team Gammaduck…they just deserve every bit of praise they’ve gotten so far and more. I kind of love Mr. Trildok Sings the Blues (especially the title!).
ELDRITCH by Drew Rausch & Aaron Alexovich
Current Rank: 2
Synopsis: It’s Lovecraft on the West Coast as a group of would-be teenage “witches” intentionally infect themselves with a mysterious monster-izing plague.
My Take: I didn’t expect to like this, but this is a very charming work by Rausch and Alexovich with a very open premise. While I’m not sure I captured everything exactly (the last frame had a few questions from me), the general storytelling and the originality of this entry was alluring and of high quality. I also appreciated the sketchy Gabriel Ba by way of Ben Templesmith look of the art, and overall this is a very nice entry. Bravo, team.
Junito by Alberto Rios and Heather Breckel
Current Rank: 3
Synopsis: Emilia’s world is engulfed in darkness. Now she must adventure into the darkness. Along the way she’ll find help and danger, can she find out whats happen and help her world?
My Take: Rios is a very talented artist, creating some dynamic imagery (especially panel 8) and a wonderful concept here in Junito. While very little is revealed, there is a lot of intrigue here within the ideas he conveys on these 8 screens. It’s told very briskly, but not in such a way that you come out of the experience feeling robbed (you feel more intrigued than anything).
However, I have to point out that there are some grammatical errors that are either tied to scripting or lettering that pull me out of the experience as a reader. It’s frustrating to see in a nice product otherwise, and they are really a shame to see.
Terminus by Miljenko Horvatic, Mario Vrandecic & Olivija Horvatic
Current Rank: 4
Synopsis: “Siberian explosion” was devil’s fall to Earth. The secret location of it, Terminus, is recently discovered by two scientists. Soon, persecution by clerical secret services begins.
My Take: Whoa.
What a cliffhanger.
While almost the entire story before the last frame is build up, build up, build up (I’m like Pope Pius X – less theatrics please!), the ending knocks you flat and really makes you think that this title could go somewhere. Not that the build up was bad – artistically it’s solid, the scripting is decent enough…just nothing really jumps off the page except the ending. Still, what an ending. I’m very intrigued by this offering.Continued below
Queer Romance! by Adam Moore
Current Rank: 5
Synopsis: An anthology series aiming t’ward an amalgam of the best (or worst) of the science fiction and romance genres as typified by comics’ Golden Age.
My Take: This entry is just remarkably charming, making me smile throughout as I read the tale of Gil and Lalla, two star crossed lovers who are forbidden to marry because of her planet’s religion. Everything about the title, from the torn from the newspaper pages, to the beautifully clean artwork, to the exceptional coloring, to the hilarious dialogue, to the very well rendered characters…everything just hits how it should. I really, really enjoyed this unique blend of classic sci-fi and romance idioms.
Dan + Clue by Sebastian Jaster
Current Rank: 6
Synopsis: Clue puts her boyfriend, Dan, on a diet. With no beer or cheese, things become uncertain as whether he will make it all 11 days.
My Take: There is a lot of charm in this entry, as the characters are clearly infused with a lot of personality and the art work is very unique, sort of having a newspaper strip look but still wholly its own. Jaster has a robust imagination and it comes out here in spades.
However, I’m not really sure where this could go. It’s about a diet, so it’s not like it doesn’t have a finite limit to the possibilities. Additionally, there are a lot of moments where it feels like the concept has already been fluffed even to last these 8 frames. I enjoyed this reading experience, but I find it hard to support because the limits of the concept.
Hydebound by C.E.L. Welsh and Thomas LeBlanc
Current Rank: 7
Synopsis: What if The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was real? Did Robert Louis Stevenson draw from fact? The answer will exact a heavy price from all.
My Take: Another one that I had low expectations on, but what I found was a charming romp with a few really interesting characters (with awesome names!). In just these 8 frames, the creators managed to suck me in with clean artwork, solid visual storytelling, and a grand concept. Plus, the actual application of said concept manages to work really well as well. To get this much from the 7th place entry is surprising, as there is a real confidence in the craft here. Plus, a REALLY nice ending frame. I’d love to see more.
Stereophonic Ninja Boy by Rashad Doucet & Chris Mullins
Current Rank: 8
Synopsis: Stereophonic Ninja Boy is a high-action comedic adventure about a cocky, sound-fighting teen, who must get over his pride long enough to save Random Town from an invasion of the Sonic-Pop Army.
My Take: This is pretty damn awesome. It’s basically Scott Pilgrim x (insert ninja story here) x “better living through superior tunes” = awesome. The concept is a kid named Stereophonic Ninja Boy who is the local “man whore” according to his arch nemesis and kung fu master, and he gets all of his skills based off of the music he listens to. A mysterious fighter shows up and thoroughly stomps SNB and informs him that he needs to get his skills up and to learn that faster isn’t better (amen!) before the true villain shows up a year from that day.
It’s all illustrated in a clean, manga influenced style with a lot of visual charm. The storytelling is full of personality and it feels fresh and easy to connect to. Another very nice entry this month, as the hits just keep on rolling from Zuda in April.
The Meadowlands by Tadd Galusha
Current Rank: 9
Synopsis: John Roke, a New Jersey state employee, discovers mutant salamanders residing in the obscure swamps of the Meadowlands.Continued below
My Take: This is a really fine example of nearly pure visual storytelling. Galusha is a talented visual artist who reminds me of one of Stuart Immonen’s billion styles, and his lead John Roke even looks like The Captain from Nextwave to me. The fight scene is laid out in a dynamic and entertaining way, and I really like the looks of this title all in all.
But what the hell is the point? We have crazy mutant salamanders, but where is the story going and what reason would we have for wanting to go forward save to see some very nice art? I’m just not sure really. It’s a shame that his art isn’t paired with a more intriguing story.
The Zombie’s Hand by 13th Street Studios & Kevin Boink!
Current Rank: 10
Synopsis: Eddie Cadaver, a local punk/goth rock idol is murdered by his band mates and he re-animates as a flesh-eating ghoul.
My Take: This is another story that is very well told visually, but ultimately its dragged down by a limited concept and overly expositional writing. While I enjoyed it for an 8 frame story about a former rocker’s revenge against his bandmates that killed him, I have almost no clue as to where it could go in the future. Still, for the 10th place contender in a Zuda competition, this is phenomenal. It’s all about dealing with the hand you’re dealt, even in this regard.