Mi Sweethart

Reviewed by JustKay

Overview

Badass super agent in her jammies kicking people in the face and letting out her dog, which is also a human… but still totally a dog.

6424Review

Hey you kooky comic readers, thanks for joining me this week when we take a look at ‘Mi Sweethart’ by well I’d love to tell you but the fact is the creator didn’t put their name on it or the name of the artist. I don’t even know if they are in fact the same person. I’d love to give them credit but seriously, ya making it kind of hard on me to do so.

(PS – after using our all mighty Google overlord the author of the comic is Sam Head, however I’m keeping my opening because WHY WOULDN’T YOU PUT YOUR NAME ON THE THING YOU SUBMITTED TO A REVIEWER~)

Writing

So its not so strong on its plot, this issue is more then likely just being used to introduce the main character and set up for bigger things in the series. Not a ton of things get explained and you have alot of fact, names, organizations, etc all thrown at you with gloss over details or more often no details. There is a clear story line in this issue straight from the beginning that sets to reinforce the universe they are trying to create for the series. Points there as that is a very hard thing to do.

Ugh~ I freaking love Mi~. Now don’t get me wrong the character is by no means perfect, in fact at this point she comes off as a little one dimensional. BUT she is a female super agent/spy who isn’t 1) male gazed to the point of being ineffective at her job, 2) innocent or obtuse, 3) clearly just there to be rescued. Mi is a badass, swearing, vulgar woman who drops dirty lines about blow jobs after taking a sword to the face. I really hope the creator takes the time to add depth to her character in the following issues because otherwise they are going to shoot themselves in the foot hard.

Art6e7b38a2f1e60355b794dd89b86a47d3._SX176_QL80_TTD_

The style and the story go really well together. Although I am a bit disappointed that the quality of the style we see on the issue’s cover isn’t the quality we get inside the comic. The creator picked a great style for the story but its execution ended up rather muddled and rushed looking. So the inconsistency of quality through out the issue is a little jarring and definitely knocks you out of trying to be absorbed by the story.

Lettering is nicely broken up into easily read chunks since the motto of the creator seems to be show don’t tell. Something I talked about in the writing section that I ~love~ seeing comic creators do. If I wanted to just read pages of text I’d literally pick up one of the dozens and dozens of books I have pilled up from recent book store trips. Only two things to pick on when it came to the lettering: the broken record one of it being in the standard default comic font, and that at times the bubble and the lettering seemed a little blurred like maybe that layer in the PDF has been tweaked.

Novelty

I know there are probably tons of super agent ultra spy comics out there, just as I know that I could drown in the number of super hero comics. But there is something about this comic series thus far that leads me to be excited to see where its going. The why they set up the casual nature of the agency she works for, her reputation, and some of the superbly ludicrous claims that turn out to be true. All of it creates this space where the absurdity of Saturday morning cartoons meets the vulgarity and brutality of Archer.

CsOlnUbWIAAN3fZOverall

Not a bad comic actually. From the title I was actually expecting either a romance or a play off of a certain Italian plumber whose name I’ve been assured the use of is well outside our budget. The art style really lends itself to the sometimes off color brash story and characters. Still not quite sure they cleared enough stuff up for the reader before cutting off for the next issue, but I will admit that they are leaving a bit of a hook to come back and read Issue #2. I’d definitely add it to my list of downloadable comics to keep an eye on for updates.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 7/10 [Unique style, quality inconsistencies]

Lettering: 6/10 [standard fare, sometimes reads blurry]

Writing: 7/10 [Plot built universe, great potential for Mi]

Novelty: 7/10 [Nice mix of absurd and vulgarity]

Overall: 6.75/10

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A More Colorful Review – Paper Girls

Reviewed by JustKay

PaperGirls_Vol01-1Overview

A bizarre tale of weirdness laced with strange from beginning to end. Also they definitely have way too many undelivered newspapers to be keeping their jobs after this.

Review

Join me today while we take a look over Paper Girls: written by Brian K Vaughan, art by Cliff Chiang. Its going to be a bit of a weird ride so hang in there with me while dive right into it.

Writing

To be honest I’m not entirely sure what I just read. Was it enjoyable, I think. Was it rememberable, sort of. More then anything its a very strange drawn out tale that leaves you utterly confused. I’m not sure it was entirely by design. I just read a whole volume of the stuff and I’m not even sure what’s going on. Its like a bit of jumbled writing was created in hopes of creating a compelling story line but they forgot that you need to explain or show things to your reader so they can become invested in it. As things stand I could walk away from the story right now and not be too upset with not finding out what happens.

As 12 year old girls go they aren’t believable. They read more as seniors in high school if Paper-Girls-2-Headeranything. Especially who I guess they are trying to paint as the protector of the group. What 12 year old girl smokes cigarettes, is accused of being a loan shark rolling people, and decides having gun is the best course of action? So for characters they get docked on this one. The way the girls act, respond, and talk vastly differs from what they are trying to portray them as. But it does add to the extremely bizarre vibe of the whole series.

Art

The art is nicely done, though the character’s faces do tend to lose definition sometimes to the point of being creepy. The simple colored backgrounds when focusing on characters though lends itself very well to the story telling. Some of the panel choices though seem off. Why would I want to either crane my neck side ways or hold my comic like some playboy magazine to be able to tell what’s going on?

tumblr_nvvfqhRlVz1smnk5ao6_500Lettering is again the standard font for comics, but they somehow get a little bit more intonation out of it with the text bubbles themselves then I’ve seen previous series do. Good on them for figuring out how to make that font a little bit more bearable. I hope in the future maybe they decide to jump from the standard font to bring a little bit more life into their characters and the story.

Diversity

It has an all female lead assemble cast which is a cool thing to see. They are all young girls, which while cool to see in a comic, is questionable since they act more like adults in a sometimes vulgar way I wouldn’t want a little kid exposed to. The cast does include diverse races and ethnicity though so points there.

Overall

Probably a story you’ll have to read a few times just to really nail what the hell is actually happening in it. It feels like you are just kind of getting thrown into things without really building any connection to the characters or any understand of the universe. But I think the main cast is feeling a bit like that as well. Hopefully we will see a little more structure from the series as it progresses to make it more approachable to readers.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 7/10 [Good style, missing details]

Lettering: 6/10 [standard fare]

Writing: 6/10 [What did I even just read]

Diversity: 6/10 [Gender and ethnicity check]

Overall: 6.25/10

A More Colorful Review – Sex Criminals

Reviewed by JustKay

OverviewZZ06C1C2D9

Ever wanted to make time stop while cumming? Well that is a very specific taste in powers but somehow I’ve found a comic series for you. Just don’t ask me how.

Review

On the docket is Sex Criminals Volume 1 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. Someone submitted this one to me to look over as it unabashedly took on the topics of sex, exploration, and weirdness. This one is a bit of a weird trip so make sure your parents aren’t looking over your shoulder cause we are about to jump into this sexy mess and see what’s up.

Writing

So they made the really weird choice of how to tell you the story. Pretty much constantly jumping back and forth between present and past without any clear line between the two alot of the time. While also sliding in the main character as she is in the present in the past to self narrate the story. If that sounded like a cluster fest then you are on the right track. The whole story is a jumbled ball of yarn that you have really no idea how to untangle.

1The characters for the most part are cardboard cut outs with some paint thrown on them for depth. They are a standard white cis couple who happen to have time stopping cum powers. That they then precede to use in childish and sometimes illegal ways. Not a whole lot of depth or character development there. And there few attempts to try by giving a tragic backstory to one and mental diagnoses to the other fall flat in an almost hilarious way.

Art

Truly the redeeming factor of this series so far. The art is very well done and I just love the way the portray the times where time is frozen. It gives a clear indication when its happening and when its started back up again. I also enjoy that they’ve taken some liberties with reality when it comes to some of the scenes in order to drive how the point that the writing seems to fall flat on.1641824

I feel like a broken record saying this some weeks but, standard comic font. Come on
people give me something else to work with~. I know its the standard cause its easy to read but it does nothing for your story or to give us insight into your characters. Thankfully at least the text bubbles where easy to follow, even if the same can’t be said about the story itself.

Diversity

Not really alot of diversity in the normal check boxes.. I will give them kudos for tackling the topics of sex and sexual experiences in a much more mature way then I’ve seen just about any other topic do. Not to say there isn’t humor, oh is there plenty of that. Low on the diversity scale though. The only bump I’m giving them is maybe the chance to portray some disorders down the line, but even that is riding on thin ice.

Overall

Its a weird ride with this series so far. Yeah it has an interesting concept but man did they not take the time to try and make it an easy thing to read. Lots of breaks and jumps in the story without any indication it was happening. Leading too me pausing and breaking myself out of the universe one to many times to check and see if it was another time jump. Art is fantastic though and lettering is readable. Despite the awkward writing I do suggest at least giving it a quick check out. Just maybe make sure you aren’t at work when you read it.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 7/10 [Lovely, really the redeeming quality]

Lettering: 6/10 [Standard fare]

Writing: 5/10 [Work on your editing please]

Diversity: 2/10 [Two white people, done]

Overall: 5/10

Ladies of Market Street

Reviewed by JustKay

OverviewIMG_0646_unh7g8

Women fighting back with little context to start and seemingly lots of sex.

Review

Now that I’ve gotten my new review column established and going weekly you’ll also be seeing me take a swing at some of the submissions we get through our website. For that you’ll notice that the majority of how I judge a comic is the same, and I’ll still point out diversity (both where it falls flat and where it succeeds). But instead of being graded on it separately it will be rolled into writing and replaced by novelty. Something that all of the reviewers here at ICR look for when going through submissions. Without further ado lets take a look at ‘Ladies of Market Street’, written by Emily Whitaker and art by Trey Baldwin.

Writing

While its a stereotype that all women in sex work were forced into it, and this does follow that a bit, you can also see them choosing to do it themselves in a far safer environment. I’m not saying there aren’t people who are forced into it the line of work but within the bounds of this comic series it reads a little too heavy on that narrative. But given that since this line of work is illegal in the US, which can lead to some seriously shady characters in it, I’ll give it a pass as it uses it as a staple column in the story. However I will point out that the story itself in this issue is a bit muddled. We seem to start at the end and then jump back in time without context, or without a clear division between past and present. In fact I didn’t even realize it was the past I was reading until we get to the point where it almost loops back around.

IMG_0648_h7bgbmYou aren’t really told anything about the characters accept that one of them has this intense need to protect another that spurs her to go to all these crazy lengths. This lack of definition for the characters leaves them to come off a bit like cut out stereotypes in this issue. Hopefully the creators fill them in more as the series continues, as they are now they don’t really hold any interest for the reader. In fact in the story they are used as little more the sexual objects. Something I’d really hoped this series wouldn’t do. And I’d like to point out before you all get up in a flame war over that statement that there is a difference between sexual objectification and expressing your sexual nature. But this review is neither the time or the place for that discussion.

Art

The art styles exaggerated features and cartoonish vibe let the creators bring some levity on what could otherwise quickly become a rather gritty topic.  I mean the bad guy shown in the first few frames looks like Popeye for gods sake. Though a more twisted version of him but I could fall down that rabbit hole of what happened to Popeye to bring him to this dark place, so lets continue. The choice to leave the inside strictly in black and white was a bad idea though. It dropped the detail and distinctions of the characters that we saw in the colored cover and served to make the story all the more confusing. In actuality while leaving in black and white might have saved them production costs it was another hole in the storytelling that hurt the readers experience, and may in turn hurt their readership and any future sales.

Even here the standard comic font strikes again. Though they make the attempt to Market_Steet_pg_1_wieb3fdistinguish the narration for the dialog through the text bubbles if you aren’t super familiar with comics it would be lost on you. In some areas the bubbles are really small breaking up information into a ton of chunks where its not needed, in others they dump a massive amount of text into one bubble that blocks up large portions of their art. A little bit more planning ahead of time would easily remedy this for any future issues.

Novelty

So I can honestly say I haven’t seen a comic like this before. Its a clear story built around the idea of sex workers taking their power back. Though the story is a bit muddled, as I discussed in the writing section, you kind of catch up to what is going on about midway-ish through the issue. The juxtaposition between the content of the comic and its art style creates this unique playground for the creators to work in to tell the story without it becoming overly gritty or grotesque.

Overall

The art style balances out the writing and the topic to help create a more enjoyable read. However the writing is a little lackluster and leave the reader having to pause and reread to make sure they know what is going on. Though even then it leaves you questioning just what the heck is going on. Standard font and weird chunks of dialogue leading to a readable but sub-par lettering throughout the book. I’d still recommend it for a read but unless we see improvements down the road I wouldn’t put it on your comic pull list.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 6.5/10 [great style for story, B&W bad choice]

Lettering: 5/10 [standard font, weird chunks]

Writing: 6/10 [Muddled, time jumps, and cut outs]

Novelty: 8/10 [Got to say I haven’t seen it before]

Overall: 6.38/10

Rose

Reviewed by JustKay

Rose2-e1472224543686-300x450Overview

What did I just read? A hot mess, that’s what. A hot mess made by a tweeked out jumpy puppy. I had such high hopes for you jumpy puppy.

Review

‘ello lovelies of the interwebs, today we are taking a look at ‘Rose’created by Cameron Davis. Its almost a solid 30 pages so lets not waste too much time chitchatting and just jump right into the next Indie Comic Review.

Writing

I just can’t even. I mean, wow. Lets put the mangled mess of the story structure to the side for a moment. This comic is a collection of short ones created for the web, which is perfectly acceptable. Some of my favorite comics have in fact grown into their own as webcomics first. However in this issue submitted to us they are all smashed together with only the first one having any real attempt at letting you know that its ended. Good thing too as the next story starts immediately after it, and that one is alright as well, but then everything takes a turn for the worst.

Lets come back to the mangled tangled nonsensical mess that the stories in the comic 34ot2Wissue devolve into. The first story I actually liked. It gave us a sense of the main character, gave us a peek into some of her relationships and who they are, and gave us a fun relate-able story that might have even happened to us as a kid. Second story was a little bit more strange but again it was funny and showed us the silliness of the main character and I can live with those kinds of stories as they serve a purpose. All great, major points were about to be laid down. And then it happened…the de-evolution of sensible mini story arcs into maddening unneeded humor devoid attempts at pandering to a juvenile audience (which frankly is kind of insulting as a reader).

I get that the main character is suppose to be a kid (though what age the creator can’t even seem to agree with themself) and I get that she is suppose to be in love with food. You had so much to work with to make a funny series with a wacky food loving main character. Instead you distilled her down to the bare minimum of what could be considered a realized character and made her a cheap cardboard cut out for the lolz. But you even managed to mess up the lolz!

Art

I actually don’t have alot of gripe about the art. Its a very Sunday morning comic strip feel to it, which is fine because (in theory anyways) it goes with the kind of story you want for a quick webcomic. I’ve actually seen alot of comics in this style that utilize its strengths to help further their antics and make a really great comic out of it. Personally I really like comics in this style because they tend to be the light hearted silly antic driven ones that you need after a tough work week. If the writing had been there, if the plot and characters had at all provided a base for the art to go off of, I think this would have been a really enjoyable read.

RvWU26Ah7X58inpF7k907xRNS1cGOlLGpnu07Ex1frTzNejbHkZtVcGYIZbrOchrVery much the standard comic font for the lettering but it does seem to be appropriately broken up. Not alot of complaint here either accept for my normal pleads to see something different (and function) that enhances the reader’s immersion into the universe. So as far as art and lettering go this comic finally gains some points.

Novelty

If this had been what it should have been, a humorous tale of a young girl in love with food who love herself, it would have been awesome. You don’t see alot of comics that portray a young girls relationship with food in one that isn’t over obsession (looking at your Rose) or an unhealthy one. It had such potentially to be a fun meaningful comic we don’t often get. Well we definitely didn’t get it here either.

Overall

I had really wanted to like this comic but it just kept hitting me over the head till I gave into not liking it. I can’t emphasis enough how insulting it is for a male to write a female main character and not even take the time to at least make her a person and not a whiny gluttony driven poor attempt at humor. Art I can forgive because it fit in with the feel of the series, its an issue made from a webcomic. Standard bland lettering is kind of the majority of what I see for these reviews, that’s fine. But the writing destroyed any chance this series had. Didn’t even give it a chance just shot it right in the face before it even left the starting line.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 5/10 [Quick Sunday paper comic strip art, goes with theme]

Lettering: 5/10 [Standard font, pretty baseline]

Writing: 1/10 [It has writing]

Novelty: 3/10 [Hope its not a repeat]

Overall: 3.5/10

A More Colorful Review – Rat Queens

rat-queens-vol-01-releasesOverview

Ever played a game of D&D and gotten hit by something from the GM that made you think “how screwed are we”? Well meet the badass, nonstop, crazy action and antics that come from that moment constantly happening in comic form.

Review

Today we are going to be talking rodents. Okay not real rodents more like Volume 1 of Rat Queens. Story by Kurtis Wiebe and art by Roc Upchurch take us on a journey of D&D proportions with a gang of gals that will blow your mind. Published by Shadowline Online and Image Comics.

Writing

Okay so the story is a little more then hetic and demands some series attention to keep up with everything that is going on. Its very unapologetically fast paced and perhaps borders on jumpy. But you get the feeling that is just how the characters lives are and come to accept it as another story telling device. Definitly not a comic you want to pick up just to have some fun with for that reason though. However it is throughly entertaining, if a little heavy especially if you really are paying attention to the details. We’ll get to a little bit more about that in the art section.

I mean a gang of women that just destroy shit, what’s not to love. You get the feeling that 13592412._SX540_the group has a lot of backstory together and a strong bond because of it. But you also get a feeling that each individual has a ton of backstory that maybe the others no nothing about. I’m pretty sure we are going to get to see at least one persons backstory come to the forefront in the next volume but I won’t ruin anything with spoilers on that. It does leave room for some interesting developments as a group dynamic though so it should be fun to watch play out.

Art

I’ve got to say Roc does some truly fantastic work. The colors in the background dynamically change to fit the scene and serve to enhance the storyline. And if you pay attention they use the art to further the story even more by embedding hints to things in the art throughout the volume about how things might turn out. Its worth reading a few times just for that fact. See if you can spot them all!

I also have to give a quick shout out to the use of panels in this comic. They weren’t just all squares or full pagers. There were quite a few unexpected panel set ups that were used very well for their purposes which really show a thought out plan between writer and artist when it came to the series. Kudos.

RatQueens_02_CVR_A_VIRGINAgain, I’m sure I’ve said this alot, standard lettering font. But at least with this series the bubbles are the correct sizes and you can in fact read everything. They aren’t confusing to follow the order of either which helps maintains the flow of the story. In fact they occasionally use the order of the text bubbles to guide the eyes over the art to reveal new things.

Diversity

Well I mean it is a dwarf, a smidgen, and two magic users. But even better is that despite it essentially being the “how screwed over are we” D&D game from hell personified they still managed to throw in diversity in a a few forms. The most obvious of which is their color pallet for characters is diverse. They don’t stand beside the misguided and horribly wrong notion that alot of fantasy stories do, in that there can only be one color. In the main group, the sub groups, and even the background characters of the town we see the use of different skin tones used freely. More impressive to me is that they slipped in some queer characters as well. Yes its not a comic that strictly handles anything that could make it be wholly diverse focused (except for the badass ladies taking names all over the place) but still the creators felt it was of a high enough priority that it comes through in the series. Kudos for the extra care in making a believable world.

Overall

A good read that I’m very much looking forward to reading the rest of. Lots of action, twists that never seem to end, and plenty of room for development of story lines and character growth. Plus I mean a ton of battles and just generally all of the awesome things from a good D&D campaign encounter.  What’s not to dig?

Metric Breakdown

Art: 8/10 [Lends itself to the verse, little hints throughout]

Lettering: 6/10 [Standard fare]

Writing: 7.5/10 [Lots of action, love direction, occasional feels a little rushed]

Diversity: 7/10 [I mean just look at the cover]

Overall: 7.13/10

A More Colorful Review – BashBack

Overview

When the world decides to beat down on the Queer community, the Queer community punches back. In this series full of violence, sex, language, and angry queers you better watch who you decide is worth a beating because they just might punch back.

Reviewtumblr_nejv76iCfG1qg4b06o1_500

This week we will be looking at Issue #0 of BashBack. A comic about a Queer Mafia written by Lawrence Gullo and Kelsey Hercs, with art from Fyodor Pavlov. This is an indie comic in the purest sense so if you’d like to get your hands on a copy after the review you can by their tumblr as they have recently done a Kickstarter to do the first physical prints of their comic.

Writing

The plot of the story is very much about showing and possible bleeding off some of the anger the Queer community has. When you are constantly attacked, degraded, and disregarded for who you are its really hard not to be pissed off and wanting to do something. In this series the writers focus that into a story about the Queer community protecting and providing for their own even if it means going outside of the law to do it. They are a Queer Mafia, a buffer between the hate groups and their people. It is really a very compelling story even if some of it comes off as extreme I believe that fits write in with the writers point for the series. All of the story elements pull you further into the world and you feel the justification, and perhaps the justice, behind the characters actions.

Screenshot 2016-05-26 14.54.17Man does this series have alot of characters! And its only Issue #0. Now while not all of them get fleshed out in this issue you get enough a feel for them both through the art, and their interactions with the main players of this issue to really make me believe there is alot there the writers can explore in future issues. Heck even what I consider to be the 5 characters this issue put in the spotlight already have alot of background and identity baked right into them. The way the talk, they manner they go about protecting people, their interactions with each other all of it serves to make you feel like these are fully realized people. Really interested to see how they make this work for them down the line.

Art

In contrast to the brightly down cover they’ve opted for purely black and white art inside. Which seems very strange at first but makes sense. They are trying to invoke that gritty feel that was achieved by other media left in black and white. The series is reaching back into the media knowledge of mafia and trying to put that to use to help us slide into the story line. Considering its all in black in white it is rather beautifully done, they don’t lose details because of it. Their characters are all still distinguishable and come with their own unique details that stay consistent through out. So of the club scenes or those with a lot of background art do seem to meld together because of this choice though.

The lettering feels a bit like maybe they left that for last in the production pipeline. Bash-Back-John-Doran-Beating-660x1001
Spelling mistakes, places where the lettering goes outside of the speech bubbles making it hard to read, and weird ordering of those speech bubbles make a few parts way more confusing then they would have been. For the most part that’s really the only things that added confusion to this series for me. They even used a very generic font throughout it that while readable didn’t really feel like it fit in the universe they were building. I think they very much need to polish and buckle down on lettering for their issues moving forward.

Diversity

This series does a great job with this. A large portion of the queer spectrum is represented, multiple races are shown in the forefront, and body types vary. With this only being Issue #0 of the series I very much look forward to seeing how they keep up this pace moving forward. The main character is dealing with being trans in a world that is actively hostile against him, but seems to hold his own after finally finding a ‘family’ that accepts him. I really hope they take the time to explore all of the potential pressure points the queer community has that they have seem to set up for in this first issue.

Overall

I think this will be a really interesting series to keep an eye on. They’ve set themselves up with a fantastic cast of characters, a really interesting universe, and a foe of bigotry that could take an endless number of shapes without having the story lines become boring and repetitive. I do think there is room for improvement and polish with the lettering and probably even with maintaining details in larger scenes. But this series really does kick the major leaguers in the balls with its daring.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 7/10 [Lends itself to story, so details lost]

Lettering: 5/10 [Spelling errors, outside bubbles]

Writing: 8/10 [Huge character cast, lots of potential]

Diversity: 8.5/10 [Great show so far, lets see what they do with it]

Overall: 7.13/10