When mentions of Monkeybrain Comics exploded all over the comics bloggers twittersphere, I decided to check them out. This is exactly the type of thing I was hoping to get with digital comics – an imprint of reasonably priced, creator-focused, budget friendly comics. At this point I’ve read all but one of the titles for Monkeybrain Comics’ initial launch, so here are some quick reactions.
Bandette by Paul Tobin and Collen Coover – This was the title I was most excited to read, and I wasn’t disappointed. Bandette is a young thief who steals from evil men. She has a great semi-mod look with a red bob, red dress, black catsuit, and a yellow and black cape. The comic quickly and effectively introduces the extended cast, which includes a mastermind named Monsieur and a downtrodden inspector named Belgique. There’s plenty of fun, self-humor in this title. I enjoyed Bandette’s outrage when she found out that the person she was robbing was home. When she runs away from a pursuit she comments that the bullets are rude, and “Were they not beguiled by my adorable outfit? My charming wit?” Bandette’s faithful steed is of course a vespa, and when she calls on her friends for help she is able to summon a Thai restaurant delivery boy, a group of skateboarders, and a gang of ballerinas. Colleen Coover’s art is so charming. I enjoyed Gingerbread Girl by the same creators, and Bandette looks to be a fun and breezy read.
Aesop’s Ark by J. Torres and Jennifer L. Meyer
It is nice to see more kid friendly digital comics pop up! This title is set on Noah’s Ark during the flood, where the animals pass the time by telling each other fables. The art on this title is really interesting, as the illustrations on the ark are all done in sepia toned pencils with hand-lettering, and the stories the animals tell are done in color, with a bit of a watercolor feel. I think it can be a little tricky making snails and turtles have sympathetic expressions, but Meyer handles that with ease. If there’s an eventual print collection of this title, I would think that both public and school libraries would want to add this to their collections.
Edison Rex #1 by Chris Robertson and Dennis Culver
This is a fun title that answers the question “What would happen if Lex Luthor beat Superman?” Of course, the characters in this title are actually Valiant: Protector of the Earth and Edison Rex: Criminal Genius, but the idea of what would happen next if a criminal genius actually beat a superhero is intriguing. Culver’s art is clean, with a bit of a retro look that suits the story very well. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes, as the super criminal becomes a reluctant superhero.
October Girl by Matthew Dow Smith
Autumn is stuck in a dead end job, thinking back on her childhood and how it was much more interesting when she still had imaginary friends. As she goes through her day wondering how she’s going to be able to go to college, she is confronted with the knowledge that her childhood isn’t as far behind her as she thought it was. The art on this title was very evocative, with thin lines and a black, white, and slate blue color palate contributing to the general moody feel of the heroine. This comic mostly focused on Autumn’s thoughts, so I’m interested to see if the second issue provides more action.
Amelia Cole and the Unknown World by Adam P. Knave, D.J. Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire
This comic was a little bit of a disappointment. It had a higher price and higher page count, but most of story felt like narrative wheel-spinning to me. Amelia Cole is a magic user who can switch back and forth between worlds, but when she fights a demon in the regular world she has to go back and investigate the mysterious occurrence with her aunt. This comic probably suffered a bit from being compared with the other Monkeybrain titles, but I just think that the other books did a much better job introducing the stories and ending on a note that left the reader wanting more. When read the final scene in this comic I was wondering why it didn’t start with the last page, have a couple pages of flashbacks, then continue on with the story. Most of the book was centered on a scene with Amelia and her aunt providing a ton of exposition, and I would rather see the story instead of having it be told to me through a bunch of dialog.
Wander: Olive Hopkins and the Ninth Kingdom by Kevin Church, Grace Allison, and Josh Krach (Disclaimer: Kevin Church has bought me lunch and Josh Krach and I worked on a book together)
Olive Hopkins is a “failed graduate student” and barista who finds herself journeying through a magical world with an elf and a dwarf. One of the things I liked about this book is that it starts straight off in the middle of the action, the action being the characters bickering as they tromp through a landscape being chased by a cave troll. There’s plenty of humor as Shalwyn Arrofall and Luwhil Stonecrusher bicker with each other as you would expect elves and dwarves to do, and Olive is amusingly sarcastic as she faces life in a quasi-medieval kingdom. I enjoyed the dialogue, and the way it contributed to character development, as everyone in the book has a distinct voice and attitude. Along with Bandette, this is one of the funnier Monkeybrain titles, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the series plays with fantasy cliches. The art was clear and easy to follow, and there were many great scenes like Shalwyn giving her horrible interpretation of lustiness and Olive being faced with mysterious meat on a stick.
Overall it was nice to see such a promising collection of titles, and I’ll probably try second issues for all of them. It was nice to see so many titles featuring female protagonists as well. Bandette and Olive Hopkins were the most fun to read, and I enjoyed October Girl‘s moody art and unsettling premise.