Here's the second part of my look at the indie and self-published comics I picked up at the New York Comic-Con a couple of weeks ago. The level of quality was surprisingly consistent and high, especially among the books I picked out and wasn't just handed for free. Check out the first part here.
BrainFood Comics) Now this is just awful. This eight-page preview book features terrible writing and amateurish art in its story of the titular superhero, whose nonsensical origin story takes up the first two pages. I guess this is supposed to be funny, with Donald Trump as the villain and his hairpiece as a sentient alien parasite, but it's just jumbled and unnecessarily vulgar. The character design is really ugly, and artist Jeff Cohen's spatial sense is completely off, making the art look flat and static. Definitely one to avoid.
Blacklist Studios) This comic about an Elvis-impersonating ex-pro wrestler who fights demons is basically a Hellboy rip-off, right down to its color palette full of earth tones and its jagged, angular art style. But it's an amusing little Hellboy rip-off, with a few good quips from the main character, a cool-looking demon battle and creative character designs. Daniel Bradford's art may owe a lot to Mike Mignola, but it's still quite good, and his storytelling is solid. The plot is silly and simple but entertaining. I could definitely see these guys doing a book for Image or Dark Horse.
Cellar Door Publishing) Like most anthologies, this is a mixed bag, although overall the bad outweighs the good. Based on the title, I was expecting a series of dark noir tales, but only two of the five pieces fit in that category. One, by George T. Singley and Ethen Beavers, has stylish art but a very confusing story, while the other, by Vinton Heuck, is overwritten in a pulpy way but captures the noir visual style in a way reminiscent of Sean Phillips' work on Criminal. The rest of the stories are a mix of one-joke gags and odd misfires, including a lame heavy-handed anti-gun control sci-fi piece by Mark Winters.
Draw More Inc.) I read through this comic twice, and I am still completely baffled. It seems to take place in some dystopian future, or perhaps an alternate present. Something about the world is different, although it's not clear what. The main character gets carjacked, some woman is murdered and her organs are stolen (maybe?), and then the main character is behind it all somehow. I don't know. The whole thing is told with barely any dialogue, and while Ochoa's stark black-and-white art with no gray tones is appealing, his storytelling clearly leaves something to be desired. The end promises another issue to come, and perhaps things will become clearer at that point, but I won't be bothering to find out.
Wendover (Scott Malchus & Jeff Marsick/Jonathan Burkhardt, Double Cross) I admit I picked this up almost solely because it's set in Wendover, Utah, a little town on the Utah/Nevada border that I drove through once on a cross-country trip. Wendover is immediately adjacent to West Wendover, which is in Nevada and has a bunch of casinos. The two towns, and the two states, are divided by a giant white line painted in the middle of the main road, with "Utah" written on one side and "Nevada" on the other. They're also in different time zones, but are otherwise entirely contiguous. My friend and I amused ourselves thinking of the theoretical divide between the Wendovers, one with legalized gambling and the Pacific time zone, the other with strict liquor laws, no gambling and the Mountain time zone. Anyway, this comic has nothing to do with any of that, but it's still pretty good. It's a mix of vampire horror and pulp detective story, with a Los Angeles gumshoe headed to the titular town to investigate the disappearance of his nephew. Seems that Wendover is suffering from a rash of vampire-related disappearances, and the local police are helpless to do anything about it. This first issue is mostly set-up (the detective hasn't even gotten to town yet), but it's an intriguing mix of styles, and Burkhardt's scratchy art creates a nice foreboding atmosphere. The author's note at the back explains that this first issue took two and a half years to create; I hope it doesn't take another two and a half years to produce a second one.