New Digital Comic Preview: Scribbles #1

Scribbles #1

Writer: LJ Phillips Artist: Andi Fikri
Publisher: The Pulp Press Release Date: February 3, 2021
Format: A self-contained self-published digital comic book, available now via Comixology and eventually in print.

Jodi realizes that she’s the last human being in the city. Those around her are being replaced by Scribbles, stickmen who impersonate people. And worst of all, only Jodi can see them. Scribbles is a sensitive examination of  identity, PTSD and trauma. Using horror tropes, the comic explores how easily someone can fall apart in an indifferent city. Clean, minimalistic artwork by newcomer Andi Fikri and a tight script from LJ Phillips crafts a haunting tale of pain and salvation.

Scribbles was originally conceived as a self-contained one-shot with themes of gender identity, female friendship, assault, PTSD, hope. Writer LJ Phillips shared with SW this preview below, as she aims to promote this work further into more self-contained comics focusing on art and trauma. She is also working on Entity, a new indie comic series in production as well as Iron Nail Afternoon #2 slated for an early 2021 release.

Scribbles is available now on Comixology.

Here is a 4-page preview:

Spotlight Interview: LJ Phillips, on developing Iron Nail Afternoon and indie comic publishing

Meet LJ Phillips, a creative artist from eThekwini, a growing city off the coast of South Africa. After training under one of Africa’s leading political cartoonists, LJ worked as an art lecturer and now runs a small local studio. She’s had four solo exhibitions, showcasing mostly surrealistic ink-and-pen artwork. Her work in comics grew from recent comic anthologies, along with short stories showing in various publications.

LJ is especially excited this week. She released a new world of his creation, written and drawn, with a mix of urban noir, fantasy within the pages of first published comic series, Iron Nail Afternoon. The first issue is now available digitally online via Comixology.

This new series takes place in the Iron Nail – a red-light district in a floating city, maintained by supernatural enforcers known as Sheriffs. The most feared of these is Sed Stonehaven. On just one shattering day, he falls prey to his worst enemy…his own temper.

Iron Nail Afternoon was initially released as a webcomic, published a few pages at a time. The first issue is the accumulation of that work, and more. LJ has big plans for an ongoing story, yet aims for self-contained parts of an interconnected narrative.

Special note: Iron Nail Afternoon is intended for mature audiences only, much in the same vein as Saga, Sandman, The Wicked + The Divine, Hellblazer, Preacher.

We had a short online interview with LJ Phillips on the week of the release of Iron Nail Afternoon, to share in the excitement of opening his new world and the creative process, insight of its foundation.

Hello LJ, tell us a little about your background and what influenced the creation of Iron Nail Afternoon?

LJ Phillips: I formerly worked in the private security sector – doing some bodyguard work, as a bouncer, stuff like that. This allowed me to save up enough to attend art school on a partial scholarship.  In my former profession, there was a heavy emphasis on brotherhood but of course, this brotherhood could be conditional. There was also a lot of blatant racism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, discrimination against interracial relationships and so on. Which gave me the key concept behind the Iron Nail Afternoon series. What happens to the hard cases who get excluded from the world of tough guys? Where do they end up?

What were the greatest joys in the world-building and creative processes in Iron Nail Afternoon? 

LJ Phillips: Developing the main protagonists. The Governor had a deprived childhood. As an adult, she enjoys having power and pleasure on her terms. Jekkel is the most dangerous of the three protagonists but also the most vulnerable. What he really wants is to be loved.  And Sed is…Sed. He’s a big personality – he booms. Because of this, it’s easy for others to underestimate his intelligence and his loyalty to his friends. When we finally meet Sed’s brother, he’s the complete opposite – quiet, intense, fastidious.  It’s fun to put them in different situations and work out how they would act. Their choices and reactions are what drive the narrative. The world-building is important because it provides them with a setting and limitations on what they can and can’t do to accomplish their goals.

What were the greatest challenges?

LJ Phillips: Working even when you don’t feel inspired. Acquiring and continually developing the required skill set. Creating a comic, like any job, can be a hard bloody slog. It’s also important not to get obsessed with vanity numbers i.e. online views and followers. These don’t necessarily translate into profits/reliable fanbase and they’re not an accurate reflection on an artist’s ability or lack thereof. Tyler James – of ComixTribe – discussed the issue in one of his superb podcasts ; it really helped put things into perspective for me.  Another big challenge is being disciplined when writing a fantasy comic.  You have to avoid relying on magic as a form of deus ex machina. In Iron Nail Afternoon,  most of the magical elements have real-life equivalents or practical applications. For example, instead of cell phones, there are crystal balls. 

The use of colors and composition aided in the art for Iron Nail Afternoon are wonderous. What influences come to mind in developing the look and feel of Iron Nail Afternoon? 

LJ Phillips: The work of Enki Bilal, notably his Nikopol trilogy. In it, he managed to create an entire sci fi world – one of great beauty and desolation – and do so with a restrained palette and spare art style.

What do you feel Iron Nail Afternoon brings to readers looking for a fresh escape from our problems of the current global pandemic?

LJ Phillips: The series deals with issues we all face – growing older, prejudice, disappointment in love, sibling rivalry  – but it deals with them on a larger-than-life scale. Hopefully readers will find a lot that’s relatable but because of the fantasy elements, the Iron Nail Afternoon series will also provide some welcome escapism as well. Plus it has dragons. Who doesn’t like dragons?

Stranger Worlds thanks LJ Phillips for her time and insight on his new world of Iron Nail Afternoon, now available on Comixology. Here are a few more preview pages…

Stranger Reading Suggestions: Recent low cost digital comics…

Looking for something new without stretching your wallet?

I have just the things for that sequential art appetite, especially good for those who enjoy some variety in their browsing. Check out my chosen below, all fairly recent in 2016, though some suggests going back to 2015 for earlier issues. Each is available online through the Comixology digital comics reading service. Even better, each issue can be at your enjoyment for 99 cents; a price that wasn’t standard for comics of around 20 pages since the mid 1980s.

Check these out:

(click on the title of each for a direct online link to download and purchase)

GOOD NIGHT #1

Good Night

  • Writer, Artist: Fey Nefeloma
  • Released: Feb 17, 2016 via Comixology Submit by Nevo Digital
  • Price: 0.99, Age rating: 9+
  • Notes: Original webcomic at goodnight.nocturnenebula.com

“Ayesha, a bright, young girl with a fear of monsters, questions her caring father the whereabouts of her absent mother.”

A very touching black and white comic series starter with curious fantasy and light horror elements. I love the idea that behind the monsters here, where lies an interesting story that’s starting to unfold. The setting feels very modern, yet has some fairy classic fairy tale style moments. The ending left me wanting more..

KINGS AND CANVAS #3

King and Canvas

  • Writer: Neil Kleid  Artist: Jake Allen colorist : Frank Reynoso
  • Released: Jan 13, 2016 by Monkeybrain
  • Price: 0.99  Age rating: 12+

“In this corner, fighting for aid in his journey to Queensbury: Mammoth! In the other corner, the Gateway Champion, determined to keep Mammoth’s crew from heading west: Argos Dane! It’s champion vs former champion for the fate of the quest…but will Mammoth throw the bout in order to get everything he’s ever wanted since escaping Gaol? Ding, ding, kids. Grab a ringside seat for the fight of the…well, the fight of this issue, anyway.”

A fresh series I have recently jumped on to. Love the art style and fight sequences, a combination punch of shonen manga meets classic Saturday morning cartoon faire. The 3rd issue shows the pacing going well, and the characters further developed. It’s a must for anyone looking for some good adventure, a little historical fantasy, and a heavy dose of fun.

THE HALF #1

The Half

  • Writer: Justin Porter   Artist: Jeremy Stain
  • Released: Feb 17, 2016 via Comixology Submit by Half Assed Industries
  • Price: 0.99 Age rating: 17+

“A young boy finds his way amid the ashes of love and the myth of family.”

It’s a very dark series with serious matters dealing with domestic violence and psychological abuse. The first issue sets up a strong premise for what could lead to anything at the end, as there some curious hints of something far more unfamiliar afoot. The coloring is especially done well with the stylized art, for a story package that will keep my curiosity for whatever comes next.

GUARDIAN OF THE FOREST

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  • Writer: Robert James Mediavilla   Artist: Diana Naneva   Letterer: Danny Djeljosevic
  • Released: Feb 17, 2016 via Comixology Submit by Model Town
  • Price: 0.99  Age rating: 17+

“What is a guardian of the forest without a forest?” This question has plagued family man Ben Taylor’s life since he unwittingly unleashed a supernatural force upon his small town. Now, as the body count rises and the creature draws closer, he and his daughter will come face to face with the brutal answer.”

A dark horror short story with a surprise twist. The fantastic dramatic build-up is in huge part to the awesome art and color, shading detail, balanced with great pacing. There is much to the story for its mere 14 pages of comic art, 4 pages of straight text; with elements of religion, myth and metaphors.

EVO-Z #1

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  • Writer: Paolo Ferrara   Artist: Silvano Beltramo
  • Released: Feb 2, 2016 via Comixology Submit by Mache Models
  • Price: 0.99  Age rating: 12+
  • Notes: Available via Comixology Submit, though translated from the Italian free version at machemodels.com

“Hunted, lost, Thy is an exobiologist, member of a scouting mission, who finds herself plunged into an unknown universe.
Fighting for survival – in the middle of a war about to explode and of which she, inadvertently, was the fuse – Thy finds some extravagant allies, aliens with mysterious abilities and needs, with whom she will try to find a way to return to her galaxy of origin.”

Evo-Z is hard science fiction full of variety and interesting sci-fi concepts and designs. The vehicles are based upon the original concepts from Germàn Impache, a master modeler with work displayed at machemodels.com. The story has much going on, not allowing for a quick read. This is a good thing, with much to take in for its fantastic world-building and character depth present.

BANDETTE #12

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  • Writer: Paul Tobin Artist: Colleen Coover
  • Released: Jan 27, 2016 by Monkeybrain
  • Price: 0.99 Age rating: 12+
  • Notes: Ongoing series, in print volumes via Dark Horse Comics

“The Voice holds Daniel hostage! Bandette and her Urchins scour the city in an effort to locate their abducted friend, while Daniel looks for a way to escape his captivity, and Inspector Belgique sets his sights on apprehending The Voice himself! All the while, Monsieur and Margot narrow in on the elusive prize at the root of the whole affair: the House Of The Green Mask!”

Love the heck out of this series since the first issue. At this point in the 12th issue, our spunky protagonist is well established as a unique lead unlike any other in all the comic book lands. The classic French style setting and expanding cast of characters are further well-developed and paced well for expanded interest. While this issue is not exactly the best jumping on point, this is worthwhile mentioning to anyone looking for something newish and different with high emphasis on fun.

That’s all for now. If you checked out any of the titles presented and have thoughts to share, or have suggestions of your own (cheap or free, accessible online or app)..let us know in the comments!

-Orion T

 

 

Spooky Indie Comic Reads for Halloween!

We have some great, lesser-known comic suggestions for you strangers out there; all spooky, creepy, and supernatural.

These are available online now in a digital format via download or app, at a lower than average cost. Below, are some lesser known, yet great reads hand-picked by me, as I love to share good things. Check these out (click on the title of each for a direct link):

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

A Girl Walks Alonw

  • Writer: Ana Lily Amirpour,  Artist: Michael DeWeese
  • Released: August 20, 2014 via Comixology by RADCO.
  • Price: $0.99 – first issue, $1.99 – second issue
  • Notes: Ongoing series, I hope.
  • Age rating: 17+

“Strange things are afoot in Bad City. The Iranian ghost town, home to prostitutes, junkies, pimps and other sordid souls, is a bastion of depravity and hopelessness where a lonely vampire, The Girl, stalks the town’s most unsavory inhabitants.”

Great black and white art inside, with a narrative prospective of a lone young woman vampire in a post-apocalyptic style setting. The story also turns very violent with sexual situations, so better suggested for those who don’t mind such things.

The Suicide Forest

Suicide Forest

  • Writer: El Torres,  Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta
  • Released: June 2011 by IDW Publishing
  • Price: $7.99 (Digital version is on sale 50% this Halloween weekend, via current IDW online outlets)
  • Notes: In print, and available via digital apps. 106 pages.
  • Age rating: 12+

“The legend of the Aokigahara forest (which lies just outside of Tokyo) says that those who have committed suicide in the massive wilderness are cursed to have their souls trapped within its very roots. Unfortunately for Alan, his girlfriend, Masami, committed her suicide there and she’s now on a vengeful mission to ruin his life!”

The art is gorgeous with mystery, hooking the readers into a dark nature setting. The story reminds me of the older Japanese horror films like Kwaiden and Jigoku, with connections to real life superstitions and Japanese folklore.

Who Needs the Moon? (#1-8)

Who Needs the Moon

  • Writer, Artist: Michael DeWeese
  • Released: 2014-2015 via Comixology by Todd McCullough .
  • Price: $0.99 each
  • Notes: Complete volume standalone series, also available in Spanish language
  • Age rating: 17+

“The townspeople of Kingford are unaware of the growing vampire problem that is soon to ruin them and their home. Fortunately for them, there is a newcomer that has plans to stop the monsters. And since being a werewolf, he’s got the muscle to do something about it. Maybe too much muscle.”

I am reading this now, in the middle of the series. I’m loving it so far, as it features a character who kind reminds me of Dexter Morgan from the early seasons of the Dexter TV series, struggling with his own morality and judgement with his newfound werewolf instincts. It’s set in a small town with all sorts of interesting characters and situations. The art also has a nice moody yet colorful style to it.

The Dead (#1-6)

The Dead

  • Writer: James Maddox,  Artist: Jen Hickman
  • Released: 2014-2015 via Comixology by James Maddox and Jen Hickman
  • Price: $0.99 each
  • Age rating: 17+

“The Dead brings the story of what happens after you die. And while there’s seemingly a room for every occasion, clouds and halos are in short supply. Chased from his own room in this infinite house, Sam must find his rightful place among the strange (and sometimes dangerous) residents.

A series full of mysteries and unpredictable turns. You also get some action, humor, drama with the supernatural horror; all mixed in with an interesting cast and a great ending.

Super Drac

SuperDrac

  • Writer, Artist: Nic Lawson
  • Released: Aug 15 Via Comixology via Nic Lawson Comics
  • Price: $0.99
  • Notes: Single, standalone issue
  • Age rating: 9+

“Superdrac is about an eccentric vampire who becomes bored with his life. So he decides to use his vampire powers for good.. with interesting results!”

A single cheap standalone issue. Very cute and funny short story of a boy vampire looking for something a little extra in his life…

Dark Horse Horror Sampler 2015 #0

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  • WriterArtist: Various
  • Released: Oct 2015 via Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: FREE!
  • Notes: Available digitally via current Dark Horse Comics apps and services
  • Age rating: 15+

“Get previews of 2015’s hottest horror stories. Get eight different stories and over 80 pages of horror for free.”

I added this in there, as Dark Horse Comics has been around for horror fans for decades, with a lot of original titles for horror fans. For free, it’s worth picking up and seeing the latest from them.

That’s all for now. If you would like to add to this list, or have thoughts on my suggestions, leave a comment below!

– Orion T

 

 

Fresh and awesome, cheap comic book reads available online now..

Looking for cheap thrills?

We have, while scouring online for new interesting creative work. With regular comics reaching the norm of $3.99, it’s been a little tough for many to boldly try new things. This week, I bring a bundle of indie creator-driven treasure, fresh through the Comixology Submit program, each for less than one American dollar. Check these out..

(click on the title of each for a direct link)

Meteora (#1)

Meteora

  • Writer: Artem Gabrelyanov,  Artist: Konstantin Tarasov  Colors: Anastasia Katerinich
  • Released: October 14, 2015 via Comixology by BUBBLE.
  • Pages: 28, Price: $0.99

For fans of Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, Firefly, the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, or just plain ol campy fun sci-fi in space. I enjoyed this first issue of Meteora, for its daring new adventures of a high-spirited space smuggler and her big furry companion. The art and writing hits high, with some awesome coloring too.

Moon in the Trees

Moon in the Trees

  • Writer: Ronald Montgomery,  Artist: various artists
  • Released: Sept 30, 2015 via Comixology by Inverse.
  • Pages: 33, Price: $0.99

33 pages of five short stories by one author, many artists covering different genres and time periods. We got a fantastic mix of horror, drama, action, humor, with different narrative styles by the same author. All together, worth far more than its small price.

Escargoteric

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  • Writer, Artist: Johnny Herber
  • Released: October 7, 2015 via Comixology by Sawdust Press.
  • Pages: 44, Price: $0.99

A highly imaginative and otherworldly read for anyone craving something different and oddsome in their comics. Here, is a lengthy adventure in a world of giant mollusks and surreal landscapes, through a young female adventurer with some familiar troubles on the side. It’s packed with lots of quirky humor and detailed black and white art.

Hero Cats, Midnight over Stellar City

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  • Writer: Kyle Puttkammer,  Artist: Alex Ogie
  • Released: October 7, 2015 via Comixology by Action Lab.
  • Pages: 26, Price: $0.99

Meet Midnight, a secret agent superhero street cat. With the help of his fellow Hero Cats, he stands against the evil forces of the villainous Crow King.  i love the use of shadows and colorplay throughout, as the story has a suspenseful gritty edge to it. It’s a side story within a shared universe, but standalone and can be enjoyed as such.

M.I.D.A.S

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  • Writer: Tom Taylor, Artist: Mikiko Ponczeck
  • Released: August 19, 2015 via Comixology by Gestalt
  • Pages: 27, Price: $0.99

A short one-shot story of a young unfortunate soul who explodes whatever he touches. So, he must live within a suit. It’s a lonely life until he makes a new friend, and things might change. Written by Tom Taylor, award-winning (and personal favorite)author on Injustice: Gods Among Us, The Deep, Superior Iron Man, Earth 2.

That’s all for now. If you checked out any stories here and have thoughts to share, or have suggestions of your own (cheap or free, accessible online or app)..let us know in the comments!

– Orion T

Fresh, Cheap Indie Comic Reads, Right Now!

I have some short and cheap reading suggestions..

These are available online, for much less than the price of a regular-priced comic ($3.99 nowadays). This week, I bring a bundle of indie creator-driven fun, through the Comixology Submit program. Check these out:

(click on the title of each for a direct link)

Bloodworth

Bloodworth

  • Writer: Daniel Corey,  Artist: Chris Fenoglio
  • Released: Sept 16, 2015 via Comixology by DangerKatt.
  • Price: 99 cents!

A short story preview to a new series set in a not-so distant future, where social networking is taken to a new level through a cloud-based “Thoughtshare.” Enter Special Agent Bloodworth and her FBI task force, as they solve crimes by hacking minds. It’s good fun, and thought-provoking for those enjoy some modern tech-dystopian drama.

Beigey, P.I.

Beigey

  • Writer: Joe Wack,  Artist: Sebastian Kadlecik
  • Released: Sept 2, 2015 via Comixology by Low Pulp Comics.
  • Price: 99 cents!

A first issue introducing José, a private-eye in Guadalajara with a knack for trouble and solving cases. Though bumbling and unlucky, José is determined to make the best of his situations. All told in noir-style first-person narrative, with fantastic black and white art.

Gamma

Gamma

  • Writer: Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas  Artist: Ulises Farinas
  • Released: Sept 2, 2015 via Comixology by Buster + Norah Press.
  • Price: 1.99 cents!

Note: Released earlier in print via Dark Horse Comics.

What if the greatest monster catcher of them all, gave up? What if instead of trying to catch them all, he failed humanity against the sudden revolt of these pocket monsters? What will it take to bring our fallen hero back to his former glory? Read and see, with awesome (and sometimes gorey) art and throwbacks to some familiar nostalgia.

Apartment Hunting

Apartment Hunting

  • Writer: Alison Wilgus Artist: Alison Wilgus
  • Released: Sept 16, 2015 via Comixology.
  • Price:$1.99

A slice of life cheeky standalone story, on the hunting of an apartment for a friend. This involves a little fantasy, with some colorful and imaginative sequential art.

That’s all for now. If you checked out any of these these stories and have thoughts to share, or have suggestions of your own (cheap or free, accessible online or app)..let us know in the comments!

-Orion T