Indie Comics Spotlight: Princeless, Where’s My Shoggoth?, Geek-Girl
By Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #2 (Action Lab Comics)
What’s a feisty young elf to do in prison? Or a blacksmith’s daughter facing her parents’ impending divorce? Those questions and more are answered quite entertainingly in Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #2 from Action Lab Comics. The series boasts the writing skills of Jeremy Whitley, features art by Jules Rivera, Kelly Lawrence, Meredith Moriarty, Nancy King, Sarah Leuver and Emily C. Martin, and is lettered by Dave Dwonch.
The first story is called “The Runaway Prince.” Prince Wilcome of the Lumderia has been imprisoned and he must set aside his fear of elves after befriending one named Tempest. Tempest is a bit of an acrobat and promises to get Wilcome out. The second story is called “The Smiths.” It takes readers back to the character of Bedelia, the fast-talking blacksmith from the core Princeless series. Readers learn more about how she became the talented blacksmith that she is and why she chose to join Adrienne on her adventures.
Themes of women empowerment continue to be in abundance in Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #2 and that’s a good thing. Whitley infuses his characters with such strong will and desire to be independent that it motivates their decision-making. The characters have clear goals in mind and want to achieve them, doing whatever it takes.
There’s a wide range of art in Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #2, and it’s all good. Rivera gets full run on “The Smiths,” showing why she has a complete handle on the vibe Whitley is going for. Lawrence’s work on “The Runaway Prince” is very reminiscent of an old-school JRPG, so much so that you’re waiting for the menu box to pop up and offer you equipment options. And it’s great. Martin is the series artist and she gets her chance to shine in a special preview of Princeless Vol. 2 at the end of the issue. All the art is consistent despite the different artists, but each manage to add their own touches to their works.
Say what you want about comics from the big two, but it’s books like Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #2 from Action Lab that offer readers something a little lighter. That’s not to say they don’t tackle the bigger issues, as the Princeless series always deals with issues such as racism and feminism. They do it in a way that’s not preachy though, instead relying on good storytelling and art to subtly get the message across.
Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #2 is in stores in October.
Where’s My Shoggoth? (Archaia Studios)
Fans of Cthulu (and H.P. Lovecraft) know who shoggoth is. He’s a monster created by the Elder Things who can take on any shape needed. Odds are you don’t know where he is and that’s the question being answered in Where’s My Shoggoth?, a new illustrated children’s book from Archaia Studios. It’s written by Ian Thomas and illustrated by Adam Bolton.
A young boy is doing what young boys are apt to do with their pets. He wants to take his shoggoth for a walk. The only problem is that his shoggoth has escaped, which leads to the boy traveling through a variety of locales to find him. What follows is an imaginative journey involving some of history’s most famed creatures.
Thomas has written a very simple yet elegant story. Every encounter with a creature features a sing-song explanation of the creature and why that particular one isn’t his shoggoth. Every encounter ends with the phrase “Where’s my shoggoth,” alerting the reader that the quest isn’t complete.
The rhythmic cadence of the story really helps you to go along with the boy as he looks for his pet. It adds in a little bit of Dr. Seuss to what could otherwise be scary subject material for kids and it works alarmingly well. The explanations are insanely catchy.
Bolton’s art is equally as imaginative and endlessly more intricate. While Thomas relies on seemingly simple rhymes to move the story along, Bolton has created very complex artistic settings that teem with eerie life. These settings represent the entire trip that the boy is taking to find his shoggoth and all of them are quite elaborate in presentation.
The boy himself blends in perfectly as well. The entire artistic feel is reminiscent of Braid in a way. It’s not quite as impressionistic, but there’s still this sense of the world around the boy acting as a character and a puzzle to solve. These are some beautifully rendered scenes that could easily double as standalone posters without the text if they wanted to.
Yes, Where’s My Shoggoth? is technically a children’s book. That doesn’t make it any less fascinating to read as an adult or any less enjoyable. It’s a very creative and adventurous tale about a boy looking for his monster, but the concepts of loyalty and friendship manage to transcend the monster involvement. Read the book and enjoy, knowing that the version of Chutes and Ladders board included is so much more haunting than the original version.
Where’s My Shoggoth? is in comic stores now and in stores everywhere October 1.
Geek Girl #0 (Actuality Press)
Geeks are more than just guys these days. Women are just as likely to geek out about something as guys are. Not only that, but women are also just as likely to geek out about gaining superpowers. Such is the case of Ruby in Geek Girl #0 from Actuality Press. It’s written by Sam Johnson, with art by Sally Stone-Thompson, letters by Jaymes Reed and inlay page letters by Kris Johnson.
Ruby Kaye is a typical college student. She enjoys going out, aspires to be more and enjoys lesbian experiences. Wait. What? Yes, Ruby has got her eyes on a set of glasses created by a nerd in school with her. Glasses that give the person wearing them super-strength. Ruby parlays the newfound power into some awkward moments at the club. Thankfully though, she takes a lesson from Peter Parker and the whole “with great power comes great responsibility mantra,” looking to use the glasses for good.
The zero issue is sixteen pages, but Johnson does a solid job introducing the reader to Ruby. She’s more than a typical college student, clearly characterized as someone with an eye for bigger things. It’s also nice to see her use her powers for good as opposed to evil, but if the series lasts a long time it could be interesting to see her change.
Thompson’s art is in black and white, but it’s also solid. Stone-Thompson presents Ruby as strong and confident, regardless of whether or not she’s wearing the glasses. It feels a little manga inspired, which gives it a unique feel as a comic.
Geek Girl #0 is a strong first issue, setting up an interesting (albeit somewhat cliché) story. Ruby is affable enough as a main character and it will be interesting to see who (or what) Johnson puts in her way to challenge her.
Geek-Girl #0, published by Actuality Press is available now, priced $2.50 at www.samjohnson-comics.blogspot.com.