Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Meet CU member, Kristen McGuire!

Today's review is actually going to be something slightly different.  Oh, there will be the review, but you're also going to meet the artist! To my knowledge, I've never had a review/meet the artist before! So here she is! Say hello!

Ain't she awesome?  Before I forget, here's her website

And now below, you see Kristen in action, teaching the next generation of manga and anime artists.  I just love, love, love this! And what an important role she serves, too!  We need artists now, but we also need them for the future. What I love about comics is its ability to create stories that reach, and teach, and entertain, but there needs to be those that lead the way.  Kristen has chosen that role, and we will all be blessed for it as a result.  Kristen, you are the bomb for doing this!

Today I will be reviewing A Day in the Life of a Cat Girl, which is a one-shot story, and Enchanted, in which new pages are still being added on Wednesdays.

But before I continue, time for the obligatory


If you haven't read Kristen McGuire's A Day in the Life of a Cat Girl or Enchanted and don't want what's in it spoiled for you, then STOP READING NOW!  You have been warned!

Sooo...  Have you ever wondered what life is like as a "cat girl"?  Now, I don't mean a human dressed up in a cat costume like DC Comics' Cat Woman, I mean a teenage girl who has some attributes of a cat!  You know, with cat ears, a cat tail, a fondness for milk and yarn, and a hatred of dogs.  Well, now you will understand with Kristen's little tail - er, tale - of Tabby the Cat Girl!  It's an adorable story of what poor little Tabby goes through trying to live as a cat girl in a human world!  But hey - there's also perks!  Cat dudes!  LOL 

And next there's Enchanted, the story of a teenage country girl named Brooke who's now in the big city.  Bad enough being directionally challenged in a big city, but to have a bunch of jerks to deal with?  No way!  Life is not at all sunshine and roses for the poor girl, but hey, she's a teenager - teenage angst drama comes with the territory!

Enchanted is currently ongoing, so the story hasn't ended yet.  But it has gotten to the point where Brooke has come across a real, freakin' unicorn in an allegedly haunted forest!  Wait, make that two unicorns!  So what's going on?  Apparently, Brooke has a role in helping to save the unicorns from dragons!  What the - ?  Dragons?!?  Yes friends, Enchanted has unicorns and dragons and haunted forests!  Oh, my!

Currently, the story has reached "the big reveal" in which the unicorns tell Brooke that she's needed to help restore their magic before they cease to exist. Which means that we have to wait to see what happens.  That leads me to my all-important question when it comes to my reviews of comics:  Do I want to see "what happens next"?  The answer is YES!

The dragons have only just made their appearance, after all!  What the heck is going to happen now? 
I wanna know!  So yes, Kristen, you have me wanting more!  :-D

By the way, the art is awesome and very appealing to the eye.  Kristen's facial expressions in both Tabby the Cat Girl and Brooke the unicorn savior are very well done; capturing their many moods with perfection.  Kristen has also very much mastered the art of Japanese style comic sequential art.  You wouldn't know that this was done by a born-and-raised American!

So check out the art of a master, and well as the art of one of the teachers of the next generation of manga and anime art.  I'm certain that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Thanks, Kristen!  And as a member of Creators United, you're now added to my CU sidebar right over there.  ---------------->

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Artwork of Baby Lucinda and L'il Andi having a tea party!

Check it out!  Malcolm Harris, the creator of Princess Lucinda, made this artwork of his character as a baby having a tea party with Mini-Me!  Well, we were until it got spoiled when the treats sprouted eyes! 

Thanks so much, Malcolm!  I love it!  I might use this as my blog banner for Halloween!  ^.^

Friday, August 16, 2013

Review of "Princess Lucinda Book One: Black Rose of the Empire

Today I will be reviewing Princess Lucinda Book One: Black Rose of the Empire. The book can be purchased by clicking on the link.

Unlike most comics, the main character is not a superhero.  In fact, the main character, named Princess Lucinda (PL for short), is actually evil.  A comic - or more precisely in this instance, a graphic novel - based around an evil character is not unheard of, but it certainly presents its challenges when it comes to storytelling.  But before I start getting into the details of the book, it's time for the obligatory


If you haven't read Princess Lucinda and don't want what's in it spoiled for you, then STOP READING NOW!  You have been warned!

The reason Lucinda has the "princess" title is because that's what she is - a princess in a monarchy.  The world she lives in - or rather, the "universe", - is a kingdom of twelve worlds, and she lives on the world that is the seat of the empire, called Homeworld.  The monarchy, named the Nightbanes, rules with an iron fist.  Now, normally I work from the beginning of the book and work forward, but this time, I am going to start from the back of the book, and there's a reason for it that I'll explain in a bit.

 If you read the Appendices in the back of the book, you will see a very complex and detailed history of the world of Homeworld, the Nightbane dynasty, and basically an atlas of the worlds of the Nightbane empire.  As you might imagine with a despotic monarchy, the Nightbane dynasty has had its share of intrigue and backstabbing, including under the current leadership.  However, as human history has shown, empires rise and fall, and despotic empires fall especially hard.  

 We catch the story of PL just before the end of the empire.  Despite preparations against these forms of intrigue, the Nightbane monarchy are caught wholly unaware of the level of resistance that they eventually fall under.  The monarchy resisted as best they could, but eventually the king and queen were killed, but not before seeing PL and her older sister Millicent's escape to our Earth. 

 It could be that the rebels felt a greater impetus to overthrow the monarchy than ever before, due to the fact that they believed PL to be the "qz'nahl", which is "the dark child", defined in the book as "a mythic child of unfathomable malevolence and power".  It could be that the rebels believed that they had to act before PL came to power (in the "taking the throne" sense) and used her magic to entrench her control over the empire to an extent that was too frightening for the rebels to even ponder.  They apparently were so fearful of what would happen under a Queen Lucinda monarchy that they took this drastic step.  Their plans were wildly successful, but with the unfortunate exception that PL and her sister managed to escape.  The one person that they sought above all the others eluded their grasp.  How hard the rebels must be kicking themselves. 

Now we get to the reason that I started from the back of the book first.  I wanted you to understand the level of complexity that the universe of PL works.  PL is the latest (and now, apparently, the last) member of a dynastic family that goes back 700 years.  With so much time in power, no doubt the Nightbanes had encountered every type of plan and scheme imaginable from those who sought to usurp their power.  It could be said, though, that they were so successful that they got to the point of arrogance; that is, they felt that they were unstoppable.  Pride such as this is often the downfall of many despots.

So PL and her sister get to our Earth, and have to make adjustments to life outside their pampered existences.  Despite being away from their seat of power and their universe of twelve worlds, PL and her sister still have all their magic and magical control.  And of course, having been raised to think of herself as "above" us commoners, she treats everyone she encounters in evil ways.  She was raised evil, after all, so it's not at all unexpected that she would only live up to how she was raised.

During the course of the story, many questions came to mind, and I shall hit upon them.  Now, understand that by asking these questions, I'm not seeking direct answers from the creators of PL or anyone else who may be "in the know" of what happens next.  Instead, I ask these questions so that I can see how the upcoming books will answer them.  After all, before I am a blogger, I am also a fan of comics, so I don't want to be denied the very enjoyment that I get from reading comics!

First question: Is the point of PL to demonstrate how evil she is, or will there be, at some future point, a time when PL will be "redeemed"?  Given how she is now, if PL is ever "redeemed" - that is, becomes good, then it will be a LONG time in coming!  Fortunately, she's virtually immortal, so she has time!

By the way, I say "virtually immortal", because the book demonstrates that even though the king and queen are likewise immortal, they can be killed under the right circumstances, so there's no reason to doubt that the same goes for PL and her sister.  Also, if they can't be killed, then why send them away to Earth?  So is a "good Lucinda" possible?  Again, very doubtful, but she did come to the rescue of a woman and her granddaughter, even though she had nothing to gain by it personally. 

Next question: Will we be seeing the arrival of the rebels to Earth, and will they become part of the story of PL during her time on Earth?  That seems most likely, but as to how this takes place remains to be seen.  "Stay tuned, true believers!"

Third question: If it's the intent of the creators of PL that she never "sees the errors of her ways", then is the point of the PL stories a demonstration of the depths that evil can go?  If that's the case, then be prepared to see a lot more senseless deaths.  Just on her short arrival, she turned one woman into a two-headed frog, turned a bus and its occupants into a cigarette and smoked it (I can only assume that the faces in the smoke were the occupants' souls). 

Killing others comes easy to PL, so there's very little hope for redemption. Still, even the remote possibility of redemption will make for good story.  If PL ever sees the light, however, she will have to go through a lot of pain for all that she's done already - probably more than anyone could bear.  But again, a PL redemption story would make for a good story.  A good story is why we read comics, after all.  :-)

And the last question: with the Nightbane power structure now gone, what happens to the empire of twelve worlds?  Who fills the enormous power vacuum left behind by the deaths of its monarchs?  I can see chaos in the twelve worlds, but only after a long, hearty celebration.  It would be interesting to read what's going on in the post-Nightbane worlds as a separate series. 

So now we get to the part of my review in which I ask the all-important question: "Do I want to know 'what happens next?'"  How I answer that question is my measure of a comic.  And the answer to that question is: Yes.  Definitely yes!  I asked all those other questions, didn't I?  Why did I ask them if I wasn't hoping to find some answers!

So thank you, Malcolm Harris, and the rest of you who brought us PL.  A fun read, and gorgeous art to boot; one that definitely complements the writing.  And friends, if you get the book - trust me, there's plenty to read!  LOL  ;-)

As a member of Creators United, Malcolm Harris' Princess Lucinda is now officially added to my sidebar over yonder.  ------------------------>

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: The Mighty BedBug!

Today I will be reviewing a superhero who is a bit different from most heroes that you read about in the comic books.  Most of the time when you hear the term "single parent", you think of a single mother.  BedBug (created by Scott Rogers) happens to be a single father.  I think that's an important message to send to today's comic nerds - that raising your child is not some chore or imposition, it's the toughest labor of love that any of us will ever go through.  

BedBug is Buddy Sprang, an independently wealthy computer programmer.  As a child and on a dare from his brother Terry, Buddy leaped off the roof of his house superhero style, and ended up paralyzed from the waist down. Determined to work past his physical limitations, Buddy worked hard earning his fortune, and then, once having accomplished that, set about the task of creating the mechanical boots that he uses as BedBug, the leapin' lawman!  The boots allow Buddy to walk, but not only that, they allow him to leap six stories high.  So in the end, Buddy ends up living his childhood dream of being a superhero.  

Before we get into the story, it's time for the obligitory:

***WARNING!  Spoilers ahead!!***

If you haven't read BedBug and don't want having what's in it spoiled for you, 
then STOP READING NOW!  You have been warned!

The one thing I got from reading the stories in BedBug #1 is that family relations are important.  There is, of course, the father/daughter storyline of Buddy and his young daughter, Elvira.  However, what I found interesting and touching is when Buddy and his brother Terry were creating the BedBug boots.  The narration mentioned hope being the reason Buddy was doing this, and this of course, was Buddy's hope to walk again. 

For Terry, his reason was listed as guilt.  Terry was the one who encouraged Buddy to jump off the roof on that fateful day, and with the sort of close relationship that the brothers seem to have, it's not surprising that Terry would be carrying around guilt all this time.  Buddy, no doubt, has long forgiven Terry, because they were kids and he knew that Terry honestly believed with his childhood reasoning that Buddy could make the jump.  Still, Buddy couldn't walk, and Terry could never forget that he was the reason why.  It's touching to see such close family bonds being depicted.

The writers could have easily taken the usual comic book story shortcut of having Terry as the villain, being driven insane by jealousy because of the sympathy everyone gave Buddy.  Instead, the writers chose to emphasize their closeness.  This particular scene was very brief, but I felt it was significant enough to mention here, because such close familial bonds are not usually depicted in comics.  

But the main storyline of family bonds in BedBug is Buddy's relationship with his daughter, Elvira.  The mother is mentioned only in passing, and shown only in a photograph, and no reason is given as to why she and Buddy divorced, or how Buddy ended up having custody of Elvira.  I'm sure that will be a topic for a future story.  In any case, Buddy is the one raising Elvira, and he's doing it alone.  This means, of course, having to find sitters when he needs to do the hero thing.  How many other heroes have such worries?  LOL

One touching story involved the stress and worry Buddy undergoes allowing his daughter to go to a sleep-over for the first time.  Adding to this worry is a team-up of BedBug's villains!  So with the help of a superhero friend named Blue Tiger, they set off to stop the evil machinations of the villains led by one named the Boogeyman.  Somehow, some way, Boogeyman knows the secret identity of BedBug, but so far has chosen to not reveal it to anyone else, even his villain associates. 

That presents an interesting set of possibilities to ponder as to why Boogeyman has chosen to keep BedBug's secret identity to himself.  No doubt this will be revealed whenever more is learned about Boogeyman himself.  Perhaps Boogeyman hopes to use this knowledge as blackmail in a future story; that is, threatening to reveal BedBug's identity publicly if Buddy doesn't go along with whatever evil scheme he has cooked up at that time.

If this indeed plays out this way, then we'll see the true measure of the man, this Bedbug - that is, whether he will still do the right thing even in the face of the threat of being publicly revealed.  And I have no doubt that he will do the right thing when the time comes.  That's what superheroes do, after all. 

Last, I want to make mention of the unique style of art, because in today's era of Photoshopped art, you don't find very many examples of hand-drawn AND hand-colored art in comics.  Some comic companies might even view hand-colored comics as amateurish.  However, the hand-colored art in BedBug works very well, and for this reason: For me, it demonstrates how much the creators of BedBug love making this comic; that they'll go through the extent and extra work to hand-color the art.  It's a labor a love, and it's great to see.  And nicely done, I might add! 

Thanks for a fun read, guys!

Overall, BedBug #1 is a great book; definitely worth adding to your collection of Indy comics.  My #1 measure of a comic's worth is the answer to this question:  After reading the comic, if I ask "What happens next?", then it's a keeper.  And BedBug is definitely a keeper.  :-)

BedBug is now added to my list of Creators United titles on the sidebar you see over here.  ---->

If you love independent comics, then show these guys some love and buy their comics!