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Crowdfunded Comics that deserve more attention: Heroes of the Public Domain.

Today we’re going to talk about a Kickstarter comic called Heroes of the Public Domain.

Regular Edition Cover

This project is seeking funding to create a catalog of superheroes that are in the public domain.  This means most of them are from the Golden Age of Comics, a time period that many historians place between 1938-1952 where comic books exploded onto the pop culture scene and superheroes became incredibly popular.

The project is being led by a Canadian group called Temporal Comics and is seeking $1,776 USD in funding.  At the time of writing the project has reached $1,432 with 23 days left in the campaign.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1973136011/heroes-of-the-public-domain-golden-age-guide-issue?ref=discovery

Why I like it

If you’re a fan of this site than you know that we at Cambrian Comics love writing about Golden Age superheroes.

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For anyone who doesn’t know, over the past three years we’ve been running a blog series entitled “Golden Age Showcase”, where we talk about old school heroes from a time when comic books were new and superheroes were somehow even more popular than they are now.

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While it’s fun to study the absolutely ridiculous characters from the Golden Age of Comics,

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it’s also important.

The Golden Age gave us many of comics’ most important and recognizable heroes.  Characters like Batman,

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Wonder Woman,

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Namor the Submariner,

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and the one who started it all, the one who inspired every modern superhero in existence, and the one who just turned 80 years old this year: Superman.

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But it wasn’t just a time where every superhero became a pop culture icon.  After the success of Action Comics #1 it seemed that every two bit publisher and pulp magazine auteur thought they could make it big by creating a superhero of their own.

The results were ridiculous and hilarious with heroes such as Dynamite Thor,

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Lady Satan,

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and The Fin.

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Sure, many of these heroes were silly, poorly written, or even blatant clones of Superman,  But there is not denying that the Golden Age of Comics was a time of exploration, experimentation, and glorious cheese that built the industry we know and love today.  A lot of people worked very hard to bring us these characters and their legacy is worth remembering and studying.

Also, full disclosure: We’re probably going to use the list provided in the Kickstarter description as a resource for more names.  It really is amazing that we’ve been doing this for over three years and still haven’t run out of heroes to talk about.

Why you should donate

Because the culture of the past informs the culture of the future, mostly by ripping off stories from the past and using our familiarity to open our wallets and giving artists our money.

At some point, I’m sure many of you have expressed your frustration at the endless sequels, reboots, and adaptations that make their way into our movie theaters and Netflix queues every year.

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I know because I am one of those people, but I also understand that one of the most prominent and important aspects of art is the ability to emulate and expand upon past works.

We may complain that Hollywood lacks originality when it comes to making movies, but it’s not a modern issue.  Over half of the movies that Hollywood has ever made are adaptations of some sort.  And let’s not forget that the most successful movie of all time,

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was adapted from a book.

In a way it makes sense, movies cost a lot of money so producers would want something that already has enough mass appeal to get people into the theaters.

What’s funny is that this isn’t even a modern thing, artists have been doing this for centuries.  The Renaissance artists were avid lovers of Classical art and blatantly ripped off the style and practices of the ancients.

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Michelangelo once tried to scam the Catholic Church by carving a statue and trying to sell it off as an antique.

Even the great William Shakespeare ripped off the work of his contemporaries.

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It’s true, Romeo and Juliet was inspired by the works of Italian author. Masuccio Salernitano and his two doomed lovers Mariotto and Giannoza.

Yeah, copyright laws didn’t really exist back then.

While we can moan and complain about how originality in art is dead the simple fact of the matter is that it works.  The unfortunate truth is that, at the end of the day, most artists are looking for the kind of success that allows them to get paid, and borrowing from what is familiar can be an incredibly lucrative option.

Don’t believe me?  Just look at Disney, the current owners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the empire they built with stories and characters from the past.

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Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, Alice and Wonderland, Robin Hood…the list goes on.  All of are well known, all of them were borrowed and revamped by the Disney company, and I’m willing to bet that most of these stories made up a healthy portion of your childhood.

Even though comic books are a relatively new medium, it hasn’t stopped companies like Marvel from taking one of their earliest characters.

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and giving him a modern update.

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So if giant corporations and famous artists can do it, why can’t we?

There are thousands of fantastic superheroes out there who are free to use and have so much potential.  This Kickstarter gives us a head start by giving us a list of some of the best.

 

All-Art Variant Edition

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1973136011/heroes-of-the-public-domain-golden-age-guide-issue?ref=discovery

 

 

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Golden Age Showcase: Superman and the Clan of the Fiery Cross

WARNING: This article contains a frank description of the history and politics of the American hate group known as the Ku Klux Klan. This group has a long and ugly history of racist violence that unfortunately continues today.  Also, this article contains images and descriptions that many people will find offensive.  If this bothers you, it is perfectly okay to not read this article.

Superman is 80 years old today!

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Today I want to talk about one of Superman’s greatest, and most important, stories.  It’s not a comic book, it’s a radio show, and it is one of the most important pieces of superhero media ever produced.

It’s Superman and the Clan of the Fiery Cross, the story where Superman literally, not figuratively but LITERALLY, helped bring down one of the most vile and awful hate groups in American history.

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Background and History

The KKK was a white nationalist group that was initially founded just after the American Civil War in 1865 by a group of former Confederate soldiers.

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Their goal was to intimidate newly freed black slaves and prevent them from voting and trying to improve their lives.

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The Federal Government cracked down on them, declaring them a paramilitary terrorist organization and forbade them from assembling.

While this version of the group was crippled, they would make a comeback in the 1920’s with the premiere of D.W Griffith’s Birth of a Nation: a fictionalized and highly romanticized account of the original klan.

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Unfortunately, the movie was an incredibly effective recruiting tool and the new version of the klan exploded in popularity.  They adjusted their message slightly, instead of targeting black people they became anti immigrant and for the prohibition of alcohol.

They even managed to become involved in politics.

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By the 1940’s the Klan returned to form, campaigning against equal rights for black people across the American South through violence.

One of the people who saw all these horrible things happen was a man named Stetson Kennedy,

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Kennedy was a writer and activist from Florida who saw what was going around him and decided that he didn’t like the KKK very much.  So he decided to do something about it by infiltrating the organization and finding out as much as he could.

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He discovered that the Klan was less intimidating and had some really stupid customs and rituals, not really surprising considering that it’s a bunch of guys dressed in sheets, and decided to make them look as ridiculous as he could.

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Sadly, there was a problem: how was Stetson going to share his information with the public?  What could he use to reach as many people as possible?

This is where The Adventures of Superman radio show came in.

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The show was produced and syndicated by the New York radio station WOR and starred a man named Bud Collyer as Superman and Joan Alexander as Lois Lane.

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In 1946, Mr. Kennedy approached the radio show and asked them if he could use Superman to share his findings about the Klan with the world.  DC comics was more than happy to oblige since the Second World War was over and Superman couldn’t fight German Nazis anymore.  Now he would fight the American version.

Here’s the first part of the radio special for your listening pleasure.  I skipped the first two minutes of the video because it’s an add for a discontinued breakfast cereal called Kellogg Pep, but it’s still pretty good and I highly recommend tracking down the rest of the series and giving it a listen.

So what was the impact?

The effects of the radio broadcast were immediate and massive.  Within two weeks recruitment into the Klan was down, and by 1948 people were openly mocking its members at their rallies.

Kennedy would go on to share the rest of what he learned about the Klan with the authorities, and even wrote several books which led to arrests and prosecutions for several chapters.

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So the Klan was substantially weakened, thanks to Superman.

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Sadly, while the Klan was substantially weakened it wasn’t killed off completely.  The organization maintains a violent anti immigrant and white nationalist stance and holds rallies to this day,

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and there’s a former low level politician named David Duke who is a member of Klan who has gained an unfortunately large amount of attention.

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It’s worth mentioning that the FBI has reported a rise in hate crimes and hate groups in America over the past couple of years, it’s not a very large rise and can be attributed to a small number of very vocal fringe groups.

A lot of people say that Superman is boring, too powerful, and too much of a goody two shoes to be interesting in the modern world.  But in a world that is filled with some awful people and vile ideologies,

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it’s good to know that we have characters like Superman who stand for what is true and just.

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Here’s to 80 more years.

 

 

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Golden Age Showcase: Brainwave

Well, that was a nice Easter break, what can we talk about that’ll grab peoples attention again?

How about the first villain dangerous enough to pose a threat to the first superhero team in comics?  He goes by the name of Brainwave.

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Sure, that sounds fun.

Origin and Career

The first group of superheroes to join together as a group in modern American comics was the Justice Society of America, who made their first appearance in All Star Comics #3 in 1940.

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While the official reason for bringing the group together was to help protect America and stand for democracy against the forces of evil, the reality was that the sales figures for each of the characters were flagging on their own and they were brought together to make more money.

Thankfully, the book was a hit.  For the first couple of issues the heroes fought your standard collection of gangsters or went on their own separate adventures with their own villains to fight.  However, in March of 1943, super writer Garner Fox wrote All Star Comics #15,

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each of the members is stumped by a case they’re working on and can’t make it to the meeting.  It’s alright though, because they’ve each written an apology letter to the league  explaining their actions and each of the letters is read by the team’s secretary: Wonder Woman.

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Ah the 1940’s…sigh.

Anyway, Wonder Woman figures out that each crime that each member of the JSA is trying to solve is being masterminded by a single individual.

So what does she do?  She finds all of the girlfriends of each of the JSA members and tells them to dress up in their costumes.

Wonder Woman seems to not understand the idea behind a secret identity, either that or these ladies are some of the most clueless human beings in existence.

It turns out that the crimes are being committed by a man named Henry King, a tiny little man who has the power to create very realistic illusions.

King’s backstory is actually pretty tragic.  As a boy he was lonely and didn’t have many friends and when he discovered his ability to create images out of thin air he used them to create a group of friends and historical figures for him to play with.

Unfortunately, his newfound power corrupted him to the point where he simply decided that he wanted money and used his powers to coerce gangsters into working for him and to convince people they were going crazy.

Anyway, the girls arrive at Brainwave’s hideout but are fooled by his illusions and captured by people who look just like their boyfriends.

This was  time when Wonder Woman could be stopped if you tied her up.

The boyfriends arrive soon after and while Brainwave attempts to threaten them with the deaths of their beloveds,

Wonder Woman breaks free and manages to free them.

The ensuing fight is short and Brainwave falling to his death.

The JSA was terrifyingly nonchalant about it.

However, the villain was saved at the last minute by his clothing and the design of his villainous hideout.

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He would later appear as a member of the Injustice Society, a gang of super villains who formed as a direct counter to the Justice Society.

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But that’s a story for another couple of blog posts.

So what happened?

They say a hero is only as good as the villains they fight, but unfortunately a villain’s fate is directly tied to how well the hero can sell books.

The Justice Society was shut down in the early 1950’s when American parents thought that comic books and superheroes were corrupting their children.

Image result for comic book burningsFortunately, Brainwave was able to make a comeback, and he actually got even more interesting.

He wound up getting married to a woman named Merry Pemberton, a super heroine known as “Gimmick Girl”.

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She was a good guy, he was a bad guy.  She didn’t know at first and was sad when she found out.

What makes this even better is that they had a kid together: Henry King Jr.

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He became Brainwave number 2, after his father saved him from a villain known as the Ultra Humanite and gave his powers to his son.

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Junior was part of a group called Infinity Inc., but eventually went crazy over his father’s villainous legacy, but it was eventually discovered that he was being controlled by a parasitic worm and Captain Marvel villain named Mr. Mind.

Boy, family drama is a killer.

The elder villain’s final appearance was in DC’s Blackest Night crossover where he appeared as an undead corpse, reanimated by the mysterious black power rings.

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Brainwave was one of the original super villains of the early days of comics.  In a time when super heroes fought gangsters and Nazis, he was one of the first threats that the heroes had to face that had powers rivaling their own.  He was a formidable threat, a capable villain, and wound up having one of the most interesting and fulfilling story arcs in the long history of the Justice Society of America.

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Crowdfunded Comics that deserve more attention: Dulce: The New Guy

Today we’re looking at a comic book Kickstarter project entitled “Dulce: The New Guy”.

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The comic takes place in Dulce, New Mexico, a place that is allegedly home to a joint U.S military and alien base.

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The story follows the adventures of Marcus as he begins his first day working at the base and promises that Marcus will come face to face with “reptilians, fear deities, chimera, monsters, and a variety of races of aliens…”

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The comic itself was created by Eric J. Cockrell and Gene Hoyle with artwork by Greg Woronchak, colors by Avery Ferdinand, lettering by Michael Waggoner, and editing by Chuck Pineau.

At the time of writing the project has raised $1,150 of its $3,300 goal with 22 days left in the campaign.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1410875579/dulce-the-new-guy-comic-book/description

Why I like it

I’m a sucker for comedies that take big, grand, and potentially Earth shattering revelations and treat them as ordinary mundane things.

Marcus is an ordinary human, thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and forced to deal with things that no human has probably ever had to deal with.

For God’s sake, his co workers are a lizard man and a human sized fly.

they’re dealing with time travel like it’s no big deal,

the comic has GIANT KILLER BUNNIES!

Isn’t that awesome!?

For me, the best comedy takes place when you have the extraordinary happening in a mundane and boring way.  The more indifferent people are to the crazy things happening around them, the funnier it gets.

Come to think of it, wasn’t there a movie that was released a little over a decade ago that treated cosmic, earth shattering events with casual interest?

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Also, come to think of it, wasn’t there an incredibly popular television comedy in an office setting that dealt with the everyday lives of office drones?

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Huh, neat.

I bring this up because this comic makes me think of The Office with a healthy dose of Men in Black thrown in.  Now, Men in Black is one of my favorite films of all time, and while I’m not the biggest fan of The Office (I know it’s sacrilege, but let’s just say that I’ve had too many people compare me to Dwight to get into the show) I understand its appeal and believe it deserves the praise it gets.

Now, I admit I could be wrong in this comparison,  but it is my honest to God opinion that a comic that combines some of the best elements of a very good movie like Men in Black  and a very good TV show like The Office deserves my attention and respect.

Why you should donate

For starters, the rewards that these guys are offering are fantastic.

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This is not the first tango these guys have had with Kickstarter created comics, and they certainly know how to take care of the people who give them money.

But there’s another, deeper reason why this comic is worth your time, and dare I say…important.

We can always use a good laugh at the expense of those in power.

Let’s face it, for the longest time places like Area 51,

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occupied a lighthearted and almost jovial place in American pop culture.

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I think it’s pretty cool that that United States government has taken the reputation of one of their testing grounds for top secret aircraft and embraced it.

Unfortunately, while places like Area 51 have given “Top Secret” a lighthearted spin, there have been times when secret government programs have taken on a much more sinister meaning.

Over the past decade the United States government, which is supposed to be accountable to the people, has tried to keep the following things secret from the public:

kidnapping and torturing people suspected of terrorism against the United States,

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launched mass surveillance programs on the American citizens,

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and we’re currently trying to figure out if our current President has been the willing/unwilling participant in election rigging conducted by a foreign power.

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It’s all really scary stuff, but you know what really helps in times of trouble?

Laughter…and fantastic stories about crazy monsters and strange science.

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Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1410875579/dulce-the-new-guy-comic-book/description

 

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Crowdfunded Comics that deserve more attention: Olive and the Underworld Vol. 2

Today we’re talking about a comic book Kickstarter project entitled Olive and the Underworld Vol. 2 Part 1.

This is the second book in a series about a girl named Olive.

Olive is an orphan and finds herself bouncing around foster homes due to her…unique views on life and death.

Naturally, her school and social life isn’t much better.

However, her self imposed hellscape is turned on its head when she and several of he classmates die in a bus crash and are sent to Purgatory.  While her classmates are desperate to move on to the afterlife, Olive discovers that she loves Purgatory.

The second volume picks up where the first book left off and follows Olive’s quest to stay in Purgatory, despite the powers that be insisting that it’s supposed to be temporary.

At the time of writing the project has reached $1,833 of its $2,995 goal and has fifteen days left in its campaign.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1058532910/olive-and-the-underworld-volume-2-part-1

Full disclosure: I actually wrote about the Kickstarter for the first volume of the series a few years ago.  I received no money for that article or this one, but the creators were unbelievably nice and decided to use a quote from my article on the front page of the book’s website and on the back of the first book’s cover.  Also, I got to read the first volume and I can assure you that it’s awesome and well worth your time and money.

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You can read the quote, and buy the first volume, here.

Why I like it.

I like this book for the same reason I liked the first book, it takes a very old and well established story and turns it on its head.

I’m a big fan of ancient history.  More specifically, I’m a big fan of ancient Greek and Norse mythology.

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Now, all three of these cultures may be from different locations, different time periods, and have different cultural norms but their mythologies have certain things in common.  For example, they all have a deity who presides over the after life.  The Norse have Hel,

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The Greeks have Hades.

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Now, this is to be expected.  Death is one of humanity’s universal constants and it would make sense for cultures to develop their own ideas of what happens after we die.  However, the similarities can get a bit spooky.  More specifically both cultures have stories about heroes to travel to the afterlife while they are still alive.

The Greeks have heroes such as Orpheus, who charmed Hades into returning the soul of his wife with his music.

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The Norse have Hermod, a son of Odin who traveled to Hel to beg for the life of Baldur after he had been killed by Loki.

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So Olive’s journey to the afterlife puts her in pretty unique and interesting company,

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but there is one major difference.  In every other story about travelling to the afterlife, the heroes come back.  The land of the dead is a place you’re supposed to be uncomfortable around and a place where you don’t want to stay.  Olive doesn’t just want to stay in Purgatory, she’s genuinely happy to be there.

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I can’ think of a single instance where the hero of a story wants to stay dead, so that makes Olive and the Underworld one of the most unique and interesting stories I’ve ever seen…and I love it.

Why you should donate

Because if our ancestors could create eternal stories about death and the afterlife, why can’t we?

Myths and legends aren’t just stories, they were a way to process emotions and events that human beings could have never understood otherwise.

Stories like the Illiad weren’t just stories about people fighting each other, they were peppered with morals and lessons on how to act and what is proper way to behave in certain situations.  Heroes like Achilles weren’t just bloodthirsty maniacs, they were scholars and noble warriors who embodied traits and emotions that the ancient Greeks thought were important.

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We may think we have grown out of our understanding of the world has progressed, but we still have fantastic beings who embody certain virtues and use their actions to demonstrate proper behavior.

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Myths and legends are still talk about important stuff, they’ve just changed their appearance and what’s important to adapt over the past several thousand years.

We’re in the process of creating a new mythology and Olive and the Underworld is a story that brings a new and different approach to how we view death to this new understanding.  It’s a fun, friendly, and important book and well worth your time and money.

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Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1058532910/olive-and-the-underworld-volume-2-part-1

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Comic book showcase: Octobriana

So I went to go see a movie called The Death of Stalin over the weekend.

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It was a legitimately funny movie about a very terrifying and violent subject matter that I find very interesting and fascinating to study and while I might complain that the entire cast all spoke with impeccable British and American accents, I don’t think any other group could have made something as terrifying as Stalin’s purges so funny.

Also, it’s based off of a much more serious comic book so yeah, it does have a place on this blog.

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This inspired me to go looking for another Russian superhero to write about and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Russia is not a land where comic books thrive.  For starters, comic books are a modern American thing, and the people running the Soviet Union at the time couldn’t have such a vulgar, capitalist art form corrupting their youth.

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It’s also worth mentioning that Russia’s contribution to literary art isn’t the comic book.  It’s the incredibly long, and incredibly depressing novel.

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Finally, the simple fact of the matter is that when comic books were becoming a thing, Russia was in the middle of fighting for its life,

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It’s difficult to care about an upbeat, optimistic superhero when you’re fighting in your neighbor’s abandoned house for scraps of food.

That’s not to say that Russia doesn’t have superheroes.  A few years ago they introduced the world to the Guardians, Russia’s first superhero team.

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Heh, Man Bear.

But that doesn’t exactly fall under the purview of this blog.  Granted, neither does today’s superhero but she’s interesting and this is my blog so I can make the rules.

Today we’re going to talk about Octobriana, underground hero of the Soviet Union and the leggiest blonde in the entire USSR.

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Origin and Career

So strap yourselves in for a long ride, because her origin is a doozy.

This is the cover of Octobriana’s first appearance in the West, a book entitled Octobriana and the Russian Underground.

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The author of this book was one Petr Sadecky.

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I have no idea if this is him, it’s just the best image that came up.

Sadecky claimed that Octobriana had been created by a secret dissident political group that had cells across the Soviet Union called the “Progressive Political Pornography”.

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Apparently the group believed that the current Soviet government had betrayed the ideals of socialism and sought to return the Soviet Union to its original and pure form.  They fought against the system by publishing Octobriana stories in hand printed samizdat publications, which was literature published by hand and distributed from person to person in secret.

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Also, the PPP claimed to be descendants from Vikings.

If this sounds a bit ludicrous it’s because it is.  Her actual origin story was that Petr  contracted two Czech illustrators to create a comic strip with him about a comic strip, but he wound up screwing the artists over and fleeing to the West, where he tried to sell the book on his own.  When it didn’t work, he gave the book a more political bent and it wound up becoming a success.

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It’s kind of a shame that she wasn’t the product of a top secret anti Soviet political movement because Octobriana is nuts.

The closest thing I can compare her to is Wonder Woman, but Diana ain’t got nothing on this Soviet babe, even with her invisible jet,

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Octobriana was the child of Viking,

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and Toltec people.

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How the hell the Vikings made it to Mexico and South America I have no idea.

Anyway, Octobriana was given radiation treatments to make her immortal (huh?) and she leapt into a radioactive volcano which made her a superhuman.

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Her stories involve her kicking all sorts of butt across history.  In one particularly famous instance, she…”swims into a radioactive volcano to kill a walrus with her kris.”

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And how about that costume?  There is no way those scraps of cloth could keep everything covered, especially when fighting a walrus.

So what happened?

She was an independent comic book character published in the West, based off of stolen artwork and spouting far left political ideals…there just isn’t that much of an audience for that.  Also, since it was allegedly published in a top secret underground comic book scene she wasn’t copyrighted.  That’s right, anyone can use her.

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The two Czech artists that Petr had screwed over sued him in court and won, although they never got their artwork back.

As for Octobriana herself, she did get something of a cult following in certain social circles, especially in Great Britain.  The late great David Bowie was a fan,

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and Billy Idol actually has a tattoo of her on his arm.

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Also, since she is definitely available for anyone to use, various artists have used her in their stories.  She appeared in the Luther Arkwright series,

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and she had a story in the British comic anthology 2000 AD.

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But if you ask me it’s not enough.  Like I’ve stated before, she’s definitely free for anyone to use and let’s face it, we could certainly use a little bit more of a blonde haired, long legged, time travelling, amazon goddess spreading the word of Marx and Lenin in our lives and I say it’s time she got the attention that she deserved.

So go forth comrades!  Spread the word to the mountains, the valleys, from the coldest depths of the oceans to the hot and steamy jungles yet unexplored by man!  Spread the word to the masses and bring down the oppressive bourgeois!

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Long live socialism!  Long li…okay I may be getting ahead of myself here.

Anyway, Octobriana is awesome and deserves more attention.

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Golden Age Showcase: Jill Trent, Science Sleuth.

It’s funny that popular culture doesn’t associate women with the sciences, and it’s especially interesting when you consider that women have been responsible for huge advances in science from early mathematics and astronomy,

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to creating the genre of science fiction,

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to taking us to the moon,

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and basically inventing the whole idea of computer sciences and programming.

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Interestingly enough, the comic book industry had a female science hero to call their own in the 1940’s, and I thought it might be fun to talk about her today.

This is Jill Trent, Science Sleuth.

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Origin and Career

Jill Trent made her first appearance as a back up story in Fighting Yank #6 in 1943.

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She was created by artist Al Camy, a man who had done a lot of work for Standard Comics including work on one of their most popular heroes, the Black Terror.

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The setup for each story followed the standard Golden Age setup with not a lot of attention paid to the backstory and not a lot of effort being put into explaining how Jill makes a living.  She’s just a genius who invents stuff and solves crimes with them.

Comic Book Cover For The Fighting Yank #9 - Version 2

As you can see from the page above, Jill Trent was a genius inventor and scientist.  Not only did she develop a way to see through walls, she presumably figured out a way to defy gravity as well.

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To help her with her adventures Jill had a friend named Daisy Smythe, who was her confidant and sidekick throughout her adventures.  This were their sleeping arrangements.

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Sure those are double cots placed side to side and it’s no different than what Batman and Robin were doing around this time,

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but let’s face it, your mind already went there didn’t it?

Not only was Jill a genius, but both ladies were actually very capable fighters and had no qualms about defending themselves by any means necessary.

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Also, they weren’t above the use of guns either, especially in one particular adventure when they were fighting off a bunch of goons over a copper bedframe.

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Granted, the crooks were trying to get the bed back because it had a large stack of money in it but still, it certainly puts a vicious spin on customer complaints.

Despite being a bit controversial Jill and company were actually reasonably successful.  They appeared in two issues of Fighting Yank and were then moved to a title called Wonder Comics where they appeared in twelve issues.

So what happened?

Her publisher suffered with the rest of the comic book industry in the 1950’s and she was cancelled in 1956.

With that being said, she may have been cancelled but she hasn’t been forgotten.  She’s actually in the public domain and free for anyone to use, although the sources I’ve checked have said to be careful since there still might be some legal issues.

However, legal grey area or not, that hasn’t stopped the independent comics scene from reviving the two heroines.  In 2015 a Kickstarter was launched to give Jill a modern update and it was incredibly successful.

Cover art by Rafael Romeo Magat.

Sadly, I have no idea where you might be able to buy this if you’re interested.  If anyone knows, please post a comment.

Jill Trent isn’t just progressive and potentially subversive, she’s pretty awesome as well.  She throws down like Wonder Woman, she’s dedicated to the pursuit of scientific knowledge like Einstein, and she has the ability to come up with more gadgets than Q from James Bond.

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She would make a genuinely fantastic modern heroine and more people deserve to know about her.

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Crowdfunded comics that deserve more attention: The Arcane Cocktail Enthusiast

Today we’re talking about a Kickstarter comic called The Arcane Cocktail Enthusiast.

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The comic is written and created by Jeff Rider and drawn by Dave Puppo.

The story is about a bar owner named Lark Leraar.

Lark Leraar, the Arcane Cocktail Enthusiast herself!

She owns an establishment called The Archanist, which she also uses as a base and secret lair to practice magic.

Sample pages for ARCANE COCKTAIL ENTHUSIAST #1

The comic is seeking funding for its first issue and at the time of writing has raised $1,883 out of $3,500 with fifteen days left to donate.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cloudwrangler/the-arcane-cocktail-enthusiast-print-edition-comic?ref=av0qnc

Why I like it

I don’t drink very much.

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Sure I’ll indulge a bit in social settings, but when it comes to the consumption of alcohol I am a complete lightweight and too poor and too busy to explore the subtle differences between types of scotch.

But while the idea of a magical bartender serving magical drinks doesn’t excite me personally, I do find it incredibly interesting from a historical point of view, and and if you ask anyone who knows me in the slightest they will tell you that I do loooove me some history.

Let me explain.  Since the beginning of human history we have spent a lot of time trying to figure out new and exciting ways to get drunk.

The Egyptians invented one of the earliest recipes for beer and even paid laborers with booze.

The Babylonians took their beer so seriously that if they caught a brewer tampering with his or her product, they killed him by drowning the offender in it.

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And during the Middle Ages most of the brewing, distribution, and sale of booze was done by women.  You could always tell who was a brewer with their trademark pointed cap, a broom like whisk for filtering out lumps of material from their cauldron brew, and a cat to help keep away rats and mice from the grain.

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If the above image looks like a stereotypical witch you’re not wrong.  There are some who would say that our modern interpretation of witchcraft was a widespread propaganda campaign to get women out of brewing beer.

The point is that the creation of alcohol has had an important, almost magical, place in human history.  Makes sense really, booze made you feel good and anyone who could get you drunk better than anyone else must have seemed like a wizard.

The Arcane Cocktail Enthusiast takes this idea and gives it a modern update and I think that is really cool.

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Not only does it put a modern twist on this idea, it uses it to tell a story about an awesome lady who goes out and fights a manticore with nothing but her magically enhanced hands.

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That’s pretty awesome.

Why you should donate

Of course, these days we’re not big fans of magic and coffee has become the dominant brain altering drink of choice.

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But while we may be men and women of science and rational thought, we still have our own brand of sorcery that we use to turn certain people who make our food into insanely rich gods.

I am, of course, talking about celebrity chefs.

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Sure, these guys aren’t witches or warlocks, but you have to admit that there’s something magical about watching food being prepared.

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Hell, we love this so much that we have entire channel on the television where we just watch people cook and eat food.

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But if we have dedicated all this time and effort into praising the accomplishments of the people that make our food, what about the people who prepare our drinks?

Where are our celebrity brewers and bartenders?

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As I stated in the previous section, our ancestors practically worshiped the creation and consumption of alcohol.  Today?  Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong, we still hold a place of reverence for things like microbreweries and bartenders who can but a bit of flair into their job,

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but I think it’s safe to say that the bartender and brewer has been greatly overshadowed by the chef in today’s culture.

Don’t you think it’s time that bartenders got the same respect and attention that we give celebrity chefs?  Don’t you think it’s time that we elevated the people who serve us alcohol to the place of respect that they once held?  Don’t you think it’s time to put the magic back into a beverage that has been so important to human history?

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I sure as heck think so.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cloudwrangler/the-arcane-cocktail-enthusiast-print-edition-comic?ref=av0qnc

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Comic book showcase: The Flaming Carrot

You know what?  I think it’s time to take a break from the Golden Age this week.

The Golden Age of Comics was an age of ridiculous comic book characters and a “well let’s just throw things against the wall and see what sticks” attitude, which is the main reason why I started this blog in the first place, but I’d like to branch out and see if there might be other characters that could be just as ridiculous and crazy.

Sure, we’ve talked about comic book characters from different time periods before, but there has to be something there that’s crazy, bold, and…

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oh hello, where have you been all my life?

Screw tradition, this is the Flaming Carrot.

Origin and Career

The Flaming Carrot made his first appearance in a small comic called Visions which was published by a convention called the Atlanta Fantasy Fair in 1979.

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A bit of context here: the early 1980’s were a time when the independent comic book scene was really starting to take off.  Creators were often ditching the big publishers of Marvel and DC to self publish their own stuff or with smaller publishers who were much more generous with their checkbooks and willingness to share credit.

For a bit more context, this was the time period that gave us the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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The Flaming Carrot comic would later be self published through a company called Killian Barracks Press and then find different homes through various publishers over the next thirty years.

He was created by comic book author and illustrator Bob Burden.

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The hero was meant to be a parody of superhero comics at the time.

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he got his powers by suffering from brain damage after reading 5,000 comics in a single sitting.

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Just goes to show you, comics are bad for you and will rot your brain.

How did his head turn into a carrot?

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Don’t ask such stupid questions.

The Carrot lived in the fictional neighborhood of Palookaville in Iron City.  He didn’t have any superpowers but he would often win the day through grit, determination, and sheer dumb luck.  Also, he had a toy chest of gadgets to help him along with a gun, which he used without hesitation or remorse.

His enemies were equally ridiculous, as you can see below.

You’ll notice that a lot of the interior artwork is in black and white.  It was like this to cut down on art and printing costs.  Believe me, I know.

Over the course of his career, the Flaming Carrot developed a cult following and became pretty popular.  He even found some time to create a team of working class heroes known as “The Mystery Men”

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We’ll touch on that later.

So what we have here is an independent creator, publishing a black and white comic, that parodies super hero stories, and is self published without any help or support.

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Can’t imagine why I would relate to something like that.

Side note: did you know that we actually have another web comic up and running?  It’s called “Questing 9 to5” and it’s on our Tapastic account which you can find here 

So what happened?

It’s actually kind of difficult to pinpoint the exact time and moment when Flaming Carrot ceased publication ended.  Despite its success as an indie hit, it ceased being an ongoing title when issue #31 was released in 1994.

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The hero would make various appearances in one shots and crossovers over the course of the 1990’s, including a crossover with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1993.

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Sadly, this did not make it into the show.

In 2004, the character was picked up by Image Comics and four more issues were published.

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His last appearance was in 2006 and to this date, Bob Burden hasn’t published anything else.

Thankfully, Flaming Carrot was just crazy enough, and just popular enough, to garner attention from Hollywood, and in 1999 Burden helped create a movie based around Flaming Carrot’s teammates.  The movie was called Mystery Men,

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and it failed spectacularly.  It’s actually kind of sad really, the movie has some great actors who would go on to better things, so it was clear that there was SOME effort put into it.  Although, it had Dane Cook in it which was just…

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ugh.

However, there was one thing about the movie that has stayed with us and has gone on to pop culture immortality.

You know that one song by a band called Smash Mouth?  The one that was really REEEAAALY popular in the early 2000’s and everyone knew as “that song that plays at the beginning of the first Shrek movie”?

Yep, this is the movie where that song came from and why the introduction has a whole bunch of ridiculous superheroes…and Dane Cook.

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You’re welcome.

I’m going to level with you, Flaming Carrot is that kind of ridiculous cheesiness that makes comic books the unique and wonderful medium that they are.  He was a rough and tumble, blue collar, scrappy hero with the kind of gimmick that would make you roll your eyes and groan.

But it was very clear that there was a lot of heart and effort put into The Flaming Carrot, and although he was ridiculous, he was drawn proof the the wonderful and heartfelt insanity that could only occur in comic books.

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Crowdfunded Comics that deserve more attention: Prison Witch

Today we are going to talk about a comic book project seeking funding on Kickstarter called Prison Witch.

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The project is a seventy page graphic novel about a woman who works to control her latent magical abilities in prison with the help of a secret coven of witches.

At the time of writing the project as already hit its funding goal with $8,651 out of $8,500 raised and has 14 days left in the campaign.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/248241887/prison-witch-a-graphic-novel-about-magic-love-and?ref=category&ref=discovery

Why I like it

For starters the artwork is fantastic.

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The comic is created by husband and wife team Pat and Amy Shand, with Erica D’Urso providing the artwork.  Her ability to convey tiny little moments of great emotion is awe inspiring and you can tell the book is going to be an emotional roller coaster without any words.

But what really intrigues me about this book is the possibility of combining the subject matter with the setting.

I like to dabble in storytelling from time to time and for me, magic is a way to build a character without having to rely on boring exposition.

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A wizard who controls fire will probably have a different personality than a wizard who can raise the dead.  Magic is an extension of its user and can be used as a sort of visual shorthand for their personality and beliefs.

Prisons are supposed to be a place where people who have done something wrong go to reflect on their deeds and work towards reforming themselves.

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In some countries the intention is to turn criminals into functioning members of society, in others it’s a place where dissidents and critics of the status quo are sent to…change their mind.  Here in America it clearly isn’t the case because if it was, we would be the most introspective and thoughtful nations on the planet.

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Yes, the land of the free does put way to many people in prison.

So what happens when you have a collection of people who have their personalities displayed through spells and witch craft stuck in a place that is designed to change and mold a person into something different?

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I have no idea, but I can’t wait to find out.

Why you should donate

I don’t know if anybody reading this post knows this, but during the 1970’s there was a very specific and popular genre of films specifically about women in prison.

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With a poster like that it’s quite apparent that these movies were somber, thoughtful affairs that talked about the harsh realities of prison life and gave a voice to some of the most vulnerable people in modern society and…

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nope.  The movies were porn with a bit more attention on the plot and slightly higher production values.

Now to be fair, it wasn’t like all the films were total trash.  Johnathen Demme, the man who made Silence of the Lambs,

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got his big break after directing a Roger Corman prison film called Caged Heat.

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The film was actually pretty well reviewed and it did delve into some actual social commentary, but it was still a bunch of pretty women with no hope, no way out, and almost no clothing.

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Rather thankfully, times and tastes change and I say it’s time for the women in prison genre to get a modern update that treats its characters like actual human beings and uses its subject matter to talk about important and socially relevant issues.

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Okay, so there’s that but I bet there isn’t a comic that does…

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dammit.

Okay, so revising the women in prison genre for modern tastes is well trodden ground, but Prison Witch takes the genre and does something different with it.

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By combining the wonder and mystery of magic with the drama and emotional pain of prison life, Prison Witch is set to create a story filled with wonder, mystery, introspection, and one hell of an emotional gut punch.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/248241887/prison-witch-a-graphic-novel-about-magic-love-and?ref=category&ref=discovery