By Shawn Perry
Greetings True Bleeders! Welcome to a special NYCC-themed Indie Spotlight! There are so many great stories out there in Artist Alley this weekend but lets take a moment to remember that it takes a special type of awesome to take an idea for a story and bring it to life. Seriously, it's no easy task but any of these artists will tell you that there is no feeling equal to bringing your dreams to life and that is what we celebrate here on Indy Spotlight, so without further adieu…
The Cask of Amontillado is a beautiful adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's classic tale of horror by Enrica Jang and Jason Strutz. The story takes place at a masquerade ball in Venice back in 1796 where we meet the miserable loner Montresor who appears to be nothing more than a tepid wallflower. He solemnly wallows amongst partygoers like a displaced fan of The Cure at Riot Fest until he runs into a well-meaning socialite named Fortunato who tries his best to cheer him up. The work of Strutz really shines as Montresor convinces Fortunato to exit the party in search of the titular cask of Amontillado. There search brings them to a dark dungeon and well…in case you have not read this story before I will not say anymore but things go pear-shaped for poor Fortunato and Montresor proves to be far more complex and dangerous than he appears. The Cask of Amontillado provides the foundation for a graphic novel the creative duo will publish next year which, according to the Red Stylo Media official website: "the original full-length graphic novel will be a sequel to Poe's Cask of Amontillado that expands and continues the tale of Montresor fifty years after committing the perfect crime." As Poe might say, a crime is only perfect if everyone knows you did it, however, my response to this adaptation is even simpler: good artists copy, but great artists adapt. If you would like to experience this book for yourself you can pick up a copy from Jang at table P11 in Artist Alley. For more information on all of the exciting things Red Stylo Media has going on this weekend, including an awesome panel featuring Jang alongside the creator of breakthrough graphic novel Flutter, Jennie Wood, check out their full schedule.
Horsemen #2 is the product of Wayward Raven Studios written by Mark C. Frankel and Joshua L.A. Jones. As with the first issue, this sci-fi thriller packs a deep mythology that spans time, space and reality. This issue follows Perses and Dubhan Wyn as they get caught up in a battle for the hand of a beautiful princess through three challenges while the event is broadcast live across the world. That sounds like good television. I digress, personally I love stories that bring the technology of modern times into past civilization because I perceive there being an honor and beauty to a world with minimalized modern conveniences. Of course, the world of Horsemen also has cybernetic robots programmed to do the bidding of imperialistic monarchs and galactic warlords so maybe I am reading too much into this… but I digress. What Frankel and Jones accomplish in this issue is an epic reimagining of a classic tale with some ingenious twists…my favorite part was the acid test as well as the surprisingly badass final decision by the princess. The art by Christopher Hanchey is even more impressive here than it was in the first issue as he is given more room to breathe with an increase in action and strong contributions from Rich Cardoso and Cara Kelley. While it is distributed more judiciously this time the dialogue is sharp as ever with both Frankel and Jones weaving a tight yarn well-worth reading. Horsemen #2 is on sale at NYCC and both Frankel and Jones will be available to sign autographs at booth 1266 in Artist Alley.
Farlaine the Goblin is produced by a writer who chooses to remain anonymous because, according to the book's official website, they want the focus of their book to be solely on the titular hero. Fortunately, the book proves such an engaging read that its lack of authorship actually makes it easier to find oneself in the story. Farlaine the Goblin takes place in a fantasy world of mystical forests and follows the amicable Farlaine as he searches for a land to call home. It is a great example of all-ages material because it is both intelligent and exciting without ever resorting to foul language or violence. There is a lot of humor and equal amounts of suspense while the art is detailed in its own rhythmic style. Farlaine's world is filled with interesting creatures from an anthropomorphic sphinx that runs a trading post to monstrous centipedes that crush things. His journey consists of seven books with the final chapters due out next year and similar to other coming-of-age stories like Harry Potter is a great gateway book for new readers while still being well-written enough to be enjoyed by anyone.
Tales of Mr. Rhee: Karmaggedon by Dirk Manning is an unforgettable adventure following bamf paranormal trouble-shooter, Mr. Rhee, while he protects five orphans in the middle of Armageddon. This story serves as prequel to Dirk Manning's Tales of Mr. Rhee: Procreation (of the Wicked) and without spoiling too much stories make you really pull for this strong but tortured character. Mr. Rhee is a victim of unspeakable atrocities that are both real and haunting yet he maintains his sense of morality along with hard-earned survival tendencies. While it makes perfect sense that he would be a survivor amidst the sort of catastrophe that befalls his world in Karmaggedon there is little logical sense for why Mr. Rhee chooses to take responsibility for five children…and yet he does and through some excellent pacing we come to understand why through a series of flashbacks that flesh out the character like an extra-trippy episode of Lost mashed-up with the The Walking Dead. At this point I should say that this book is by no means an all-ages read yet it is also worth mentioning that the relationship between the children and Mr. Rhee is a powerful example of how heroes ultimately gain their strength from their own innocence…and frankly, it really makes the book special so if you happen to be at NYCC this weekend you should pick up a copy from Manning himself at Table H8 in Artist Alley.
That's it for this time but we will be back soon with spotlights on Return to Rander #4 by Tony Sedani, Signed #2 by Marc Franke, Hero Envy #2 by Keith Gleason and Mike Hopta as well as Concrete Martians by Keith Grachow and Mitch Cook.
Shawn Perry is a comic book and film enthusiast striving to be here now. He currently rests his head in East Hartford, Connecticut. Tweet him @thesperry and email him about life and your stories atShawn.Perry88@gmail.com.