Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hype Machine - Black Label Comics

(Pin-up by Blair Shedd)

Ian C. Struckhoff is a friend of the blog who has been working on releasing and self-publishing his creator owned comics, and with release date approaching soon, I was granted a sneak peek into one of the comics. Black Label Comics #1 is an anthology that features several short stories as well as previews of upcoming work from Ian and his talented cadre of artists. What’s even more astonishing is that Ian is completely funding his work through Kickstarter and networking to put this comic together. Hit the jump to find out what, where, and why you should get this comic, as well as an in-depth look at some of the content that will appear in this comic.

Something For Everyone!

Like I mentioned in the introductory paragraph, there’s a veritable army of artists collaborating and working along with Ian, all of them that he met through networking on DeviantArt. This is perhaps not the easiest way to find artist, but Ian is a hard working man and managed to bring them all under the same roof. There’s an incredibly array of styles to go along with all the different stories, and I’m sure you will find one to love. Here's a special peek at some pages from several of the stories.

A page from The Deathlings: Black Label. A nameless cowboy Deathling breaks into a series of apartments in the foggy city, looking for something.What is he looking for and who is he working for?
Line Art by Nicholas Raimo, Color Art by Sara Machajewski.

A page from The Dark Age: Untitled Masterpieces. Detective Sandra Cash is working a case involving a serial killer that seems to target victims without much rhyme or reason. She isn't having much luck until her partner stumbles upon a huge clue.
Line Art by Rosaria Battiloro, Color Art by Paulina Vassileva.

   A page from The Deathlings: Anne's Story. Anne is a normal girl who is about to finish high school, with your everyday life and worries, until one night where everything changes. Strange dreams hint at something bigger to come for Anne, but what exactly? 
Line art by Michela Da Sacco and Manuela Soriani. Color art by Juri Hayasaka.

A page from Huginn & Muninn: Blood Brothers. Everyday, the All Father Odin sends out his two crows Huginn and Muninn to the mortal word to gather information for him. This time, the two of them transform into two very different people, but how are they connected to each other? 
Art by Jonathan Wyke.

A page from The Deathlings: Kids Stuff. Two children living in a refugee camp in the City of Fog sneak out into the zombie-filled wasteland for a game. At the same time, they are watched over by a mysterious figure.
Art by Valia Kapadai.

As varied as the artists’ style are, the stories are equally different from each other (though unified by a central theme). It’s not often that in the same book you will be able to find a noir crime yarn, a quasi-western tale, updates on classic mythological aspects, supernatural stories, and a short narration that would be equally at home in a children’s book. What this means is that this is an anthology in which you’ll be able to find something you’ll enjoy, because the variety of it means that there’s something for everyone. And for the record, my favorite one is The Dark Age: Untitled Masterpieces.

All within the 52 pages, of which 48 are stories, and the rest of which are assorted pin-ups and illustrations. I should also mention that several of the stories here are part of bigger stories, such as The Deathlings, The Dark Age, and Huginn and Muninn that will continue in their own series. They will also be released eventually through Black Label Comics.

Where Can I Get It?

So how can you get a hold of this comic? Easy, through the project’s Kickstarter page. For as little as 5 bucks, you will be able to get a hold digital copy of two comics, and for 10, a hard copy of Black Label Comics #1 shipped to you (in the United States and Canada, more for international). Now, as you may notice this price IS a bit steep, but remember that this is an indie comic, almost completely funded by Ian, so the economics are completely different from what you are used to in bigger companies.

If you click the link, you’ll notice that Ian has reached his stated goal for his Kickstarter project. “Why should I donate then, Matt?” you are thinking. The answer is that you are not donating, you will be buying a copy of the comic through the support of this project. And the fact that they’ve reached the goal means that this comic IS going to get made already, so you know exactly what you are paying for, without doubting if this project is going to get through (as it happens with many Kickstarter projects which never materialize). Any additional money passing the goal is going to go to off-setting the cost of producing this project, which came from the pockets of the people involved, most notably Ian. In other words, please consider supporting, even if it’s just the minimum of 1 dollar (which will grant you behind the scene access), but 5 dollars for two digital comics is a pretty good price too!

Additionally, Black Label Comics is going to have his own table at New York Comic-Con, where you will be able to purchase Black Label Comics #1 and The Deathlings: Anne’s Story #1. In case you want a hard copy, you will be able to find and purchase one there (and that way avoid shipping costs).


I think Black Label Comics has a bright future ahead of them, and I’m more than happy to help spread the word, as Ian has crafted a very enjoyable anthology issue. Make sure to check out their website, or their Facebook page if you prefer, and to let me know what you think in the comment section.

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Rob said...

Fantastic art really helps Black Label Comics stand out. Too many DIY titles fall short because of subpar art. Awesome job Black Label!

Matt Duarte said...

@Rob: Definitely, the art is great all around. I wish I could have shown more, but I would have ended up posting the whole comic, and Ian would have gotten angry with me, haha.

Flip The Page said...

whilst I don't mind shilling friend's stuff, I have to say that this dude straight up started moaning a while back that if every person who followed him on twitter (bots included) gave his kickstarter 13 dollars he'd be set. Which is okay in its own way, but rubbed me the wrong way, almost like he expected it to be a done thing.

still, it looks interesting and i wish the project the best

Ian said...

@Flip - I didn't expect it to be a given, in the slightest. I was trying to express the scale of the task in a way that might be more meaningful than a flat-out number.

I'm definitely sorry I rubbed you the wrong way. I'll take it as a reminder of the pitfalls of trying to capture tone on the Internet, especially Twitter.

Flip The Page said...

@ian - s'no problem, glad you responded, you have more than my respect for that

... this is the most polite the internet will ever be and i'm scared

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