By Shawn Perry
Indie Comics are awesome and you should care about them. I am starting this column because I have just learned how special this scene has become and want to share my experiences reading them. I am passionate about personal storytelling. The first thing you need to know about indie creators is that they do not do this thing for the money, or the ink, they do it because they are compelled. They are passionate fans with unique visions and the drive to see them through to fruition. That is something I respect and admire as someone who believes in the power of dreams and understands the joy of finding a way to get your voice heard.
Whatever you want to say, and in whatever medium, I admire people that share their visions because – as anyone who knows me can tell – nothing fills me up more than sharing mine. Furthermore, as a life-long fan of the medium, I completely understand the allure of telling stories with comics because of the infinite creative possibilities. In a comic book the difference between a procedural drama and a journey through space is just a few strokes of a pen.
On that note, I want to talk about an indie comic series, Return to Rander, by a talented young creator I met at Hartford Comic-Con named Tony Sedani.
Return to Rander is the story of a hero’s search for identity juxtaposed against another man’s search for revenge. The characters exist in a plane that is subject to the brisk pace of the story and the dialogue is minimalist. This all serves to give the series an old-school western feel ala-The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. In my opinion, while the art starts out strong it gets better with each issue as Sedani seems to grow more confident in his own style and story.
The unnamed protagonist spends the story seeking a return to the land of his last memory as a child: Randor. Despite his amnesia he retains a sense of good humor and openness that endears him to a beautiful pregnant woman he encounters along the way. We never learn much about his past but throughout the first three issues the hero frequently has conversations with a talking skull – one that looks like a little like Ghost Rider but more fashionably conservative – about his density and such. Neither the hero nor the skull take this device too seriously so these interactions provide some of the stories welcome humor until taking on greater reverence after a nice twist I won’t spoil in issue three.
It comes as no surprise that the sword-carrying amiable hero is a skilled warrior with a strong moral code when he saves the woman from her abusive boss at the end of the first issue. From then on he takes it upon himself to protect her while he continues on his path to Rander, which of course leads to a final showdown. Where the design of the hero is simple, the antagonist is far more complex and fierce-looking. At times, the Matador reminds me of V, the Shredder and a Predator. For the most part the Matador spends the series going around killing people while searching for the hero. The only person he does not kill is the abusive former boss of the pregnant woman whom he convinces to join his tour de revenge in a nice touch by Sedani. Along the way the Matador and his men do battle with an aging western hero named Blane, the type of character you’ve seen played by Clint Eastwood in films like Unforgiven and Gran Torino.
Overall, Return to Rander is an engaging story that does not waste time. If the story were a weapon it would be a blunt sword but a strong one with sharp edges. The character designs are bursting with creative energy, especially the Matador, and the action comes swiftly and leaves an impression. Knowing that this is all the product of Sedani’s singular vision gives it all an intangible element of purity and excitement. Issue four will be out later this year and I cannot wait to see how this turns out.
In closing, to all who dream of sharing their visions with the world, no matter how ambitious they might be, it is great to look to creative people like Tony Sedani for inspiration. While the task might be daunting at first, to quote the hero of Return to Rander: “it is okay to be scared so long as you do not let it change your convictions.”
Shawn Perry is a comic book and film enthusiast striving to be here now. He currently resides in the wonderful town of East Hartford, Connecticut. Tweet him @thesperry and email him about anything at Shawn.Perry88@gmail.com.