A review a day: <i>Tales From the Boneyard</i>

Today: Tiny press book? Check. Anthology? Check. Let's go!

PJ Perez, the brains behind Pop! Goes the Icon, sent me this comic recently, which was awfully nice of him.

He's making a big effort to get the word out about the comics talent in Las Vegas, and it's very cool to see how committed he is to promoting the scene in Sin City. This book features six stories, it's 44 pages long (well, it's a few pages longer than that, but the creative content is 44 pages), and it costs 5 dollars. You can check it out at their web site, where you can buy a hard copy or (I believe) read it on-line. Everyone loves reading things on-line!

Tales From the Boneyard is set in and around not only Las Vegas, but a very specific spot in the city - the junkyard where old casino props go to die (it actually exists, although I'm not sure if it's like the creators portray it). If you can't imagine it, perhaps you recall Neil Gaiman's story about the Riddler in that old Secret Origins issue (perhaps the greatest Riddler story ever) where he hangs out in the junkyard where old Gotham props are stored - this boneyard is similar. The stories vary in quality, of course, as well as tones and themes. The first story, "Mr. O'Lucky," by Barret Thomson, is about a homeless man who finds a homeless cat and thinks things are looking up. Yeah, that's not going to happen. Thomson has a very nice style, with rough and broad brushstrokes and an almost abstract view of the world. He makes good use of Zip-A-Tone, too, which is always good to see, especially in a black-and-white story.

Perez gives us the next story, "No Place Like Home ..." in which a girl finds herself in the boneyard where she meets an alien robot.

It's a charming story, and Perez is getting better on art - he's adding more tones and more depth to his characters, giving us more detail, and his figure work isn't quite as stiff as it's been. I haven't been keeping up with his other anthology series, Omega Comics Presents, but it's nice to see his work evolving.

Daryl Skelton's "This Boneyard ... This Battlefield!" is a goofy romp, featuring a Darkseid parody showing a Watcher parody the story of Baby Gorilla, a man who accidentally gains the strength and intelligence of, you guessed it, a baby gorilla, and goes on an inept crime spree, only to come across the Unamazin' Spidey-Guy, who tries to stop him. There's plenty of silliness in the story, but Skelton does a nice job with it, and his art is very Mad-magazine, which fits the subject material quite well.

"Repeat Business" by Warren Wucinich is the next story, and it's a nearly wordless tale of an alien who lands in the boneyard, gets an idea to create his own casino, and discovers that time is master of us all!!!! Wucinich has a heavy line and a fantastical, somewhat corny style, which gives his tale the right amount of flair and strange poignancy as the alien ages. It's an interesting mix.

F. Andrew Taylor creates a goofy zombie story, "Boneheads," in which a man and woman on a first date are chased into the boneyard by zombies, only to discover Chip Whistle, Zombie Hunter is waiting for them there.

Chip is himself a zombie, and as he says, "The irony isn't lost on me. I'm a zombie, not stupid." Of course, mayhem ensues, and Taylor ends the story on a really good gag. His art is somewhat blocky and cartoonish, and it's definitely the least refined in the book.

Finally, Jarret Keene and Victor Moya give us "Ramsay: The Post-Doomsday Showgirl." Now, ignoring the fact that there's a female named "Ramsay" in the story, this is an interesting little story about a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas and how people began fighting gladiator-style, to make some coin. Ramsay, who struts around in a gas mask so we never see her face, is the baddest gladiator of them all, and Keene makes her past as mysterious as possible while Moya has a lot of fun showing all the violence. It's not much of a story - it purports to be an excerpt from a book about the history of Las Vegas post-apocalyptic entertainment - but it's drawn well - if with plenty of gore - and is kind of fun.

It makes me feel like Keene and Moya are simply laying a groundwork for a longer story about Ramsay, though.

So those are the Tales From the Boneyard. There's not really a clunker in the bunch, which is surprising for an anthology, especially one with lesser-known talent. But no story is really brilliant either, although they all have their moments. The best I can say about this is that it's always cool to see people doing stuff they love, and that, according to Perez, all the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District to support funding for the Comic Book Festival, which the area hosts every year. It's for a good cause!

These may not be the greatest comics in the world, but they are good comics from people who do it because they love it, and that's never a bad thing.

Tomorrow: An odd horror comic? Why the heck not?

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