Indie Comics Spotlight: Dollface #1 and the Dregs #1

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Dollface #1


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“That’s a good slang word, right?”

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Not all of them are “alive” in the true sense of the word, but that doesn’t make them any less heroic. Dollface in Dollface #1 from Action Lab Danger Zone is one such hero. The issue is written and illustrated by Dan Mendoza, colored by Mendoza and Valentina Pucci, and lettered by Adam Wollet.

In the town of Boston, a witch-hunter lurks among the shadows, but this witch-hunter is like none you’ve ever seen. She is Lila, a 17th century soul that has been transported into present time and into the body of a life size, ball-jointed doll, created by a couple of MIT students trying to use technology and a 3D printer to create the perfect women.

Mendoza knows a thing or two about stories focused on no-holds barred female badasses and Dollface is no exception. Where Mendoza oversexualizes things in Zombie Tramp, he dials it back a bit in Dollface, presenting the lead character as a something of an anime Pinnochio. Dollface is coming to grips with reality in many ways and Mendoza uses that as a mechanism for moving the narrative forward. And the language in Dollface #1 isn’t as coarse as it is in Zombie Tramp or Vampblade, but it’s clear that Mendoza (and Action Lab Danger Zone) like their main characters saucy. The premise behind Dollface #1 is pretty solid as well, giving the reader enough backstory to know what’s going on without telling them too much.

Doubling down on the creative process, Mendoza also handles the art duties for the book. There’s a manga-like inspiration in his illustrations of Dollface in particular, infusing the book with a clear Sailor Moon vibe. Dollface is illustrated with a rigid contrast to the characters around her, owing to her 3D-printed composition. Despite this, she’s still illustrated in a way that seems fluid and Mendoza infuses her with an appropriate level of livelihood. The colors throughout the book are largely dark as the issue takes place at mostly at night, but Dollface pops well with bright pink hair.

Dollface #1 isn’t nearly as graphic and gory as Zombie Tramp, but sports a similar lead. Dollface herself is contemplating her newfound existence and trying to figure out the world along the way. Mendoza’s script is straightforward and engaging, breezing through a night in Boston where a marionette of sorts fights to save the world. His artwork is a great complement to the writing, showcasing her talents in terms of being an investigator and in combat. Dollface #1 will appeal to the Zombie Tramp crowd for sure.

Dollface #1 is available now.

The Dregs #1


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“Yeah, but he’s a prime piece.”

There’s a constant push towards modernization and urbanization. Many cities present those two as beneficial to the city’s livelihood – often at the expense of some of the less fortunate. More often than not, the less fortunate are pushed out at the expense of “progress.” For the less fortunate in The Dregs #1 from Black Mask Studio, simply being pushed out is a little more savory to them. The issue is written by Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson, illustrated by Eric Zawadzki, and colored by Dee Cunniffe.

A gentrified city. Its homeless population restricted to six square blocks called The Dregs. When people start disappearing, a drug-addled homeless man obsessed with detective fiction becomes addicted to solving the mystery. Equal parts Raymond Chandler and Don Quixote set in a thriving metropolis that literally cannibalizes the homeless, The Dregs is the first homeless meta noir ever made.

There are some very timely issues being broached in The Dregs #1, all of which center around the idea of development for the sake of development. There’s something to be said about restoring a formerly thriving area to its “glory days,” but Nadler and Thompson are more interested in the ripple effects of such development. The writing duo offers a very sinister twist to the otherwise familiar story of the rich brushing aside the poor in the interest of profits. Their story follows Mister Arnold, a homeless man seeking out some of his friends and noting along the way a series of strange events unfolding around him. Setting him as the point of view is pretty powerful and gives the reader a glimpse into the life of the forgotten, so to speak; it also allows Nadler and Thompson to instill a bit more terror into the plot.

Illustrating the city with an attention to the “dregs” is Zawadzki. His style is very coarse and gritty, infusing the book with images that resonate with the tale. It’s a style that works fantastically in contrasting the disparities between the rich and poor in a way that adds a grimy filter to the action. There are some interesting panel layouts throughout as well that tie them into the city more intimately. Cunniffe uses colors that are washed out and somewhat barren, reinforcing the concept that the dregs are often forgotten.

The Dregs #1 is an interesting social commentary couched in something more sinister. Mister Arnold is coming to terms with the notion that the rich will overpay for the privilege of something. Nadler and Thompson have crafted a very strong social statement in the issue that offers a glimpse into the dichotomy of social stratification. Zawadzki’s artwork is a good match for the subject matter, capturing the horrors preceding the aforementioned privilege. The Dregs #1 is a dark take on a modern problem that’s setting some intrigue up for down the line.

The Dregs #1 is available now.


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