And we're back. After a lengthy break (in part due to our dedicated SPX coverage) I'm happy to report that Spandexless Reads is back on track, delivering our weekly roundup of pulls, reads, and recommendations. With Halloween just around the corner, we've all been getting into the gory, the gruesome, and the grim. Except David, who has been spending some quality time with concept art you could spend hours geeking out over Erik Sugay // Resident Reads phantom
"There are these beautiful, rich, young students. They’re jerks. Spoiled. Worst of the worst. This book’s just about putting them in detention and subjecting them to horrible situations where they will die in gruesome ways.”
Note that certainty of the characters' demise.
That was how author Matt Spradlin successfully sold me a copy of his (quite) graphic novel, Bad Kids Go to Hell. Many will liken the story to The Breakfast Club (the stellar casting of Judd Nelson in the film adaptation should tip you off) with a liberal dose of the supernatural. Frankly, it’s difficult to find a better, more succinct way to describe its primary elements – teens serving Saturday detention in a library, restless, vengeful spirits, and plenty of death.
It’s a fun homage to classics that may well find its own deserved niche.
Patrick Smith // Has a P.H.D. in brutality
Given that Halloween is right around the corner, I'm actively trying to sit down and read some horror comics I've been neglecting over the last few months. This week the previously neglected comic was Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner's Witch Doctor. The book revolves around Dr. Vincent Morrow, an occult physician who uses the sword of excalibur as his scalpel. With his medical team, ex-paramedic/ex-Navy SEAL Eric Gast and the demonically possessed Penny Dreadful, they protect, heal, and (barring those) exorcise the supernaturally afflicted residents of Arkham, Oregon. Seifert does a great job at crafting a story, based around the interpretation of monsters as allegories for infectious diseases (not unlike Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogans' The Strain), that's jam packed with creepy moments, keeping the tone light enough so that the whole thing never gets oppressively dark. Ketner's art took me a little while to get used to, but by the time the simply grotesque, baby-mimicking "Cuckoo Faerie" showed up, I was completely on board. In the horror genre, creature design is an incredibly important but often under-appreciated element, and Ketner really goes all out for the few beasties the book throws at the reader. The best part of this book though, at least for me, is that the creative team left themselves a lot of room for expansion in any future installment, while at the same time defining the book's world and characters enough so that no part of the book feels uneven. The book isn't perfect, but it has enough bravado and interesting ideas that it's a thoroughly entertaining read from start to finish. It's also something I would definitely recommend to anyone who wants to read a solid horror comic instead of flipping through their Walking Dead trades for the umpteenth time.
Anthony Rosen // Condemned to wander the internet for eternity
If you've been reading the site for long enough, you might remember when Alex sat down to speak with John Allison at last year's SPX. This guy has been doing a charmingly British series of webcomics since 1998, all set in the same universe, whose inhabitants continue to confront a consortium of bizarre and spooky events in and around the small town of Tackleford. On Friday, he posted up a mini from years back, originally unavailable online, that details the escapades of a character who disappeared partway through Allison's last series, Scary Go Round, before re-appearing recently in Bad Machinery, his current comic. The mini features teen angst and a fight with Robo-Hitler in hell.
So yeah, it's pretty great.
With Halloween approaching (and the handy link leading me back to the original disappearance of Erin Winters) I've thrown myself into the deep end of the site's archives, and I've had a great time re-reading old storylines. If, for whatever reason, you're one of those people who still hasn't read either Scary Go Round or Bad Machinery, I highly recommend you go check them out.
David Anderson // Lost in Space
I don't know if this counts as comics but it certainly can be sometimes, at least from what I've seen. Ever heard of Concept Ships? It's an art blog I've been reading for years now, so it's probably decently well-known at this point. It's received some accolades from other sites and a magazine --if I remember correctly-- a while back, though I'm too lazy to look for the links. I can, however, point you towards the aforementioned blog and its (soon to be) six offshoots, all managed by the user igortshirts (or igor tkac). They're pretty awesome time-wasters. I never get bored of staring at every little detail and these blogs informed me of quite a few really awesome images before reddit ever pretended to be the first to find them.
While most of the images come from movie and videogame portfolios, I have also seen work that can definitely fit in with the comic book crowd, or at least adorn a book cover. You can submit your own art or search for an artist you like on the sites, so if you're looking for a swank artist to do some work for you, or want your work to get out there, this might be a good bet.