Special Report: Flying Under The Radar – Independant Comics That Are Too Good Too Miss
Reviewing comics for this long, I am always amazed at the comics that seem to fly under the radar. And while even the main two comic companies have these, it is mainly the independent comic publishers that this happens to. So I’d like to take a look at a few of these series that are definitely worth checking out.
FLESH-EATING CHEERLEADERS FROM OUTER SPACE DREN PRODUCTIONS
With Issue #5 just out and with issue #6 currently being crowdfunded. In all honesty, I may have completely missed this title had the good folks at Dren Productions not sent me a digital version of issue #1 to check out. Being old enough to have lived through the heyday of Video Horror and Science Fiction in the 1980’s and 1990’s, a plot line like the story here definitely caught my attention. Following in the footsteps as such classic B-Movies as Galaxy of Terror and Humanoids From the Deep, James Mascia’s tale of squiggly alien parasites that go after the female gender and turn them into flesh consuming breeding machines would most assuredly been a multiple watch video from my local video store back in the day. As I read each issue, I can’t help but think of movies like Pieces, Critters, and Creepazoids. When a silver meteor ball crashes into the football field of Pullman University, a slug-like worm with a huge mouth filled with razor sharp teeth is released. And like a great movie beginning, immediately makes its way to the girl’s shower room in search of a host in the part of Brooke. We then get to start to check off movie tropes. The murder of the cheerleaders’ coach (and yes, she is eaten!) Our alien infected patient zero who has lost her memory and is still partially human. A second infected cheerleader who is more alien than human and taking charge. More slug-worms showing up and a nice little bit of college drama with the main instructor/detective drama as he’s sleeping with one of his students.
Initially, I questioned how many issues this concept could work with. But as we await issue #6, we are maybe 1/2 way through the movie. We will need to issue a warning that this title contains nudity and adult situations. Also cannibalism. Also weird worm-tongue kissing. I have to stop there or I’ll start sounding like Joe Bob Briggs giving the drive-in totals. James Mascia’s story continues to move at a good pace and characters are given equal screen time. And the cliffhanger on the newest issue has the authorities coming to realize what is going on with the alien parasites and the paraite infected cheerleaders getting ready to spread out into the world. Felipe Obando’s art (along with all of the variant cover artists do a spectacular job! From the slimy disgusting alien parasites coming at in from all angles to the differences between the characters, they do a fine job. Now that all being said, you do need to remember that this title much like many of the films of the 1980’s has some adult content to it. In fact, reading through issues #1-5 (with 6 on the way!) there wasn’t one pause in the adult themed action in any of the issues. So read responsibly.
SANTOS SISTERS AMERICAN NATURE PUBLISHING
This odd little title surprized the heck out of me when it first appeared in my list of review books.What I initially thought was a wonderfully quirky Giant Sized one-shot, stunned me when it’s second issue appeared out of nowhere. And now that we are three issues in, a semi-regular cast of characters is showing up and personalities are starting to come out. Featuring strange ads and secondary features such as the Boozy Bees, I must admit that part of it’s enjoyment is the mystery of it’s creation. When this first came out, I tried to hunt down the origins of the book and was pleasantly surprized not to find anything. Internet searchs on the title, the publisher, the writers, the artists, the colorists, some of the weird symbols appearing in the book. And I came up with nothing! It was dumbfounding! Especially since I really enjoy this book and I like to give credit where credit is due.
The stories feature the heroic adventures of the Santos Sisters (not even sure if they are just close friends or real sisters, even after 3 issues) and their friends as the deal with general life. Well, general life in the life of the Santos Sisters anyway. Furry animal ninjas, werewolf cheerleaders, purple skinned zombies that can only say Nerp, psychotic ex-girlfriends who dress up like a super-villain and try to blow up the restaurant you work at, etc. Written by Fake, Greg Petre, Marc Koprinarov, Dave Landsberger, and Graham Smith and drawn by Fake and Greg Petre, the art style has a definite MLJ Publishing feel to it.
ACTION JOURNALISM WITH KATE KELLY ONI PRESS
I wonder if the fine folks at Oni Press realized what a gem they were getting when they green lit Eric Skillman and Miklos Felvideki’s Action Journalism with Kate Kelly. Following in the footsteps of such trailblazers as Jane Arden, (FILL IN) Kate Kelly and definitely a reincarnation of these women in modern times. Tough and no nonsense, Kate still has that sarcastic bit of humor that makes her instantly likable. Devil may care and hard hitting, her ingenuity and reckless disregard for personal danger, make her an ideal reporter as well as an interesting character. One can hardly argue that she makes an excellent all ages character as well as a good influence for girls. Like any good story set in a newsroom, Action Journalism has a great set of secondary personalities that help not only push the story along but give Kate perspectives to react to. Skillman’s take on these people is well executed. Whether interviewing aliens in the midst of an invasion and talking them out of it or tracking down the secret identity of a superhero (PS it’s not who you think it is) there doesn’t seem to be any story that Kate can’t handle. Even if her superiors think she can’t. Currently, 5 issues in, most of the issues were stand alone so with the exception of issues 4 and 5, they can be read in any order. Any time is a good time to pick up on this series.