Volume 2, Number 25 - November 2005
As much as I love working as a newspaper reporter and writing a weekly column for The Middlesex Banner (published in Ailsa Craig Ontario Canada) for reasons I'll probably never been able to explain clearly to people who aren't comics fans my job doesn't give me the same sort of enjoyment as writing this column or writing and editing comics does. Unfortunately over the past ten or so months my job has kept me away from the type of writing I most enjoy but thanks to recent scheduling arrangements I've made that's all about to change. As well as being able to bring this column out of hiatus I'll be devoting a lot of my newly acquired spare time to developing comics and comics-related material. With regards to this column specifically I have five comics sitting beside me that I plan to review over the next couple of installments of E-Dispatches. This installment will be devoted to an overview of British horror comics publisher Chimera Arts' "Valkyries" #s 1 & 2, "Bedlam" #6 and "Usher" #4 and the next installment will be a review of ACC Studios' "Liberty For All".
I have to admit right up front that I love the comics Britain's Chimera Arts publishes. While their titles are a fairly mixed bag when it comes to the quality of their material publisher John Gallagher and his talent do a wonderful job in capturing the atmosphere of Skywald Publications, the comics company of the 70s which inspired the line.
To say that Chimera Arts' titles are a mixed bag when it comes to the quality of its material is to be honest with you quite an understatement. When the material is good it most often fantastic but when it's bad it is absolutely terrible.
In the good/great column anything written by former Canadian-now British-resident Edward St. Boniface. Whether its Edward's "Lady Etropia" in "Valkyries" or "Brain Sick" in "Bedlam" #6 or "The Hydranauts" in "Usher" #4 this writer has a unique ability to explore themes in a decidedly different fashion drawing in horror and non-horror readers alike. Combine that with crisp, sharp dialogue and you are guaranteed a fun read each and every time.
Another great writer at Chimera Arts is Martin Lock who's "babe & blades" series Barbarienne (with equally great artwork by Paul Naring) in "Valkyries" is a fun romp from beginning to end.
In the really, really, really horrific column of Chimera Arts series we have their interpretation of Skywald's "The Heap". Making its debut in
2004 in "Bedlam" #5 and "Usher" #3 this series wins my nomination for the worst comics series ever to see print; and believe me, in my 44+ years as a comics fan I've seen a lot of bad series. What's so horrible about it? Well, for starters John Simpson's artwork is ghastly. Then there is the writing which is equally as bad. Not only is the dialogue poorly crafted and the characterization way off the mark-they've given the Heap a British accept when the character is clearly American in the Skywald series-but John Gallagher (whose work I will readily admit a great admiration for) shows total contempt for the character in the way he is handled. A personal note to John. If you don't like The Heap then don't publish a Heap series. But if you want to publish a Heap series have a creative team working on it that both respects and understands the character and concept.
Like I said, when Chimera Arts is good it's great and when it's bad it is terrible. Overall though I love the comics these folks publish and would highly recommend each and every one of their titles along with their trade paperback reprint of the Skywald "Saga of the Victims" series. I also love the way they toss in a few extra treats for their readers. Most years they enclose a poster or two but this year they enclosed a CD in "Usher" and "Bedlam" with material under the title of "Agents of Payence".
So as I said I highly recommend all of Chimera Arts' publications and if you'd like to see what I feel is so great and so much fun about them you can order everything they've published at their website located at www.freewebz.com/chimeraarts.
That's it for this column. Next time around we'll take a look at "Liberty For All".