Monday, December 5, 2016


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

Halloween ComicFest is a smaller and spookier version of Free Comic Book Day. My pals at Stormwatch Comics sent me full-sized and mini-sized comics from the event. I’m attempting to read and review all of them before the end of the year.

The Halloween ComicFest Challenge continues...

Zombie Camp, Vol. 1, #0 [Space Goat Productions] is another mini-sized comic. It features 10 pages from the series by Frank Hannah with artist Dev Madan, which is enough to give a new reader an idea of what to expect from the ongoing series.

Camp Wannachompya is a summer training camp for young zombies, the better to help them survive a world filled with living humans who want to shoot them in the head. That’s a funny concept, which plays out well in these ten pages. I found the Camp Director particularly amusing. Since I’m not much of a zombie fan, I’m on the fence when it comes to whether or not I’ll buy this series. But I think there is an audience out there for it.

RATING: Excellent. It does what a giveaway comic book needs to do. It presents entertaining material in a manner accessible to a new reader. The style of the art even works with the mini-size format. I’d say “thumbs up” but, if I did, some zombie kid would probably just bite them off.


The mini-sized BoooOOOoooM! Box Halloween Haunt 2016 [BOOM! Box] is a collection of delightful, but sadly too-short, snippets of four  series: Lumberjanes, Giant Days, The Backstagers and Goldie Vance. I’m already reading Lumberjanes and, despite the briefness of the other snippets, I plan to buy those series as well. This would bode well for BOOM!, if I were a typical comics reader.

Going mini-sized was the wrong choice for BOOM! The larger format would have allowed for more sample pages for each series. It would have also allowed room on the contents page for a sentence or two describing each series. I don’t believe the smaller size gives the new reader enough to win them over.

RATING: Just barely good. The comics themselves are wonderful. The presentation of the comics is deeply flawed.

Johnny Boo and the Pumpkin Tiger [Top Shelf Productions] is a mini-sized comic that presents a 12-page story by popular cartoonist James Kochalka. It’s a charming tale of an impetuous young ghost, an ice-cream monster and a pumpkin tiger. It made me smile and that is almost never a bad thing.

I have never been a huge fan of Kochalka’s comics. Sometimes they work for me and sometimes they don’t. That I enjoyed this one does not mean I’m rushing to read the next one. But I recognize how much many people do love his work. Good for them. Good for him.

My only “problem” with this flight of fancy is that I think there should have been some sort of brief explanation as to who Johnny is and what his world is like. Nothing extended. Just a leg-up for the new readers.

RATING: Very good. This is a fine story, one which could resonate with a new reader and convince him to seek out more of Johnny Boo and Kochalka’s other comics. For me, the bottom line with this and other free comics is...does it sell other comics to the new reader who got it for free? That’s the true mark of success for both Free Comic Book Day and Halloween ComicFest.


Aspen Presents The Adventures of the Aspen Universe [Aspen Comics] is a full-sized and quite unusual comic book. It has two stories. The title story is written by Vince Hernandez with art by Siya Oum and Joie Foster.

“The Adventures of the Aspen Universe” is a 23-page story combining comics with puzzles and other activities. It’s an extremely clever idea, marred only by a lack of leg-up information about its young heroes and their magical world. I think younger readers will enjoy it a great deal.

The second feature appears to be a five-page excerpt from a comic book or graphic novel. “Charismatic Sparkles” is written by Vince Hernandez and drawn by Siya Oum. This story is much more serious than the lead. It introduces a young cat who seems to have powers of some sort, abilities that frighten its family. The cat’s mother sends her away from the family, which would be horrifying to most young readers. It’s a terrible companion piece to the frivolity and fun of the lead story...and it doesn’t do a good job of leading the  reader to the comic book or graphic novel it comes from.

RATING: Fair. As good as the lead story is, the publisher’s failure to properly promote the two included features and the unsuitability of the secondary feature torpedo this giveaway. To me, this comic feels like it needed another hour or three of editorial reflection  before it was finalized.

I really wanted to like DC’s Scooby Apocalypse and Hanna-Barbera Halloween Comics Fest Special Edition #1 and not just because it took me five minutes to type that entire title. I have fond memories of Hanna-Barbera cartoons from my childhood and beyond. I keep badgering Dan DiDio to let me write a “Ruff and Reddy” comic book. I am not even a little ashamed of my love for that ancient cartoon. However, most of the comics previewed in this full-sized free issue didn’t float my boat. Heck, most of them tried to sink it.

Scooby Apocalypse twists the core characters of the old Scooby Doo show to such a degree that none of them are likeable. I would not have thought that possible. Scooby, Shaggy and all the others are not just likeable. They’re downright loveable. I even loved those two Scooby Doo movies with Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Daphne and an unbelievably hot Velma. But these versions of the Scooby cast? They make me want the old-man villains to get away with it.

Future Quest, by contrast, is an exciting compilation of terrific action heroes. Johnny Quest, Space Ghost and so many others. Writer Jeff Parker has kept them close to the characters we love. Artists Evan Shaner and Steve Rude put the obvious love and skill into each and every page.

The Flintstones? Still trying to make my mind up about that series. The story excerpt intrigues me, but there’s not enough there to win me over. If/when I can get a copy of the first volume from my local library, I’ll give it a shot.

Wacky Wasteland? It makes me yawn. I never saw the cartoon this is based on, but I know enough about it to realize this new series is not fun. It’s sort of like the bastard child of Death Race 2000 and Mad Max. The excerpt is too confusing and too dark for the sake of dark to interest me.

RATING: Fair. While this special edition did include some “leg-up” information for every feature, the excerpts were too short, except for Future Quest and The Flintstones, to get me interested. On the other hand, I’m clearly not the audience for the other two series. Your mileage will likely vary.

More Halloween ComicFest to come in a couple days. In the meantime, I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. Actually I like Scooby and Shaggy in SA just fine, and Velma I can sympathize with. It's DaphneBitch and FreddieDoormat I have trouble with, not least because their relationship is too similar to Sugar and Spike in Legends of Tomorrow.