Category Archives: Black Mask Studios

Review: THE DREGS, published by Black Mask Studios

Arnold on a metaphysical hunt for clues.

Arnold on a metaphysical hunt for clues.

THE DREGS, published by Black Mask Studios, is one of those ideal experiences in comics: a work that lifts you up with something to say, whispers it as if only to you, and then sets you back down all the better for it. The script by Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson crackles with wisdom and originality taking you places you might never see along with places you don’t want to ever see for real. The artwork by Eric Zawadzki is so full of humanity and keeps you turning the page. The colors by Dee Cunniffe pull it all together with shades of melancholy and grit. This is a weird story and so much more.

The concept is an intriguing riff on the legend of Sweeney Todd, the London barber who murdered his clients and then sold meat pies made from their flesh. In this case, gentrification has run so far amok that the homeless are not only being squeezed out of space, they are being dispatched and turned into gourmet delicacies for all the new trendy boutique restaurants. No one is going to eat the rich, as Rousseau once championed. It’s the homeless who are going to be eaten in this story.

THE DREGS, published by Black Mask Studios

THE DREGS, published by Black Mask Studios

There’s no one who can stop these killings except perhaps for one intrepid homeless man. Arnold feels that he’s tapped into the mind of detective Philip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s novel, “The Long Goodbye.” One thing is for sure, Arnold knows to be a fact that three of his homeless friends have completely disappeared, most likely murdered. For the rest of what he needs to solve this mystery, he has to rely upon his own special brand of deduction.

This is an exceptional work in its boldness and intelligence. It has its gore and it’s guided by a plot that would make both Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett proud. An interesting side not is the fact that Chandler and Hammett wrote some of their earliest work from the 1930s for the pulp magazine, Black Mask. It just seems quite fitting to have this work in comics published by a publisher undoubtedly aware of that history given the name it chose to publish under, Black Mask.

The first issue of THE DREGS is available as of January 25th. For more details, visit Black Mask Studios right here.

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Filed under Black Mask Studios, Comics, Comics Reviews, Crime Fiction, Gentrification, Homeless, Pulp Fiction, Satire

Review: WE CAN NEVER GO HOME #1

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There’s the often quoted title to the Thomas Wolfe novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Without ever reading any further, you can come up with your own ideas on not being able to go home again. For Wolfe, that meant that home would never be the same. In the new comic, “We Can Never Go Home,” published by Black Mask Studios, there’s that extra tinge in the title that elicits images of bridges that have been burned to a crisp. Well, thank God for evocative titles. And this comic lives up to it. With plenty of blood and fireworks, we follow Madison and Duncan on the first leg of their road to self-discovery in this first issue.

The toughest nut to crack with an unknown comics title is, well, the fact it is an unknown. That brings to mind Donald Rumsfeld. He said something about there being known unknowns and unknown knowns. If the man read comics, instead of waging war, just imagine what a better place this would be. Anyway, my point is that a totally unknown comics title is the last one asked to the prom. It’s tough. You don’t want to hype the hell out of it either as that can backfire. Nothing can be left to chance. So, that title alone, “We Can Never Go Home,” steps up to the plate.

Why is going home not an option? What could have happened that’s so terrible that going home would be the last thing you’d do?

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These two teens have a whole lot of trouble to deal with. You can tell, right away, in their sad and confused eyes. It would have been a struggle but Madison might have managed to get by. But not Duncan. Both have what you’d call super abilities (think X-Men) that they have yet to master. And both were never meant to socialize with each other except for a chain of events that locked their destiny. Duncan, a so-called nerd, happened to spy on Madison and her brute of a boyfriend, Ben. Since that frantic meeting between the three of them, Madison split up with Ben. And Ben split Duncan’s nose. Ah, teen romance.

Writers Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon provide a credible mashup of teenage romance and superhero adventure plus a good mix of crime fiction. The artwork by Josh Hood provides a nice clean and precise line. He does a great job playing off static poses evoking teen angst and cool.

Both Madison and Duncan are deeply hurt and so wrong for each other. But fate keeps pushing them closer together. Madison can call Duncan an idiot all she wants but, when it comes down to it, she needs him. Duncan is such a mess that he seems beyond redemption and yet he keeps fighting. You’ve got a whole new Bonnie and Clyde thing going on here and it’s got my attention. Not bad for such an unknown title.

But, really, this is not an altogether unknown unknowable unknown. Go visit Trip City and you’ll find Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon’s webcomic, MENU, the story of a boy and a dog wandering the wastelands of a future America as they try to keep each other alive in a world running out of food. And check out Josh Hood and his artwork including JLA: Scary Monsters and Venom.

YOU CAN’T GO HOME #1 is published by Black Mask and available as of March 25. For more details, visit our friends at Black Mask Studios right here.

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Black Mask Studios Unveils Spring Collection

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Welcome the new kid on the block, Black Mask Studios. Spring is in the air and it’s time we got this party started. What began as a comics anthology to help support the Occupy movement as become a whole new vision in comics!

Ladies and gents, this is Black Mask: The Spring Colleciton:

OCCUPY COMICS

12 REASONS TO DIE by Ghostface Killa

LIBERATOR by Matt Miner & Juel Gomez

BALLISTIC by Adam Egypt Mortimer & Darick Robertson

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Check it out, “Occupy Comics,” is a win-win must-have comic all the way from its gorgeous cover art by Mike Allred, to page after page of stellar professional talent, like Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, Dean Haspiel, and Molly Crabapple. (Oh, btw, someone was kind enough to remind us about “Discordia” and we will have a review of this Crabapple project shortly.) Hmmm, I would add here that you don’t want to think for a moment that Occupy is fading out because it is not. For instance, for some insight, view here.

“Occupy Comics” is 40 pages, a 3 issue run, priced at $3.50 with a street date, appropriately enough of May 1, yeah, May Day.

Visit our new friends at Black Mask Studios here.

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Filed under Black Mask Studios, Comics, Molly Crabapple, Occupy movement