Thursday, September 25, 2014
From the comic book creators in New Zealand comes a book crafted with a true love for comics. Faction is a showcase of the best of New Zealand comics. Readership isn’t very high in NZ, but there has been a huge renaissance as of late. Local comic artists have been producing work for decades, and with the rise of the internet, the number of artists and the quality of the work has risen rapidly. This is a comic made by people who love comics for people who love them just as much. Hit the jump for more!
Below is a short paragraph written by Nevin and CeeJay for each story so that each of these could get the perspective of two different people.
Faction # 1
“Migraine” by Ned Wenlock
CeeJay: I just… I can’t… I mean… I just don’t understand, y’all. It’s like, I enjoy the artwork and the dialogue is funny. The overall tone of the piece was interesting, but I didn’t get the significance of drunk driving dad or weird physically manifested diamond dream lady, and it all just fell a little flat for me. Nevin seemed to enjoy it more than I did.
Nevin: After their drunk dad wrecks a car, two kids go on an adventure in the forest and find a crystal brain migraine? “Migraine” hits the weird whimsy of Adventure Time with the same kind of childlike animation. I can’t say I really knew what the heck was going on. It’s fun. I laughed a lot. It’s the kind of thing that I’d love to read in bite sized chunks.
“June + Bug” by Ant Sang
CeeJay: Nah son, I can’t deal with that dead baby life, man. This story about neurologically codependent conjoined twins is one of those that’s really sad but also really beautiful things that sort of just kicks your emotions in the taint. Sang’s crafted a pretty compelling, if concise, story of loss here and it’s well worth checking out.
Nevin: Talk about a punch in the feels. A two page story about twins and sadness. The art is nice and the coloring in the dream panels is wonderful, but man, I just wanted a hug after reading this. Props to Ant Sang for hitting my emotions so hard with only two pages of panels.
“One Giant Leap” by Damon Keen
CeeJay: So, can we agree that this is “Gravity” if “Gravity’s” reality was as incidentally shitty as ours? This poor guy. I was actually sort of rooting for him but obviously Keen had other plans. Sadist.
Nevin: This is some “Gravity”-esque series of unfortunate events. I love the simplistic art and the shading used for the colors, and I liked how even though the whole incident is extremely unfortunate, the exclamatory gestures keep it somehow lighthearted. I got a big laugh from the finish. Maybe that makes me twisted? This is probably my favorite piece in the whole anthology.
“Has Beams” by Christian Pearce
CeeJay: “Has Beams” was hilarious. The art’s fun and evocative of old-school newspaper funnies and the whole narrative concept is too absurd not to love. I’m not entirely sure why the delivery guy is talking like the possessed zombie college students from the 2002 live-action “Scooby-Doo” film, but hey, whatever works. Nice subtle gore detail as well.
Nevin: “Yeah nah. The dizzy got stuck in the diff, mate.” That kind of sums up my feelings on this comic. Hilarious dialogue, great detail on the carnage, and just all around fun. Pearce does a wonderful job.
“Bookish” by Jonathan King
CeeJay: King’s “Bookish” was a nice change of pace. A fun little mystery with a freaky twist and an fittingly abrupt ending. My favorite of the bunch, most likely. One of very few that I wished was a bit longer.
Nevin: This is probably my second favorite in the anthology. It’s got a smart little detective story with a supernatural twist to it. The amount of detail that King packs into each panel is surprising. Every panel has a full background with no shortcuts taken for the art. This is just a quality, succint detective story.
“Ricky & Lyle” by Ralphi
CeeJay: If you’ve ever wondered what that girl who smokes pot gets up to when she’s not being verbally chastised by her dog in those Truth commercials, here ya go. “Ricky & Lyle” was sort of all over the place tonally and visually. I enjoyed the minimalist character designs a lot, though. Sort of reminded me of the old Brendan Smalls cartoons, like “Home Movies.”
Nevin: I have to wonder if this comic is just spot-on stoner logic when pot heads watch Antique Roadshow. “We have old shit!” I enjoyed the shenanigans throughout and the catastrophe of an end. I didn’t find the basic art style exciting, but it definitely fit with the vibe of the comic.
“Search for the Phoenix” by Nani Mahal
CeeJay: Yeah, nope. The “Inuyasha” pixies, the magic McGuffin that the narrative name drops continuously but never explains, the coloring… It was all a big mess, in my opinion. There was a big block of text that was supposed to thrust you into the story but all it did was make me mad. By the time I finished the opening crawl, I didn’t care about anything else that was going on.
Nevin:The art is my favorite part of this story. The character designs are just straight manga and look great. The coloring has a painterly feel to it with deep greens and blues, but comes off a little more slapdash and less deliberate than the lines. I can’t really say too much on the story because it seems like an intro to a much bigger adventure. Two girls seeking to cleanse themselves of a curse seems like classic fodder for cool supernatural adventures. I’d read the rest of that story.
“Zion//Eye” by Czepta
CeeJay: Selah. Virtuous patience seems to be a tough nut to crack for our protagonist, but after some wise word from his master, a shaman who looks like a cross between Rafiki and Morgan Freeman, the young hero learns the power of meditation and then it’s over. A short, succinct fable about the downside of hot-headedness. Inoffensive and the art was expressive and colorful.
Nevin: An old man and impatient boy travel to a forest to collect berries. The premise is simple, but it’s one of those short stories meant to impart knowledge and teach you something. The art has thick lines and bright colors. I especially like the amount of expressions that Czepta used for the boy. A good short read that leaves you with a smile.
“Do You Want To Talk About It?” by Matt Emery
CeeJay: I didn’t get it. I mean, I think I get where the narrative was headed but in pops this twisty framing device that just throws a monkey wrench into the proceedings. I assumed that the person the protagonist built a life with was female but he wakes up in bed with a man. A blue man. After his makeshift woodsman home is smashed to bits by a giant robot. My brain hurts.
Nevin: The story seemed like a straightforward adventure of two people having only each other and falling in love during the robot apocalypse, and then the frame story perspective turns everything on its head. It appears that the antagonist is as confused sexually as I am mentally with this story. With that being said, the distinct art style is enjoyable, and reminds me of childlike imagination, especially the towering, laser shooting robot.
“Connie Radar” by Karl Wills
CeeJay: I enjoyed “Connie Radar.” I’d even go as far as to say that it’s probably the second best segment of the entire anthology. One part “Tintin,” one part “Blondie” and one part “The Thing” (at least in terms of setting), “Radar” was longer than a few of the others but a swift read nonetheless. I liked her lo-fi cyborg sidekick as well.
Nevin: More than any other piece in this anthology, “Connie Radar” has that Sunday comicstrip feel to it. The art style and interactions also remind me of “Blondie” but straight black and white with the coloring. This is one of the better additions to the anthology, and I’d love to read more. On a last note, I would never speak to that maniac at the end.
“The Aegean Era: Origins” by Mark Holland
CeeJay: I’m good. Too many “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” feels and not nearly enough originality to stick out among a fairly eclectic and engaging anthology of work. The exposition page doesn’t help at all, we’re only introduced to one character and the art leaves a lot to be desired. The first two pages are dominated by one figure from two different angles and the last page is an actual ad for the larger story that this snippet is trying to promote. No thanks.
Nevin: The snippet format of Faction doesn’t do this comic any favors. It seems like something that needs at least a full issue to help you gain interest. It’s a story of gods and oceans with a big power struggle. It wants to build something epic, but it doesn’t have the space here to establish that. As for the art, I liked the creature designs. They reminded me of an aquatic Predator, but the coloring and line work makes the art seem blurry and unclear in places. Doesn’t seem like my cup of tea.
“Waves, Sea, Leaky, Moby Dick and Fish” by Roger Langridge
CeeJay: I was actually pretty taken with this small adventure from Fred the Whaler. I have a little issue with the rhyming. It causes you to develop a rhythm in your head only to have the words trip that rhythm up at nearly every turn. However, it was cute and fabley and the character designs reminded me of Popeye and I loooooooooove Popeye.
Nevin: I love rhyming! Maybe I’m still just a child heart, but you put art and entertaining rhymes together, and I get a big grin on my face. The story of Fred and how he lowered the ocean while hunting a whale is great. I also like the layout of the panels and use of a green color scheme. It gave the comic a more unique look.
“Drawn from the Grave” by Mukpuddy
CeeJay: Forgetful zombie, sassy bird. Win.
Nevin: Perfect, just perfect zombie humor.
Faction # 2
“Awakening” by Allan Xia
CeeJay: MMMMMMMMMMonkey! I dug “Awakening.” It’s completely “silent” but the artwork is handled with such care and detail that it manages to build the world of its narrative without the protagonist uttering a single word. The coloring just sang of dystopia and the juxtaposition of the dark greys and blacks make the oranges, greens and blues cool and effective. Great piece from Xia.
Nevin: Faction #2 starts off strong with “Awakening.” No words, just gorgeous art as a man searches for a woman in a sci-fi, post apocalyptic world. The art establishes the world without the need for dialogue and hooks you into the pages. I want more of this, especially after the ending.
“Saurian Era” by Cory Mathis
CeeJay: Flying raptors? I dig. “Saurian Era” seems woefully incomplete but what it lacks in narrative and character development, it makes up for it with goddamn dinosaurs.
Nevin: A world with humans and dinosaurs co-existing? Yes please! This is my kind of world. With that being said, the narrative here doesn’t do much. You just get a kid saving a dinosaur from other dinosaurs with his dinosaur. But the art and detail put into the dinosaurs is wonderful and reminded me of how fascinating these creatures are. Seriously, a flying raptor? If that isn’t one of your wishes from a magic genie, than you’re doing life wrong.
“Ectype” by Damon Keen
CeeJay: “Ectype” is an odd little tale of identity and science that culminates it the one of the more twisty Cronenberg-meets-Kubrickian turns that I’ve seen in any of the Faction releases. I loved everything about this: the tech, the themes of memory and self-actualization and the fact that it was able to make me think about those things in only a few pages. And the art? That last panel is to die for.
Nevin: There is some incredible science fiction on display here. Scouting planets with a spare body made from elements on that planet and then having the memories of that body transplanted back to your real body is just a great sci-fi concept. Sadly, this scouting expedition goes all wrong. The concepts in the story really make you think and the story twists into something wonderfully terrifying at the end. The art gives me a major David Aja vibe with the simplicity of it all, and the yellow color scheme brings the feeling of an alien planet to the forefront. Just great stuff all around.
“A Day at the Races” by Sheehan Brothers
CeeJay: The pencils were intricately done and I appreciated that. There was some great shadowing going on here as well. That being said, this isn’t even a whole story. It’s barely even the beginning of one; it just introduced the characters. There’s very little going on here.
Nevin: This story gave me a “Danger Days” feeling with the radio announcer and the slang terminology used throughout. The characters are all odd and entertaining, and some of the dialogue made me crack a smile, but I can’t say the narrative grabbed me. The art features thin black lines with black and white shading. It’s greatly detailed, but some facial expressions are wonky. This seems like an interesting world, but it just didn’t hook me.
“Woman King” by Rachel Royale
CeeJay: At first glance, the artwork here reminded me a little of the footage that I’ve seen from “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” but upon close inspection you see the world inside the design. A great example of this is the witch’s robe which is patterned with origami swans. I really appreciate little flourishes like that and the story itself left me wanting more.
Nevin: This seems like the start of some grand fairy tale. An evil/possessed sister ordering the death of her sister at the hands of a servant witch. I could see that as the start of a Disney movie. The art has a painterly quality to it and uses deep reds, greens, and purples that really makes the page pop. I also enjoyed the expressive quality to the characters. They have varied emotions that make them seem more real. I really enjoyed this tiny chunk of story.
“Done to Death” by Michel Mulipola
CeeJay: Ha! The last three panels sum it all up. I find the concept of being unconditionally infatuated with a psychopath fascinating. It’s what makes relationships like that of the Joker and Harley Quinn to interesting. The gore was a surprise, but not an unwelcome one. If anything, the piece could have used a bit more of it.
Nevin: The story starts out like it will be bright and energetic like the art of the first page, and then takes a steep dive into darkness. It’s about a man in a very destructive relationship, a love that will eventually lead to his demise. The murders are jarring with the gore and style of killing, but they are supposed to be. We aren’t supposed to cheer for this girl. The black and white art shift fits well with the tonal shift of the story.
“Grizzily” by Ned Wenlock
CeeJay: Who are these children? Why are they always wearing karate gis? Where is there mother? Where is New Zealand child protective services? Wenlock’s brotherly duo find themselves in more funny situations and I find it interesting that they’re always, like, planning for the apocalypse or searching for distant mountain man family members. I… I just can’t with these two.
Nevin: These kids… I just don’t understand them. I love their adventuring, but they must have some crazy parents. These kids will never have a boring 9-5 job when they grow up. If they are throwing fire crackers at cave dwellers now, you know they’ll be playing leapfrog with grizzly bears or something like that when they grow up. It’s funny and just as random as before. Again, think Adventure Time and you’ll be on the right track.
“Left Behind” by James Squires
CeeJay: I like the minimalism of the art. I didn’t find it all that funny myself, though.
Nevin: A bunch of unfortunately tardy astronauts. The basic art style is unique and the drab color scheme gives it an outer space feel. This comic is just kind of there. I giggled, but that might be because I’m chronically tardy.
“A Life with Comics” by Adrian Kinnaird
CeeJay: Kinnaird’s attachment to comics is touching and well-documented in this graphic retelling of how he came to fall in love with the medium. And through one of the most unlikely of characters even! The art is serviceable but one has to wonder what went through his head before actually drawing out the Disney Winnie the Pooh and putting him in this retrospective. I’d be too scared. You can just say Mickey Mouse nowadays and the Mouse House is on you like white on rice. But kudos to Kinnaird for a heart-warming ode to the medium we all love.
Nevin:This appears to be a love story for how the author was introduced to comics. It’s charming and all around joyful. The fact that Winnie the Pooh was the introduction into comics here is also great. I love that bear. The art is vibrant and fits with the cheerful tone of the comic.
“Drawn from the Grave” by Mukpuddy
CeeJay: Here he comes, here comes a dead dude. He’s sorta kinda literally a demon on wheels.
Nevin: You go, zombie racer!
Faction # 3
“The Reservoir” by Tim Gibson
CeeJay: I’m coming in sort of blind with this one because I haven’t actually read “Moth City.” That being said, I sort of loved “The Reservoir.” At first, it was dreadfully boring but once we actually see this man build his life and his family only to have it all systematically stripped from him (by various forces) was pretty engaging. The art matched the story very well. There were softer lines and more detail when it came to supporting characters but when it came to the rough and tumble protagonist, the designs got very simplistic. I couldn’t reccommend “Reservoir” more.
Nevin: I love Moth City. Gibson’s work in the digital plane has been fascinating, and I like seeing his work in print for the first time. “The Reservoir” tells the story of the Governor and his family on the frontier before the events of Moth City. The muted color scheme and frontier setting give it a strong western vibe. For my complete thoughts visit my earlier review: http://www.theweeklycrisis.com/2014/02/moth-city-reservoir-review.html.
“The Reef” by Cory Mathis
CeeJay: That got real deep, real fast. I’m not sure if “The Reef” is picking up where Faction’s last installment of “Saurian Era” left off, but I doubt it. We’re knee-deep in some sort of mythology now. There’s less focus on the dinosaurs and more on the prehistoric Power Rangers that seek to control them. Or their *~essence~* or whatever.
Nevin: There are dinosaurs here! But sadly, they take the backseat this time around. Instead “The Reef” builds a story that deals with ancient weapons and armor and the people who seek to control them. It’s an awesome introduction to the story.The characters are well detailed, and the art during the fight made me want more. The Burner for example was a great design with his green coral-like armor. This is a world I want more of.
“Don’t Let Go” by Katie O’Neill
CeeJay: There you go again, Faction. Kicking my feelings right in the taint. “Don’t Let Go” tells the story of an android and his human companion and, boy, is it trying to hock Kleenex.
Nevin: Ouch. What he said.
“The Night Limited” by Johnathan King
CeeJay: FOOT FIVE! Yeah, I really don’t get anything that happened in the segment. Night and Day are locations. Some dude’s toe sex game is just Hercules, I guess. And then people just randomly get beat up by Death Eaters and then everybody gets off train. I mean… Like… Look… I don’t know, y’all. The art was engaging and eye-catching though.
Nevin: Did I just witness toe sex? I think I just witnessed toe sex. I don’t understand anything happening on this train. I tried to, but the story just seems too jumbled or maybe metaphor heavy for me to make heads or tails of it all. The art is nice with its Tintin style look, but I don’t think that’s enough for me to really dig it. But high-five for being the first thing I’ve ever seen with toe sex. That’s gotta be some kind of award.
“A Tale of Old Waihi” by Michael + Mat Tait
CeeJay: I love love loved the creature design on display here. The ram and the lobster, especially. The decision to keep the piece black and white only emphasizes the detail more. The actual narrative, though, I could give or take. You lose a lot of points with me when you shove the exposition into a block of text and expect me to care afterward.
Nevin: The art in this story is greatly detailed. From the humans to the giant creatures, it’s all very lovingly drawn with thin lines in a black and white color scheme. The story just tells about how people in the old days all have super exaggerated stories. It’s an entertaining read full of creative uses for a giant lobster shell. If I had one complaint, it would be that the font was really small in some bubbles. Made it a little hard to read at times.
“Fly” by Tom Williamson
CeeJay: I’d burn ALL THE THINGS. The house. Spider. Myself. Blaze of glory, friends. Blaze of glory.
Nevin: Nope, nope, nope. Insects and giant spiders are nightmare fuel. With that being said, I think the monochromatic color scheme makes this even more freaky and that spider is terrifying. Good job, Mr. Williamson.
“300” by Li Chen
CeeJay: I want to be this little girl when I grow up. She has a flying cat. I don’t even like cats. And she makes friends so easily, be still my heart. Aside from all that the artwork on display here is lush, funny and adorable. I’m a big fan of the storybook quality that the comic gives off. Chen’s little girl, her friends and her world are practically begging to be transformed into plush dolls. I want more of this “300.”
Nevin: This girl has the best life. She adventures with her floating cat. She delivers packages to aliens and then gets to fly with said aliens, all before going home for bedtime. The whole world of this comic gave me a strong Miyazaki vibe. This is My Neighbor Totoro with aliens. The art is gorgeous with vibrant colors and joyful sights throughout the woods. The way it was colored gives it almost a textured look that makes it seem even softer. I just all around loved this story. I don’t know what “300” is, but count me in.
“Crush the Skull of the Heathan Graeme” by Toby Morris
CeeJay: Reminded me of “Dave the Barbarian” mixed with a little bit of “Clerks.” I enjoyed the character designs - very comic strip-y and inviting. And I always enjoy a funny look at medieval times from the lazy layman’s point of view. As a matter of fact, this should be the basis for Kevin Smith’s next movie.
Nevin: Just some medieval hitmen who are inconvenienced with a new job. The dialogue between the two characters is light and fun. The characters have distinct looks and are drawn with thick line work. I don’t know who Graeme is, but I feel sorry for his skull.
“Drawn From The Grave” by Mukpuddy
CeeJay: Alright. Calm all that down with the R-word, guys.
Nevin: I can live happier knowing that zombies also appreciate a good hot dog with none of that dijon crap.
VERDICT FOR THEM ALL - MUST READ
With a collection of graphic talent that appeals to a wide variety of tastes, Faction is an awesome pull for the comic fan who loves the work of other comic fans. There’s something for everyone here and you’re going to miss out on some awesome work by talented, up and coming creators if you don’t get on the Faction train as soon a possible. For more information like how to purchase any of the collected anthologies or how to get free Faction comics set straight to your email, vist: