Rating: 4.5/5 – Free Western Themed Anthology with a Nice Mix of Styles
At the heated editorial meetings of the ComicSpectrum crew (think Algonquin Round Table for the funny book set), a continual point of contention is the appropriate weight given to the cost of a particular piece of art. I don’t think anyone would argue it is completely dispositive, but I think it deserves some consideration. Mind you, I feel “some consideration” may be even overstating my position as many comics are available for free whether it is borrowed from a friend, the library or stolen. But I could put an “X” on one hundred consecutive pages, offer it for free and it would still be worthless but it does lower the risk to the consumer. The only expense is your time, which has value but so does your money. Feel free to add to this debate via comment or email. In this instance, the price point of “free” does make me more encouraged to recommend it but assuming a reasonable price point, I would still recommend it.
This is the second volume offered by Harry Moyer and team, including some of the contributing creators to World’s Strongest Mailman, (reviewed here http://comicspectrumwebcomics.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/worlds-strongest-mailman/). As with the first volume, these are standalone stories, available in both .pdf and .cbz format. I am a .pdf man given my choice so my review will be based on that version which is 35 pages total, cover, credits and guts. There are no ads in these comics. As usual I will err on the side of protecting against spoilers. I don’t consider myself much of a fan of westerns and haven’t watched many such movies nor read many comics. I am not entirely ignorant of the genre but generally not attracted to it. However I am attracted to good comics and this is that.
The cover image is by Harry Moyer, who is also behind the first story, “F,” a six panel a page, four page story involving an interesting method of interrogation involving a rope, a horse and a gun. He likes his backgrounds with screentone which is not conveyed by the cover image, but his excellent elegant character designs are equally evident there as in the story. He also does two one page stories concerning a wild mustang. One nice element in the anthology is that each creator/creative team has a distinct style that makes them recognizable if you are familiar with their past work.
Timothy O’Briant (“Maps: The Trouble with Lions”) provides a cowboy tale in an unusual setting. The strong colors and sense of movement are what immediately struck me about this piece. He also has a one page humor piece at the end regarding how to draw. Bryan Boles contributes two stories, working with Jon Westhoff (World’s Strongest Mailman) and John Dudley. Both feature humor but the coloring here is quite different from World’s Strongest Mailmen. We have more of the screentone background with shades of color accenting parts of the panel. The first story tells a tale of two hapless bounty hunters who suffer from a lack of attention to detail. I really like the integration of the sound effects into the panel representation in the middle of the story. The second story answers the question about what does the wild west barroom band do when the fights break out.
Don Cardenas adds a more serious tale of a Clint Eastwood inspired gunslinger tracking down names from his “list” with at least one little easter egg tucked in there for fans of another Western themed comic book property. Here as the intensity of the story increases, the colors become more saturated and darker. Monsta (“The Guys”) has the most surprising cameo which I won’t spoil. His backgrounds work in orange, yellow and brown and highlight the figures but does a very good likeness on his cameo character appearance. Andrew Shaw and John Boren have a story involving a poker game and a Mexican standoff. While there is a mix of stories, the predominant tone would be more humorous than the first volume.
Hopefully I have dribbled out enough details to pique your interest enough to click the link and download the first two issues. As noted while they are free, there is a “donate” button at the bottom of the page. In further interest of disclosure, while I have not met any of the contributors live and in person, I have conversed with them over twitter (LA_Rabbit1) and various message boards. While this makes me kindly disposed to them, I try to place that to the side in my evaluation of their work. Heck even if I didn’t pique your interest, give it a shot anyone, after all it is FREE.
Reviewed by: Andrew Sanford – firstname.lastname@example.org
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