Indie Comics Spotlight: Sleigher: The Heavy Metal Santa Claus #1, Adventure Time Comics #1, and Snotgirl #1

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Sleigher: The Heavy Metal Santa Claus #1


1

“Consider this an early Christmas present.”

Santa Claus has an annual ritual where he rewards children the world over for being good in the previous year. There are plenty of others who cheer him on for that and others who resent him. Sleigher in Sleigher: The Heavy Metal Santa Claus #1 from Action Lab Danger Zone is one of the former. The issue is written by Rob Harrington and Adam Horrigan, illustrated by Axur Eneas, colored by Alessandro Alessi, and lettered by Chas! Pangburn.

Sleigher is the most recent (and reluctant) heir of the centuries old lineage to bear the title of “Santa Claus.” He’d rather slam back bourbon than glasses of milk, and blast metal instead of carols. But when evil rears its head before he’s delivered a single present, maybe he’s found his true calling: dishing out a holiday ass-whoopin!!!

The issue opens up by tackling a very serious topic in the Catholic church with tongue firmly in cheek as Harrington and Horrigan use it to introduce Sleigher as a no-holds barred, no-nonsense Santa Claus type figure. Sleigher wears his heavy metal influences very openly and the writing duo use that to their advantage. The script is full of brash exchanges and a lot of threats, all of which give the book a very angry tone. Harrington and Horrigan capitalize on this tone though to tell a tale rife with humor and a lot of plot. In fact, it’s arguable that there’s almost too much going on in the first issue as the two struggle to balance universe building and plot advancement.

Matching the somewhat irreverent tone of the script is the artwork by Eneas. Sleigher is rendered as the heavy metal altar ego of Santa Claus and Eneas gives him quite a bit more of a fighting prowess than his jollier inspiration. Many of the characters have a cartoonish sensibility in their appearance that further grounds the book in frivolity. Eneas blacked the gutters as well, which adds another layer of grit to the work and allows the characters to stand out that much more. Alessi’s colors are pretty basic, yet they do manage to infuse the book with plenty of personality.

Sleigher: The Heavy Metal Santa Claus #1 takes a familiar concept and cranks it up to 11. Sleigher is determined to make the world a better place by getting rid of the bad which in turn makes the lives of children better. Harrington and Horrigan aren’t shy about defining Sleigher as a less than conventional hero (similar to Deadpool) that you want to cheer for. Eneas’ artwork is a great fit for the tale and provides the right amount of visualization for the gags in the book. Sleigher: The Heavy Metal Santa Claus #1 isn’t trying to be anything profound and readers should really just strap in and hang on tight.

Sleigher: The Heavy Metal Santa Claus #1 is in stores now.

Adventure Time Comics #1

2

“Did you use all the toothpaste for your snowy model kit again?”

It’s a great time to enjoy watching cartoons these days, as Cartoon Network and Adult Swim offer a variety of programming that caters to wide audiences. One of the more recent successes when it comes to animated shows is Adventure Time and its following borders on fervent. Adventure Time Comics #1 from KaBOOM! Studios is yet another tribute to the fantastic show. “Toothpaste Fairy” is written and illustrated by Art Baltazar, “Stand Next to Me” is written and illustrated by Katie Cook, “Goliad Gets a Break” is written and illustrated by Tony Millionaire, and “Good Shelf” is written and illustrated by Kat Leyh.

Oh My Glob! We’ve unleashed some of the industry’s best cartoonists loose in the Land of Ooo to share their most algebraic stories in their own voices!

All four stories in Adventure Time Comics #1 are as eccentric and amusing as you would expect them to be. Baltazar’s approach in “Toothpaste Fairy” is an entertaining take on the Tooth Fairy and the importance of brushing teeth. Cook infuses “Stand Next to Me” with a fun exchange between the Pastry Princess and LSP and her dialogue is very frank in a humorous way. Millionaire takes a somewhat minimal approach in “Goliad Gets a Break,” instead choosing to give the story a certain freneticism through a lot of action. And “Good Shelf” is vintage Adventure Time, as Leyh puts Jake and Finn in a situation where the two of them are just doing their thing when the Land of Ooo bites back – amusingly, of course.

The artwork throughout Adventure Time Comics #1 is varied based on story, but all of it is appropriately endearing. Baltazar illustrates “Toothpaste Fairy” with a nod to Ren and Stimpy, oversimplifying the backgrounds and letting the cartoonish aspect of the characters shine through. Cook’s work in “Stand Next to Me” is very refined and realized, laying out the panels in a way that feels like the story is a photo album. “Goliad Gets a Break” sports a hand-drawn mentality that manages to keep up with the action very well. Finally, Leyh’s work in “Good Shelf” is the most buttoned-up of all the stories, but the issue still manages to showcase some Adventure Time zaniness in the form of small, woodland creatures.

Adventure Time Comics #1 is a welcome collection of stories boasting familiar characters and equally as familiar zany scenarios. Jake and Finn may be the “stars” of the universe, but there’s plenty of room for other characters to share their stories. Each writer imbues their story with the perfect level of personality that moves the story forward quickly and jovially. The artwork is equally up to the task of painting the Land of Ooo as one rife with madcap mayhem at every level. Adventure Time Comics #1 is a pretty breezy first issue that knows what it wants to do and does it successfully.

Adventure Time Comics #1 is in stores now.

Snotgirl #1


3

“Why me? Why me every time?”

The internet has had an astounding effect on anonymizing individuals. Anyone can be anything they want and as long as a face-to-face meeting is never required, but when it is many perceived realities quickly become actual realities. Reconciling the two is an adventure in image control or, in the case of Snotgirl #1 from Image Comics, a misadventure. The issue is written by Bryan Lee O’Malley, illustrated by Leslie Hung, colored by Mickey Quinn, and lettered by Maré Odomo.

WHO IS LOTTIE PERSON? Is she a gorgeous, fun-loving social media star with a perfect life or a gross, allergy-ridden mess? Enter a world of snot, blood, and tears in this new ongoing series.

If there’s anyone who can tap into the youthful exuberance scene, it’s O’Malley and he does that exceptionally well in Snotgirl #1. Lottie is a almost 26 which is practically too old for the fashion game that she’s in and she’s constantly trying to project a perfect image that aligns with the same perfection found via Photoshop. O’Malley uses a very slick approach to dialogue by working in plenty of variants of communication that reflect the ways that youths communicate with one another, infusing the issue with the perception of a carefree spirit that’s undermined by an almost incessant need for approval. It’s a great way of telling the story while also reinforcing the characterization of Lottie and the individuals she interacts with. The ending of the issue feels a little random, though, in that it makes a few leaps in the last few pages that happen pretty quickly, but O’Malley’s got plenty of time to bring it all around.

Hung does a fantastic job of rendering the characters in Snotgirl #1 in a way that offers deference to the image of themselves they try to hard to cultivate and maintain. Lottie and the fashionistas always bring their A-game when it comes to being out in public, but Hung also illustrates Lottie a lot more vulnerably in her more private moments. The dichotomous approach to Lottie in particular is extremely powerful and reinforces the narrative that people put on masks everyday – whether they do it physically or emotionally. Hung also draws on manga influences in the work, such as the exaggerated physical response of tears and excessive snot when Lottie breaks down. The bright, vivid colors give the book the appropriate sense of buoyancy and flair befitting Lottie and the world she lives in.

Snotgirl #1 is a very strange first issue that’s laid out in a way that many people can relate to. Lottie faces a daily struggle to reconcile her private and public personas with the two very rarely falling in step. O’Malley’s script is slick and cheeky, providing plenty of characterization and a clear direction for Lottie to sort out her problems. Hung’s artwork is bubblegum in its presentation and Lottie in particular is given a very embellished appearance that echoes the core thematic elements of the work. Snotgirl #1 is a very fast-paced issue and the larger plot requires the reader to dig a little deeper to fully embrace what’s going on.

Snotgirl #1 is in stores now.


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