Story, Art and Cover by Matt Kindt
I always like when it’s just one guy making his comic book. Seems like the underdog, ya know? Like small businesses up against the big corporate conglomerate, the little comic book makers bring BIG comics, leaving their own images in the gigantic wake of corporate America. And I do so LOVE to support small business! These are the people that do what they do because they really love and live their craft…not just for the money, added bonus as it may be. So, when something like this (or like The Toking Dead in my previous comic book review) is brought to my attention, I am compelled to check it out.
This was such an odd reading for me. It reminded me of one of those movies where nothing outwardly makes any sense for like half the movie, yet somehow you still have an understanding of what’s going on. Those are some of the hardest to summarize and review. This was my best attempt…
Meru is a young woman and the main character of this story…so far. I have a feeling things are going to get pretty weird here. We start with scenes of murder (always a plus) and violence. We have a narrator that is guiding us through the panels, frame by frame almost but, in the grand scheme of things that does little to help the flow of the story.
We soon learn about an incident that happened with a flight two years ago. Apparently, an entire flight of people suddenly woke up on a plane while it was still in the air with no idea of who they were or how they got there. Husbands didn’t recognize their wives, pilots didn’t recognize flight crew…nothing. They couldn’t call for help either because, nobody remembers anything about how to use the cabin radio or how to even fly the plane. They are contacted by Control and the amnesiac pilots get help landing the plane. All are accounted for except one passenger, Henry Lyme. They call this incident Amnesia Flight 815.
Next, we get to really meet Meru. She’s a writer, of sorts. She’s broke at the moment. Her agent is hounding her for some new material. Knowing that one passenger has never been found, she insists to her agent that she write about the Amnesia Flight. Yet, Meru is informed by her agent that they are tired of hearing about this story and she hasn’t had a selling book in two years. She’s told she needs to give up on the flight story and just start writing something, anything to try to get out of her rut. But, Meru stands firm in her belief that she is going to find the missing passenger and that she actually has interviews with survivors set up for the week already. Her agent gives the go ahead but, won’t shell out any more money for the project.
Later, Meru is contacted by her agent, who wants to send her to Mexico to check out a very unusual happening. Not having any money doesn’t wrench this plan because the agent sends her money (oh sure, you’ll send money for YOUR story but not hers…hmmmm).
While this whole phone exchange is taking place there’s a man watching Meru. As Meru finishes up, this gentleman makes his own phone call.
Meru travels to Mexico.
The guy that was watching her has a partner in crime. The two men follow Meru to Mexico and hang out in a bar (I think) as she turns in for the night. Our creepy spy-guy goes to the bathroom where he is attacked, some guy trying to break his neck or choke him. But, before the assailant can accomplish that spy-guy gets a shot fired from his gun and the bullet hits the assailant. Still, spy-guy is killed and the assailant flees. The partner hears the gunshot and runs into the bathroom to help. He finds the bullet on the floor in a pool of blood, the shot apparently a through and through.
Meanwhile, Meru is hopping on a little dirt bike type motorcycle and riding to Santa Teresa, Mexico. Once she gets there she finds a town of devastation in all forms.
There are people there that won’t eat or even respond to food. Nearly starved to death these townspeople just sit and make these clay pots and paint them. The children seemed to not have been infected and they kept trying to feed the adults until the food just plumb ran out. Then she goes into a building where there are thousands of these pots. All the same size, all the same shape, all have the same design on them. A design of an animal of some sort. After some research, Meru traces the animal design to Zanzibar.
Getting her thoughts together to pitch the need for another plane ticket to her agent, a knock sounds out at her door. It’s a man claiming to be the police but, Meru knows this is not the case. He pushes his way into her room. He tells her his name is Bill Falls and that he is CIA (likely story) and they are in danger and have to leave there…now.
Turns out, Bill is spy-guy’s partner and whether it’s on her agenda or not, Meru’s going with him. They climb out of the hotel room window (not in this country) and make off for safety as we see two people chasing them, a man and a woman.
Now, I admit, I left a lot of little stuff out and I made the story sound so much simpler than it probably really is but, some of it is written in like an ADD format or something, so you have to be able to switch thoughts quickly at a couple of points.
The artwork, although sketch-like, is still good in my opinion. I wouldn’t classify this style as a favorite of mine but it’s still good. It’s like sketches colored with watercolors. So, nothing is very bold. It’s all muted and softer than what I tend to like.
I will try to find the second issue. I’m curious to see where this is going. I am reserving full judgment on the series until I read another issue.
Created By: Benjamin K. Bartlett III and Jeffrey T. Homan
Written By: Benjamin K. Bartlett III and Jeffrey Homan
Artwork By: Eric Yep
Additional graphics and design by Jeffrey Homan
This AUTGRAPHED issue was graciously sent to me by the writers and creators of The Toking Dead. I have been seeing teasers for this for quite a while on Twitter and Instagram (find them at Instagram @thetokingdead1 and Twitter @thetoking) and I knew I just had to get my hands on a copy of this. I then saw a teaser about how these guys were signing freshly printed copies for their hard-working staff in appreciation for all of their contributions and I thought “Wow! These guys are really cool. That’s so awesome of them to do.” Then, I was lucky enough to get my very own copy of the Premier Issue and I read it as soon as it arrived.
This is truly a very unique comic book. I know of nothing like this anywhere else. I think these guys really put their hearts and souls into this business. I don’t want to call it a project because, it way surpasses that. This is a true accomplishment.
Now, I’m not going to tell you what happens. I know that’s different than normal but, I don’t want to spoil anything. This just released last week. I want to give you all time to get your own signed copy.
However, I will tell you that this is a wicked killer issue. There’s plenty of action throughout the whole issue. And the comedy is true stoner comedy. These characters have the kinds of conversations EVERY weed smoker has had. These are two guys, Duke and Tobi, that own a marijuana dispensary. I’m still trying to figure out how much of their own supply they are smoking. They have an employee, Piper (a hardcore chick with a major attitude), who gets caught up in the turmoil afoot as well.
And what turmoil is that? A Zombie attack! (And these are some gross looking zombies, for real.)
Stacked high (no pun intended but, still funny now that I think of it) with page turning vigor, we join Duke, Tobi and Piper as they not only try to figure out what is going on (which can be a slightly slower process for some stoners) but, also as they try to figure out a plan to deal with their new surrounding and apparent lifestyle, which is about to drastically change. We’ll have to keep reading to find out if it’s for the better or worse.
I want to say that the artwork in this newly produced series is phenomenal. The main characters look like the writers. Each page is a whole new experience as once you start reading, you can’t stop. The detail that is expressed in each frame is surely a testament to the incredible talent of the artist who, not only gives the visual images for the story but, also helps to bring the words to actual life. This artwork is incredibly realistic looking, which is something I have always been fascinated with. The portrayals of the zombies are by far some of the best I have ever seen. And if I’m being completely honest here, I tend to be really critical about zombies. I don’t want just pale wrinkled skin and dark circles around the eyes. That’s a 1960s zombie. We have so much more available to us now, I want to see some really gruesome looking undead. And these guys nailed it!!!
I would advise ANYONE to check this series out! I think it’s going to be a great series to read and I think anyone can find the attitude and sarcasm funny as hell (unless you just have no sense of humor and are so against marijuana usage that you just absolutely refuse to support anything even remotely connected to the subject). I, however, anxiously await the next issue!!!
Get your copy at their Etsy store HERE
Visit The Toking Dead at:
Go show the guys your support! This comic book is worth it!!!
Story: Anthony Bourdain/Joel Rose
Artwork: Salty Horse-Leonardo Manco/The Heads-Mateus Santolouco
Cover Art: Paul Pope
Colors: Jose Villarrubia
Letters: Sal Cipriano
This is the second issue in this series. I was hoping things would get better but, they may have plateaued. In this issue we have two stories. We’ll start there and then I’ll tell you what I think…
We have a wealthy man by the name of Don Haro. He loves horsemeat. Lives for horsemeat. Craves horsemeat. He’ll do practically anything to get it. But, it wasn’t always so.
At first, he treated it like a delicacy, a special culinary treat that he got only once in a while. Then, he started wanting it more and more until it was all he wanted to dine on.
Now, since he is a wealthy man, he owns many things. Many expensive things. Included in his many possessions are prized horses that he keeps in his pasture. One by one he eats these stunning creatures until only one remains. It’s an old warhorse, old and stringy, unable to work or ride anyone. The man orders that even this horse be prepared and served at his table.
Once killed, the man devours every bit of the animal. However, the horse’s spirit was not devoured with the rest of it. The spirit appears before Don Haro, demanding Haro’s flesh as penance for eating the horse’s family and friends and proceeds to kill Don Haro.
The next story is The Heads:
This story starts with a young chef’s apprentice losing his job. A man he meets in an alley says he has work for him if he wants it.
He goes to the man’s house, where they sit down with others that live there for dinner. The man starts talking about all his wrong doings, that he bought and served black market cheese to save some money and his shortcut caused a customer to die.
Now, he seeks to help those who have sinned and help them repent.
Declaring he has not sinned and has nothing to repent for, the young apprentice goes to his new room to sleep.
He is awakened by noises. He goes to investigate and finds all the people from dinner sitting in the kitchen, headless. At first, he thinks they’ve been murdered but, there is no blood. Also, the area of separation is completely smooth and clean.
The heads appear and start flying around like angry, hungry insects. The apprentice knows from stories his grandmother told him that these things can’t live without the body being alive. If he can kill the bodies, the heads will die too.
So, he tosses the headless bodies out the window and they plummet to their deaths. Something goes wrong and the heads get angry and attack the apprentice. One head, the head of the man who brought him there, chomps at the apprentice’s sleeve and attaches itself to the sleeve.
Seeking to escape from this horror, he leaves, even with the head hanging off his sleeve. But, in public, with a head hanging off his arm, he is quickly arrested for murder. Upon examination of the head by an expert, the determination is made that the removal of the head is too smooth to have been murder and he is released.
Later, he is accosted by a robber. At first, the robber is disgusted by the head on his arm. Then he starts to think that this might be a good prop to assist in his robberies and requests the young apprentice to hand it over.
The young man tries to explain what has happened, why the shirt sleeve is still in its mouth and why the robber shouldn’t take it. The robber doesn’t listen and takes the head anyway. Now that it doesn’t have anything in its mouth it is free to bite something else, including the robber. The head attacks the robber and he dies.
Okay, I’m still waiting for the WOW factor here. I don’t think these stories are all that good and the artwork isn’t much better. I am left wondering if these are stories they are making up or if these are stories are something that Bourdain picked up during his travels. At first, I thought maybe they were like fables or something, and they might be, but, I just don’t think they are done well at all.
The stories are choppy. The endings are terrible and they don’t flow well for the reader. In the second story, we aren’t even really given character names. It all seems sort of random. And there is no explanation as to why the things that happen in each story happen. It’s just…blah.
I am not going to recommend this to anyone. At all.
Written: W. Maxwell Prince
Artwork: Martin Morazzo
Colors: Chris O’Halloran
Letters: Good Old Neon
In this second issue of the Ice Cream Man series we read a tale about two junkies, Jim and Karen, hard up for a fix and wicked down on their luck.
Jim is “dope sick”. He is going through withdrawal and needs a fix just to feel even remotely human. Karen, who is not in as bad of shape as Jim, feels horrible watching him suffer and she decides to go out and get some money and score for them on her own, even though Jim usually goes with her.
Meanwhile, there’s a couple in town dealing with their own issues. The old man is griping about everything he can think of as his female companion is fixing his dinner. He is bitter and mean and she’s getting tired of it. She storms out the door and he follows after her, begging for forgiveness. The lady just yells at him to get in the car so they won’t be late for his doctor appointment and they get in the car, preparing to leave.
Now, our junkie Karen is out and about and sees an ice cream truck left unattended. She decided to steal the truck and, in her haste, she crashes into the old couple as they are pulling out of their driveway.
The old man, Phil, is injured and Alice, his wife (I think) is trying to render aid. Karen seizes the opportunity and pulls out a gun and demands their money. Alice berates Karen, insulting her on every level. This makes Karen mad and in a split-second decision, she shoots Alice, killing her.
Karen runs home and find the ice cream man in her house, with Jim. Jim is still sick and the ice cream man says he can help.
He offers Karen the fix that is needed…but, there’s a catch. There is only enough dope for one person. So, only one of them gets the fix, the other stays sick until they die, get another fix or detox.
Karen takes all of the drugs for herself and overdoses, dying, allowing Jim to live.
In the aftermath, Jim goes to meetings and is clean for at least a week. He is walking through the park he used to go to with Karen and holding his One Week Sobriety Coin. He stands in front of Karen’s favorite pond and chucks the coin into the water. The he walks away.
I am really liking this series. I like that the stories have the one main character of the Ice Cream Man and that he seems to be such an antagonist. He’s a childhood villain in an adult’s horror comic book. Although he seems fairly innocent to look at initially, he quickly turns into something devilish in each issue.
The stories are not only horror based but, they have a dark sadness to them as well. For instance, in this story, we not only have the two junkies aching for their fix but, we have a bitter, hateful old man that is verbally abusive to the person who is taking care of him, as he is almost disabled and cannot do for himself. Both situations are inherently sad and depressing. Yet, the old lady gets to say her piece and doesn’t cower before Karen when she holds the gun on her. And Karen sacrifices her life so that Jim can live and have a chance at a real life. There’s a dark beauty in each of those things.
I would recommend this series to anyone who likes dark and somewhat emotional comic books. But, you have to be prepared for an imperfect, not-so-happy ending.
Written: Jesse Blaze Snider
Artwork: Stephen Mooney
Colors: Jason Jenson
Letters: Brian J. Crowley
This is a comic book that is supposed to detail the prequel to Strangeland, the film. It was put out by Fangoria Comics. Jesse Blaze Snider is Dee Snider’s eldest son. Unfortunately, this series was closed down after this one issue. But, I wanted to share this with you since I have a review of the movie posted (see full movie review HERE).
The story is so basic it doesn’t need much description. It’s just basically an introduction of Carleton Hendricks, who goes by PierceEvil instead of CaptHowdy. He is the same character as he was in the film. This just seems like it was going to give us a deeper look into his background and what made him the way he is.
I personally, don’t have a lot of questions as to why Hendricks is the way he is, however, an explanation would be nice. I love new information, whether it be about fiction or fact.
The artwork in this issue is incredible. It is the true essence of what the movie would be if it were played out on paper. The colors are vibrant and bold. Everything has a total “in your face” factor to it.
This comic book also carries a great creep factor like the movie does. I would have loved to see this fully developed into all four originally intended issues and released.
***Final Note: While searching for images for this review I found information about The Scream Factory having picked up this series and releasing all issues digitally in 2008. I will be looking into that to see if I can get the last three issues.