Press & Reviews
by Bryant Dillon
The Woodland Welfare Manifesto
There are certain individuals who get a sick thrill out of hiding a sardonic and hilarious tale for adults in the trappings of a bright and friendly kids comic. Certain individuals, such as writer Justin Sane and artist John Hageman Jr., for example. And, if you’re a fan of the sardonic and sick thrills (such as I am), then you will want to check out Sane and Hageman Jr.’s latest, twisted comic creation, The Woodland Welfare Manifesto, recently released by SLG Publishing.
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
The Woodland Welfare Manifesto is a bright, eye-catching, and very off-kilter tale that is described by the author as “ . . . the hilarious story of Burnt Bear, Crazy Rabbit, and Pervert Monkey – three Proletarian animals struggling against the heartless capitalist system that rules their forest with an iron fist!” Under the guidance of the joyful, yet disturbing, Uncle Stas, we learn of the trials of Burnt Bear and how the oppression of the “corrupt capitalist system” (and a horrific cupcake baking incident) leads to our partially fuzzy main character urinating on a government document. Desperate to replace the marmalade money he lost when the government reduced his disability payment, Burnt Bear teams up with his pals, Crazy Rabbit (anarchist by nature) and Pervert Monkey (just as nasty and funny as he sounds), to form a band and rake in the rockstar dough and sweet, sweet booty. They just need to buy back their instruments first . . .
Sane writes his script with a devil-may-care glee, and while there may be satirical elements present inThe Woodland Welfare Manifesto, the comic book is so infectiously funny and bizarre that any reader (in the appropriate age range) could easily go along for the ride. Hageman Jr.’s artwork features vivid colors and a style that matches Sane’s“off-the-wall” enthusiasm. Together, they’ve created a rollicking and subversive comic book that can NEVER be unread (*dramatic music*) and is totally worth exposing yourself to.
FINAL VERDICT: If you’re a fan of wacky and chuckle-inducing properties like Ren & Stimpy, Regular Show, or even classic underground comics like the work of R. Crumb, then The Woodland Welfare Manifesto is going to be right up your alley, comrade! Sane and Hageman Jr. are an excellent creative pair, and it shows clearly in this hysterical and zany comic book.
That’s all for now, comic book sniffers! Stay strong, comrades!
by Jonathan Pilley
The Woodland Welfare Manifesto
“Remember, my friends – do not wake bear, for they are very grumpy in the morning!”
Manifestos sound a lot more cogent than they actually usually are. The word itself seems rational and intelligent. The thing is, some manifestos make sense only to the writer and a select few of said writer’s followers. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for them; it’s just that successfully delivering the message often requires some convincing on the part of the writer. Animals may be a great way to sell a manifesto though, like in The Woodland Welfare Manifesto from Slave Labor Graphics, written by Justin Sane and illustrated by John Hageman, Jr.
What do a burned bear, singed rabbit and perverted monkey have in common? A need for money, that’s what. Burnt Beat, Crazy Rabbit and Pervert Monkey are three proletarian animals raging against the capitalist machine. Turns out that even if you’re an anarchist rabbit, you’ve still got to pay the bills; even if that means going on quite an adventurous journey throughout a heavily populated forest. And it all starts with Burnt Bear being cut off from the disability checks he was making his way in life on.
From the beginning, The Woodland Welfare Manifesto holds nothing back. There’s a very clear assault on the current state of things, with the concepts of capitalism ruining lives and anarchy being the path to freedom. Sane presents those tenets through anthropomorphizing the animals and having them act as the conduits for social commentary. It works pretty well, ensuring that the book isn’t taken too seriously. The thing is, there is a very real satire within the pages that manages to seep through every now and then (at some points it clubs you over the head). It’s a good mix between humor and soapbox ranting and the characters remain true to their positions in the entire production. The dialogue is told in a broken Russian accent which keeps the book feel fresh and moving along at a nice pace.
Artistically, the book looks as crazy as some of the characters. Hageman, Jr., has given forest creatures all manner of ailments and depravity, promising to make those characters memorable to the reader. There’s a Ren and Stimpy feel in some of the action as well; while things don’t get quite as disgusting as that show did, the reader does follow a half-burnt bear for the duration of the book. The colors and outlines are bold and pop off the page. And each character’s facial expressions appropriately showcase their emotion (and general sentiment) throughout the book. It’s a testament to Hageman, Jr., to present creatures who are convincingly human in some ways.
The Woodland Welfare Manifesto is an interesting book that doesn’t really apologize for what it is. There are some rather scathing observations made about the culture we live in today and hiding those behind furry forest animals doesn’t diminish them at all. In fact, the appearance of the characters emboldens those positions. Sane’s story is very much relevant even if it’s extremely opinionated and the characters make for great vehicles for that opinion. The look of the book feels childish at times, but Hageman, Jr., uses that style to subtly insert his own perverse takes on what an anarchist rabbit, perverted money and burnt bear would really look like. The Woodland Welfare Manifesto is a book that’s definitely full of emotion on the part of the creative team and is interesting if you’re missing crass forest animals rising up against the system.
THE NERD MACHINE
by Jonathan Pilley
Bloody Dreadful #1-2
“All right then – who’s next?”
Typically, those words are uttered by a person on a rampage, looking to take on all comers. Sometimes though, it works perfectly well when working through a series of something. Like robbing graves in Bloody Dreadful #1-2 from Slave Labor Graphics Publishing. The issues are written and illustrated by Justin Sane.
Harland and Beatrice Gifford are a couple of privilege. They live a charming life, taking in the local sights such as a carnival. It’s at the carnival where Beatrice pays a visit to a fortuneteller, who just so happens to give her a glimpse into her future. One house fire and an insane asylum later, things get a lot fuzzier for the strength of their relationship. Throw in a gravedigger and you’ve got what amounts to good clean fun.
Sane’s story is one of love and revenge, but he spins it with a fate twist. Yes, there are things we can’t control about our fates and sometimes our fates have us doing things that we assume is based on choice. That’s what really works about Bloody Dreadful. The Giffords are well-to-do and used to the finer things in life and watching what fate has in stores for them makes for a great read. It doesn’t matter who you are; in the end, fate will find you. The air of superiority exhibited by the characters in the dialogue really hammers home the point that these are two wealthy people with wealthy problems.
Art duties are also handled by Sane and the black silhouettes are actually appropriate and quite powerful for the work. He let’s the art carry the suspense of the story. There are some facets of it where appearance matters and because the reader only sees silhouettes, it’s up to their imagination to project onto the illustrations what they’re seeing. It’s a wildly effective means of illustrating the tale and really makes it stand out just a bit more. Had Sane gone with either black and white or color illustrations, the story might not have worked so well.
Bloody Dreadful pokes fun at the “first-world” problems that the wealthy tend to have, but it does so in a way that is applicable to everyone. In a sense, we’re all fated for something (if you believe that sort of thing) and the Giffords are no different, wealth or not. Sane marries shadows of a possible future with the reality of what will come and presents a union that’s quite a joy to read. The work is definitely something a little less ordinary and evokes Edgar Allen Poe and Edward Gorey, paying reverence to both and doing a great job in the process.
Currently Bloody Dreadful is available as a digital comic book series at Comixology as well as directly from the SLG Publishing website. The first issue is free at both sites, subsequent issues are 99¢. A print version is also available from the SLG website and at Amazon.com and a softcover collection of the entire series is planned for next year.
‘I Suck at This’ reviews by J
Posted on July 1, 2013 by Big Comic Page
Hello and welcome to the first of my new series of reviews for Bigcomicpage.com.
I was going to title this “Good reviews done bad” but feared it may cause confusion among our readers. I feel it’s important to point out before I get stuck in here that I am not a professional writer and I usually struggle to give review about something in more words than “It’s awesome” or “it’s shite” so bear with me for these first few and please permit waffle on a little.
Now it’s time to get the ball rolling and get this show on the road!
Recently I was put in touch with the awesome folk over at Slave Labour Graphics who were kind enough to send me over a new book for review called Bloody Dreadful by Justin Sane (awesome name by the way).
I was sent the first two issues (which completes a two part story) for review and was pleasantly surprised by how good the macabre little tale of love and betrayal set in Victorian era London was and reminded me of classic horror series like “Tales from the Crypt” as the story opens In a graveyard where we meet a grave robber and his dog who comes across a “fortune card” while digging through the remains of our first tales victim.
This leads us into our first tale of terror “What lies ahead” as we are introduced to a young married couple at a fairground where they encounter a mechanical fortune telling machine that predicts a ghastly fate for our couple.
The story unfolds over two issues as our couple face tragedy, betrayal and revenge with some nice little twists along the way, the visual presentation of the book is similar to an old shadow puppet theatre show which makes the story a little more eerie and leaves much to the imagination (which if yours is as vivid as mine, you’re in for some gruesome treats) which actually plays in the books favour and fits in with the Victorian setting.
Fans of SLG’s previous output (In the past I have mentioned Lenore by Roman Dirge) will find the storytelling style pleasantly familiar while newcomers will find an enjoyable little tale that challenges you to visualize much of the horrors for yourself.
Overall I’m looking forward to seeing what other morbid tales come from the very creative mind of Mr Justin Sane and recommend fans of the spooky and macabre check this comic out. 7.5/10
Heart of a Corpse
By davidbaker • Books • 14 Feb 2012
“Heart of a Corpse is the result of my being a bit obsessed with silent films – particularly horror and fantasy of the era.” Justin Sane
Now this is my kind of love story, one from beyond the grave. It is gorgeous. A mortician’s daughter mourns the death of her one true love who isn’t quite dead and leaves gifts for her every night. Told in the style of a silent movie it is a quick read with the images doing most of the talking.
“I reviewed the proposal for this book on the web and as I read it felt like the best place for this comic was in a digital space” said publisher Dan Vado “had we printed this it would have been in black and white and a lot of the beauty of the series would have been lost. The silent film style of the storytelling really lent itself to this being released digitally.”
It is not too late to salvage your Valentine’s Day, fire up your ebook reader and pick this two part series up, it will only set you back a buck for both books and you will love it.
Looking for something new, something wonderful in the sequential art format? Do you also desire creativity, an extended display of shapes and colors that tell the story more than words could? How about a romantic story with a spooktacular vibe? Then do check out Heart of a Corpse.
What is this wonder? Heart of a Corpse is a simple story in a Victorian style setting about a hearse driver named “The Gentleman,” and his courting of the mortician’s daughter, Annabel. This leading to a proposal in marriage. But trouble happens, as another man, “the Brute,” wants Annabel to himself, and proceeds in nefarious acts against our romantic protagonist. Supernatural and abstract elements develop, adding to the entertaining twists that guide us to a thoughtful, beautiful ending.
The execution of the story is beautiful, classic. Like a silent movie, we as readers must rely on basic visuals, with a few necessary placards for the entire story. The characters, props, and necessary elements to the setting are mostly in shadow, with vibrant, colorful light expressing the time and mood in the background. As a result, we have actions expressed with a variety of emotions guiding the story; love, revenge, sadness, betrayal, madness.
Full of irony, tragedy, twists, and dashes of dark humor, a magnificent experience awaits those who love that perfect balance between art and story in the familiar sequential form. Best of all, the storyteller achieves that beautifully with few words and much creativity.
So that being said, pick up Heart of a Corpse. The story is divided into two issues: the entire first issue can be downloaded for free from Comixology, and the second is only 99 cents on multiple platforms (including Comixology).
– Orion Tippens, contributing writer and eclectic lover of visual-aided storytelling.