Category Archives: Reviews

No Such Thing As Reviews #12 Psychosis Issue #2! Independent Comic And Pop Culture Reviews.

Hello everybody and welcome to this weeks edition of No Such Thing As Reviews! Otherwise known as N S T A R (These are hard, I’m taking a week off. Get off my back about it. Sheesh). I’m Ryan Atkinson and every week here on No Such Thing As Reviews we’ll be reviewing independent comic books, t.v., movies and much more! In our reviews we will include a brief description of what we will be reviewing, a summary of the content (Spoiler Alert!!) my personal thoughts on the content including a rating out of 5 and whenever possible we will include an interview with the creators themselves!

This week on No Such Thing As Reviews we’ll be moving on to another issue of something previously reviewed in the first edition of No Such Thing As Reviews with Psychosis issue#2! Written by Adam Atkinson (No relation) with cover work and interior work by David Coates and shading done by Christian Stewart.

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Issue 2 picks up pretty close to where book 1 left off. We’re at the funeral of the girl who died in the last book. There is a group of people standing around her body atop a pyre. We get some dialogue from Victor giving us a quote that means a great deal to him. “Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more.”He then proceeds to blame himself and wish that it was him in her place now.

He drops to his knees and we get taken to a flashback of his childhood at an orphanage. He is being comforted by a staff member by the looks of her, as they are standing around another funeral pyre.

Victor says it was his job to look out for the dead child but the woman comforts him again and says it isn’t his fault.

The woman walks away and another kid comes over to Victor and tells him exactly that, it’s all his fault.

The kid then knocks one of Victors teeth out.

Victor falls to the ground and Psychosis takes over. He beats the holy shit out of the dickhead kid to the point where other children have to rush in and pull Victor off of him.

All the while through this flashback we are told through narration from present Victor that this was the first time he felt totally helpless. He saw himself as weak and defenseless and the dormant Psychosis inside him had enough of staying on the sidelines and finally broke into the picture.

There is also some banter thrown in from Psychosis agreeing with things like Victor being too weak to handle himself alone.

But they can both agree with one thing. Together they’re unstoppable.

We see that Victor has been passed out for this whole flashback when he is awoken by some of his group. He asks how long he was out and the scientist-y looking member of the group says he was out for four hours.

He says they need to run some more tests on Victor on what I assume is trying to figure out what causes his Psychosis blackouts.

The doctor says there have been no clear answers as of yet but more tests need to be done.

Victor gets up and leaves to check in with a person named Alex.

Alex is a guy confined to a wheelchair. He greets Victor and is glad that he’s finally awake. Victor asks if there is any news in the world and Alex says not much except that someone called Vegas is planning a party.

Victor tells him to keep him posted.

Victor then speaks to a girl in the room and mentions she seems to be adjusting well. She says that she is so far and Victor begins to tell her that if she needs anything he’s here for her but she cuts him off. They both understand each other though so it’s all good.

Alex hands Victor a tablet and tells him he’s gathered all the information he has on “The Brothers” so far.

“The Brothers” are Brian “Arc” Barrieau and Lissandro Gutierriez (AKA The Son Of Hades). Arc’s weapon of choice is a Viking styled battleaxe that allows him to harness his body’s electrical field. The Son Of Hades wields a flaming sword that when it cuts you the wound takes ages longer to heal than normal. It is also rumored that with the sword he is able to steal your soul but there is no proof of that as of yet.

Alex warns Victor that these guys aren’t to be messed with, that they’ll straight up murder him if he goes up against them and Victor says that’s all the more reason to go after them, they can’t be allowed to be roaming around.

Alex is worried but Victor reassures  him that he’ll be fine.

Victor leaves and goes to meet with his Sensei. On the way Psychosis is toying with him agreeing that these guys are too tough for Victor, or “Vicky” as he calls him.

The Sensei seems to be able to hear the banter between Psychosis and Victor in their head.

The purpose of the old man is to help Victor live in harmony with Psychosis because though Victor is a good man and his intentions are good, Psychosis is willing to do what is necessary and Victor isn’t quite.

We come to this over the next couple pages while the old guy and Victor spar and Psychosis mouths off in Victors head. The Sensei can hear it obviously and takes advantage of Victor being distracted and gets a shot in. Psychosis takes over and pummels the old fella.

Victor eventually takes control again but this is when the Sensei hears Psychosis say in his head that Victor can’t survive without him. Sensei agrees.

Victor walks into a boardroom with a huge screen playing video of a pair of people walking down a street with tons of spectators lining the sides of the road, stoning the pair.

Some of the group in the room don’t understand why no one steps in to help and Victor says it’s because some are afraid and some just enjoy it.

Victor speaks with Psychosis directly and says they need to work together to stop what is happening and Psychosis agrees.

He goes to suit up and the Sensei is in his room to tell him to share control, to work together, neither one can be the one in control, they need to cooperate.

Psychosis begrudgingly agrees fully with the old guy.

The last shot if the book is Psychosis agreeing over top of an image of Victor holding a photograph of young him with two other children.

 

And that’s the end of issue 2 of Psychosis!

This is a good continuation of the last book, some independent books seem to have a hard time continuing a cohesive story from one issue to the next but Adam has done a good job of keeping everything linear.

I really like this book, in my opinion I like issue one a little bit more but don’t let that come across that I dislike this issue by any means! This is a great book and I can’t wait to see where it leads to next!

My rating of this book is as follows:

Story- 4/5
Artwork- 4/5

I would for sure recommend this issue and series for anyone at all it has elements that can appeal to many different kinds of fans, just keeping in mind a parental discretion warning for having coarse language and mature themes.

I’d like to give a big congrats to Adam & Team as Psychosis has just been picked up by Outpouring Comics!

AND ALSO!

A big congrats to Lisa Corey and Denis Cote! Lisa proposed to Denis at the end of this book and he said yes! WAY TO GO GUYS! :)`

Thanks for reading, everybody. If you’re an independent creator and would like us to review your works just comment below or feel free to contact me directly at atkinsonryang@gmail.com!

I’ve been Ryan Atkinson and remember,

There’s No Such Thing As Reviews!

No Such Thing As Reviews #11 Disunity Issue #2! Independent comic and pop culture reviews.

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of No Such Thing As Reviews! Otherwise known as Nautical Star Tattoos Are Ridiculous (Even though I sort of have one).

I’m Ryan Atkinson and every week here on No Such Thing As Reviews, we’ll be reviewing a plethora of pop culture and wonderful things! Most often will be independent comic books, but who knows, T.V., movies and many other things may show up. The reviews will consist of a brief overview of what we will be reviewing, a small summary of the content (SPOILER ALERT!!), my personal thoughts on the content including a rating out of 5 and whenever possible we will include an interview with the creators as well!

This week we’re still in the realm of comic books and we’re taking a look at the second issue of something already reviewed! We’ll be looking at Disunity Issue 2 by Ron Batchelor and Rem Fields.

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The book opens with a cityscape on top of a glowey, squirmy looking ball of.. stuff. With birds flying all around it and a spaceship travelling towards it. We are told through voice over that it is a location called Tartarus and like many things in the world, it shouldn’t be here.

We are told that its buildings are made from “Recombinant Metalloids” which allow the rooms to adapt to the people inside them.

Our Chuck Norris-esque protagonist John enters one of these rooms and is greeted by a room full of people. Cronus a pale white bald being with no nose to speak of, Porter a guy with light blue hair that seems to be wearing a bath robe, Cayce a woman with markings or tattoos all over her body, Jayden a blonde haired woman and a cowboy named Lee. They then discuss the need to find out where Stump was getting his information prior to his murder. One member of the group asks “What if there isn’t any?” and John gets a little grumpy at the notion that they think he  or Stump are lying. Another steps in and calms him down by saying all that was meant is what if this is a trap to lure them out because it wouldn’t be the first time.

John then explains that there’s no way for him to know that for sure but he isn’t about to just sit idly by and do nothing.

John explains that a sample of Stump’s tissue is all ready to examined, and tells the Cayce  to get a lock on their target from it asap without wearing herself out too much. We also learn that she is a telepath.

He then asks Cayce what the deal is with Lee and the cowboy stuff because he looks dumb.

We then go back to the group where Lee is talking with Cronus. Lee mentions that he looks like hes got a bad feeling and Cronus says he believes that they’re all heading into a bad situation.

Porter says of course it is because it’s one of John’s plans and that he’s done being a foot soldier in a seemingly unwinnable war. Lee asks  what he means and Porter says that no matter what happens he quits their little crusade because Stump was one of them and he doesn’t want to end up just like him. There’s an island in the pacific that he plans on running to that hasn’t had a Phase Event in years and hopefully he’ll be able to stay there in peace.

Jump back over to John and Cayce. Cayce is hooked up to a machine that allows her abilities to be amplified which allows her to view images f the past, present and future. Past and present are a breeze but with all the Phase nonsense the future can be pretty garbled up.

Too bad for Cayce though that focusing on Stump causes her to feel all the emotions that he felt when he was murdered.

In her pain she gets a glimpse of the one who murdered him but also of another person that we don’t know as of yet.

Cut over to John talking with the group, he is going over the events of Stump’s murder and what followed. He mentions the guy teleporting away and Cronus cuts him off and says he didn’t teleport, he phased. Which John calls out as bullshit because no one could possible be able to harness a controlled phase.

Cronus says he is certain based on what their equipment has picked up about the event.

John says if it’s true the guy could be anywhere and Cronus says based on his final message of “See you soon” the problem will most likely solve itself.

Cayce cuts them off because she’s got a lock on that other person in her vision. It’s their old friend Squeak.

They head on over to Fero City where Squeak is at and we learn that the city was another place effected by the Phase. It popped up as an empty ghost town and it’s turned into somewhat of a refugee camp.

John gets warned by a robot to just turn around because the folks in the bar don’t take kindly to native folks but John goes in anyway.

He finds Squeak surrounded by a bunch of chicks.  Not bad for a giant lemur with three toes on each foot. Squeak freaks at the sight of John and throws his whiskey bottle at him and bolts. John follows him out of the bar and Squeak is jumping up a fire escape and John decides to just let him wear himself out.

Porter rings up John asking if he needs his help and John says yeah cause hes running. We see Porter on John’s phone through video chat and it shows Porter’s name and his location set to “home”. Then we see it show a bunch of smoke with Porter’s name still up but the location set to unknown.

He then pops up showing he’s teleported to stop Squeak.

Squeak get’s brought in for questioning about Stump. We learn that his employer, Desai, hired him to set up a meet and greet with him.

They ask who Desai is and Squeek explains that he is the owner of the biggest barter city on the planet. Las Vegas. A wasteland as far as the group knows but Squeak insists and makes sure they know not to use his name if they go digging.

John insists that they are going and Cayce cautions against it because it’s an obvious trap. She keeps trying to talk him out of it and he persists.

We learn that Vegas is where John got dropped when he went through the wormhole. He is unconscious but gets woken up by a woman running by because there is some kind of monster coming their way so he better haul ass.

And it is one hell of a monster. 7 eyes, 4 of which are hanging out of its face by tendrils. A bunch of extra limbs but most of them have big spikes on the ends instead of hands or feet, it towers over John nearly if not for sure double his size. It gets ready to eat him then KABLAMO some guy shoots it in the head. Phew.

John asks him what that thing was and he is a bit sarcastic about it, really.. “How should I know? The worlds gone to shit and we’re all out of toilet paper”. Dink.

Then ANOTHER big monster shows up, this one sort of a Kraken-ish but on land tentacley squid thing with a hairy underside and the eyes of a fly. Or multiple flies.

The guy tries to kill it but it gets the jump on him. He shouts to John for help and he grabs a huge slab of concrete that is next to him and hurls it at the monster. But he misses and hits his would be savior square in the noggin. Good one John. He then grabs the guys gun and shoots the hell out of the monster. Less sarcastic good one John!

The guy gets free and John barfs his guts out.

Then we jump back to present and we learn that John hasn’t been back in decades.

End of Issue 2!

I didn’t go as spoilery as normal, I glazed over some things but that’s only because this book just came out for one, but also I think it’s really worth a read through.

My rating for this book is as follows:

Story- 4.5/5
Artwork- 4/5

I would for sure recommend this book for everyone to read if you like sci-fi and action based mystery stories.

I really liked the first book of this series and I really like the second!

I didn’t grab an interview for this one but that’s only because we interviewed them last time so check out issue one’s review linked earlier in this review!

I’d like to thank Rem for reaching out! As I mentioned the book came out today and I’ve had the book for a little bit now so it was cool to get to read it in advance!

You can find issue two for sale on Comixology here.

If you’re an independent creator and would like your works reviewed please feel free to contact me at atkinsonryang@gmail.com! And that’s for anything at all, comics, books, films, music, decorative lawn furniture.

Thank you all for reading!

I’ve been Ryan The Spectacular and remember,

There’s No Such Thing As Reviews!

No Such Thing As Reviews #10: Nyobi Issue 1. Independent and Pop Culture Reviews

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of No Such Thing As Reviews! Otherwise known as Next September They’re All Retired <– sheesh these are getting harder than I anticipated….

I’m Ryan Atkinson and every Tuesday here on No Such Thing As Reviews, we’ll be reviewing a plethora of pop culture and wonderful things! Most often will be independent comic books, but who knows, T.V., movies and many other things may show up. The reviews will consist of a brief overview of what we will be reviewing, a small summary of the content (SPOILER ALERT!!), my personal thoughts on the content including a rating out of 5 and whenever possible we will include an interview with the creators as well!
This week I’ll be reviewing the comic book Nyobi issue #1. Nyobi was created and is written by Larry Higgins with the cover artwork and interior shading done by Andre Boulard and the interior artwork done by David Coates.

nyobi 1 cover
The main character of this story, Nyobi Lee, is a Japanese/American J-Pop star from the group “The Geisha Girls”. When she was 16 at a fan meet and greet, after being swarmed by a large group of fans was engulfed in a ring of bright light and vanished, reappearing at the back of the building she also finds out at a later date that she is able to use the same fields she teleports through for energy blasts.
Nyobi as a character was first thought up by Larry Higgins as an RPG character back nearly 20 years ago and has evolved into quite a heroine in her own right.
The story in issue #1 centers around Lucas Cassie, a teenager who is going through a bout of depression and is stumbled upon by a – for a lack of better words – shadowy demon that feeds off of the sadness, hate and despair of the world. This demon can sense how strong Lucas’ negative energy is and decides to jump on the opportunity to siphon off of Lucas and in the same instance increase his depression.
We follow Lucas through a typically rough school day for him, the only upside to the day is his crush says hello to him out of nowhere and brightens up his day. Until later in the day her boyfriend stops Lucas out in the school yard. Feeds him the “Stay away from my girl..” line and starts to beat him to a pulp until she comes in and seems to intervene. She gets the bully to stop just long enough for her to help him up, and give him a swift kick in the nuts.
This proves to be the last straw for Lucas and he decides, to the shadow demons delight, that he will commit suicide once he gets home to the high rise apartment he and his family live in.
He writes his note, and proceeds to jump from the balcony.
Meanwhile while this is happening, Nyobi is getting ready for a meeting and learns over social media that a fan of hers is planning on committing suicide and she finds out Lucas’ address and immediately teleports to his apartment and proceeds to catch him mid-air.
The book ends on a cliffhanger, once the ordeal is over, Nyobi is speaking with her agent and she mentions that her nose is bleeding. And ends with Nyobi looking frightened as old hell.
Overall I really liked this book. I’ve had some troubles with depression myself over the years and this story is a refreshing take on the superhero(ine) mythos.

Larry has assured the fans of his book that some questions that were left unanswered (including the bleeding nose and the shadow demon) are addressed in future issues and in issue 2 we will meet Nyobi’s first true villain, Avani.
I’m a huge fan of David Coates’ artwork, both in this book and in general and Andre Boulard did an amazing job on the cover and shading.

My rating for this book is:
Artwork- 4/5
Story-4/5

I would for sure recommend this book to anyone keeping in mind that this book does contain coarse language and mature themes, so parental discretion is advised.
Unfortunately this week there is no interview, womp womp. But that is only because issue #2 is right around the corner and we’ll be interviewing Larry Higgins for that issue!

 

Thank you all for reading! If you’re an independent  creator and would like to have your work reviewed please contact me directly at atkinsonryang@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you asap!

If you have any suggestions for next weeks alternate acronym (N.S.T.A.R.) leave a comment below!

I’ve been Ryan The Spectacular and remember, there’s no such thing as reviews!

No Such Thing As Reviews #9: Warsick’s Self titled Album! Independent Comic and Pop Culture reviews.

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of No Such Thing As Reviews! Otherwise known as Never Steal a Tardis And Run. I’m Ryan Atkinson and every week here on No Such Thing As Reviews, we’ll be reviewing a plethora of pop culture and wonderful things! Independent comic books, T.V., movies and more! The reviews will consist of a brief overview of what we will be reviewing, a summary of the content (spoiler alert!!), my personal thoughts on the content including a rating out of 5 and whenever possible we will include an interview with the creators!

Over the last couple weeks we’ve been taking a step away from comic books to review some other pieces of indie pop culture and this week is no different! Next week we’ll get back to comics, I promise! But this week? It’s going to be WAY different. I’m sure it can be argued that music isn’t necessarily pop culture. I would argue that you’re wrong and also you’re a weenie.

This week on No Such Thing As Reviews I’ll be reviewing Moncton New Brunswick local punk band Warsick’s debut self titled album. Warsick is made up of members Metal Mat on vocals, Ragin’ James on bass, Rob on drums and Mitchie Dagger on Guitar.

warsick image

Warsick is a fast, crusty, loud punk band, plain and simple and they do it well. They’ve played tons of shows around town, had a small tour of Quebec and Ontario this past spring and recently opened for Cancer Bats when they came to Moncton last month.

The track list is as follows:

1: Human Filth
2: Buried Alive
3: End Of Days
4: Enough Is Enough
5: Decapitated (Broken Bones Cover)
6: Wasteland
7: Violence

Clocking in at just over 14 minutes long they stick around long enough to punch your ear holes in the face and then take off before they know what hit them.

While I really enjoy this whole album, my favourite track has got to be the closing track, violence.

I would recommend this band to anyone who likes their music fast, loud and angry. Even if you don’t still give them a shot! You never know what you’ll like until you try!

I had the pleasure of speaking with Mitchie Dagger, the guitarist of Warsick about his creative process and some other topics and you can find that interview below!

What part do you play in the creative process?

“Well I’m not 100% percent sure what you mean haha. But I play both rhythm and lead guitar. We all write songs for the band. Like let’s say ill write a whole song sometimes. The guitar & bass riffs, and the lyrics. But I’m not a drummer so I Ieave that to Rob. But sometimes I’ll go into a jam and we just randomly come up with a new riff, and beat. Then Mat throws down some disgusting awesome lyrics and BAM we have a new song.”

How did the band come together?

“The band was originally “Rabid Reaction” but their guitar player quit shortly after this awesome show at The Caveau. I think part of him leaving was because the singer Mat kicked me in the chest during that set and knocked me down so hard I smacked my head off the concrete floor. They were known to kick people during sets so I didn’t really care too much. I was drunk, and I loved Rabid Reaction. So then after months go by I was approached by Mat at a show my old band I was in “Fear Agent” played (I was the singer) and he asked me if I’d be the new guitar player for Rabid Reaction. But he wanted to maybe change the name and style of the music, make a new band basically. So I replied with “Fuck yeah” and I just had to wait a few months for my shoulder to heal from getting surgery.”

Where has been your favourite place to play a show so far?

” I’d say my favourite place to play so far would totally be House Of Targ in Ottawa, Ontario. The people who run that place are super nice, and their Perogies kick ass! They have so many pinball, and arcade machines you feel like you’re a kid again. The night we played there was at a festival called “Bleak Life 2” and we actually played the 2nd night of that festival, we played with BLANKS 77. The crowd response for us was insane and awesome (considering we played on the pogo night and not the crusty street punk night). I would play there again in a heartbeat.”

Have you written any songs that you loved when you wrote them but hate to play now?

“No way, I write songs and will never bring them to the guys if I’m not 100% sure this song is wicked. But when the day comes of a song I hate to play I’ll let you know! Haha.”

What has been the biggest challenge as a band so far?

“The biggest challenge?… I honestly cant think of a big challenge we had. Maybe when we went on tour in the end of April this year we were just outside of Fredericton, and our tire almost blew, we lost air in it and it was leaking fast. So we were stuck on the side of the highway for about 2 hours or more. We couldn’t figure out how to get the spare tire off under the vehicle. It was rusted and seized on like a mother fucker. But we finally got it off, and then had to stop at a random garage to get the tire filled and put back on the suburban. We made it to Sherbrooke, Quebec like RIGHT on time for the first night of our tour.”

If you could only give one piece of advice for aspiring creators (Be it music, writing or any other means) what would it be? 

“Don’t give up on it, that’s the stupidest thing anyone can do when trying to accomplish anything. Work hard at it and if it still won’t work, drink a beer and go at it again.”

Where can people access your music?

“If anyone wants to hear us we have a bandcamp page with our first ever recordings on there Warsick.bandcamp.com . Plus we have a one sided 7” Flexi titled “Wasteland” and you can pick that up from our singer Mat O’Blenis directly from his distro “ROTTING HEAD RECORDS” or come to one of our shows and we would gladly sell you one, only five bones!”

What is your dream lineup for a show including Warsick? 

“Dream line up would be with Discharge, Broken Bones, and Wolfbrigade. But that’s just me haha. That’ll most likely NEVER happen. So I’m pretty pumped to play with anyone really. I love performing. Playing with local bands is wicked!

When can we expect the next Warsick album?

“We’re going to write over the winter months and play way less shows. So maybe by mid-end spring of 2016. We’ve been slack lately for writing tunes, We’re playing a lot haha..”

What are your personal favourite bands?

” My favourite bands hmmm I’ll give you a list of 5 not in any order. Circle Jerks, Discharge, Broken Bones, WolfBrigade, and my all time favourite local band, HARD CHARGER. These guys blow me away every time I fucking see them. They’re off the hook! I’d suggest anyone who’s into fast music to give these guys a listen they rule. hardcharger.bandcamp.com ”

I’d like to thank Mitchie for taking part in this week’s interview! You can find Warsick on Facebook by following this link!

I’ll be reviewing their other album Wasteland at another time and hopefully I’ll get to speak with another member of the band!

Thank you all for reading! If you’re an independent  creator and would like to have your work reviewed please contact me directly at atkinsonryang@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you asap!

If you have any suggestions for next weeks alternate acronym (N.S.T.A.R.) leave a comment below!

I’ve been Ryan Atkinson and remember, there’s no such thing as reviews!

No Such Thing As Reviews #8: Prone Grove Kickstarter! No Such Thing As Crowdfunding?

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of No Such Thing As Reviews! Otherwise known as Noisy Supermarkets Technically Aren’t Reasonable. I’m Ryan Atkinson and every week here on No Such Thing As Reviews, we’ll be reviewing a plethora of pop culture and wonderful things! Independent comic books, T.V., movies and more! The reviews will consist of a brief overview of what we will be reviewing, a summary of the content (spoiler alert!!), my personal thoughts on the content including a rating out of 5 and whenever possible we will include an interview with the creators!

So last week we had taken a smalllllllll step away from comic books and instead we reviewed a comic strip. Not much of a difference, really..

But THIS week? Sheesh. It’s way, way, WAY different!

This week we’ll be heading on over to Kickstarter to take a look at an animation project called Prone Grove created by Curtis Rioux!

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So since this isn’t a finished product this week’s review will be laid out a little bit differently than normal. Do I like the idea or do I think the idea is ridiculous? Would I back the project? And so on!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, 9 times out of ten if you want your project to succeed, you should have a pitch video. Not all who are successful have them and not all who have them are successful but it for sure helps. The layout of Kickstarter pages puts this pitch video right at the top of the page. Directly to the right of that lists the creators funding goal, the funds raised so far and the deadline. Below the video is where the description of the project is and below the funding information is where the “perks” or “rewards” are listed. These are what the creators offer in return for people’s donations.

To start, I 100% do not think this project is ridiculous. I didn’t even have to read the description to be interested in it, the video did all that for me.

Prone Grove is an animated show. A cartoon. But it’s not JUST a cartoon. It looks like a FRIGGING GOOD cartoon.

It is set in the present day but there’s a big twist on it. Imagine a fantasy world, set years and years and years and a whole bunch of years ago. Orcs, elves and all manor of mythical medieval creatures are the common folk of the land. Now imagine they stuck around and are the common folk today.

The story centers around an Orc named Keygore and his friends Bloar The Gelatinous Cube, Ruinel The Dark Elf, Zooey The Zombie, Ronnie The Human and Hunter The Demon.

Keygore is that reality’s form of a geek. Lime many of us he plays battle based board games and collects all types of things. And like many of us, even though we are mostly wrong, he believes he was supposed to be born back in the days of knights and swords and great battles and that he would do well.

As mentioned, Keygore collects many things, one of those things is ancient artifacts. One day he stumbles across an artifact that gives him the chance to go back to the era he so longs for. Which he does and it backfires worse than my old Honda four-wheeler (Sarah and Cody know what I’m talking about), BADLY.

He has to gather up his friends to form a group to defeat the evils he unleashes and we follow them through these shenanigans in the series.

So like I said, I for sure like this project. As I’m sure a lot of you do, I still frequently watch cartoons. And I’m not talking just anime. I watch straight up cartoons like mad. Right now my binge watched cartoon of choice is re-watching through old episodes of the 90s Spider-Man series. So good..

So, anyway! As I was saying, this show seems to be something that should have already been made YEARS ago, like the story and the artwork are so great it should already be on T.V. We only get a little snippet of the voice acting in the Kickstarter video and it seems really smooth. I always pay attention to the V.O. work in shows because it’s something that I hope to have the privilege to do some day.

The artwork is amazing as well, it’s in 2-D animation which is great, it almost looks like Disney, Family Guy, Gravity Falls and Archer all made some sweet sweet love and Prone Grove’s art style is what became of it.

As of writing this article they still have 22 days left in their Kickstarter campaign with $1000 pledged so far. Their funding goal is $35,000 to get their project funded. With a product like what they are offering it should be a breeze for them to make it but all the same they need YOUR help! So click here <– to head on over to their Kickstarter page to make a pledge to help get them closer to their goal! You can find them on FacebookTwitterYouTube and their website by following these links!

I had the pleasure of speaking with Curtis Rioux himself about his project and his process and you can find that interview below!

 What got you started on this project?

“As an artist and writer, I’ve always had a side project on the go, often one in each medium haha, it was a way of keeping my creative juices flowing after a long day at the studio. When I left the video game industry in early 2014 I decided to pursue one of these projects. I went into freelance animation for Web/TV/Netflix to be able to avoid the contractual limitations of working in a studio and began focusing on one of my geeky, action packed animated concepts that eventually became Prone Grove!”

What was your favourite cartoon growing up and what is your favourite now?

“Growing up I was inspired by both cartoons and games. My favorite animated show then would have to be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The concept is, obviously, so strange and appealing, and also it had fantastic action and comedy for kids. It was because of shows like TMNT that I began drawing in the first place; and its because of the brilliant shows that I love today that I am inspired to create projects like Prone Grove. Fantastic series like Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, Bee and Puppycat, Rick and Morty. The list goes on, and many of them – like Prone Grove – started as a small pilot concept on the web. Their success stories are inspirational to me.”

What are the three most important things that you’ve done to get yourself where you are today?

I lead my career in the direction of my goals. I have always used my career as a learning experience to push me forward. When I realized that Prone Grove has the potential that it does, I adjusted my career path and I went from video games back into animation to polish my skills. When I felt my background design was lacking I pushed for work in that field, when I felt my writing needed improvement I researched it, read as many books as possible and pursued work in that field. I have become an asset to any team I work in, just by having the ulterior motive of bettering myself for the benefit of my personal project.

Achieving a goal requires work, so I work my ass off. Great things come to those who get out there and earn them! I dont kill myself with work, of course – I balance it with things such as a weekly game night, and spending evenings with my son. But I have what some consider a sickening work ethic. Prone Grove has consumed almost 2 years of my life, Writing, designing, world building, art and animation, all done in the after hours of my paying work. All of this time and effort has come together in a single, simple, tight and cohesive pitch; And I take great pride in that.

I let people inspire me. I have noticed in my career that, to some, being inspired by others is faux pas, a cheesy thing that is lame to do. I am openly inspired by others. When I am having a slow day, when I hit the wall, I will go and watch Glen Keane talk about animation, I’ll watch Will Smith talk about the work he put in to further his career, I’ll watch Neil DeGrasse Tyson talk about space. It doesnt even have to be relevant to my specific goals, just seeing someone who is passionate, someone who is successful discuss what they love is moving to me. It makes me want to achieve my own goals. Never be intimidated by someones achievements, comparison is the thief of joy, just know that you can do it as well. (See what I meant about cheesy? Haha, but I love it.) ”

 What were you like in school? 

“Like many college students, my first year was rocky. Straight out of highschool, new experiences, lots of parties etc. However amongst all of that I was still focused on my work. Always trying to better myself and impress my professors, be it with my art or writing or acting. But it was when my son was born that my work really took off. I decided in that moment that I wanted to succeed not only for myself but for him. My art and animation improved significantly, I started working two retail jobs outside of school. I had planted the seed that grew into my work ethic today. All of this extra effort culminated in my first career gig – I started working as an artist and animator in the video game industry a full month before I graduated college, and by maintaining my work ethic I’ve been in a successful career ever since.

What made you decide to use Kickstarter for funding?

“For almost 2 years my close, industry professional friends and I have worked on Prone Grove. I have written scripts for a full 10 episode mini-series. Together we polished the first episode into a gem that we are all very excited and proud of. After all of this work and dedication, Crowdfunding will allow us to keep Prone Groves Pilot episode independently produced, and let us release it for free on the web for everyones enjoyment. I want to be able to keep all of the amazing people that have been helping me thus far and pay them properly for the work required to finalize this episode, togther with a small team of people I trust I believe Prone Grove will be the best it can possibly be.”

If you could only give only one piece of advice to aspiring creators, what would it be?

“If you want to create something, in any medium, you’ve already taken the right step. I can advise you to do your research, work on improving yourself, your art, your writing, your acting through study and application and all of this would be great advice. But there is one thing that not many people will tell you – Take care of yourself. Work in this career can be grueling. People in the general public often don’t understand how the long hours and the creative drain on the mind can be just as tiring as manual labor. You need to take care of yourself and your body – get 6 hours of sleep minimum, eat decent foods, keep up with your hygiene/dress in nice clothes, step away from your computer from time to time, stretch and go for a short walk. The work will always be there when you get back and if you do these small, simple things your mental state will improve, and you will be able to enjoy the fruit of your labor.”

Who was your hero growing up? Have they influenced in how you create at all?

“Of course, we are asked this in school several times as children, when I was really young I would have said Leonardo from TMNT, as I got older I would say people I know personally, an older artist friend of mine, my father, my cousin who introduced me to video games and who I thought the world of. I think in hind sight my hero was an amalgamation of all these people – someone who was kind, a leader, someone talented and artistic and open to learning and sharing alike. I like to think that I have adopted those traits as I’ve grown older, and that they have all lead to my passion for creating. Also John Lasseter cuz that dude and his career are the bomb, haha. ”

Besides Prone Grove, are you working on any other projects at the moment?

“In my entire artistic life I have always had multiple personal projects that I jump to and from. Many of them I believe have a lot of potential to be great, even to this day. But since the production of Prone Grove began they have all taken a back seat. It can be hard at times, especially on low inspiration days, but the focus has allowed me to take Prone Grove from a budding idea to what it is today. I do, however, still actively work as an animator on paying gigs, most recently an upcoming Netflix series called Kulipari: Army of Frogs, which I am particularly excited about being involved in. So I do get creative satisfaction from that source as well!”

Who is your intended audience?

“The show has evolved to a point where the comedy (visual and vocal), and the action/adventure are fun and broad enough that cartoon lovers of all ages will enjoy it! That being said, my core demographic will be Geeks ages 13 and up. Prone Grove has a strong basis in geek culture, a lot of its humor stems from table-top gaming references, but in a way that if you are not part of the niche community you will still appreciate comedy. If you like shows like The Guild, VGHS, Gravity Falls, Steven Universe and even Dragon Ball Z, then Prone Grove will be worth your time!”

What is your favourite snack food?

“Souls.”

Do you ever suffer from writers block? If so how do you overcome it?

“I think anyone who writes experiences this from time to time. As an example, while writing the first season of Prone Grove I felt that one of my episodes was particularly lack-luster, no matter how I re-worked the components it just didnt feel right. I ended up getting over this hurdle by putting the episode aside completely and starting from scratch. Over the next few days I dug into my brain for inspiration from my real life and remembered a place that my friends and I used to go to play when we were children, an abandoned train tunnel that was bored through a mountain side. No spoilers, but this was enough of a spark to ignite the concept that became one of my favorite episodes. I guess the advice is, take your time, it will pass – and meanwhile try to inspire yourself with what you know, life experiences, even a small aspect of one, can be enough to bring back the creative flow.”

If you weren’t doing animation, what other job could you see yourself doing and enjoying?

“Music. I have been a guitarist and vocalist for 15 years, I wrote a couple of albums when I was younger and really loved playing live. For the past few years it has all fallen to the wayside – I play for fun as often as I can, but if my days were free I can see myself writing another album.”

 For our readers who don’t yet know, Tara Audibert (from No Such Thing As Grown Ups) just so happens to have taught animation AND was in fact one of your teachers. What was Tara like as a teacher and how has she helped you on your quest of being an animator? (No pressure or anything.. 🙂 )

“Haha No pressure at all! I was part of Tara’s very first class when she began teaching, she was coming directly from the industry and at times she was tough on us, but in the best way. She not only taught us a great deal about art and animation, but also prepared us for working in the industry. At one point, when I had forgotten an assignment at home, and she “Fired” me. Making an open statement in front of the class that if this were to happen in the industry that I would no longer have a job. It was harsh, but in hind sight was an excellent tactic for teaching and learning. What she didn’t expect was for me to go and complete a second version of my project by the time the rest of the class was done presenting; and confidently present it to her and everyone else. I think I earned a bit of respect that day.”

What inspires you to create?

“I love to write, I love to draw and I love to entertain. The combination of these elements leads me to create. Its easy to think that an artistic career doesn’t compare to the heroics of a firefighter or a police officer, or the wonderment of space travel or scientific discoveries. But at the end of the day, when people need to relax and wind down – they pick up a book, they play a board game, they watch a film or a cartoon. Entertainment is key to society; and I love being able to entertain people. The best thing about it is I gain a ton of personal satisfaction from it. Seeing the reactions, hearing people laugh at the comedy, or cry at the weight of something I have created. It makes those hours of writing and animating worth while.”

Other than Prone Grove, what project are you most proud to have been a part of?

“I wrote, directed and animated a short film entitled “Novembers loss” in 2012 for the Movember video awards. Although it has aged a bit, I am still very proud of it. I spent the entire month of November creating it, with very little sleep. Not only did I learn a lot about producing your own animated content, it was also my first time writing and animating real emotion. I wanted to challenge myself, to put myself in the shoes of a man who is sick and dealing with the prospect of losing himself and his family. It was a pretty rough month but I am proud of the results. It can be found on my YouTube channel if anyone is interested in viewing it.”

What has been the biggest challenge in creating Prone Grove? And how have you/how are you overcome(ing) it?

“Again I feel the need to go a bit deeper than probably expected – So to be honest, the most difficult part of independently creating a project a large as an animated series, like Prone Grove, is that there is no guarantee for success. From time to time, over the past almost 2 years, it pops into my head, “What if this isn’t successful”. What if I have spent the last 2 years of my life pursuing something that doesn’t go anywhere. On the surface this is a worrisome concept; but I overcome it in multiple ways. Firstly, I need to trust myself, I am to this day supremely confident in this project, I believe it has a ton of potential and I know that with the proper funding I can create something action packed and funny and something I am extremely proud of. Secondly, If this project somehow isn’t successful, I have grown exponentially as an artist, writer, animator and a person through this process, and my next project is only going to top it because of that. Stay confident, stay positive and as Disney once said: Keep moving forward. ”

When did you know that creating was the path for you?

“I have, admittedly, never been one of those overly gifted, naturally talented artists. (You know, the ones that hammer out incredible work when they are 16 years old and you could just strangle them? Those ones) Of course, I had enough talent and passion to get me going – but my real strength was in developing my Skills. There is a difference between Talent and Skill that not many people realize. Talent develops naturally, from the way you’re taught, and raised, the things you are exposed to. Skill is only developed through hours and hours of work. I always knew with my talent for art and writing that I loved those things. But it wasn’t until I began developing those into skills, spending endless hours happily working on animations and scripts, that I realized creating things was the path I wanted to take in my life.”

Do you have any pre-creating rituals? If so what are they?

“When it comes to work, I usually just sit down and go straight into drawing. I will work my way into loosening up for the day. However, when it comes to creating something original I always have to write first. At a young age I got tired of staring, terrified of that blank white page, asking what should I draw? When you write something, when you start creating a world and characters and scenarios for them to be in, you will never ask “what should I draw” again, if anything you will have too much to draw!

 Is there something that you really wanted to include in Prone Grove but had to cut from the show?

“When it comes to writing an episode, the first pass always contains great stuff. I had a ton of gags, cutaways, one liners, some action shots, original story content. A lot of it that I really loved. The first pass script of the Pilot episode of Prone Grove and the current script are not only two completely different episodes, in many ways they are completely different shows. In the beginning it was really difficult for me to let these things go – and for a long time it stunted the growth of the show. Eventually I realized that being able to let go for the benefit of the show is a good thing – and the final script for the Pilot episode is so much better because of it. Its extremely funny and has lots of action and geeky humor as well, I cant wait for you all to see it.”

 This final question might gain you some backers but it also might scare some away. Star Trek or Star Wars and why? ‘Both’ is not an acceptable answer 🙂

“I’m a geek, I’ve had this discussion before of course! Haha, and I always got past it by saying Star Trek on Television, Star Wars in film, they are two different monsters – and they are both amazing and lovable. If I were forced to pick one, I would have to say Star Wars. I will forever be a Trekkie, but just for instance when you watch the trailer for the new Star Wars film, the emotional rise you get from it, that can’t be matched.

Thanks NSTAGU! You are all amazing and until we chat again, Keep Rolling!!

-cr”


I’d like to send a big thanks to Curtis for speaking with me. I wish him the best with his Kickstarter campaign and I can’t wait to see the finished product.

If you are a creator and would like to see your work reviewed by us you can email me directly at atkinsonryang@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

And thank you all for reading! If anyone has any suggestions for next week’s alternate acronym (N.S.T.A.R.) please comment your suggestion below 🙂

I’ve been Ryan Atkinson and I’ll see you next week!

And remember.. There’s No Such Thing As Reviews!

No Such Thing As Reviews #7: Spirit of the Staircase! Independent Comic And Pop Culture Reviews!

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of No Such Thing As Reviews! Otherwise known as Neptune’s Servants Think About Retiring. I’m Ryan Atkinson and every Tuesday here on No Such Thing As Reviews, we’ll be reviewing a plethora of pop culture and wonderful things! Independent comic books, T.V., movies and more! The reviews will consist of a brief overview of what we will be reviewing, a summary of the content (spoiler alert!!), my personal thoughts on the content including a rating out of 5 and whenever possible we will include an interview with the creators!

This week we’ll be doing something a little bit different. For the last 7 reviews I’ve done independent comic books, this week I’ll be reviewing… Well still a comic. But it’s a comic strip!

I’ll be reviewing Spirit Of The Staircase written, drawn and created by Matthew Foltz-Gray.

download (4)

Bear in mind that although I am laying out a summary of the plot below, this is broken into individual strips! 🙂

The strip follows a little furry creature named Mumford on his day to day adventures with a man named Matt.

The first strip is where we are introduced to both Matt and Mumford. Mumford is sitting on a tree branch surveying a crow on which he prefers: Hot dogs or corn dogs. The crow caws and he interprets this as a vote for corn dogs. The crow then flies away and Mumford reaches after him which causes the branch to break. He falls down landing next to Matt on a park bench which causes Matt to drop the hot dog he is eating on the ground. The crow then flies over to it and begins pecking at it. Mumford scolds him like the fibber he is.

Matt asks Mumford what he is, and Mumford replies “A Mumford, what are you?” Matt tells him he is a human and even though Mumford is excited that he is a human, he believes Matt is a grasshopper that just thinks it is a human, and writes exactly that in his journal.

Matt brings Mumford back to his apartment. Or possibly Mumford just followed him. Matt an I seem to have a lot in common. A small messy apartment, clothes and junk everywhere, past due bills laying about. I might be Matt. Mumford thinks his apartment is actually a village and Matt’s clothes that are everywhere are what’s left from a baboon attack on Matt’s whole village, leaving only Matt alive. He lets Matt know how brave he is for coming back to the place of such tragedy.

He then asks Matt if where he lives is a “normal human fort”. Matt explains for a guy like him living paycheck to paycheck, it’s pretty normal. Mumford likens this to living corn dog to corn dog.

Mumford thinks human villages are amazing:

download (2)

Matt asks Mumford if he is the first human to ever see him and Mumford tells him that children can see him all the time. Adults are also able to see him but they never notice him. They’re too busy playing with their toys (cell phones etc). Matt looks up from his cell, grunts and continues doing his thing.

Matt tells Mumford that he needs to go to the grocery store because all of his food has disappeared out of nowhere. Mumford is sitting at the table innocently eating a cookie. Mumford explains how he has always wanted to go to the mythical land of the grocery store and that he can’t wait to interact with the villagers and have all the food within his grasp. And just like me again Matt explains that he goes in as fast as he can so that he won’t run in to anybody. Matt says Mumford can come along as long as he just acts like a normal person. When they get to the store Mumford proceeds to yell, whine and complain about needing his gluten free seaweed crackers, grass fed tomatoes and more common pretentious things he must think is normal because of the amount of people who are like that.

Matt an Mumford go throughout the store, Matt picks up what he needs and Mumford picks up everything that he is fascinated with. Which is everything.

The next strip is pretty much Matt as me as well, jeez my life is a mess.. :

download (1)

Once they are alone Mumford comments on how the pretty girl was totally staring at his gross pants and Matt says the grocery store should be a place of no judgement where you can just go and be yourself and get whatever kind of junk food in whatever kind of clothing you want to. Mumford points out a cart full of junk food and Matt proceeds to judge them.

We now go outside the grocery store where Mumford has discovered the elusive cookie troop during its annual cookie vending mission. They are currently i spring, which is the cookie harvest season and the “Chief Mother” has brought out the young-lings to peddle their wears. Mumford has come to the conclusion that Americans (as natural grazers) find cookies an irresistible and easy prey to go after.He wants some cookies but has no money, so he tries a different method: Hugs. He hugs the troop leader and asks for a cookie and she obviously refuses which he can’t understand because all of the research he has conducted has led him to believe otherwise.

Walking home, Mumford finds a fresh patch of marked territory. Matt explains that it it actually just gum and that gum s a form of candy (Mumford had no idea). Mumford then decides to eat the free candy. Matt stops him though.

Matt explains to Mumford that you can’t just eat stuff off of the ground because that’s gross and germs. Mumford of course has done this his entire life and can’t see these “germ” Matt speaks of. Matt then freaks out because they’re everywhere and he can feel them all over him now that he’s thinking about it. Matt then runs off in a fit of fear. Mumford just says hello to his microscopic friends.

Mumford heads out to search for Matt. He comes across his old friend the crow. He doesn’t have a recent photo to show the crow but he has a recent sketch! He gets the crow to help search for Matt.

The crow flies off, Mumford in tow, to the local farmers market because a screaming human ran off that way. Mumford tried farming once, he tried to plant corn, bubblegum and chicken wing plants but nothing seemed to grow..

He spots Matt and ejects from his feathered air transport. On his way down he explains how stress has been ingrained into the human mind as far back as prehistoric times when dinosaurs were as feared as debt collectors today and then eventually lions came that thought humans were pretty damn tasty. He says in those days stress was pretty straight forward. Something coming at you could be avoided by running and if you see a big shadow coming your way, look up. Apparently modern debt collectors are much nicer according to Mumford. He uses this knowledge to get the drop on Matt by sneaking up and taking his phone to call the collector.

Mumford asks Matt what things he gets stressed about. Matt says there is a whole lost of things but the one that’s bothering him the most is that there seems to be a crow following them. Mumford tells him not to worry because that’s just his friend Jed. Mumford invites Jed back to Matt’s place because it is a stress free zone in part by having a magic faucet that shoots water at you and by simply tapping on the walls the walls tap back at you.

They get back to Matt’s building. Mumford and Jed are putting up flyers for a Wine Tap Water and Pudding Tuna Fish Party.He invites insects, a cranky lady, a vampire, a child, some neighbors and his two raccoon friends Cynthia and Douglas having a well intended but unnecessary reason why each should attend.

Mumford then asks Matt to come to the party and Matt explains how awkward he is at parties. He starts off by repeating himself way too much, then he gets lightheaded, then he hides in the bathroom and then hopefully by that point he’s too drunk to worry about being awkward or around people. And we re-enter the trend of me pretty much being Matt.

Mumford lays a huge guilt trip on Matt. How could he possibly have a party without guests. What if the party has a soul and by having no guests what if it’s pretty much like sending the parties soul to hell? Matt gives in and says he will go.

Then it’s a cut to later that day. Mumford is welcoming all of his guests to the first annual Tap Water and Tuna party. We see the vampire, the raccoons, the crow and a child that Matt is concerned about because he has no idea who’s child it is.

There is no music on but Mumford doesn’t realize that usually people require it to dance. He is very sad no one is dancing so he starts by himself. Matt feels bad for him so he gets his boom box and then everyone starts dancing.

Matt introduces himself to the vampire and he begins to repeat himself so the vampire flies away.

Matt then tells a scary story:

sotspage

Matt thanks Mumford for the good time and was glad to meet his friends. He is especially thankful that they didn’t give him rabies or turn him into a vampire, however he needs to go home because he has seen too many weird things for one day.

Later, Mumford writes a letter to the inhabitants of Keplar 1152 B (Which I assume is the moon because the moon is a focal point in this strip) asking them about various things like their preference between hot dogs and corn dogs, Starbucks and a couple other silly things. At the end his P.S. is about questions that Jed (the crow) has about their concerns about a runaway greenhouse effect or some such crap. He puts it in a bottle and throws it into the sky expecting it to float off to the recipients. It obviously falls to the ground and he asks Jed how far he can fly.

Mumford and Jed then get in a tree and Mumford thanks him for letting him roost with him. We see the tree is just outside Matt’s place and Mumford shouts to Matt asking if he wants to come roost with them. Matt says no and tells them to go roost somewhere else.

We then see inside the dream Matt is currently having. It is a nightmare about some sick version of a game show.

Cut to the next morning Matt (Drawn as a walrus) who is scarfing down a cup of coffee making a mess. Next panel shows Matt drawn normally with coffee all over himself, He tells Mumford that coordination comes with the second cup.

And that’s the end of the strips (So far!)!

I really like this strip. It is drawn very well and it is really silly. I found myself with a smile on my face the whole tome reading it. It is easy to relate to Matt and Mumford is just friggin silly.

I would recommend this strip to anyone! There’s really nothing that warrants a discretion warning or anything at all.

The strip alternates between colour and black and white but when it IS black and white, it still looks good! It isn’t the black and white that you know I hate.

My ratings for the strip are as follows:

Artwork: 4/5
Story: 4/5

I had the pleasure of speaking with Matthew Foltz-Gray about his process and you can find the interview below!

 What got you started in comics?

“I went to the Academy of Art College in San Francisco hoping to become an animator. Once I got there I realized that the process of animation was too specific for someone of my poor attention span. I wanted to quickly tell the whole story instead of spending hours making a character’s foot move correctly. I decided to focus on storyboarding and illustration, and fell in love with the process of using storytelling images to tell a story. I felt at home.”

 

How did you come up with the idea for this story?

“Well, I suffered a mild concussion while in school and I’ve always loved the magical realism genre. There IS a specific story that started the process for, ‘Spirit of the Staircase,’ but it will give some plot away, so I’ll stop my explanation there.”

Do you use an outline or a plot, or do you just follow an idea and see where you end up?

“It depends. Much of the time I do enjoy letting the characters take me where THEY want to go. I’ve always been fascinated with the process of creating characters and watching them develop a life of their own. Occasionally, I’ll nudge them in a certain direction, but often the characters will take the reigns and I’m just there to show them in the best light.”

 

What inspires you to create?

“I love the creative process, and I love when I come across a story or moment that I could have never found without the hard work and time spent getting there. I have to create, it’s not an option. Outside of drawing and telling stories, I’m useless and I enjoy the world from a storyteller’s eyes. Inspiration is everywhere and it makes life fun.”

 Do you ever get writers block? And if so, how do you overcome it?

“Yes, everyday. I’ve spent hours trying to think of one sentence and it can be torture. I had a writing teacher that told me to just sit at my desk, even if you have nothing to write. I cherish that advice because I don’t think there IS a quick fix to writer’s block. You have to work through it and stay active in pursuit of the idea. Ideas are so fickle and often I’ll spend all day working and stressing about a story issue only to have the solution pop up when I’m laying in bed that night. It’s all part of the process though.”

If you could choose an actor/actress to star in a movie based on your book, who would it be?

“Clint Eastwood (Matt) and Danny DeVito(Mumford). That would be wild!”

 What were you like in school?

“Neither seen, nor heard.”

What is your favourite motivational quote or phrase?

‘The harder you work, the luckier you get.’

Where can we buy or read your comic?

“Well, if you live in the Knoxville area you can find the latest and greatest strips in the Knoxville Mercury, ​an independent and locally owned newspaper. They allowed me a huge platform to tell these stories and I’m so grateful. If you are outside of Knoxville, you can visit the official Spirit of the Staircase website ( http://www.thespiritofthestaircase.com )”

If you could only give one piece of advice to aspiring creators, what would it be?

“Keep at it, and follow your heart.”

And finally, the question on everyone’s mind: If you could be any animal at all, what animal would you be?

“I’ve always considered my spirit animal to be the little birds at the beach that run from waves. I’d love to be a blue whale or a lion, but I’ll most likely be that bird.”

I’d like to thank Matthew for taking part in our interview! If you are a creator and would like to see your book reviewed you can email me at atkinsonryang@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

And thank you all for reading! If anyone has any suggestions for next week’s alternate acronym (N.S.T.A.R.) please comment your suggestion below 🙂

I’ve been Ryan Atkinson and I’ll see you next week and remember.. There’s No Such Thing As Reviews!

No Such Thing As Reviews #6 Slate & Ashe Issue #1: Worst Laid Plans! Independent Comic And Pop Culture Reviews!

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of No Such Thing As Reviews! Otherwise known as Neither Sister Talks About Riddles. I’m Ryan Atkinson and every and every Tuesday here on No Such Thing As Reviews, we’ll be reviewing a plethora of pop culture and wonderful things! Independent comic books, T.V., movies and more! The reviews will consist of a brief overview of what we will be reviewing, a summary of the content (spoiler alert!!), my personal thoughts on the content including a rating out of 5 and whenever possible we will include an interview with the creators as well!

This week I’ll be reviewing Slate & Ashe Issue #1: Worst Laid Plans written by Ethan Murphy with artowrk by Luigi Teruel and colours by Jen Hickman.

Slate n ashe cover

The book opens with two people in lab coats sitting at some desks at First Memorial Hospital. One is looking into a microscope, the other is complaining that there was mayonnaise on her sandwich again. The woman at the microscope ignores the complaining woman and says that the blood she is examining is positive.

Cut to another room, the doctor who was at the microscope walks through the door to speak with a man who is waiting. He asks her what the results are. She tries to tell the man but she can’t get the words out, however he picks up what she’s laying down. He hugs her and promises that everything is going to be all right. She is worried that because of this “they” (we don’t know who “they” are as of yet) might grab the person who’s blood is positive.

We cut to the Border Walls of Iron City. There are two guards in a watchtower. One of them is complaining about his upset stomach from eating the delicious but questionable chili from a man named Boo. He leaves to go to the bathroom leaving the other guard to man the post alone. Behind the remaining guard we see a shadow that he thinks is his colleague returning from the bathroom. It is much too soon to take care of the.. Workload that was expected from the chili so he teases the figure about it before he is attacked and presumably killed.

We return to the hospital. The doctor is speaking with a little girl named Haley about school and boys. Haley says that school is going well except for the boys because the keep getting weirder. The doctor tells Haley that they never really stop being weird while we can see that on the rest of the page that at the Border Walls there is an altercation between the guards and some figures we cannot make out as of yet.

The focus is brought back to the room with the doctor and Haley. The doc asks Haley if she knows why she was brought there for tests. Haley then says she thinks its because of “the bleeding”. and the doctor says that she is partially right. We learn that Haley was brought to the hospital so that the doctors can determine if she is able to give birth to a “special type of baby” and that in fact she can.

We then cut to Faulkner Research Facility where a male doctor is with another little girl named Sumrien. We learn that he is her father. She asks if everything is going to be okay and he assures her it will as he produces a syringe full of a green liquid.

We then cut back over to the female doctor with Haley. She explains to Haley that only certain women can have children with “The Diseased” which makes Haley have a panic attack. She is terrified at the news and thinks the doctor means that she herself is “Diseased”. The doctor assures her that she isn’t because women CAN’T be.

Then we cut back to the father and Sumrien but with narration from Haley and her doctor. She asks the doc if there is a cure and the doc says no. All the while we see in the panels behind the narration that the father is injecting Sumrien with the syringe and it seems obvious that Sumrien is a carrier as well and he has concocted what he believes to be a cure which causes her to scream after the injection.

We cut back to Haley and her doctor. The doc is comforting Haley because she is scared that The Diseased will be hunting her down now that she can have their offspring. We go back to the wall and continue with narration from the doctor and Haley. The doc swears to Haley that nothing will happen to her. In the panels we can see a guard lying on the ground, injured, firing he gun at one of The Diseased. The shots do nothing as far as we can tel and the creature approaches the guard and kills him by stepping on him.

We then are brought to the man who was with Haley and her doctor. He is radioing over to the South End Control Tower for a pickup for Haley as she has just tested positive. Control then tells him that one might not be enough because they are experiencing a breach. He tells them to send a party of three and they better have their balls screwed on tight.

Then we cut back over to Sumrien and her father. She is in a lot of pain and her father is wrapping her arm where he injected her with some gauze. She then swats him across the room with ease and he is in shock “Oh God. What have I done?”

Now we cut over to the convoy that the man has just ordered. Specifically to one of the cars. There are three men inside, two of which are arguing about a lost bet. One owes money to the other for missing a shot and he refuses to pay it because even though it wasn’t dead center, he still hit the target with his “switch-lock” custom made gun. It can shoot in any direction.

They continue talking up until out of nowhere their vehicle gets swarmed by a group of The Diseased. Huge grey hands smash through their vehicle grabbing at the soldiers, pulling them from their vehicle.

The soldiers attempt to fight off the diseased but the creatures have the upper hand. One grabs Ashe (The one who has the custom weapon) and asks “Where is she?!”. Haley’s fears are coming true as The Diseased seem to be looking for her.

We then cut back over to Sumrien and her father. She is unconscious and he is trying to revive her. Unfortunately he is unable to and she dies.

Then we cut back to the conflict on the road. Ashe is still being held by the creature and it begins to ask the same question again but before it can get all the words out, Ashe shoves a grenade in it’s mouth and down it’s throat, which as you’d imagine, blew up it’s head.

Ashe then rushes to protect “her” and gets to the vehicle that she is kept in. It is locked with a number combination and he fumbles with it until one of his colleagues tells him the correct code. He opens it up and we see that it is in fact Haley inside. She climbs on his back and they make their way away from the conflict. They find an abandoned car and they get in. He tells her to strap herself in with every seat belt she can find in the back seat and then they depart leaving The Diseased in their rear view.

They drive for a short way, Ashe picking off creatures as they come across them until up ahead they see a rather large one standing in the road. He shoots at the creature and his shots just ricochet off of it. Ashe says “..let’s see if the bastard is car proof!” and hits it with the car. But that was a dumb move, Ashe. The Diseased just grabs the car and tosses it onto it’s roof.

It rips into the car and goes to grab Haley, Ashe is trapped and cat get to her.

And that’s the end of Issue One of Slate & Ashe!

I really like this story! I do have a couple issues with the book though.

The artwork in this book is done nicely. Also the book is in full colour which as you know gets extra points in my book.

The problem I had with this book is it can get a little tedious with all of the cuts. While reading it seems like every half of a page we are cutting to a new location. There are a couple sub plots in the story, which is great but the cuts to them could have been done a little better, maybe better isn’t the right word. Maybe just less often.

But like I said, I do like the story! Just the main criticism of the book would just be the cuts.

I would certainly recommend this book for anyone to read, just keep in mind of those cuts jumping around on you. It has some mature themes though so parental discretion should be advised.

My ratings for the book are as follows:

Artwork – 3/5
Story – 3/5

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ethan Murphy on his process and you can find that interview below!

What got you started in comics?

“I got interested in superheroes after when I started watching Batman the Animated series back in the early 90’s. That was a gateway show which led to the X­men and Spider­man cartoons. When the cartoons ran out of episodes, I turned to their printed counterparts.”

 How did you come up with the idea for this story?

“The idea for Slate & Ashe was actually loosely pitched to me by an inker at DC. He wanted to develop a comic about a cop and a zombie working together for some reason on something.”

 Do you use an outline or a plot, or do you just follow an idea and see where you end up?

“I definitely use an outline. I have write a big macro one for the overall story arc and then do an micro outline for each individual issue. For me, writing without an outline is like trying to lead a sleigh without Rudolph.”

What inspires you to create?

“Adversity is probably my single favorite muse. Stories have always inspired me to keep going and the idea that something I could write could somehow do the same for someone else always helps me create.”

 Do you ever get writer’s block? And if so, how do you overcome it?

“When don’t I get writer’s block?! Haha. I almost always get it around PAGE 13. The infamous PAGE 13. It’s near the start of the second act and I’m trying to connect the first half of the book with the second half. What actually helped me overcome it in general was joining an improv comedy troop. Doing an improv scene is like having to write live in front of an audience with no editing. Really good practice.”

 If you could choose an actor/actress to star in a movie based on your book, who would it be?

“I would probably cast Michael B. Jordan to play Ashe and Jason Mantzoukas to play Slate. Or at least I’d like to.”

What were you like in school?

“I was kind of a “comic relief” in most of my classes. Not the clown but usually could lighten the mood and make the cool people look cooler.”

What is your favourite motivational quote or phrase?

“Everything is impossible until someone does it.”

Where can we buy or read your comic?

“You can buy “Slate & Ashe” at Atlas Comics in Charlottesville, Telegraph Comics and online at Indyplanet.com. The first issue is actually available as a free download on Google.”

If you could only give one piece of advice to aspiring creators, what would it be?

“Never be afraid to ask for help. Forming a good team is the best way to help you make your dreams real.”

:

And the question on everybody’s mind: Are you more of a Marvel or DC person?

“I’m definitely more of a Marvel guy. Professor X is my all time favorite super hero BUT Batman and Robin are a very close collective second.”

I’d like to thank Ethan for taking part in our interview!

If you are a creator and would like to see your book reviewed you can email me at atkinsonryang@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

And thank you all for reading! If anyone has any suggestions for next week’s alternate acronym (N.S.T.A.R.) please comment your suggestion below 🙂

I’ve been Ryan Atkinson and I’ll see you next week and remember.. There’s No Such Thing As Reviews!

No Such Thing As Reviews #5: Native Lands Issue 1: First Step! Independent Comic And Pop Culture Reviews!

Hello everybody and welcome to this week’s edition of No Such Thing As Reviews! Otherwise known as Ninja Salamanders Train Against Rottweilers. I’m Ryan Atkinson and every Tuesday here on No Such Thing As Reviews, we’ll be reviewing a plethora of pop culture and wonderful things! Independent comic books, T.V., movies and more! The reviews will consist of a brief overview of what we will be reviewing, a summary of the content (spoiler alert!!), my personal thoughts on the content including a rating out of 5 and whenever possible we will include an interview with the creators!

This week I will be reviewing Native Lands Issue 1: First Step written by James Cavanagh with line work and inking by Cecilia Latella and colours by Michael Woods.

NativeLands_Cover_v5

The story is set in space for a good chunk of the book. We open up with a shot of a space ship flying away from an Earth like planet. We hear a conversation on said ship, between a scientist and a specimen named Emma. The scientist is asking Emma about what she can remember about the day that Emma was involved in a disaster in her city which ended up in the deaths of some people in order to protect Emma’s sister. The scientist asks Emma if she understands that she committed murder and Emma explains that she understands but she was just doing what she though necessary in order to ensure her sisters safety.

The conversation ends with Emma asking to see her sister. The scientist says that she can’t see her just yet but she will soon enough.

Cut to a group of three people running down the hallway. Two are dressed just like Emma in plain grey t-shirts and track pants and another is a member of the staff of the building, wearing a different shaded grey t-shirt and green cargo pants and a set of dog tags.

The run to the end of the hallway and are met by a group of staff members with guns and a different scientist who orders the staff to put a stop to this. They do that for sure by shooting the staff member that was helping the patients. As he is dying he tells one of the patients, who we now know as Stephanie, to keep running. However they stop to tend to their fallen friend and get caught.

We learn the name of the other patient is Bastian. Apparently Bastian pulls this kind of crap pretty often because the scientist tells him he’s had enough of his nonsense and that because his treatment is not complete, they do not yet have permission to leave.

They cuff Bastian and Stephanie and separate them. Bastian asks the scientist who ratted them out and all he says is that it was a friend of theirs and then he walks away.

Cut back over to Emma who is talking with the same scientist as before. Only now Emma is in her cel and the scientist is sitting in a chair on the other side of the bars. She explains to Emma that she will soon be taken to a shuttle and she should cooperate or else they’ll still take her only it will be a little more violent.

She explains to Emma that she is very sorry but she could not find her sister at this time. Emma tells her to shut her mouth about Elaina (her sister) and Emma goes on to say that she hopes her and all of her colleagues all get what they deserve. That they all go through every torment and bit of  suffering that Emma and the other subjects have been put through.

They speak for a little while longer then we cut over to the scientist who ordered the killing of the staff member that heled Bastian and Stephanie.

He is ordering Bastian and Kallum (another subject) to demonstrate their abilities. They are in a sort of testing grounds that looks like a forest. He explains that in order to properly assess what they are able to do they have been paired off based on testing answers the two subjects provided as well as results from the tests the scientists have performed on the subjects and that either they get a move on with the demonstration, or they’re going to have to face some consequences.

The two take off running into the testing grounds. Bastian hides behind a tree but Kallum sees where he is hiding and shoots some energy blasts from his palms at Bastian. Bastian dodges the blasts and pounces on Kallum, revealing that he has super sharp claws and what I imagine are enhanced reflexes and agility. He tears up Kallum’s back and Kallum retaliates with some more energy blasts. Bastian gets hit pretty bad and the scientist says over a speaker that there is no need to kill each other at this time and that he appreciates their cooperation.

We cut to what appears to be the same city that Emma helped destroy to save her sister. We meet two people named Jackobie and Eve. Jackobie is bleeding from his stomach, he proceeds to tell Eve that everything will be okay and that he is all right. Then he dies. Eve falls to hold his  lifeless body and notices a broken piece of glass or mirror on the ground. Eve’s hair is pink and she seems shocked about this fact. She tosses the shard and tells Jackobie’s lifeless body to wake up and promise that everything is going to be all right. She hugs him and tears run down her face and fall onto his. Her tears seem to make his forehead glow.

Then we cut to inside the space shuttle that the scientist mentioned to Emma. Emma is sitting next to a little girl who is having trouble fastening her seat belt. Emma asks if she needs help and she says she isn’t allowed to talk to strangers. Emma asks where her parents are and the girl says that she and all the other kids were staying with a nanny. They talk a little bit longer and Emma helps her with her seat belt.

Charlie (the little girl) thanks Emma and asks her what she thinks the planet they are flying to will be like. Emma says she doesn’t know but it has to be better than where they were.

We cut again to Bastian strapped down to a table being spoken to by his same scientist along with a couple others. The same scientist says to Bastian to suck it up because he consented to these brutal tests so that they can learn more about his “kind” and potentially save lives. He then tells him that it is his lucky day because after the current test, they no longer have a need for him. But he better not get too excited because it’s not easy to escape from them.First he must forget. He has a little spell and we the see this is just a dream. He wakes up sitting next to Jackobie on the same space shuttle that Emma is on. Jackobie is now all golden coloured and his hair is kind of spiky now.

Jackobie explains to Bastian that the ship is heading to Terra Five, an Earth like planet which will be their new home;. As they land Bastian thanks him and gets up from his seat. He asks Jackobie if he is coming with him and we learn Jackobie has to stay put because he’s made some terrible mistakes.

And that’s the end of issue one of Native Lands!

This is an interesting story that I look forward to seeing where the following issues take it.

One complaint I would have for this book is how often the story jumps around with no indication of where we are or who we are with. It can get a little confusing if you aren’t paying close attention.

My rating for this book is as follows:

Artwork: 3/5.

Story: 2.75/5

I would recommend this book to fans of sci-fi. This story dives into space travel as well as touching on super powers. Keeping in mind parental discretion should be advised due to some coarse language and mature themes.

I had the pleasure of speaking with James Cavanagh on his process and you can find that interview below!

What got you started in comics?

“I have always had a passion for writing. I started writing in school and my interest built from there, I stuck to mostly writing in a novel format but about five years ago I discovered comic books. The first comic I read was Saga and I was hooked, I wanted to write my own and that’s how I ended up here. I worked on Native Lands for about three years before searching for an artist [the amazing Cecilia Latella]. Now I’m hoping that those who read the book will be as interested as me to learn about this world and the characters within it, there’s a lot to come and I hope you stick around for the journey!”
 

How did you come up with the idea for this story?

“The idea developed from smaller ideas. I had been interested in writing a story centered around the rebuilding of civilization or the building up of a new world. I planned Native Lands as a novel, however getting into comics, my love of the X-Men and of science fiction pushed this idea as a comic book. I find it easy to picture the characters, settings, everything. I was lucky enough to find Cecilia Latella, who has easily brought this world and the characters to life exactly as I envisioned them. I am so grateful to have her, Michael Woods and Weston Design Studio to tell this story with.”

Do you use an outline or a plot, or do you just follow an idea and see where you end up?

“I use a plot, I find it difficult to write without knowing where the story will end up, and also where I want it to go or what I want to put across. Saying that, I am always developing plots and changing ideas, at times even when I’m writing the scripts. I always want the story to flow and if something isn’t connecting, I’ll shake things up as soon as I find the problem. ”

What inspires you to create?

“I’d say I’m inspired by people. I love hearing their opinions, their questions. What is going to happen with this? Why did you do that? I like seeing readers enjoy what I’ve written, seeing them question it or get emotional from it. I enjoy writing immensely, and that in turn inspires me to write more. I like building worlds and characters, seeing how they interact, how they develop and grow with the challenges I put in front of them.”

Do you ever get writers block? And if so, how do you overcome it?

“I do, and I hate it! I usually take a break, read something, play a video game, watch a movie or a TV show. I look for inspiration in something else, a good story always makes me want to work harder to make my own stories better.”
If you could choose an actor/actress to star in a movie based on your book, who would it be?

“To say I haven’t thought about this would be a lie but I’ve never narrowed it down to specific actors and actresses for each character. I’d love to see Melissa McBride, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sarah Paulson, Travis Fimmel and Gwendolyn Christie to name a few. There’s a lot of actors and actresses I could list, all I know for certain is that I’d want my book to be made as a television show. I don’t think the series would work in a movie format.”
What were you like in school?

“I was quiet, very shy too. I was friendly but I think I spent a lot of time worrying about what other people thought. I think I’ve become more confident, in myself and my abilities. I would like to think I am still as friendly and approachable, but just more laid back.”
What is your favourite motivational quote or phrase?

“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.”
Where can we buy or read your comic?

“You can buy Issue #1 on Comixology and Gumroad. Then Issue #2 is available currently just on Gumroad, but will also be available through Comixology on the 28th!
https://gumroad.com/l/nativelandsissue1
https://www.comixology.co.uk/Native-Lands-1/digital-comic/268697?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC9pdGVtU2xpZGVy
https://gumroad.com/l/nativelandsissue2
 If you could only give one piece of advice to aspiring creators, what would it be?

“Start small. Short stories, or stories made to be limited issues. Don’t give up, it is a tough road but if you enjoy what you do, nothing else matters.”

And finally. The question that is on everyone’s mind: Which do you prefer: Cake or pie? And why?

“Cake! If I’m going to have a desert I’m going to be as greedy as possible, and I’ve never been a fan of pies.. sorry pie lovers of the world!”

I’d like to thank James for taking part in our interview! If you are a creator and would like to see your book reviewed you can email me at atkinsonryang@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

And thank you all for reading! If anyone has any suggestions for next week’s alternate acronym (N.S.T.A.R.) please comment your suggestion below 🙂

I’ve been Ryan Atkinson and I’ll see you next week and remember.. There’s No Such Thing As Reviews!

No Such Thing As Reviews #4! Independent Comic And Pop Culture Reviews-America’s Kingdom from Gnosis Comics

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of No Such Thing As Reviews! Otherwise known as Nickleback Should Take A Recess. I’m Ryan Atkinson and here on No Such Thing As Reviews I’ll be reviewing indie comics, t.v shows, movies and more! In our reviews we will include a brief overview of what will be reviewed, a summery of the content (spoiler alert!!) and my personal thoughts on the content including a rating out of 5 for the story and the artwork and if I would recommend it.

This week I’ll be reviewing America’s Kingdom from Gnosis Comics, written and created by Brian Hawkins, pencils done by Aris Gonzales and inks by James Hebert.

CJvk2a3UsAAWV8M

Normally I would put the parental discretion warning for books that require it in my thoughts after the summery, but I’ll put that here for this one. There are some pretty mature themes in this book that can’t be avoided completely in the review, so just keep that in mind!

This book is set in an alternate reality where instead of a democracy, U.S.A. was founded as a monarchy.
We open on a road chase. I say road chase and not car chase because while one of the people is on a motorcycle (wearing a helmet, +1 for safety), the other is chasing him on a horse (no helmet but he as a bow and arrow. +1 for bow and arrow). The two men are bobbing and weaving through traffic until up ahead of the man on the bike, we see another man atop a horse, running towards the driver and drawing his sword. The motorcycle rider then pulls out a handgun from inside his coat, which according to the swordsman is impossible.

The motorcycle rider then gets an arrow through his wrist. Of his gun hand! How can he gun with his gun hand all ganked up?! The archer then shoots out one of the riders tires, which sends him flying. The Knights (as we now know they are) approach the rider and the he cusses them RIGHT out.

Jump cut to the White House.. Er.. White Palace. We meet Prince Geoffrey who is the heir to the throne (uh oh) who is currently being felated beneath his desk. His executive assistant Marlena Laous exits the underside of the desk as he explains he doesn’t want to go through with his wedding his father arranged. Sir Anthony Niles, a member of the Prince’s Royal Guard then knocks on the door and enters Geoffrey’s office explaining the rider (a person of interest) was just brought in to custody by the two knights.

They make their way to the dungeon where the rider is being kept. We are told the riders name is Benedictine Arnold. The Prince then interrogates him as to where he got his gun as there hasn’t been a trace of a gun in U.S.A. in a decade. After a little more interrogation we learn Benedictine’s motives, he means to bring democracy to America. The Prince then orders Sir Niles to summon all present Dukes to the throne room as well as a single member of the media. He then orders the knights to bring Benedictine along as well.

We get to the Throne room and meet Isabella Robbins who is the Prince’s wife to be. We also are introduced to her father, Lord Alfred Robbins, Duke of the province of California. He notices Isabella is in the room and quickly ushers her out stating that she should not be there right now.

Geoffrey then appears, knights and prisoner in tow, thanking everyone for coming to his prelude to his wedding. He gives a speech about potential usurpers trying to bring in their nasty democracy, proclaiming them and anyone who believes in such nonsense traitors.

He gives the knight a glance, and the knight proceeds to cut off Benedictine’s head in front of the crowd.
Unfortunately Isabella didn’t make it out of the room in time and witnessed this.

The Prince then grasps the hair of the lifeless head, hoists it up for everyone to see while he sports a grin of satisfaction.

And that’s the end of book 1 of America’s Kingdom!

I’d like to start out my thoughts on this book with the elephant in the room (for me anyway).

This book is in full black and white. Which I’ve stated before I’m not a huge fan of but I can admit when it is done nicely.
Unfortunately in my opinion this wasn’t one of those times. And don’t get me wrong, the artwork isn’t bad, it’s more the shading that I have an issue with. This book suffers from what is my biggest issue with black and white comics and that there is way too damn much black thrown in.

There is no grey shading at all through this book, really. Just solid black and solid white. While in some instances that can work for sure, even in instances in this book but with so much of it, things can tend to look muddled together and it can take away from what is actually pretty great artwork.

I’m an indie comic writer myself, I understand reasons for having black and white. It’s much more cost effective for printing and for getting artwork done. Besides that, no doubt people in fact prefer their comics black and white!

It’s just not for me and this comic is a great example of it.

Like I said though, other than the shading the artwork is done really well.

The story was middle of the road for me, it’s taken elements from some familiar story lines and combined them but I still plan on reading ahead to the next couple issues to see how the story takes off, this is only issue one after all. The book has a lot of coarse language, like a LOT. While it doesn’t bother me at all, I feel that there’s enough of it that it should be mentioned for anyone who may be interested in reading the book.

My rating for the book is as follows

Artwork: 3/5
It would have scored higher if it just had a bit of grey shading throughout the book, not those solid chunks of black.

Story: 2.5/5
Like I said, the story starting out is just middle of the road for me mostly due to it seeming like just familiar stories cut together.

I would recommend this book for anyone who likes historical fiction. The story is sort of bland starting out but I can see this book could have some potential and I’ll be checking out the following issues to see what the story plays out into.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get in contact with any of the creators for an interview, maybe in the future I can do a review for the following issues and have more luck getting ahold of them.

Thank you all for reading! If you’re an independent comic creator and would like to have your book reviewed please contact be directly at atkinsonryang@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you asap!

If you have any suggestions for next weeks alternate acronym (N.S.T.A.R.) leave a comment below!

I’ve been Ryan Atkinson and remember.. There’s no such thing as reviews!

No Such Thing As Reviews #2! Independent comic and pop culture reviews!

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of No Such Thing As Reviews! Otherwise known as Nubile Squids Tell Angry Riddles. I’m Ryan Atkinson and every Tuesday here on No Such Thing As Reviews I’ll be reviewing independent comics, T.V. shows, movies and more! The reviews will consist of a brief overview of what will be reviewed, a summary of the content (spoiler alert!!), my personal thoughts including if I would recommend the book and a rating out of 5 for the story and artwork and whenever possible we will include an interview with the creators!

This week I will be reviewing Henry vs The Reptilian Overlords of the Cosmos..That Have His Bunny issue #1 written and illustrated by Josh Rodgers.

Henry1-cover_OLDFX

The book is set in, well.. a couple places. Earth, a reptilian planet, Henry’s apartment. Lots of places!

Henry is a war veteran that suffers from PTSD in his own way. All he cares about in this world is his dear bunny and the damn Reptilians took that away from him.

The book opens with some reptilian beings that have some humans captive. A woman referred to as Enchantress and a man named Borin. Borin is making jokes about how nice the reptilian castle looks since he’s last been there and that all he needs is to find out what Saurator’s (the bad guy) plan is. Enchantress isn’t having his humour right now as they are being taken away in shackles but he still finds time to joke about it. One of the reptilians gets pissed about Borin talking and tells him to shut his stupid face.

The get to the throne room and Saurator welcomes them to his lair as all good villains do. Borin explains that he willfully submitted to capture so that he can try and talk some sense into him and Saurator passes him off saying that Borin being a boy scout is why he and Enchantress are tied up, and he is sitting in his throne and that he is happy to tell them what his evil plan is.

The first step of his plan is to kill Borin. Which he does right away. This guy is done playing around, he’s seen enough cartoons to know better than that.

Enchantress is obviously and understandably not okay with the whole idea and tells Saurator to just get it over with and kill her. Saurator explains that he would never kill one of his beloved pets but soon she will very much wish he did. He goes on to explain that he plans on wiping out the entire human race and could have much quicker if it wasn’t for Borin being around. Friggin status quo. He then shows Enchantress an image of “The Argnorrok”, a trinket that looks like a guitar pick with a ruby in the middle of it, with which he will have immortality and a whole ass load of power. And probably shred a mean lick or two.

Enchantress prays to Dio for a warrior to come and save them all.

Cut over to the main characters apartment. Henry is sitting on his couch snuggling his bunny talking to a government appointed shrink. The doctor explains that he usually doesn’t do house calls but he wanted to speak with Henry about something personally. The damn government is cutting the finding that pays for Henry’s shrink visits.

Naturally Henry is totally displeased with the thought and blames it on President Nixon being a tool to the reptilians (on earth they don’t know reptilians are real, Henry is just like that) and goes off on a tangent about conspiracies when all of a sudden.. BANG! A reptilian appears which vaporizes the fed up doctor.

The reptilian used a “space-child” (an adorable little alien) to teleport. Henry seems almost shocked that he was right all along about the reptilians but snaps out of it when it turns out The Argnorrok is around his bunny’s neck. The reptilian grabs the bunny and teleports back to his planet. Obviously not all right with his bunny being taken, Henry lunges at the reptilian as soon as it takes the bunny and teleports along with them.

Henry and the little cutiepie alien get dropped off separately from the reptilian and the bunny. Henry’s reaction is more.. Disappointed? He doesn’t seem scared or anything despite in the background being a giant eyeball walking on two tentacles, shooting an energy beam at a mountain. I imagine his tone of voice being like that of a kid who was just told he wasn’t going to get to go to McDonalds for a treat. The dialogue reads “Awww.. God Dammit” but I read it as “Awwww mannnnnnnn”.

Henry walks up to the little alien and notices he has a pretty big gash. Well.. His guts are out. He decides he needs to cover the wound but all he has on him is his underwear. The alien tries to stop Henry but Henry does it. They then start walking to find bunny. The alien says that if Henry carried him with two hands he wouldn’t be in so much pain (one handed is too bumpy) but Henry needs to cover his bird up because of “Catholic Guilt”.

Henry asks the little fella’s name but he explains his race evolved past the need for names, gender, race and other identifiable traits, that they were all one. Henry decides to just call him “Little Dude”.

They stumble across a dead merchant and his cart. Henry finds some clothes (furry underwear and a sash) and then out of nowhere a huge multi-eyed thing with arms and tentacles and lots of slobber, pops out of the ground. Henry thinks it’s total crap that he’s only been here for like 20 minutes max and already this crap is happening.

He fights with the monster and the monster seems to have the upper tentacle until Henry hallucinates an onion headed tiny wizard. The wizard tells Henry that he can teach him some spells that “Can damage dorks with low defense but are useless against everything else”. Henry, even with his muddled mind, knows that this guy isn’t real and decides all he needs to beat this asshole is a few good fist-burgers.

The wizard casts a spell that based on his incantation was supposed to make the monster sleep (with the power of Satan) but the monsters head explodes from being hit with what looks like a cannon ball.

Well it looks like a cannon ball because it kind of is. A pair of humans, Mr. Belvedor and Arachnadia, that are now on the scene shot the damn thing’s head off.

They appear to be tracking the teleporting reptilian or The Argnorrok. Arachnadia, the woman of the pair, is holding Henry at gunpoint.

Mr. Belvedor asks her if the energy readings they are tracking came from this quadrant. She says that their equipment hasn’t led her astray before and this old man (Henry) mush have seen something.

And that’s the end of issue one of Henry vs The Reptilian Overlords of the Cosmos.. That Have His Bunny!

I gotta tell you. I thought I was sold on this book just judging by the cover artwork when I saw it for the first time. The cover looks amazing.

But as soon as I turned to the first page I didn’t think I was sold anymore. I WAS sold. The artwork in this book is so cool, not only is it drawn amazingly well, it was also made to look like it was printed back in the day. The pages look grainy like they were printed on a coarse paper, and the colours are a tiny bit faded to give it a vintage look.

Aside from being sold on the artwork alone, this is a pretty great book story wise as well. It’s got a sense of humour about it that I really like. The book doesn’t take itself too seriously. Josh is clearly making a book for him and people who share his sense of humour.

It throws in elements of old cartoons like He-Man, Conan and more and makes sure it calls out the good and bad from them. Like the villain knowing it was foolish of him to spell out his plan in full to the (apparent at the time) hero. The crazy names, the monsters. The Deus Ex Machina that the villain wants and the hero will surely use to defeat him.

Also, in the book there are ads placed throughout, but they aren’t really ads. The adverts are for a video game called Kromdong and later on an advert for a candy bar which is a little one page comic called “Kromdong In: Bazongars In Danger”

Bazongars are the candy bar but we aren’t led to believe that right away. I’ve spoiled damn well enough of the book, you can check it out for yourself, but it’s kind of in a way a parody of Thunder Cats (to my eye anyway) and is pretty damn funny in it’s own right!

I’m really excited to see where this story goes and I can’t wait to read the next issue.

My rating for the book is as follows:

Artwork- 5/5

Story-4/5

I know that’s pretty high for the artwork. Can’t get much higher than that really but I donno, I fell in love with this book without even reading a word just because of the artwork and if that doesn’t deserve a 5/5 I don’t know what does.

I would for sure recommend this book in a heartbeat. Anyone who likes 80’s cartoons, conspiracy theories, stuff that doesn’t take itself seriously, adorable little aliens. There is quite a bit of coarse language and some mature themes though, so parental discretion is advised.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Josh on a few things including his process! You can find our interview below.

 What got you started in comics?
Awwww man, I just realized nobody was going to hire me to make comics because I sucked. I had to start somewhere so I just started trying to make my friends laugh with my first effort, Captain Mushface. I kinda just had fun doing it so I just kept making more and more… kinda like an addiction… maybe this is my cry for help??

 How did you come up with the idea for this story?
Henry is a parody of a lot of the old ’80’s cartoons I grew up on. Stuff like Conan the Barbarian, Brave-star, He-man, Transformers- basically anything with a toy-line. I mixed all that with modern conspiracy theories and WHAM!-weird comic soup.

Do you use an outline or a plot, or do you just follow an idea and see where you end up?
It really depends on what I’m working on. With Henry I’m kinda working off a bunch of weird scribbled notes about conspiracy theories and bizarre ideas about the world. I’m not sure if Henry HAS a coherant plot, and it’s really designed that way. It’s meant to be chaotic with no clear winner or loser, and it’s going to get weirder and weirder as it continues.

 What inspires you to create?
Everything from art to world news, and a personal drive to get better and produce more art. I love doing it so it doesn’t take much to inspire and push me forward.

Do you ever get writers block? And if so, how do you overcome it?
All the time! When it happens I’ll just take a small break and do something else for a while. If it persists then I jot down ideas of what wouldn’t happen in the story, or I’ll just sketch some weird stuff for a while. It all works. Anything to get my brain back on track.

If you could choose an actor/actress to star in a movie based on your book, who would it be?
“Oohhh man, I never considered it buuuuuuut…. uhhhh…. the Olsen twins?”

What were you like in school?
“Kinda lazy… day dreamt a lot… doodled on everything. I was also kind of oblivious to the world around me. I was living in a sweet sweet bubble…oh man that bubble was sweet. Now I have to pay bills. ”

What is your favourite motivational quote or phrase?
“Mark Twain was always fun for some quotes! Here’s a goodie:
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”- Twain”

 Where can we buy or read your comic?
“My website at http://www.mushfacecomics.com

If you could only give one piece of advice to aspiring creators, what would it be?
“Just start. Create! Don’t talk about it just jump in with both feet and worry about the consequences later.”

 And finally, probably the most important question of all: Star Wars or Star Trek? And why?
“That’s like asking cake or ice-cream! I say getting fat on both benefits everybody ;)”

I’d like to thank Josh Rodgers for taking part in this week’s interview!

And thank you all for reading! If you’re an indie comic creator and would like to see your works reviewed please feel free to email me at atkinsonryang@gmail.com! If anyone has any suggestions for next week’s alternate acronym (N.S.T.A.R.) please comment below! 🙂

I’ve been Ryan Atkinson and I’ll see you all next week!

And remember.. There’s No Such Thing As Reviews!