Zuda Favorites

One of the nice side-effects of this nail-biting competition in which our comic IN MAPS & LEGENDS is currently embroiled is that I get to go to the Zuda Comics site and (after checking our latest ranking and stats!) read some other great comics.

I really like fellow competitors Slam McCracken and Little Earth People, and I’ve been slowly catching up with previous winners at Zuda Comics, including the following:

High Moon, by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis – This “weird” western with werewolves, good and bad cowboys, demons, dusty little towns, lovely women, and monsters of all sorts, is Zuda’s second big “breakout” comic (after Bayou, which tells a sprawling story of the South, which I’m still in the process of reading). The art is gritty and sometimes over the top, which fits the supernatural storylines perfectly. It fills the void left over from the end of one of my favorite TV shows, “Deadwood,” along with a huge dose of the Vertigo comic “Hellblazer,” but it’s not derivative at all. Watch for the huge twist from the end of Season 1 (each “season” is 60 pages). It’s just big, violent fun. And a print version just came out as well!

Sidewise, by Dwight L. MacPherson and Igor Noronha – A “teen genius” gets zapped back in time, to an alternate past where robots roam the street, enforcers for a Queen who just may be under the sway of a band of  villains straight from the history books (if your taste in history runs toward steampunk, that is). Lovely art and a storyline aimed for “all ages” instead of just “mature readers” or “kids only,” I feel like this one is building to a Big Story, fast; we’re only 16 screens into the story, and the plotlines are gathering and swirling like so many steam-fired pistons and gears spinning. Fun stuff.

Lily of the Valley by Adam Atherton – another relatively new comic, this one is definitely not geared toward younger readers. Told in mostly black and white and grays, with the occasional splash of pink and BIG splashes of bright red, this comic tells the story of Lily, an unstable girl who struggles with her mental illness in a violent fashion, as witness by the surreal images on page 8. Not sure where this one is going, but I’m hooked! Plus, how can you not be intrigued by this description: “A love story for the over and the under medicated, the disenchanted, the excessively violent, and the soft-spoken”?

Deadly, by James Fosdike – This one had me hooked originally by the art, which is just outstanding — incredibly detailed, with a protagonist who almost looks like a superhero (but it’s just his suit he wears to protect him against the harsh world outside). This is post-apocalyptic Australia, a fantastic setting (so nice to see stories set outside of America!) crawling with spiky zombie-like creatures and oversized frogs, to name a few of our hero’s challenges. And then there’s the silent, Aboriginal boy who seems untouchable in this harsh, dangerous landscape. Lots of mysteries to unravel and keep me waiting for each weekly installment.

LaMorte Sisters, by Tony Trov, John Zito, and Christine Larsen – This is one of Zuda’s “Instant Winners,” which means the comic didn’t have to go through the grueling month of competing for 1st place (lucky!). This story feels almost like something that would run at DC’s Vertigo imprint, with its dark themes, black magic, vampire-like creatures, and silent knights that the troubled girls attending the “LaMorte Home for Lost Girls” must deal with. Interesting stuff so far.

Doc Monster, by David Flora – This one I truly loved for the art and the setting (the ’50s), and it’s the only one in this list that wasn’t a winner. So we won’t ever find out how the mysterious Doc fares against the aliens that come shooting up out of the ground. My only hope is that the story continues elsewhere, so I’ll be checking out the Doc Monster website for more goodies, including hopefully news about the continuation of the story!

There are over two dozen more comics I need to get caught up on, including Celadore by Caanan Grall (vampires and secret societies!) and Azure by Daniel Govar (amazing art and another post-apocalyptic world!) and Gulch by Matt and Gabe White (twisty plots and many explosions so far!). It’s a wealth of great story and art.

The only problem is that the storylines keep continuing each week, so I always have MORE to read. I guess I can’t really complain about that.

So, in the spirit of the current holiday, thanks to the creators of all the comics up at Zuda. If all goes well with the current competition, I hope to join your ranks, soon (so go read, vote, favorite, etc. — you know the routine!).

UPDATED TO ADD: I forgot to mention Dual by Michael Walton, which just finished its first season a while back — this comic takes the whole “imaginary friend” concept that kids have and runs with it. Some trippy stuff, and lovely art that gets better with each screen. I’ll write another update entry as I read more of the comics at the site next month…

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