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Comic Review: Tales from the Comics Experience with Andy Schmidt

Tales From the Comics Experience is a collection of thirteen original stories from writers who attended Andy Schmidt’s comic writing workshop “Comics Experience”. Each of the authors found letterers and artists to depict their stories in black and white. Many of these writers have not seen publication before. As a result, the stories can be hit or miss on quality.

The first story is by Richard P. Clark. In “Star: Battling Slippage” a barely-dressed assassin who videotapes her kills and places them on the internet find that her videos are no longer number one in the charts. Frustrated, she turns to the one thing she had not yet done. Clark has written for Playboy, so you can imagine what comes next. Clark also provided the rather excellent artwork for his own story, this reader just would have preferred a story with more class.

George O’Connor’s “Mr. Awesome Saves the World …” is rather hard to understand initially. However, are-read reveals that the story is about a superhero who no longer wishes to be, and the friend who may be taking up his mantle. The blocky artwork by S. Griffin, with the lackluster and obtuse dialogue, make it hard to understand what is going on in the story.

“Far from the Tree” by Eric Drumm is a story of a father seeking redemption from his son, though this is not revealed until the end of the story. With artwork by Richard Clark, this story is allright, but not great. It lacks enough interest, and the dialogue is a bit wooden.

“Bugged” by Frederick Kim is a story of aliens, though there is twist ending. I like how Kim related phrasing and characterization from the beginning and reworked it into the ending. It made the story work as a whole, rather than being a just a vignette. The story is complete, and has nice artwork by Antonio Bifulco.

“Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit” by Rob Anderson is a comic book version of A. Lee Martinez’s novel Monster. In both tales, animal control employees capture fictional animals or creatures that others don’t see. Anderson’s story is about the working class, and some the troubles they find on the job. Nicely, done, if not anything new. Leandro Panganiban provided the realistc, “Mary Worth” style artwork.

“Sleight of Mind” by Kevin D. Lintz is the only sword and sorcery tale of the bunch. In it, a magician undergoing torture uses illusion to foil the plot of his torturer. The dialogue is pretentious in style, overworking itself into sounding ancient in such fashion that it undermines the story. It is also too heavily reliant on theHe-Man looking artwork of Dan Rive to tell the story, so much so that the two don’t seem to match. In essence the dialogue by Lintz is vague pronouncements, artist Rive gets on with telling an actual narrative.

Joe Sergi’s “The Prisoner” a tale of an agoraphobic who believes he is at the end of the world is a clever little device and a funny little story. This tale is one of the best of the collection, though I don’t think that Marc Jameson’s dot-matrix artwork did real justice to this narrative.

“Well Beyond Reason” by JD Oliva is a gothic tale of cathedrals, demons and cults. Rendered in very, very black (almost too black to see anything) artwork by Jesse Kornhardt, the tale is rather frightening, with a unexpected twist I did not see coming. Well done.

“Broken Blade” by Nic Wolfe finds that sometimes ones greatest enemy is each other. Set in a future where humanity is battling another race, the story take place between two soldiers from a unit that has been destroyed fighting over right and wrong. The story brings forth the question buy then leaves it open-ended. Rudolfo Buscaglia provides detailed work, though sometimes the figures in the scenes are a bit indistinguishable from one another.

“Gabriel’s Regret” by Dan Rivera is set in a post-apocalyptic future where a monk has taken a vow of solitude. There are some similarities to the movie The Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington, though in the case of this protagonist, he makes the same mistake twice, though perhaps he will make good on it the second time. A good, solid story, one about whose character I would like to read more. Antonio Bifulco, provides more good art for this story as well.

“The Choice” by Neil Fisher, is set in a future where crystals help people survive. The protagonist, a pacifist, must decide between his principled or revenge when his child is slain by the authorities. Fisher’s story is a origin story, and I think that the tale has the potential to be developed into an interesting comic. Fisher establishes his world, his characters and his plot with just the right amount of dialogue, and works closely with the detailed art of Vincenzo Riccardi to make a complete and integrated tale of significant excitement.

“Glimmer” by Justin Heggs is an origin story about a telekinetic superhero. But her story is, sadly, like too many evne today, which grounds the unreal of the story in realism. Like the series when Iron Man becomes a drunk, as Glimmer shares the story of her family, the reader finds that human quality of the superhero. Nicely constructed, and the only comic of the bunch to use narration mixed with dialogue. Scott Kawalchuck seems to draw inspiration from Batman: The Animated Series for his artwork, an appropriate choice given the content of the comic.

“The Struggle” by Joshua Osborne is a standard narrative of a cop who regrets a past action. There is no original material or new presentation of story here, and I found the whole thing rather ho-hum. Branco Jovanovic’s art is a set of ideals, not detailed enough considering that much of the story is best conveyed through facial expressions, something Jovanovic does only in extremes. There is not subtely to expression in the characters faces, something that was needed in a story where the scenery does not change from panel to panel.

There are some good stories, some bad ones in this collection. I was not overly impressed with most of them, only wanting to read more from one or two of the thirteen authors.