Small Press Sundays

Like so many others I started out in the business making minicomics, collaborating on fanzines and concocting stripzines with fellow weirdoes, outcasts and addicts. Even today, seeing the raw stuff of creativity in hand-crafted paper pamphlets – or better yet professionally printed packages which put dreamers’ money where their mouths are – still gets me going in ways which endanger my tired old heart…

With that in mind here are two more superb offerings from one of my favourite independent publishers of the moment…

Wolf Country #5

By Jim Alexander, Will Pickering, Jim Campbell & Liz Howarth (Planet Jimbot)

Go read this review then come back here.

As well as stunning graphic novels, anthologies and one-shots, independent publisher Planet Jimbot (likely lads Jim Alexander & Jim Campbell) also produce proper periodical comicbooks, and damned good ones. Vying for the accolade of their very best of the moment (neck and neck with GoodCopBadCop, depending on which one I’m actually holding) is their eerie otherworld socio-political saga blending the most evocative and captivating genre tropes of Westerns with supernatural horror stories: Wolf Country.

Complementing the recent release of the first WC trade paperback collection, this latest instalment in the expanding saga returns us to The Settlement where a dwindling congregation of devout vampires prove their faith daily by eking out a peril-fraught existence in the midst of their unnatural, pagan enemies; assorted tribes of bestial werewolves.

The ferocious, uncontrollable Lycanthropes infest the badlands surrounding the enclave as well as the distant city-state carved out by their forward-looking, progressive vampire brethren who are increasing, leaving the faith in favour of temporal comfort and scientific progress. Sides are being drawn in an inevitable clash of belief systems…

The Settlement has just survived the latest full-moon assault by another pack, this time employing a giant monster wolf. They only survived because of the intervention of heavily-armed Kingdom troops who have imposed their own draconian style of martial law. In the days following, brutal Sergeant Urquhart has tortured settler-scout Carmichael, convinced he knows where the missing boy celebrity Luke – famed in the city as the prophesied “Boy Who Killed Wolf” as gone…

Temporary leader Natasha is in turmoil. Her husband Halfpenny would not stand for these atrocities, but he has been spirited away to the Kingdom on some mystery mission for The High Executor

Her tensions only increase after she contacts Luke through dreams and discovers he has discarded all notions of his foretold destiny and made a life for himself amongst the wolves, humans and lycanthropes in the vast unknown wilds…

Halfpenny would be unable to help even if he knew. His time in civilisation has found him used as a Judas Goat to get close to radical, rebel vampires in a no-go zone dubbed Free State. The attempt led to death, a carefully instigated riot and even greater submersion in the fetid swamp of City politics, but also a tantalising glimpse at a true sacrament of faith and mystery that he must pursue…

Back at the Settlement, Natasha does the only thing she can to spare Carmichael’s agonies and offers to lead Urquhart to where the fugitive Luke and his new family enjoy a life of wild freedom…

To Be Continued…

After a thoroughly beguiling and meticulous stage setting and plot seeding process, Wolf Country is gearing up to a fantastic second act that promises drama, action, suspense and even more mystery. Don’t wait for the next book compilation, climb aboard the feral express right now…
Story © 2016 Jim Alexander (story) & Will Pickering (art).
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/266647799/wolf-country5

The Samurai

By Jim Alexander, Luke Cooper, Jim Campbell & Ed Murphy (Planet Jimbot)

Clearly men of broad and wide-ranging tastes in term of comics adventure, Jim Alexander and regular collaborator Luke Cooper have turned their creative juices loose on the venerable sub-genre of itinerant Bushido warriors with this deceptively enthralling one-shot.

A nameless, weary swordsman, The Samurai is first seen returning home after faithful service in the wars against Mongol invaders. Tragically, a longed-for reunion with his family is forever forestalled when he finds their dismembered corpses in his burned-out village. Implacably he begins stalking the vile bandits who killed them…

However, in his righteous rage he underestimates his foes and is nearly despatched to join his loved ones until fate monstrously intervenes…

A broken, brooding nomad, his hunt for the remaining marauders takes him to a wooded region and another ravaged house in a ‘Burning Forest Clearing’. His decision to search the dwelling for survivors is a grave mistake as he is ambushed by diabolical cannibals and left for dead, but when a little girl comes to his aid he finally finds the strength to overcome.

Good thing too, as the flesh eaters have returned for their next meal…

An iconic blend of exotic action and philosophy liberally dosed with classic supernatural elements and overtones, this is a no-nonsense romp to delight the senses and fire the hearts of all lovers of ancient oriental excitement.
© 2016 Jim Alexander (story) & Luke Cooper (art)
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/273712752/the-samurai