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Comic Pulp v.1

I’m usually wary when I review comics from what can arguably be called the comics small press. The reason is that I have no problem holding the small press to the same standard as I hold the larger publishing houses.

I do have to wonder if this is fair. The larger companies have the means to produce a superior product: better paper grades, inks, coloring. They have editors that go over the work of the lesser experienced artists, which I’m sure is both a blessing for those writers who need the help and a curse to those that see their creativity as being stifled by the editorial process. The truly small press publisher is more than likely a collection of artists who have banded together to get their own work published and out to the readership. Creatively, they have no one to hold them back, but practically, they have no support and no editorial direction.

So it comes down to Comic Pulp. And it doesn’t come down to a very good place.

Writer and artist Ted Seko seems to be reaching for some very large themes concerning the nature of man in his story about the very recently born Billy Cole, a baby that can fly, has super-strength, and is naked all the time. Billy is born and suddenly decides to fight Evil. Who Evil is and how to fight him is not known to Billy, so he enlists the help of a street bum, a wrestler, and some kid with a giant robot. With their help Billy manages to defeat Evil, and then goes fishing.

The above paragraph describes a setting and cast of characters that could easily be a hilarious collection of strangeness and parody that might have made this a good comic, but the truth is that the author plays almost all of this straight. It’s not meant to be funny, or wry, or sardonic and if it is, then the author has failed miserably at getting that across to the reader.

Instead the entirety of the “story” is Billy flying around an unnamed city, punching people he sees as evil. At various points, he will run into a nameless and almost physically indistinguishable person that will begin one of the many expositions of this book. These little monologues that appear so frequently are vastly annoying for two reasons, the first being that they are long, pointless, and have nothing to do with anything. They serve no direct purpose in the text and one has little to do with the other. There is no flow to the dialogue of this book, so the illusion of voice and character is immediately lost.

This leads to the second annoying habit of this collection; since there are no real characters here, the reader is made painfully aware that these monologues are just the work of the author. They end up being rants about various topics, ranging from how TV rots the mind to the author’s slight criticism of modern religion and science. They have nothing to do with the story (as if there was one), and even if they somehow flowed well, the things the author writes about are so clichéd that they are made boring and unreadable. It sounds at times as if the author is simply regurgitating bits and pieces from the monologues of other people, getting the gist of them but not making it readily understandable exactly what he is trying to accomplish.

The artwork is abysmal. Seko has no eye for anatomy, and every character, save for Billy Cole, is a black and white pile of square lumps of muscle that are indistinguishable from each other. This does not overly matter since the figures don’t say much after their individual rants, and just fade into the often only-black background. There are hardly any backgrounds to speak of, and Seko’s pacing is not consistent or helpful to the reader. Proportions and lighting change, all without warning and seemingly no cause.

That may be the major problem with the work. The author has no real direction to go in, no idea of what story he is trying to tell. Many of his rants lean toward self-discovery and not being reliant on the material world, but there’s no story to connect those themes. Seko obviously wants to do a story that concerns big issues about the human condition, but he doesn’t appear to have the ability to pull it off. This is a prime example of a small press comic whose author does not know the basic fundamentals of storytelling, which are the foundation that every good comic has to have, and tried to get around that fact by spewing rhetorical nonsense onto a comics page in lieu of actual story dynamics.

Seko could be a great writer and an artist, but we’ll never know if he can’t be bothered to learn the form of his chosen medium. Even at $6.95 from Picture Perfect Press, this isn’t worth buying.


Robert Sparling

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