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Comic Review: Caffeine Dreams #1
Mister Vertigo   |  

Caffeine Dreams #1Caffeine Dreams #1
Written by Dale Wilson
Art by Todd Haris, Chris Sagovac, Nick Kunin
DWAP Productions
Cover price: $2.95; Available now

Big Ships

Big Ships, a pencil-only, storyboardesque vignette, begins with a crazy man frantically gesturing at the sky, trying to get whoever will listen to look up and acknowledge what he’s pointing at. He piques the interest of a passerby, who snaps a Polaroid of the clouds in the sky. Later the man and his girlfriend stare at the photo. They begin to see something special and puzzle over it. He digs an old telescope out of the closet to get a better look at the spot in the sky. They see”¦

The pencil drawing is technically excellent, with a bit of flair peeking through in the messier and deliberately obscuring use of shading. And whatever else you might say about the artist, he can certainly draw the shit out of some chairs and sofas.

In a superficial way the art suits the story, light and airy, a stroll through a reality where Berkley was right about everything. Deep and not deep at the same time. But it feels lazy.

Big Ships is a story about the perception of reality, what we might see if we only looked, however, translating the pencil sketches into a recognizable world in the first place takes more effort than it might. Pulling off the same story with a more photorealistic world would have had a grander payoff; the artist is obviously capable of it.

On Becoming A Monster

On Becoming A Monster features an anti-hero in a Mexican wrestler’s mask, “Padre Juan.” Poor detail work and incoherent writing make it difficult to tell what’s going on: best guess here is that Devil’s reserves ambush an army of angels, and Padre Juan ditches the mask and runs amuck, slaughtering angels with his long tresses flowing behind him. Or maybe it’s actually Conan; it’s hard to tell.

Some of the design elements, in particular the use of negative space, are fantastic. A couple of the images are exceptional, and are the best thing in the book. I suspect it’s these gems that got the artist’s work included. It’s certainly not because of his grand violent vision, which is sloppy nihilism. Put succinctly, it’s the only time in the Caffeine Dreams comic I pick up the “ten years down the road I’m going to commit suicide with a nail gun” vibe common to low-rent indie artists.

Fittingly, it also boasts the comic’s only misspelling, no doubt raising it proudly above its head like a giant iron sword.

Monarch Kingdom

We follow a hero who sees his friends and girlfriend as alien monsters when they become involved in a videogame called ‘Monarch Kingdom.’

Monarch Kingdom is unabashedly a comic. The lines are confident and clean, the eyes a satisfying solid black, the faces full of expression. The drawing makes the trips into unreality easily digestible. We coast in and out of videogame land at a whim, the scenes within the game only slightly distinguishable from the rest of the story. When a monarch sinks its fangs into a crocodile’s head, the croc’s eyes widen with horror, and it’s actually a little disturbing.

Anyway, it’s all a happy mess. Think non-sober Timothy Leary drawing a Scooby Doo funny pages strip. I’d be interested to see how Monarch Kingdom would hold up over the course of an entire book. Of the three infant concepts it has the best chance of having a successful life.

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