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Zombie Outlaw #1 Review

7 May

Excerpt from review copy: 

Matt Naismith is a college sophomore. He’s recently been paired (as a lab partner) with the girls of his dreams, K.T. Delaney. With the help of his friends and resident advisor, Will Simers, Matt hopes to win the heart of the fair K.T. Unfortunately for Matt, Will needs a little help with his graduate thesis…

Zombie Outlaw Issue #1 by writer Brian J. Apocada and B. Paul Jordan was a real mixed bag of a read for me. While I enjoy pieces of the artwork and the ideas that were presented in the book and its attempts at giving a fresher look at the zombie genre, I have some very specific qualms with how the story pans out and exactly what it is supposed to entail.

Tonally, this book doesn’t know what it wants to be. It sets the stage as your atypical college, wrought with young (and horny) coeds yet splices in violent depictions of zombie fights. While the fight scenes were tremendously engrossing, visually appealing and well put together graphically, I found it difficult to transition from a comedic college classic tale to an action-packed zombie thriller within the confines of this short first issue. I found the book rather unclear in its message and direction, leaving me as a reader, puzzled at the end of the first issue, instead of excited for more.

This unclear nature echoes my main problem with the writing of the story, which concerns the unexplained, randomly placed plot elements throughout the book. As an example, one of our heroes, Will Simers, upon finding the zombie corpse he has been hunting, professes, “This could be the key to landing that internship!” , a motivation which wasn’t made clear in any part of the story leading up to that point, making it extremely difficult to assess Will as a character. We don’t know where he is coming from, thought-wise, and while this could be used to paint him as a carefree adventurer with a hidden agenda, it just comes off as annoying and unrealistic. Another example is the ending of the first book, which states, “So it begins again!” What begins? How is this curse repetitious? Very little of the zombie part of this book is explained and while it meets the minimum requirement to peak someone’s interest, it makes you wonder how long we might get strung along on small bites of information. The book suffers dearly from unexplained plot devices, character elements and just a general coherent story all together. We don’t know much about these characters, their school, the legend of Dransby or much of anything, which didn’t help me to develop any emotional attachment to the story. It feels as though it is trying to be so much at once that it loses all of its key elements and meaning in the final product, which is unfortunate.

Just to briefly cover the artwork, I felt mixed about it as well. As I mentioned beforehand, the scenes depicting zombies or any Dransby back-story artwork come off as fantastically crafted. They elicit a wonderful sense of fear, confusion and general creepiness that goes along well with the subject matter, however, the rest of the artwork takes a bit getting used to. The characters all sport larger than life forearms and are oddly proportioned all around, often changing shape as the story progressed. I understand the artwork is meant to create a bright, fun and cartoony depiction but I found this to be disorienting as it created inconsistency across the book. As my one glaring example, when Will is introduced, he has very apparent bags under his eyes and definitive cheekbones that just seem to disappear on the next page and then reappears pages later.

To wrap things up, as much as I have picked at this book, I firmly believe that it has a lot of potential to either find its footing or change itself completely. What initially attracted me to this book is the idea of becoming a zombie as a part-time curse, rather than a full-time, can’t-come-back-from-it change. I think it is fresh, great build on the pre-existing zombie material and setting the story in a college environment is smart. I would just encourage the duo to pick a direction and stay with it because I think they could have something really good on their hands.

A review copy was supplied by the author. For more information on where to purchase the book, please visit the Comixpress link (which can be found here) or contact Brian J. Apocada via Twitter: @Capn_Midnight

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“Oh, really, Doctor?” My travels to NYCC/NYAF 2010

13 Oct

Hello everyone, its been awhile and I apologize for that. I’ve been wrapped up with an art project (The Straw Hat crew as different colored Lantern Corps) over at DMG -> MP (my art blog) and then I attended NYCC/NYAF this weekend.

This was my first experience at the amalgam convention and while I am disappointed that I never got to attended either of them seperately, it dawned on me that this was a monumental occasion to attend the first convention that represented both fandoms. Although one could argue exactly how much of the same coverage NYAF got over NYCC. For the most part, the American Comics community, as well as the television, films and gaming communities, dominated not only the attention of the convention goers but largely the amount of floor space that was taken up. As someone who is a fan of both worlds of content, I was left a bit perplexed; it was very easy to find the DC & Marvel booths, toys & single issues, but I really had to dig deep to find the manga and their subsequent publishers booths. Vertical, the publisher that is increasingly becoming the fan favorite among Manga readers, was all the way in the small press section, receiving much less visibility than it deserves to.

If you were there for NYAF and not on the show room floor, than you could undoubtedly be found in the lower levels of the 1E convention hall. Packed to the gils with fan drawings of Bishonen, Haruhi Cosplay and a complete performance stage, you knew where you were right when you hopped off the escalator. It was a like a miniature version of what I think attracts a lot of people (especially tweens and younger teens) to an Anime Con in the first place; the sense of a community of people who will accept and appreciate this special interest of yours. Who won’t ignore but applaud you if you know all the words to your favorite theme . In a way though, it really segregated them though; that smaller community was sequestered to that one area of the convention center. Is that what we really want to see in the future of our conventions? A segregation of fandom or do we want to see fans of all types and ages merging together? I, for one, would like to see more a mixing pot of fandom; I think both sides of American and Japanese have a lot that they can learn from each other. We aren’t that different after all.

Moving away from the one really negative thing about NYCC/NYAF, the sheer amount of panels was amazing. They ranged from enormous discussions and premieres (I missed the panel about the new Green Lantern television show) to small more personal discussions. The three that stand out the most to me are:

  • Comics/Graphic Novels that are Good for Kids , which thankfully wasn’t a discussion about content as much as it was a discussion about the literacy of children and their parents in this day and age. They did choose some great titles at the end but it was really enlightening.
  • The History of Superhero Movies: Past, Present and Future, which is just as fun as it sounds. Historian Eddy Friedfeld has an expansive and very cohesive presentation prepared for this panel, which showcases a lot of great footage throughout the years of all the different incarnations of Heroes in film. I would recommend this to anyone.
  • Comics Events that Really Work, where Christopher Butcher of the internet and Beguiling comics in Toronto, presents simple but extremely effect examples of fun ways to get people in your store and in the local comics community.

All the panels I attended or participated in (I did a Culinary Manga panel with Erin Finnegan & Noah Fulmor) were educational and worth my time and all the ones I missed, I heard we’re just the same. It seems that NYCC is very selective about what they choose for events and I think that goes a long way.

Finally, I have three thoughts I’d like to end with and I will get the funny ones out of the way first, to save the sentimentality.

  1. I can never tell if eyepatches at Conventions are real or not and that irks me a bit. I understand that most of them are probably for show but sometimes you just have to wonder.
  2. If you are looking to lose weight, attend every con that you can. I was on my feet for atleast 5 to 6 hours for the whole day and was so consumed by what was going on that I ate significantly less than I normally do (which for those of you who don’t know me is a lot)
  3. The crowd here, was the best that I’ve ever experienced. I met so many people just in, around and outside the center (I’m sure being dressed as Dr. Who helped) but I had great conversations with a lot of publishers and retailers, ending with me always handing out a business card. I can’t wait to stay in contact.

All in all, I can’t wait to attend this Con again. Right after I recover from it 😛 Until next post, please enjoy this picture of me with other Dr’s.