"Yes. It is. You humans are not to be trusted." - S'kar Ph Tlek
After quite some delay, on both our part and Black House's publishing schedule, the very first issue of Terra Magazine has hit Aussie magazine racks and online stores. The brainchild of Jason Franks, the magazine contains some stand alone stories, a bunch of serial comics, and calls to duty some of the leading script writers and artists Australia has roaming the Countryside. While I would love to say we have another horror collection on our hands, the magazine does spend some time with other genres, notably Science Fiction, and that weird Japanese samurai genre that seems to peculate through Western comics from time to time. Set your controls for the heart of the sun, and let's see what Jason Franks has delivered for our mutual benefit.
Guess the initial concern for Readers is the publication date, 2011, the fact it's meant to be a tri-annual release, and the lack of further Issues through 2012. I'm not privy to the publishing problems facing Black House or in fact their schedule, but head honcho Baden Kirgan did mention to me last year there had been some glitches in getting new releases out to the public. So I wouldn't hold off on a purchase, as they say, normal service will resume over at Black House shortly and we can all look forward to future issues of Terra magazine and the other titles the Publisher rocks out with. Actually there's been a whole stampede of them recently so happy days are here again Kids, time to get your read back on.
Jason Franks, curtsey of the editorial that kicks off this Issue, had apparently been kicking around the notion of a serialised Aussie comic release for quite some time, going so far as to talk the idea over with various luminaries of the Oz comic scene. Readers will of course be well aware of Franks' previous Kagemono series of anthologies, if not then you have some remedial reading to do yo! However it took Publisher Baden Kirgan's involvement to get things rocking and ensure Franks was fair dinkum about the venture. Kirgan took over the publishing headaches leaving Franks free to hit some scripting and the all importing editing duties. Actually as a match made in some lunatic asylum, Kirgan and Franks work well together, I'm waiting for the love child, though we already have Jason Paulos, hmmm. Okay having appeased our regular readers in South Australia and Tasmania let's move it along, nothing to see here citizen. What the match up does mean is we get a highly polished magazine as expected of Black House and some very solid content thanks to the now comic book veteran Franks. That's enough of the preamble, lets stomp on out with the good bits, the actual art and stories.
Right from the front cover you know that you are going to be in for a good time. Jason Paulos delivers a retro cover that brings to mind those 1950s/60s pulp fiction magazines. There's that whole Argos feeling to the art, and it comes as no surprise that Paulos has dedicated it to the great Frank Frazetta. Excellent reproduction by Black House that ensures the cover will stand out amongst the chaff at your magazine store.
The first story in the Issue is Gourmand Go Episode 1: Memorial Soup, script by Jason Franks artwork by Hazz Purnell. As an opening gambit the story rocks the house down in a sort of retro Sci-Fi meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre fashion. I was definitely approving the naive style artwork of the panels, and the deal was signed with the final few panels knocking a major through the posts. The story isn't taking itself seriously with the artwork capturing the tone exactly right. I'm looking forward to extended ship time with Gourmand Go in future Issues, beam me up Scotty.
Just when I was settling in for some retro goodness, Kensuke, (artwork Tom Bonin, script Jason Frank), went Feudal Japan with the beginnings of a story that sees a young Samurai impacting the fate of his Country by his actions. Okay so the story really wasn't down my alley, but I might get sold with further instalments, but for sure Bonin hit some highs on the pencil work. Some Readers will dig what's going down with this story and the good news is that the story is in serial form, so rock out there folks.
We finally get down to some good solid horror with the third story in the collection, The Catamorph - script by our old friend Christopher Sequiera and art by The Twilight Age's Jan Scherpenhuizen. The story kicks off like we are going to be hitting a hardboiled detective yarn, send in Mickey Spillane, but quickly evolves into a sort of Universal Monster mash with an all important mystery to be resolved by the two central characters. I'm really looking forward to future instalments of this one. Scherpenhuizen eyes up Paulos' retro feel, and raises the bar, this strip could have been pulled screaming out of one of those 1960s True Detective magazines.
Perhaps the weakest story in the first edition of Terra for mine was Shadowmancy Part 1: The Key in the Wall, where Jason Franks goes Harry Potter on us with Nicholas Hunter aiding and abetting with the artwork. I really didn't see this story as setting the scene for a serialised comic in its own right. There simply wasn't a catch here that would have made me rush to the magazine store to see if Issue 2 of Terra was available. Don't know, maybe Fantasy fans will really dig on this entry, and there's always the chance that things might improve as the story finds its feet.
Must admit I had a similar reaction to Gun Smoke Bud, that goes down town Tokyo to bring a different look at the crime story. Clearly author Jason Franks has some ideas of where this should go, and Yuriko Sekine has a distinctive art style, but the story had a seen it before got the Tee feel to it.
Got to say there's been slightly too much on the serial side of the coin in this Issue for my health and well being, if the magazine folds we're going to be left in the lurch with a lot of unresolved anxiety toward the stories we're enjoying thus far. Fingers cross circulation was strong, the magazine is certainly worth the investment.
Anyways the final strip in the Issue is Prototype, script and art by Michael Pyrne, a standalone story that delves into some gothic looking thick ink work. The story rocks along to the conclusion and should appease most Readers after something that actually is pretty self contained in Terra. I know a number of people are going to dig this one, with the exception of anyone working in the sciences.
For those hardy souls who have made it this far, Jason Fischer delivers a nice bonus, a prose piece about a society where warlike elephants have enslaved mankind. While the story certainly bares an uncomfortable similarity to the original Planet of the Apes movie, even down to feral humans invading farms to pillage food, Fischer has things moving in new directions pretty quickly. I really dug this story, am more than sweating on the next instalment, and was grooving to Rhys James' accompanying sketches. To be honest, Terra is worth laying down the hard earns for this serialised story alone.
Black House once again send our way a highly professional magazine, using good paper stock, and clear and concise printing. The magazine was well worth the wait, fingers crossed that the next issue isn't that far away. Full recommendation to comic aficionados reading, we're back in retro-ville and I'm loving every moment of it.
If after a copy of Terra Magazine Issue 1 then hit your local outlet post haste or cruise over to either Black Glass or Black Boox for an online purchase option. The magazine is as cheap as chips so worth the risk kids, knock yourself out there. Almost forgot to mention you get a 63 page black and white mag, with colour covers, printed in U.S standard size.