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 Reads – Comics Log 2016.8.30 – Another Odd Bunch..

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This week, I finished reading some of the latest tales involving fashion bloggers, medieval knights, aliens, detectives,  superish heroes, and a lot of weirdness in-between. I can’t say my life is improved for taking on this strange mix, yet I feel there is that satisfaction of wondrous discovery in reading new comics.

So here we go with the new issues, fresh off the shelves (with minor spoilers).

RECENT COMICS:

Island #10 (Image Comics), by various artists and writers

Another great issue of mixed stories and art presentation. Part of the fun I see in such an anthology is the discovery of creative talent out there. I love Farel Dairymple’s art and writing for the first story here, which is actually three binded together by the observations of a young curious girl. From that, I feel drawn to check out his award-winning work, Wrenchies. The second story is by Gael Berthand, who tells of a fantastic adventure with no words. I love when a storyteller tries for this, and it works; leaving the reader to admire the scenery and feel more on the emotions of the characters at play. The third story is a funny one, with a stranger world best endured at a slow pace, to take in the strange details and nuances, leading to a barbaric yet quirky end. Overall, this Island is the best issue of the series I enjoyed in recent memory.

Hard-Travlin’ Heroes  with Dog-Welder and Six-Pack #1 (DC Comics), by Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, John Kalisz

Why?!!  Because Garth Ennis writes, and this time he looks to make a welder of dead canines the next big DC comics star. Such feels a bit strange is this sub-world of the DCU, where the Hitman now has less presence than the great Six-Pack, a drunken superhero with delusions of greatness. Still, there is some bizarre necessity to bring back the faded team of misfits, “Section Eight.” Yet, there shall perhaps be the story of just 1/4 of the original cast, where the reader somewhat must know some background info on the long-time (yet personal fav) canceled Hitman series, and the spin-off, All Star Section Eight. The odd details and questionable build-up of this return left me thinking, why?! I can only hope the answers lead to the return of Hitman for at least a mini-series, preferably by Garth Ennis and John McCrea.

Chew #57 (Image), by John Layman, Rob Guillory

Finally, we have some answers toward the whole damn series and where I think it’s heading and end. The storytelling is finally showing off some calculation since the first story arc, as Savoy delivers truths and consequences to our heroic cibopath. A dilemma shoes in the end, where perhaps Tony Chu’s power is also his greatest curse. My best hopes are in seeing just how other supporting characters may come in play, in perhaps some changes to the situation, or to save the detective. Or perhaps, there is an end to a strange world populated with much rising weirdness. I have been curious since issue #1, as to what this series really amounts to as a limited tale, and perhaps seeing things come together gives me a little satisfaction towards the end. We shall see.

Snotgirl #2 (Dark Horse), by Bryan O’ Malley, Leslie Hung

I find frustration in this series now but somewhat can’t stop reading it. Is it the colors and awesome art? Or is the ridiculous melodrama on the strange world of fashion blogging and self-obsession. There, some bizarre satire and pretentious commentary in this story where I feel as lost as the protagonist, who for now is dealing with some stalker and a recent murder..maybe.  Maybe I should read it again, or not. It’s all kind of hypnotic in reading this strange comic, of which I must eventually escape.

Lake of Fire #1 (Image), by Nathan Fairbairn, Matt Smith

SW PICK OF THE WEEK!! An interesting read with much more than expected. The premise seems simple, an alien ship crashes on Earth in the midst of the Crusades, so expect Knights vs. Aliens. Yet, I found more in this double-sided issue. For starts, the art with the colors brings much to life as a sort of animated movie that needs to happen. The facial expressions and placement within the sequential paneling is perfect and keeps me engaged on the visuals alone. The characters have plenty of buildup within the story, enough motivation and preparation for that’s too come, leaving enough for further build-up. Further situations of that time raise questions on what such a hostile invasion could be viewed through the eyes of people who have not grasped the concepts of extraterrestrial life, with their minds closer to their religious beliefs. There is a call for bravery and heroic deeds, as to a cliffhanger that terrifies and delights. I can’t wait for the next issue.

Notice #2 (Millicent Barnes), by various artists and writers

NOTE: CURRENTLY ONLY DIGITAL VIA  COMIXOLOGY

Another wonderful little anthology of stories this week, of which I enjoyed. Though unlike Island #10 of which I reviewed early, these the stories within are stranger, shorter, and varied in colors and art direction. Such is a wonderful joy, for those wanting more inventive thinking in their comics, where one can enjoy the strange imaginations of other, and make their own interpretations from it all. I can’t say much more about this, as the plots are hard to put into reviewable context. just check it out for yourself, for at least the stranger visuals and imaginative storytelling sequences.

That’s all until next time. Did we miss anything on the shelves worthy of reading?  Do you have further thoughts on the books covered here? Leave a comment below!

Orion T – SW chief writer and seeker of great comic books and all related wonderful things.

 

Stranger Reads – Comics Log 2016.8.23 – Brave the Unknown..

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All new, all different comics from the recent week. Once again, I take my chances with new titles, while staying engaged with recent favorites. A good time overall, with no regrets and diverse fun.

Here we go, with the fresh picks recently released (with minor spoilers).

RECENT COMICS:

Agent 42 #2 (Red 5 Comics), by Ben Nunan, Fernando Granea

NOTE: PUT OUT DIGITALLY VIA COMIXOLOGY SUBMIT.

There is something about a humanoid robot protagonist who is also a gumshoe detective, which has me smiling before the first page. Such is Agent #42, where the robot also has an excitable sense of optimism and stylized humor, who for both issues thus far has himself mixed up in action and rough situations. For a robot, he seems awfully human in mannerisms and reaction. The overall situation for this issue places him in troubles that simply stand in his way. For now, it’s a jumble in wondering just what the end mission and motivation are for a robot to be a human detective. Maybe there is an answer, or not. There is much to ponder for such a silly concept.

Demonic #1 (Image) by Christopher Sebela, Niko Walter, Dan Brown

A new horror with a not-so-original concept, yet revitalizing in execution. Here, is another gullible soul willing to sacrifice all that he is for the life of his family; for an otherworldly demonic force in need of his soul to carry out lethal vengeance. Yet, I love the art and playful panel dispositions. The violence and gore are a bit unsettling, but not over-the-top and but forefront to the story. There is a way of things here, which keeps me interested in the page turning. Yet, the overall story does not have me quite hooked, nor as interested in the overall arc. Still, there may be a payoff in future issues. I may look into it.

I Hate Fairyland (Image) by Skottie Young, Jean-Francois Beaulieu

I didn’t think I would still find myself reading this far. Yet, there is something about the world of Skottie Young that makes me see past the disturbing humor and the loud, bright and colorful art. With this issue, i see it now in its protagonist anti-heroine. She is not invincible and losing control more and more of her fantasy. She seems ever more dependent on the world she hates, to find a satisfactory end to her strange hell, which I ponder is becoming a reflection of her troubled mind . Ever more, she relishes in the challenge to participate in a strange coin-op game inspired fighting bout. Though it backfires horribly, there is a sort of moral lesson in humility that Gert and the readers can sink in. Perhaps, she is closer to her goal than she thinks.

Black Hammer #2 (Dark Horse) by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart

The second issue clarifies some of the mystery of the first issue while leaving much open to speculate on the future issues. We learn much about one particular character, a girl with Captain Marvel (the Shazam one) like origins and powers but with a twist. The story bounces back to the present with the current predicament of former heroes trapped somewhere, of which is questionable in reality. There is much thought on what the writer is looking to convey, perhaps as a metaphor on the changing complexities of superheroes these days. Still, I am finding myself hooked towards the interesting characters and mood-driven art.

Broken Moon #1 (American Gothic Press) by Phillip Kim, Nat Jones

NOTE: PUT OUT DIGITALLY VIA COMIXOLOGY SUBMIT.

A dark yet spirited post-apocalyptic tale that feels refreshed with interesting new elements mixed with the usual cliches of Darwinism and terrible weather. Here, men of different beastly natures must forge an uneasy alliance to fight a much bigger beast (a scary Kraken!) and other dangers. The art is wonderfully spooky with murky tones mixed with strategically placed brightness. It’s fun for the horror-hearted and less squeamish while setting the stage for interesting twists and turns. For its 99-cent digital price, this first issue is worth a look with an end that will likely have the reader clamoring for more.

Star Trek #60 (IDW) by Mike Johnson, Tony Shasteen

A sweet finale to the series that took place in the Abrams Trekverse but gave much more than the movie could in original stories and fan service. For here, that went double as the original series crew met (sort of) the Abrams crew. The story was an interesting one for each crew studying each other with curiosity while working together to solve their strange predicament. The conclusion, I felt was a bit of a wink to the fans of the old and new, of those who enjoyed the new movies and that old Prime continuity..that the players may change but Star Trek is best when the message remains the same. Through the many (but not all) comics of Star Trek, I felt the original spirit of Roddenberry continued on.

That’s all until next time. Did we miss anything on the shelves, that is a worthy read?  Do you have further thoughts on the books covered here? Leave a comment below!

Orion T – SW chief writer and seeker of great comic books and all related wonderful things.

 

Stranger Reads – Comics Log 2016.8.9 – Up the Weirdness…

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Last week was a bit weird, with chances taken on the unfamiliar while engaging the usual strangeness I love. I have a few interesting books this week, and added a couple oddities from the recent past. Such is the good time, when one can try new things; adding favorites upon favorites.

Here we go (with minor spoilers)..

NEW COMICS FROM LAST WEEK:

Paper Girls #8 (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang

Another great issue with a little more character development and action than the usual. I love how Mac continues on with her smoking, knowing her fate lies elsewhere. Erin converses with her future self with little worry on the impact of her life, though such reveals deeper complexities and questions to her character. Meanwhile, the future keeps getting stranger, which leaves me to ponder what is truly going on, and how much do the subplots of the Paper Girls personal lives really mean on the developments on the bigger picture. Such is great storytelling, though I can’t even begin to guess on where is all goes. Also, great coloring and art as usual.

Cinema Purgatorio #4 (Avatar) by Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill, Kieron Gillen, Garth Ennis, Max Brooks, and more

An all right issue, with writer favorites paired with great artists taking advantage of the black and white medium. The opening story with Alan Moore, I had trouble grasping the meaning of it all, as there is some sort of presentation of a familiar ape of classic cinema, revealing a much more complex personal story. The conclusion left me scratching my head. Perhaps, I should read that again, because the visual sequence by Kevin O’Neill is awesome. The other stories are all right, with my favorite being the one by Kieron Gillen, carrying on a sort of gaming motif with a sort of metaphysical approach. Overall, I love the varied art styles which come together to tug at the imagination by mixing familiar settings with fantastical situations. I feel this latest result has been the most experimental.

Animosity (Aftershock) #1 Marguerite Bennett, Rafeal  de Latorre

This is off to a kickass start! The premise is simple, yet endless in possibilities; where the animals of the world are suddenly intelligent and speaking English. The results are shocking, touching, violent, emotional, violent with sudden personas taking over. Many are instantly evil, while others become compassionate; mostly depends on their current situation. The situation turns into a survive or die for a young protagonist and her dog, as they fight together to survive. The pacing is high, with great action and drama. I love the art and coloring, very modernist but sticking to a classic comic panel format. The only big problem is the book being over too soon, leaving me begging for more.

TWO FROM PREVIOUS WEEKS:

Kentucky Fried Chicken presents: Colonel Corps (DC) by Antony Bedard, Tom Derenick

NOTE: A free comic digitally available through DC’s online app and Comixology service, or in print to the lucky attendees standing round the DC booth at the recent San Diego Comic Con.

Wow, just what did I read?! How does one even think of such a ridiculous over the top story about a fast food icon traveling the multiverse collecting alternate realties of itself to fight a an evil mirror universe mastermind? Such is packed with many DC Multiverse eggs for the hardcore fans out there. As for Colonel Sanders fans not so much on the DCU, get ready for odd references to the Kingdom Come universe, Teen Titans Go, Bizarro World, and more surprises. The creepiest of them, is one Colonel Sanders joining the fray as an actual chicken variant (!). Such overall is a hilarious ad awesome treat, which somehow ends up as original and crispy.

Heart of Weirdness by Seth Andrew Jacob, Michael Lee Macdonald

NOTE: Digitally available via the Comixology Submit program. Click here if interested.

A nice little gem for those who love a short story with no limits. Here, a soldier risks his sanity in traveling to another universe to find a madman whose taken over. The story takes the reader through otherworldly landscapes with strange life and bizarre tech; which overall makes sense is and is not too weird when the reader’s mind accepts. I love the art, with a throwback to the classic Heavy Metal mags and cool indie sci-fi of yesterday. I wished much for the story to have lasted longer, to go deeper past its abrupt end; leaving the reader to ponder what really happened. For the 99 cents price of the digital format, Heart of Weirdness is a worthwhile read.

That’s all until next time. Did we miss anything on the shelves, that is a worthy read?  Do you have further thoughts on the books covered here? Leave a comment below!

Orion T – SW chief writer and seeker of great comic books and all related wonderful things.