Friday, August 21, 2009

A few words about every single story in MySpace Dark Horse Presents Vol. 3

"7 True Tales of Internet Horror" by Keith Knight

This apparently isn’t actually a story per se, but an introduction to the rest of the volume, although I did not discover that until I got to the final panel, in which Knight lists his seventh tale of Internet horror as “Finding out the intro you were asked to do for MySpace Dark Horse Presents was due last week!!

So, poor job of introducing the introduction as an introduction, although it is a decent introduction of what follows in that it is a typical Keith Knight cartoon, and an anthology that contains a typical Keith Knight cartoon is one that’s probably going to include a great deal of variety, since no one has such a disciplined loose style as Knight, nor the ability to rely heavily on verbal wit without seeming to be trying to overcompensate at all (A word-less Knight strip would still be pretty hilarious, so adept is he at drawing funny faces, and moving from image to image).

“Murderous Intent” by Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck

Your typical Mike Mignola story, which is either a good or bad thing, depending on the degree of affection you have for Mignola’s writing and the patience you have with the endless variations of a government agent guy versus the supernatural, presented with enough historical detail that the supernatural aspects can feel genuine, or at least based on real historical facts.

This one stars Edward Grey, star of Mignola’s Witchfinder series. Stenbeck is credited with art, but many of the panels looks so Mignola-esque that I would not call you a liar if you told me he penciled or inked it.

That’s not necessarily a criticism of Stenbeck, by the way. Being able to do a very convincing Mignola impression is probably a virtue in drawing a Mignola-verse story.

"I See The Devil in my Sleep" by Becky Cloonan

This is a very effective eight-page supernatural mystery type of story, in which an unreliable narrator walks us through a day in his life, letting us share enough of his thoughts that the events of that day and night are open to interpretation. Is he a psycho killer? Is the devil out to get him, coming at him in various disguises? No way of knowing for sure.

Cloonan fills the dark of the protagonists room with swirling, skeletal monsters that aren’t really there in an incredibly effective, creepy way. I can’t recall a better depiction of what it felt like to be afraid of the dark and imagining scary things all around you.

"Creepy: Meet the Creepys" by Dan Braun and Jeff Preston

I did not care for this short story, in which the creators introduce us to a Addams Family-like family of ghouls who apparently serve as horror hosts (as we’ll see in a later story).

It’s just two-pages long, so it’s not like it ruins the collection or anything. There’s nothing to the verbal side of other things other than cheesy puns, which might be fun if they weren’t being sold by hyper-realistic art

"The Cleaners: The Body Colony" by Mark Wheaton, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Rahsan Ekedal

This is a short story featuring a character and/or concept from a Dark Horse-published miniseries, although it’s not a very good introduction to whatever that concept is exactly.

There’s a grisly murder scene, and the guy who shows up to clean the floor ends up encountering the murderer, someone infected with some kind of killer plant, and I guess he’s maybe actually not just a cleaner but some kind of scientist or doctor as well?

It reads more like a scene from a story than a complete story, and thus may work better for readers of The Cleaners than someone coming at it cold.

I wasn’t impressed enough to seek out The Cleaners, but then, there’s a lot of this sort of material out there these days, and it takes something pretty exceptional to stand out from the crowd.

"The Stain" by Josh Dysart and Ron Wimberly

Wait, Ohio University? Athens, Ohio? Why, that’s just a short drive from where I live!

Despite my geographic proximity, and the number of people I know who have gone to school there, I’ve never heard of the story that creators Dysart, Wimberly and editor Scott Allie hear in the story, and decide to investigate. Weird.

I assume it’s true though, but, if not, Dysart sure does a great job of selling it (Five-second Internet search says it’s true).

He and his fellow comic book people, visiting the campus for a comics-related event, check out a campus building that’s supposedly one of the most haunted places in the world. Specifically, they want to see a stain that’s shaped like a woman and was supposedly created by a woman dying and her body rotting into the floor.

Later, Dysart has a much scarier experience.

It’s a neat little essay about horror and mystery not always being where you expect to find them. This is my favorite piece so far, but I’m only one-fifth into the book at this point.

"Emily The Strange: She Moves in the Dark" by Kitty Remingon

I don’t understand Emily The Strange. This is a terrible two-page poem accompanied by nice art that sort of flirts with being a comic, but is probably closer to illustrated poetry.

"Creepy: Om Nom Nom!" by Andrew Mayer and Lukas Ketner

Apparently we were introduced to The Creepys earlier so we wouldn’t be surprised to find Uncle Creepy playing horror host in this short story.

He doesn’t add anything, and it seems a bit odd to have a character hosting a comic book story that will be told partially in first-person narration by one of the characters.

It’s a solid, eight-page horror story though, one with a predictable twist ending, but then, that’s part of the fun of such stories. Lukas Ketner’s art is appropriately creepy, and will likely re-instill your childhood fear of old people, if it’s something you’ve managed to grow out of.

"Previously Possessed" by Sarah Oleksyk

A very cute story about a young woman who buys a cool flapper dress from a vintage clothing store, only to discover it’s possessed by the woman who died in it, and it’s up to her to help the restless ghost find peace in the afterlife.

Of course, doing so sounds awfully hard, so she thinks of a rather clever solution to put an end to the haunting without having to inconvenience herself.

One fun thing about this anthology series is discovering new artists, and I’m glad to have been introduced to Olkesyk’s work. If you’re unfamiliar with her, do check out her website.

"The Nightmare of the Wine Hobo”"by Jamaica Dyer

A hobo discovers what happens if you love a bottle of wine too much…or perhaps not enough?…in this funny little silent story of absurd humor.

"Hunger For Knowledge" by Colleen Frakes

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—bears are the new monkeys. And this story has a great many bears in it, all depicted by Frakes in a style that has more in common with fine art painting than pen-and-ink cartooning. It’s beautiful stuff, with an amusing punchline ending.

"Usagi Yojimbo: Saya" by Stan Sakai

Man, it is hard out there for a ronin…

"Beanworld in '? and !'" by Larry Marder

While horror seems to be the default setting for most of the contributors here, there’s something to be said for any anthology that can go from a samurai rabbit to a completely original world full of sentient bean-shapes and it’s own completely unique cosmology.

This is…well it’s Beanworld, and a sort of day-in-the-life look at it. Unlike some of the other contributions here that spin-out of pre-existing works, Marder’s short eight-page story does a pretty fine job of selling what it spins out of.

Although that may simply be a function of Beanworld being so damn unique that it’s extremely difficult to explain, and one needs to read it to get it, so that any Beanworld story is more or less as user-friendly as any other.

"The Famous Mysterious Actor in 'The Couch Fort'" by Famous Mysterious Actor and Todd Herman

I’m afraid I just didn’t get this one at all.

"Achewood: One-Dollar Genius" by Chris Onstad

Ray, Roast Beef and Teodor are doing bong hits at Ray’s mansion and decided to go on a completely spontaneous road trip. Passing a Taco Bell, they decide to order one of everything on the menu—“It could be a thing!”—and then have Teodor blog about it all fancy-like, in the manner of British food writer A.A. Gill, whom Beef assures Ray has “sentences better than any sentence in the land…He is to sentence technology what Hell is to places where the damned dwell.”

It turns out that there’s a reason no one orders one of everything off of Taco Bell’s menu and then tries to write about it all fancy-like though, as Teodor unfortunately discovers.

So you know, pretty much your average Achewood story—not one of the weird ones—only on paper and in color.

"President Carter and Kenny in 'The Best Job in the Whole World'" by Brian Sendelbach

Hmm, is it just me or is there more work from comic strippers in this volume than the previous ones? This is a two-page strip by Brian Sendelbach, creator of Smell of Steve (the only place you can find the adventures of Black Aquaman!), featuring his reoccurring characters President Carter and Kenny, a demon that is friends with President Carter.

In this adventure, President Carter realizes “presidenting just isn’t paying the bills anymore” and that he might not be able to make rent, so he decides to get a job and, after some difficulty, he lands the best job in the world!

That means President Carter now has both the best job in the world and the worst job in the world on his resume.

"Nothing Nice to say: Getting Hip!" by Mitch Clem

I have to remember to try asking "What's shakin', Hairstyle?" to a pretty girl while pointing at her with finger guns next time at a bar.

It doesn’t work for one of the protagonists in this short, two-page strip, but it is funny.

The K Chronicles by Keith Knight

Hey, Keith Knight again! This one’s twice as long, at two pages, as the cartoonist talks about the similarities between having a child and launching a daily newspaper strip.

"Steak & Kidney Punch" by Liz Greenfield

I do believe Greenfield wins the honor of best title in this volume.

"Applegeeks: RoBro" By Amanth Panagariya and Mohammad F. Haque

Oh hey, this reminds me I still need to read Dark Horse’s recent-ish Applegeeks collection.

So there are about a half-dozen cute-looking college students who share a home, and one of them is named Hawk, and he’s an inventor. He finds his fifth-grade science project, a robot built out of a bucket, cardboard box and alarm clock named RoBro. It falls in love with Eve, a more human-looking robot/android, also of Hawk’s invention, and begins stalking her.

Cutely-drawn hilarity ensues.

"Mister X in Slumberland" by Dean Motter

This is an eight-page introduction to Motter’s Mister X, with a punchline panel homage to Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo.

"Serenity: The Other Half" by Jim Krueger and Will Conrad

And here begins a suite of Joss Whedon-related comics based on pre-existing franchises from other media that I have extremely limited experience with/exposure to.

This is based on the short-lived sci-fi western TV Firefly I watched one episode of, which spawned a movie I kind of liked.

Nathan Fillion, drawn rather Nathan Fillion-y, and a bunch of other actor likenesses that look passingly familiar swear in Chinese while fighting zombies on a hover stagecoach. I guess. Eh.

"Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Harmony Bites" by Jane Epenson, Karl Moline and Andy Owens

A vampire named Harmony, drawn to resemble Buffy Summers as much if not more than the TV show version of Harmony, maybe has a reality TV show of some kind…? Is it still cool to do comics premised on a reality TV show? I thought that was played out when DC launched Blood Pack in the mid-90s.

"Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Vampy Cat Play Friend" by Steven S. DeKnight and Camilla d’Errico

I would have even known this had anything to do with Buffy if I didn’t notice the executive producer credit for Whedon at the bottom of the first page, and then double-check the table of contents.

It’s a cute, two-page commercial for a cute doll that rips the heads off of those who make fun of you.

"Moist: Humidity Rising" by Zack Whedon and Farel Dalrymple

Dalrymple draws the hell out of a weird, paranoid story about a very weird individual with unusual problems that suddenly veers into being a superhero parody before ending up being a Dr. Horrible tie-in of some kind.

I’m vaguely aware of Dr. Horrible, mostly through previous volumes in this series, but no matter how good the art is, they don’t really do anything for me.

And that’s a few words about every single story in MySpace Dark Horse Presents Vol. 3.


Note: This review appeared at Blog@Newsarama earlier today. I'm cross-posting it here on Every Day Is Like Wednesday since my reviews of the previous two volumes in this series appear on this blog.

1 comment:

LurkerWithout said...

The two Buffy stories sound like they're either excerpts from actual recent BtVS: Season 8 comics or are based off those two issues...