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.

psychosis 2.jpg

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.

308687._SX360_QL80_TTD_

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!

12116017_524079964432972_2752985885520777293_n

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!