When I first got into comics, I got together with a bunch of other writers and artists and we put together a studio and worked on anthologies and single issues of our own creations. This was a pretty common way to do things. You don’t see it as much anymore, but everyone once in a while a book pops up showcasing a variety of talent. I was sent one yesterday by comic artist Kewber Baal. It comes from House 137 Studios and it’s called Zombie(Side). It’s a collection of short stories focusing on zombies but in very different ways than we see in most cases. These are people fighting zombies in the time of the witch trails, medieval times and even with vikings. Each story showcases and artist and writer and the majority of people involved are worthy of being on regular series… as Baal is with his work on KISS for Dynamite.
The book starts off with an intro by Mike Deodato Jr. and goes right into The Midnight Witch by Troy Brownfield and Yonami. In only a dozen pages, the creative team gives us an interesting set up and gorgeous art work. The style is a bit Humberto Ramos and is likely the high-water mark in the book. They don’t clearly state which is the writer and which is the artist, but having worked with Troy on Blood Queen, I think it’s safe to assume that Yonami is the artist and does a wonderful job. If they’re not on a month series, they should be.
The second story is called the Siege by Fabian Iturri and Ronilson Freire. It tells the story of a castle siege that includes zombies as part of it’s defense. This is another story with good plot and pacing and good art. Freire has done some work for Dynamite as well, I believe on the Green Hornet most recently.
From there it goes to Zombies at Palmares by Ananda Ramos and Jucylande Jr. which is a very cool looking tale of zombies in old Mexico. I really like the art in this story, but it has a very indy / underground comics feel and doesn’t quite have the mainstream qualities. That said, it’s really a good looking story and a very good read.
Now, at this point I’m 42 pages into the story and have already been introduced to three very different worlds with three very different looks with professional level art on each. This would’ve been a good place to close the book. And I’m not saying that the other stories aren’t worth seeing, it just feels like there may be too much in one book.
The next book is the Padre by Jucylande Jr writing and Diego Mendes on art and it’s just not up to the level of the first three stories in the book. The tone of the book shifts to more adult content and the art and story are not nearly as polished as the others.
Then we have Impure by Glaucio Silva and Vicente Moavero which has to be the first time I’ve ever seen Vikings deal with zombies. I really like the story and I think the art has some serious potential, but it’s uneven. The action is strong and the layouts are good, but some of the faces looks rushed and unfinished while others look spot on. I’d like to see that this combo could do if they were given the chance to grow this story and take their time putting out the books.
And finally we get to Waste Land Protocol by Rodrigo Monteiro and Emanuel Braga. This kicks off on page 66 and my first thought was Zombie Monkeys!!! Which is pretty cool… but like I was saying earlier, I think the length of this book works against this story. The art is decent, but not quite professional level yet and the story is all right. It feels like both the creators will improve greatly over time, but they do need more practice and the best practices is doing stories just like this. So good on them.
Overall, I love the concept here, but the book is just too big. They could’ve split it into two books, with stories 1, 3 and 4 in book one and 2, 5 and 6 in book two and I think it would’ve worked better for the reader as well as showcasing the talent involved. It’s an ambitious project filled with unique concepts and talented creators… but like anything in life, some of them are further along than others. That aside, if you have an opportunity to pick up this book. Do it. All of the stories are entertaining… just don’t try and read it all in one sitting.