Publisher: Madius Comics
Writer: Robin Jones
Artists: Dan Butcher, Mike Smith, Nick Gonzo, Kevin Popisil
Release Date: Available now!
Once again, I have to preface a small press review with an apology – this time for the preconceptions I had concerning this debut release from Madius Comics. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the creative team behind it, possessing only a passing familiarity with their work beforehand. No, my concerns were about the format itself. A horror anthology? A humorous horror anthology? Given the somewhat less than impressive track record for projects like these, I’ll fully admit that alarm bells were ringing right from the get-go.
Boy was I wrong.
Writer Rob Jones pens all three stories in this first issue, and the first – and perhaps most important thing – to point out about his writing is that the guy is just plain funny. If a humorous comic can make me smile while I’m reading it, I’m calling that a victory. If it can make me actually laugh out loud – which Papercuts and Inkstains did on more than one occasion – then that has to be considered a major success. Jones is joined here by three distinctive artists, each adopting a black and white style, and each stamping their own unique mark on the story they’re given.
The first chapter, “By ‘Eck on Earth”, relocates the zombie apocalypse to Yorkshire, as ‘Harold’ recounts the events that led to his current… condition. Featuring some highly atmospheric, almost photo-referenced artwork courtesy of Kevin Popisil, this admittedly short story puts a hilariously Northern slant on the all too familiar zombie genre, and features the first laugh out loud moment of the issue courtesy of Harold’s matter-of-fact reaction upon encountering his recently zombified neighbour. The story itself is brief, but does a perfect job of establishing the tone of the anthology as a whole, and – from my personal perspective – erasing my unfair preconceptions about the format. Thumbs up.
The second tale, “Profits of DOOM”, is very much the ‘main course’ here, both in terms of page count and quality, and introduces us to a brotherhood of mysterious druids who – we rapidly discover – are less than prepared for their plan to bring forth the end of days. Featuring some polished, detailed artwork from Mike Smith, who manages to do a terrific job of conveying the characters of the individual druids in spite of them each being shrouded in identical robes, this story nails the comedic aspects perfectly as the fumbling, bumbling druids try and overcome their shortcomings in a distinctly British style. Celebratory wine from Waitrose, the missus on the phone telling one of them to come home, and a crisis of faith when their “Grandmaster” – George – can’t quite remember the words to his incantation. There’s a hell of a lot to like here, and if this is any indication of what’s coming in the future from this talented creative team, you can definitely count me in for the foreseeable future.
The final story, “No”, is probably the weakest of the three, and features artwork from the talented Nick Gonzo. Still undoubtedly humorous, but lacking the same punch (and “laugh out loud moment”) of the first two, this story once again contrasts the everyday with the bizarre and sends the message that any job, regardless of how exciting it may sound on paper, can still be a mundane, soul-crushing experience. Gonzo’s artwork is solid enough, but it feels as though he’s trying to do a little too much with the space provided, resulting in some cramped, overcrowded and chaotic panels. Not terrible, but definitely a step down after the first two stories.
Overall though, there’s a definitely lesson to be learned here, folks – don’t judge a book by its cover. Although in this case, the impressive cover provided by Dan Butcher is actually a pretty fair indication of the quality of work to be found inside. A horror anthology with a uniquely humorous slant, featuring everyday British sensibilities contrasted with familiar horror tropes, Papercuts and Inkstains serves as an eye-opening debut from the folks at Madius Comics, and comes highly recommended to those of you who find the idea of druids trying to buy components for their satanic rituals from from Holland and Barrett in any way funny.
Papercuts and Inkstains #1 will be available soon from the Madius Comics online store. You should also make sure to follow the guys on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter for the latest updates on all their upcoming releases.