Papercuts and Inkstains #1 is a collection of three shorts with very different subject matters: the confession of a zombie, the cult gathering of the followers of Bulgeroth, and the cleaning of a cross-time gladiatorial ring. Is it good?
Papercuts and Inkstains #1 (Madius Comics)
The first short titled “By ‘Eck on Earth,” written by Robin Jones and drawn by Kevin Pospisil, examines the origin of Howard the Zombie and what life was like before he became a zombie. Jones begins the story with a great joke and never lets his foot off the gas. He weaves zombie humor into a number of panels and when there isn’t any humor there is plenty of tension between the characters.
Pospisil’s artwork is impressive; he uses lots of shadowing in his action sequences to focus your vision. He even uses a heavier ink to denote the difference between zombie and non-zombie. He is able to effectively capture the instinctual emotions of fear, anger, and rage.
“By ‘Eck on Earth” was a fun story with plenty of action and tension and some great zombie humor that will have you giggling to yourself. It definitely won’t give you indigestion.
The second short, “Profits of Doom,” also written by Robin Jones with help from Mike Sambrook and artwork provided by Mike Smith was my favorite of the three shorts. It tells the tale of friends who have decided to take some time out of their day to perform a dark ritual to summon Bulgeroth, the bringer of end times.
Jones once again brings the comedy to this short, but he uses different techniques this time. Some of those techniques include characterizing the cultists as nonbelievers, exaggerating the abilities and titles of Bulgeroth, and even using a play on words such as “The Chalice of Cruel and Unusual (wait for it…) Divination.” (Words in parentheses are mine.) There is plenty of good humor to go around and the ending had me spitting my drink across the keyboard. Luckily no permanent damage was done.
Mike Smith’s artwork is interesting; he doesn’t show any of the characters’ faces, but he is still able to capture what is running through their minds with their body language, whether their shoulders are slumped and their heads tilted down to signify down-trodden or demoralized to hands being rubbed together in anticipation of the ceremony. The only issue is toward the end; Smith depicts the ritual taking place in a forest with lots of trees surrounding the cultists, but toward the end the ritual location is barren and there are no trees to be found. There also seems to be a rapid time-shift where certain panels no longer depict the night, but instead are bright leaving one to imagine the sun has risen.
“Profits of Doom” told a compelling story filled with plenty of humor that ended perfectly. Smith’s artwork captured the emotions and helped highlight the humor with the cultists’ antics. This was a good, fun read that had me laughing throughout.
Finally, the last short, “Clean Up on Aisle 73,” written by Robin Jones and drawn by Nick Gonzo tells the story of a department store worker going about his day except this department store facilitates cross-time warfare. The short is more of a critique on modern day consumerism, especially on days like Black Friday, where there truly is warfare happening in the aisles. Jones doesn’t supply as many jokes and the short contains the least amount of writing compared to the two previous stories. It was difficult to understand exactly what was happening let alone why it was happening. It seemed like chaos was funneled through these aisles and then turned off with the press of a button. I’m still not completely sure what I read.
Gonzo’s artwork emphasizes the chaos. There is a ton of action on each page with many different types of monsters doing battle against each other for what appears to be for the battle’s sake. He equips wooly mammoths with body armor and cannons as they go face-to-face with tribal warriors mounted on the backs of Tyrannosaurus Rexes. The battles are violent and the fallen are many. I really enjoyed the sheer number of combatants and the unique nature of each of them.
“Clean Up on Aisle 73” was a little difficult to understand and I still am not sure what the gist of it was, but Gonzo filled the pages with plenty of action and his monster creations were unique and intriguing and sometimes even a little funny when you see a giant octobat wearing a Yankees hat.
Is It Good?
Papercuts and Inkstains #1 was a fun read with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments complemented with good storytelling. The book was brought down a little bit by the third short, but Gonzo’s artwork made up for the thin story. “Profits of Doom” was definitely the standard bearer, really displaying Jones’ ability to tell a well-crafted story while also incorporating humor throughout. It had good pacing and finished with a drink spewing moment!