Publisher: Madius Comics
Writer(s): Rob Jones, Mike Sambrook
Artist(s): Rory Donald, Jim Lavery, Mike Smith
Release Date: July 15th, 2015
After a strong opening issue, the second instalment of Madius Comics’ anthology series has finally arrived, and continues to provide an impressively offbeat take on some familiar genres and tropes. The first issue poked fun at zombies, time travel and demon worship, and instantly grabbed my attention with its well-balanced humour and creative ideas.
The opening story here, Cast Adrift, introduces us to Cruz, an astronaut on a salvage mission to a distant colony who may or may not be a part of a larger conspiracy. Featuring some stark, heavily inked artwork courtesy of Rory Donald that makes great use of negative space, the story is in itself a fairly enjoyable slice of sci-fi, but doesn’t quite fit in with the tone previously established for the anthology in its first issue. Gone are the laughs and quirky humour that writer Jones displayed last time out – save for a brief moment of banter between Cruz and his computer – and while it’s still perfectly serviceable in its own right (minus the occasionally tough to follow panel courtesy of the aforementioned heavily-inked approach of Donald), it doesn’t quite have the same spark as the other stories in this issue… or in the anthology as a whole.
Thankfully, Together Forever, a werewolf-themed tale from writer Mike Sambrook, manages to capture the same oddball humour that made the first issue such a delight. On outward appearances, it could be viewed as a fairly straightforward lycan horror yarn, but it’s the slightly tongue-in-cheek delivery from Sambrook that really sells this one. The art is provided by Jim Lavery, who does an impressive job with his subtly cartoony style, keeping things relatively light-hearted throughout – even when the blood starts spraying. The final page contains the ‘punchline’, a brilliant twist on the genre that perfectly sums up the overall appeal of this anthology series, taking traditional ideas and tweaking them ever so slightly for comedic effect. Well played, sirs.
The final story in this issue sees the return of the Profits of Doom, the undeniable highlight of the first issue, as they find themselves dealing with the fallout from their (seemingly) unsuccessful attempt at performing a satanic ritual. Once again, this is head-and-shoulders above the other stories in the anthology, with Jones and Sambrook combining their writing talents for a hilarious, Python-esque look at a group of distinctly British “druids”. The humour finds the mark again and again as George’s wife Mary gets a little ‘demonic’, prompting the group to embark on a ridiculously elaborate plan to catch her – a plan which is utterly fantastic both in terms of its absurdity and utter lack of success. This instalment ends with a glorious payoff to the events of the previous issue, and sets things up for more hilarity and hijinks in issue three. Fantastic stuff from all involved, including the always impressive artwork of Mike Smith.
As with almost all anthologies, there’s a little fluctuation in terms of quality along the way, but when Papercuts and Inkstains is good, it’s bloody marvellous. Far too often, new creators have a tendency to take themselves a little too seriously, churning out dry, flat offerings in an attempt to become the next Morrison or Moore. Thankfully then, the Madius Comics crew have quickly accepted their niche, joyfully subverting existing tropes and clichés, and creating an entertaining, enjoyable and frequently hilarious title in the process.
Papercuts and Inkstains #2 is available 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.