The Sixsmiths One Shot (2010)

Editor Jason Franks
Publisher SLG Publishing
Writers Jason Franks, J. Marc Schmidt, Jen Breach
Art and Colours Jason Franks, J. Marc Schmidt, Jen Breach
Cover Jason Franks, J. Marc Schmidt, Jen Breach
Genre Satire

Talk us through it

The Sixsmiths One Shot sort of operates as an early sampler for a forthcoming graphic novel that promises to blow us all away in 2011. We get 21 morality plays from a very different perspective that cover modern life and the pain of growing up and fitting in. No truly, that's what the book is about, Satanists having to cope with the pressures of modern life. Jason Franks is involved, you expected an easy option?

Okay so the stories are culled from the long running web series that you can get down and dirty with right about here. Each story has been dusted off and given a spring cleaning for the comic.

Ready to delve into Ramsey Street, if the street was on the hellmouth?


“The devil will take your soul, but TV will take your dignity as well.” - Annie Sixsmith

Having rocked on with a number of Jason Franks and J. Marc Schmidt collaborations I figure I have something of a handle on the Downunder comic book maverick pairing. No one does comics quite like Franks and Schmidt, for which we should be eternally grateful of course. I was aware of The Sixsmiths, but since it was an online comic series I had put it to the back burner apart from occasionally thinking we really should have a link here at Scaryminds. Now with a comic book based on the long running series upon us it's time to sink our teeth into something just a little bit different. I'm not entirely sure how to describe what's going down here, so bare with me and hopefully we can reach some sort of a description in a thousand or so words.

Guess since this is a sampler, sort of like a box of Whitman's chocolates with razor blades in the centres, we should introduce our demonic Brady bunch. Ralf Sixsmith is an unemployed fund manager who is finding the world isn't quite ready for the specific skills he can bring to the job, guess fire and brimstone are out as a corporate strategy. Ralf's better half Annie has had a pretty entertaining past but has given it away to be Ralf's Carol albeit it with satanic overtones. Daughter Lilith is a typical teen gal who can mix an interest in boys with incantations without missing a step. And finally son Cain, well I'll leave you to find out all about Cain who is slightly out of step with the whole demonic shuffle to be honest.

The Sixsmiths One Shot gives a pretty good overview of the style that the long running online comic has developed. Each story in the comic features one or more major characters faced with everyday dramas, the point of view being not quite the mundane yet holding a mirror to the mundane if that makes sense. There are a number of story arcs ranging across individual pieces, with Ralf's continued search for a new position being a particular personal favourite. Franks and Schmidt are more of your social commentary frame of mind with the Sixsmiths than providing comedy, though you will get a chuckle from time to time as one of the Sixsmith clan hit normality from a strange point of view. “Shaving her hair is a clear sign she sold her sold”, Lilith and friends discussing Britney Spears. Strangely both Lilith and Cain's friends are more apt to call for some sort of magical intervention than the Sixsmith kids are. Would that be something like having your Satanic goat and sacrificing it as well?

For those wanting a crash course in The Sixsmiths my suggestion would be to flick through to the story Going Solo. I didn't know it was possible to feel embarrassed for a cartoon character but there you go.

I guess in the wash up the stories will appeal to anyone who looks at modern society and wonders how exactly what goes down is allowed to happen considering the sheer inanity of it on most levels. Franks and Smith are operating in a time honoured genre, satire, hey so was Jonathan Swift amongst others. The dark genre at it's very best is deeply subversive, welcome to The Sixsmiths, not recommended reading for young Liberal types.

Think I've covered the prose, it's well written for those wondering about darkening their doorstep with the dreaded comic thing, you get full story value from each piece with about zero in the way of fluff, so moving on to the artwork. Blackglass Press have built a reputation based on simple art that doesn't distract from the story, The Sixsmiths continues this tradition. We're talking black and white illustrations with some grey hues for contrast, it's a classic comic book style with everything clear and easy to follow.

While pretty much the stories are in the foreground with dialogue driving the plot it's worth while keeping an eye on the background for the odd pun or sly wink at the reader. It's not happening on every page, or indeed in every story, but there are instances where I was giggling like a school girl scoring premier Twilight tickets. Okay maybe a bit too much detail there, just remember to check out the backgrounds to get full value for money rather than rushing through each story.

The artwork rocks along and backs the prose to give you a decent tour through the lives of people who have a completely different outlooks on the suburban experience. It all hangs together like a well thought out night at the football and if you were to be honest with yourself that's about what you are after in a graphic story.

A couple of North American readers have asked me if I could compare the comics we cover with works they might be more aware of. Sorry I don't read Marvel comics, so we could be in trouble here but I'll give it a whirl as Split Enz are apt to put it. The Sixsmiths One Shot is sort of like a cross between Cathy and Marmaduke, assuming for the moment that Cathy was offering the big dog as a blood sacrifice to Satan. Probably a better comparison is to Get Fuzzy, at least when Darby Conley hits his sartorial stride rather than just being plan out weird. Sorry if you need more then ask someone else, I'm out.

Summary Execution ...

I was surprised to find this one turning up on my desktop, just goes to show I really have my nose to the ground, but it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. You just have to love things that are off kilter and that make you think after digesting. I had a lot of fun and read the comic two or three times to ensure I was getting full value from it. Not one to skim read, and yes it pays you back for time invested. I'm finding The Sixsmiths quite addictive to be honest.

Right a few web addies to touch bases with. The Sixsmiths One Shot can be purchased for the shockingly low price of $1 USD right here or you could wander into your local comic store and demand a copy. The Sixsmiths have their very own web address, click through.

ScaryMinds Rates this read as ...

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