I can’t think of a better way to showcase the aesthetically pleasing visuals of steampunk than with a comic book anthology. In Arcana’s newest collection of comic shorts, Steampunk Originals, multiple writers and illustrators are able to push the boundaries of steampunk tropes by combining its concepts with those of other genres. The end results are a culmination of many creatively engaging stories. Check out my picks for some of the best from the volume.
“Rule Britannia: The Messenger” by Axel Howerton and Red Tash is the story of a girl who’s taken over her brother’s messenger job when he signed up to a pilot. She is tasked with delivering a note to Prince Harry from his brother, Prince Billy; but she’ll have to fight her way through a group of sleazy bar patrons first. Steven Yarbrough’s art draws you in from the first panel with is fast-paced, cartoon action and over-the-top characters.
The Book Written by Erik Hendrix and Michael David Nelson
Art by Amanda Rachels
Colors by Gavin Michelli
Letters by Erik Hendrix
Edited by Amanda Hendrix Arcana Comics
Release Date: December 2012
Cover Price: $14.95
Creators Erik Hendrix and Michael David Nelson melded their own separate story ideas together to form The Book. Hendrix wanted to write a story about people killing themselves to see what’s in the afterlife. Nelson was toying with the idea of travelers hunting down collaborative, “off the grid” travel guides. The resulting story is a compelling twist on the old possession storyline. The Book is an inverse ghost story where the living want to explore the afterlife and, as a result, bring a little afterlife back with them. It’s a ritualistic twist on the movie Flatliners.
The first issue in a new series from Arcana Comics, The Inventor: The Story Of Tesla is amazing in that it covers a huge amount of history in just over 150 pages. In a time where inventions were common, Nikola Tesla stood out above the rest. Unfortunately, his history is a bit lost amongst other greats such as Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan. Prepare yourself for a crash course in the history of man’s harnessing of electricity, Tesla’s life, and how he almost single-handedly revolutionized the modern world.
We start with a quick study of his early years and how his father wanted him to study at a seminary school. We jump quickly through those times to his young adulthood and how he traveled to America to follow his dreams. Becoming a protege to Thomas Edison, he learned that politics play a huge part in any funding of scientific studies, forcing him to reevaluate the way he approached his investors later in life.
Scrooge and Santa Written by Matthew Wilson
Pencils & Inks by Josh Kenfield
Colors by Dan Smith & Josh Kenfield
Letters by Jehoaddan Strain & Josh Kenfield
Cover by Josh Kenfield Arcana Studios
Release Date: January 1, 2011
Cover Price: $14.95
Scrooge and Santa is a delightful Christmas comic book that does everything that it sets out to do. It has charm, humor, and heart. Sometimes the story is a little bit confusing and lacking, but all in all, it’s a great Christmas read.
Matthew Wilson spins a Christmas yarn that is truly timeless. He updates the classic story, A Christmas Carol, but not in the usual way. Yes, there are all the elements of the Charles Dickens classic in there, but he also throws in some very unexpected and out place twists and turns. And, I’m happy to say, they turn out fantastic.
The market for horror comics right now is brutally competitive. With books like Locke and Key, Green Wake, and Rebel Blood reinventing what can be done with a genre, competition is fierce. The Evil Tree, being an independent horror comic published by a small press, faces some challenges when stacked up against titles from Image Comics and IDW Publishing. Which is a shame. Even though The Evil Tree is a by the numbers horror story, this book’s expert writing proves that there is nothing wrong with a good old fashioned ghost story.
At its core, The Evil Tree is a very simple story. It is your standard unsettled ghost haunting the living as a means to eventually rest in peace. This book’s storyline is fairly cut and dry and, in this case, it is perfectly okay. Writer Erik Hendrix seems to understand that sometimes mastering a preexisting story can be more appealing than poorly tackling some high concept horror story. Why try to blow people’s minds by ruminating on the human condition if you can’t even get it right?