WTC Blog – The Submit Book Club # 1

One of the best things about the digital age of comics is the level of distribution a creator can have for their own work.

Thanks to Comixology Submit we’re no longer left to the mercy of store owners who need to (understandably) be wary of bringing in an unknown product that can sit on the shelves unsold. Because of that even the larger shops were hesitant to bring in more than a few copies of a small press book. If you were lucky perhaps there was a handful of these books to check out, and even those were pre decided for you as to what the shop manager felt was most commercial, and of course everyone has different tastes, so the 10 unknown books that that the store may carry that month could be completely different than the 10 you would have considered.

So yes, the We Talk Comics crew loves Comixology Submit, and consider it a real honor to be given the opportunity to read these books for our website and podcast through the kindness of Comixology’s VP of Communication & Marketing Chip Mosher and his crew.

But the question of course for most people with Submit is where to start? As wonderful as it is to have these books available to read whenever you’d like, the Submit section is averaging a little more than 150 books a month coming out over the last calendar year. That’s more than even we can keep up with at WTC.

So to help you sort through that massive quantity of books we proudly present our new column, The Submit Book Club, where we’ll be highlighting the great comics you’ll find available in the Submit section, and we’ll throw in a few other small press contributors that aren’t actually in the Submit section as well when appropriate.

These aren’t reviews. We’re not taking a critical look at what we present here, nor telling you about books that we didn’t like. This is just our chance to highlight Submit Comics that we read and enjoyed and think you should check out if the mood strikes you. There’s nothing but quality here folks.

With that said, let us begin.

 

Little David

Little David

Little David has 2 dads. But that hardly makes him unique in the world writer / artist David Cantero has created.

Unabashedly a book created with a purpose in mind, Cantero even opens the introduction to the book with the message “Little David is a comic book with an important social message for everyone”, and it certainly fulfills this goal, presenting a world of children in short, humorous strips all with a background celebrating diversity.

From a child with a transgendered parent, to a girl created through artificial insemination living with a divorced mom, to an adopted child to many more including Little David himself each character’s view is shaped by their unique background as they learn about the world about them.

Perhaps the book’s greatest strength is how it presents itself in such a way as to work on multiple levels, allowing an adult, or a child, or an adult reading with a child to all enjoy the book all while getting Cantero’s message across.

It features a toned down, classically cartoonish art style by Cantero that’s wildly different from the excellent drawings in his previous book Otto Vol. 1 and it’s well suited for the comic.

Sure, there’s certain to be some people who disagree with his agenda, but I found it a joy to read.

 

Santa vs Dracula

Santa vs Dracula

Enter the digital pages of Santa vs Dracula and you’ll immediately be drawn in by the bright, warm look of the art, but any pretenses that this is a book whose characters don’t face some pretty serious threats is shattered almost immediately when Santa is led to a bloodied Easter Bunny who dies in his arms.

That’s not to say this is a serious book. In fact it’s charm (and there’s lots of it) comes from how brilliantly it balances the humor with characterization with consequences and action in a way rarely found.

So since the holiday season is about to begin you have a book in Santa vs Dracula you should check out, no matter if Halloween is your favorite night  or it’s the Christmas season you’re looking forward to.

 

The Evil Of Oz

Evil Of Oz

Since we’re talking about Halloween how about checking out The Evil Oz Oz, a dark and twisted sequel to the beloved classic.

The art is unquestionably the star here, and if there’s one book in this review list I wouldn’t mind getting a physical copy of it’s The Evil Of Oz. So when you’re reading it make sure it’s on a tablet or computer large enough to highlight the images because there’s a real strong chance this is going to be the best looking book you read this year, it’s that well done. Therefore worth it’s somewhat hefty price tag, even in a digital version.

 

2085: Imperium Contigency

2085 Imperium Contingency

Santa vs Dracula and The Evil Of Oz both take familiar characters and put new spins on them, and so does 2085: Imperium Contingency, though it may not seem that way when you scan the available books to purchase on Comixology.

I literally decided to try this book because I thought it was a neat sounding title, but I had no idea what it meant, unlike the 2 books mentioned above.

Nothing ventured nothing gained, right?

And gain I did, though it took a bit to convince me. The deconstruction of familiar super hero archetypes has been happening for decades now through books like Watchmen of course, or The Golden Age or Marvels. More recently we’ve seen it done well from smaller publishers like Comixtribe’s The Standard, or Paul Jenkins work on Deathmatch. So as I began 2085 I had a bit of a closed mind. After all, what could this book give me that was new?

Well, how about a really well told story.

There’s long scenes of dialogue in this book where it seems like little is happening, but as I was drawn into that dialogue and characterization I found myself turning page after page fascinated by the realistic characters who didn’t always act the way I thought they would, but instead in an organic way that they would if they actually existed.

It’s great to follow in this book and literally see creator Erik Whalen’s getting better at his art from beginning to end, but his future, I believe, is as a writer. Hey, even his antagonist’s actions are atypical, and that’s the type of thing that made this book so refreshing.

 

Lord

Lord

Speaking of books that aren’t what you expect.

Are you scared by horror movies? Myself, not many have ever really given me any jumps. How about a well written novel? For me, maybe there was 1 or 2 that have gotten to me.. Maybe. How about comic books? Have you ever read one that you found frightening? I hadn’t… And then I read Lord.

Seriously, this story got to me. It crept into my mind and disturbed me, sitting there lie a worm eating an apple as I tried to move on from it.

I think it’s because it seemed so real, so plausible, and the characters so seemingly normal hiding the truly evil acts to come. If you’re a fan of psychological horror like Let Me In or The Wicker Man (the good one with Christopher Lee, not the catastrophic Nic Cage remake) then you owe it to check out Lord, but if it sounds too intense for you, I hardly blame you.

 

Xampu: Lovely Losers

Xampu

Roger Cruz is a some what polarizing figure in comics. He’s drawn numerous X-Men related titles over the years but has also been accused of lifting from other artists and in doing so plagiarizing their work early in his career. Any lingering questions about his abilities though should be put to rest now with the Comixology Submit Release of his brilliant if oddly titled Xampu.

I’ve always felt that everyone’s life has an interesting story to tell, and Xampu is evidence that is true. Examining the lives of several characters over the course of many years the story presents a roller coaster of emotions and poignancy, just like real life. You may not 100% know people like the ones in Xampu’s pages, or even 100% like them if you do, but you will understand the core of the characters motivations, because you’re a human being just like them.

With a look and style reminiscent of the underground comics of the 1970’s you won’t forget Xampu, or the incredible art. Rarely have I seen a book where the personality traits of a character are so brilliantly portrayed even before the dialogue comes into play. The design is absolutely tremendous.

When the validity of comic books as an art form is discussed, Xampu: Lovely Losers can be held up an example of what the medium can accomplish.

 

Teacher Strips Vol. 1: True Stories from a Classroom

Teacher Strips

Being a teacher isn’t easy. And if you think it is then read Teacher Strips.

The people in our schools teaching our children are as perfectly flawed and funny as everyone else, and this comic strip does as brilliant a job of portraying that as anything else I’ve ever come across.

We wish they had all the answers, and made all the right moves, but writer / artist (and real life teacher) Stu Rase humanizes the teachers and students in slice of life moments proving this isn’t always the case, most bravely at times pointing the finger at himself for not having the strength of character to always do the right thing.

Usually a light, and often very funny book, a few of the strips bring you back to earth and to near tears because, unfortunately, not every student’s life is a happy one. It’s these moments that make the laughs even bigger and more important though, and I respect the teachers of this world a little more after reading this book, and see them as human beings more than ever, warts and all.

 

Roy’s Boys Vol. 1: Year One

Roy's Boys

And here’s the completely different type of a comic strip. We go from the real life poignancy of Teacher Strips to Roy’s Boys. It’s rude, crude, and seriously, seriously funny.

The foul mouthed and absurd adventures of Roy and Shane will make you laugh if you’re willing to embrace the immature side of yourself. But don’t be surprised if by the end you find that you feel like Roy and Shane are like 2 close friends who you’ve been living with and seeing growing for a while. Like all comic strip books the real success lies not just in making you laugh, but in making you relate to the characters before you even know it.

 

Why I Hate Saturn #1

Why I hate Saturn

Why I Hate Saturn is on Comixology Submit.

No.

You don’t understand.

WHY I HATE SATURN IS ON COMIXOLOGY SUBMIT!!!

That means you can now get the best thing anytime ever digitally for a real fine price. And I mean it when
I say THE BEST THING EVER!

It’s been 2 decades since I first read Kyle Baker’s Why I Hate Saturn, and while he’s put out numerous brilliant books since (Truth: Red, White & Black, You Are Here, V2K: I Die At Midnight, Special Forces) I will always believe Why I Hate Saturn to be his greatest work.

But it goes beyond that. When I read Why I Hate Saturn for the first time I thought that’s it. That’s better than anything else. Better than any other comic, novel, TV show or movie. And I can’t really think of anything to top it since. I like it that much.

And one of the most amazing things is how well it holds up all for a book first published 25 years ago. But then again brilliant dialogue and keen observation of humanity never stops being relevant, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

So let me say it one more time for you all, to really drive the point home.

Why I Hate Saturn is on Comixology Submit!

 

E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams Part One

E.X.O.

No, not that XO…

There’s a reason that E.X.O. got a bunch of press not only from major news media outlets within Africa but abroad, it’s a rip roaring super hero adventure created by Nigerian Roye Okupe and set in the future of his home country.

It’s refreshing to see a book like this NOT done by one of the big 2 publishers that features a young reluctant hero. It’s reminiscent of the feeling you got in reading past stories of other, more established, teen heroes, but in a good way. Think of how relatable Spider-Man was when you were a kid as an example.

Extremely likeable, exciting, and smart, E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams Part One feels fresh and, given the background of the character and the book’s creator, somewhat important. But the main reason to buy is the quality of the book, it’s a really fun read. You could drop just a buck to get the first issue and check out if you like it, but honestly it takes a bit for the story to kick into gear, so I suggest dropping the whole $10 for Part One and enjoy the whole thing the way it was meant to be read.

And then join me in anxiously waiting for Part Two in the Spring of 2016.

 

And now to highlight a couple of non submit books that come to us from a lesser known publisher, Delcourt. If you’re a French Language reader you likely are already familiar with Delcourt who publishes many American comics such as Walking Dead, Hellboy, Spawn and Star Wars for the Franco-Belgian market. 

In addition to those they produce numerous books for this market under their Soleil imprint featuring home grown French language comics. Now, through the wonder of digital distribution and Comixology they are being made available in English for readers in other parts of the world under an imprint called, not surprisingly, Delcourt-Soleil in English. Here are a couple that have caught my eye so far.

 

Alice Matheson

Alice Matheson

Are You all zombied out? I honestly wouldn’t blame you if you were, zombies are everywhere now a days. It may be too much in fact. That would be a shame though if you are all zombied out, because a book like Alice Matheson shows great potential while treading the heavily populated zombie waters.

Alice is essentially a nurse in a hospital who’s a cold hearted serial killer, using her position to do away with the healthy in a way that doesn’t arouse suspicion.

Honestly, that’s about all that we learn about Alice in this first issue, as much of it after she opens the story is spent establishing the setting within the hospital during the zombie outbreak and the supporting characters.

It’s a little early to say for sure how this series will play out but it shows great potential and it’s a chance to jump on early. It’s obviously good enough that Delcourt is willing to make it one of their first translated books, and it should be very interesting to see how a seemingly innocent but actually very evil and intelligent lead character handles a zombie apocalypse.

 

Promethee

Promethee

Describing a book that’s as mind bending an experience as Promethee is not easy. It mixes mythology, theology, science and science fiction in an absolutely amazing way. You actually feel smarter after reading an issue of Promethee. Impressive indeed.

Quite honestly some of the Delcourt titles I’ve tried I’ve had some difficulty reading, and I couldn’t say if that was due to my own mindset at the time of trying them or perhaps issues with the translation to English failing to connect. This isn’t a problem with Promethee though, and that’s especially notable considering how dialogue heavy a book this is.

Please don’t be put off by that last line about it being dialogue heavy. Unlike some books where the dialogue just seems unnecessary here it’s fascinating stuff, so well researched and vital to the book as well as extremely interesting.

Honestly if I was to go on about this book I’d just be gushing. It has so many characters, so many subplots, and yet you don’t get lost in it. The story itself involves an a seemingly impossible event occurring for 13 straight days at 13:13 O’Clock. An example is every plane in the air crashing at exactly that time, causing a loss of life in the millions. But because this event is treated with such gravity and realism it doesn’t feel like a plot point to be shrugged off as part of a fictional story the way it would in so many other comics. It’s the opposite effect that occurs. I was left thinking if this happened this is how the media and people would react. And somehow then this Sci-Fi story started to feel plausible, and the thought became frightening.

I recommend this book on the highest level to those looking for something with more depth than just the next beat em up super hero fair. Promethee plays out like a Science Fiction epic that should be brought to a major TV Network like HBO or Showtime with the highest of production values, because that’s what it would deserve.

 

WTP

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