Review: One Comic To Rule Them All

Originally posted on Irish Comic News (4/May/2018)

Organised, designed and edited by Jamie Me and Archie Dait.
Cover by Mharz.
Variant cover by Luke Summerscales.
Proofread by Sean Tonelli.

From the blurb on the Gumroad page:

ONE COMIC TO RULE THEM ALL is a digital comic anthology created by the ComicBookHour community.

Grab a 152 page digital PDF with 24 short stories by creators from all over the world based on a single word writing prompt. Fantasy.

Another Comic Book Hour anthology has been released into the wild. The anthology features a strip by Paul Carroll ( who was good enough to drop me a review PDF of the anthology) and Gareth Luby.

The anthology comes in at about 150 pages of comics, so there’s plenty of comic to enjoy. So let’s get to it.

1. Sproot.

Pencils by Andrew Taylor. Inks by Gareth Hopkins. Colour art by Mary Anne Mackey. Letters by Liam Baldwin. Written by Shane Ventura.

Sproot the rooster is the watchful protector of a farm who is called to action one morning when Namwoc the Behomoths path of destruction makes its way to the farm. The strip is mainly the battle between Sproot and Namwoc. There’s some nice choices of camera angles for the fight sequences that gives energy to the panels. Colours are well chosen and avoid confusion in some of the busier panels. Characters and backgrounds are easy to distinguish. Lettering is easy to read and leads the reader through the panels nicely. Overall, a fun strip and good opener for the anthology.

2. The Warrior Queen

Written by Jenn Arledge. Illustrated by Dane Sterling. Letters by Eddy Hedington.

This strip was a bit of a gut punch due to how this fairy-tale plays out. The story builds up well to give the strip its emotional impact in the closing panels. I’m deliberately avoiding saying too much about the story as I don’t want to spoil the strip. The artwork plays well with the fairy-tale tone of the story particularly with the bright colours and sets. The lettering on the captions further emphasised the fairy-tale aspect in how they are presented. It’s a nice touch that works better than the standard caption design. A well executed strip that’s all about the ending.

3. The Dinner

Written by Saif A. Ahmed. Art by Mikael A. Letters by Bernado Brice.

‘The Dinner’ sees a vengeful father arrive at an inn where those he suspects of murdering his daughter have been tricked into meeting there. The events of the evening play out as the spirit of his daughter watches on. The art is impressive, both in terms of line and colour art. There’s a good variety of camera angles that avoid the scene becoming boring. Which would easily happen as the entire scene takes place around an inn table. Lettering gives the spirit of the daughter a distinct style for her dialogue so reader knows she is speaking even when ‘off-camera’. It’s a frustrating strip. That’s a compliment to the team rather than complaint. You’ve done well when the reader has a ‘shouting at the telly’ moment when reading a story.

4. The Ride

Written and lettered by Jeff Lawler. Art by Liz Kramer.

This strip makes use of fantasy as a means of just getting through the day. I would imagine there are many who have had a moment like the woman on her bicycle where fantasy helps to deal with a stressful situation. The art really gets across the cyclists annoyance and frustration towards the other road user. The art also draws the reader in so that they feel as if they are with the cyclist as she has her cathartic daydream. A great looking strip with a nice spin on the fantasy theme.

5. A Knight’s Tail

Art and colours by Gareth Luby. Written, lettered and coloured by Paul Carroll.

That’s right, we’ve arrived at the Irish comics contribution to the anthology. Some of you will no doubt recognise the hero of the strip, Frankie the cat. I’ve read a couple of one-pagers featuring Frankie and had enjoyed them so I was quite pleased to see him appear in the anthology. Frankie strips have been strong with the laughs and this strip continues that tradition. The kingdom of Parodica is living in fear of the Canine Shade. Frankie offers to take care of the Canine Shade for a price. Jokes are in good supply including some that break out of the strip itself.

The art lends itself well to the strip. Whether it’s the fight sequence or visual gags, the art handles it all. Luby and Carroll made a really fun strip for the anthology and hopefully it won’t be long before Frankies next adventure.

6. The Treasure

Written by David Fleming. Art by Daniel Finley.

This strip is set on a sky-pirate ship just after they have made their latest treasure haul. Some of the crew are already planning how to spend it, but they soon discover that some of the treasure is not what it seems. The art has some really nice touches to it. The pile of gold springs to mind. The colours really give a sense of lots of gold coins in the treasure. You almost think you could pick a coin out of the pile.

7. Ossuary Baptism

Written and drawn by Julian Staton. Edited by Envy.

Master Iovita and her student Kaia are attempting to summon help to clear some ruins of ghosts and the undead. I was impressed with the art for this strip. Characters, creatures and backgrounds are all well drawn. The sprinkling of comedy and the excitable nature of Kaia gave me something extra to enjoy in the strip. It’s an enjoyable strip that manages to come to an amusing conclusion in the few pages that were used.

8. Who Gets Cancelled?

Art by Kevin Pass. Written by Zack Rupp.

Quanto the Purveyor hosts ‘Who Gets Cancelled?’, a show which pits people from TV shows against each other in a death match in a bid to get their shows contract renewed. Both the writing and art was such that I could easily see this strip slotting into a comic like 2000AD. It has lots of strange looking creatures that are well drawn with some good comedy thrown in. It’s a funny strip that was on the right side of weird for me.

9. Knight: The Wandering Stars : ‘Whomever This Sword Touches’

Illustrated by Mhazz. Coloured by Liz Kramer. Lettered by Jenn Arledge. Written by The Starlight City Project.

A lone warrior travels through the forest with only her magical sword as protection. I did enjoy the magical power the sword has. It gave me a good laugh when it was revealed when she was attacked on her travels. The line and colour art looks really good. Bright cheerful colours with a good mix of angles throughout the strip. And the last page had me curious to know more about the world of the characters.

10. Beauty On The Train

Written by Evan Waterman. Art and lettering by Liam Baldwin.

A charming strip where a fantasy springs up when a woman notices another woman on her morning commute. The thing that really stood out for me in this strip was the page where we see the life imagined by  the woman as her fantasy. It’s told in a really creative page layout. It really gives a sense of how much of the imagined life arose in the womans daydream. It was also striking how much of the strip is wordless. It was something that helped it stand apart from the majority of strips in the anthology.

11. The Wolisk

Illustrated by Jhomar Soriano. Coloured by Ahmad Sufiaturrahman. Lettered by Cristian Docolomansky. Written by T.W Conklin.

This strip sees Hacathra of Scorchsummit track down the Wolisk to strike a deal to bring her dead daughter back to the land of the living. Hacathra should have exercised some caution on the deal as deals with demons are rarely what you think they are. The strip has good illustration and I liked the design of the Wolisk. The choice of using line art with only greys as the colour was a good one for a strip that plays out in a foggy countryside. Big fan of these types of stories and this was an enjoyable strip for me.

12. Down

Art by Javiera Argandona. Coloured by Daniel Romero Ulloa. Written and lettered by Mike Lynch.

In the aftermath of a bloody battle, Drighbeir faces a warrior from the victorious army in a pit fight. The art conveys the sense of a battle weary soldier driven on by pure will. Colours really helped avoid the battlefield panels from becoming hard to read.  A good strip that shows the battle isn’t over as long as one warrior is willing to stand and fight.

13. Elf and a half: Thief

This strip reads like it’s part of a larger story. By that I’m not sure the story works as a standalone strip but as part of a larger comic it would work better for me. The art has good line work with the colour art showing some good shadows and textures. I liked the art but as said, the story itself bugs me because it doesn’t really work by itself.

14. By The Campfire

Art by Alice Clarke. Written by Rob Zwetsloot.

Another strip that did something a little different from the rest. A couple have set up camp for the evening. After one of them is bandaged, a stew is prepared for supper. The art is black and white with good use of greys. On pages where the cooking is happening, panels sit above a page with illustrations of the ingredients. It’s a sweet little strip of two people sharing a campfire meal.

15. Dinoboy and Rex

Art by Lamont Hunt. Logo design by Travis Bentley. Written by Dylan Jacobson.

This is another silent strip, this time observing the mayhem as Dinoboy and Rex discover an abandoned farm. The strip suggests that the world has reverted to a prehistoric state. The existence of tractors and dinosaurs suggests as much. The art is bright and energetic. It has a Saturday morning cartoon feel to it. One can’t help but wonder what mischief Dinoboy and Rex will get up to next.

16. Weekend

Art by Lauren Matthews. Written by Dustin Luke Nelson.

Weekend is another strip that’s a bit heart-breaking. A guy arrives to what looks to be an AirBnB type weekend. The reader watches how he spends his weekend. Which is what gives the closing panel the heart-breaking moment when you realise what just happened. Art is black and white which is a good choice for the strip. Colours have the potential to steal some of the impact of the strip if not done right. A sad strip done well.

17. Fly

Art and lettering by Tyler Carpenter. Written by Todd Black.

This strip sees a young artist change his life through his drawings. The strip does all the storytelling through the artwork. There’s some great use of colours, particularly the panels where the life changing moment occurs. It’s a nice self-contained strip with a sprinkling of magic.

18. The Technician

Art by Armado C Rillo Sr. Coloured by Linda Scott Campbell. Lettered by Buddy Beaudoin. Written by Jarred A Lujan.

A strip set in a world where large numbers of the population are imprisoned and experimented on. It’s up to the strips narrator to take action to try and help them. The line and colour art are of a high standard. Some great choice of camera angles. The art tells a story in parallel to the narration. The colour palette is well chosen with most of the strip happening under a night sky or the dull lights inside the prison.

19. Recipe For Success

Art by Chris Miglorino. Written by JD Boucher.

Another food related strip, this time following the imaginings of a chef as he prepares the days meals. The fantasy sequence looks very much like comic art before it went digital, especially the colours. It’s a great visual to distinguish the imagined from reality in the strip.

20. The Shield Bearer

Lines and letters by Massimo Sabadin. Written and coloured by Erik Bitmanis.

A young warrior marches into his first battle. He quickly realises that the songs lie and that battle isn’t as glorious as he was led to believe. The line and colour art capture the grim carnage of the battlefield that the young warrior finds himself in the middle of. The strip shows that legends don’t always happen as the stories would have you believe.

21. Becoming Legends

Art by Jonathan Aleksey. Written by Nicholas Poonamallee.

A fun D’n’D type strip that sees a team tracking down goblins who have been stealing boots from nearby towns and villages. Dialogue has some silly jokes that would appeal to younger readers (and the young at heart). Art is black and white with greys used to give a bit of clarity to some of the busier panels. The fledgling team are somewhat impulsive but it’s hard not to like their spirit.

22. To Deny The Fay.

Art by Thodoris Laourdekis. Written and lettered by Eddy Hedington.

A young woman puts herself between the body of her recently deceased father and a creature that is an equivalent to the Grim Reaper. The artwork impressed me on this strip. The colours particularly were something I enjoyed scanning back over a couple of times. The colour palette and various textures had me wishing the strip was longer just to have more of the art to enjoy.

23. Hungry Thing

Art by Richard Rudge. Written by Kyle Lawrence.

A trio of space explorers arrive at a space station in response to a distress signal. I quite liked the trio and the writing gets the reader familiar with them pretty quickly in the strip. Art has some good lines with plenty of bright colours used. In one panel, you’d almost think you were drowning in a rainbow. A fun sci-fi short.

24. Heroes of the Forest.

Art by Nicolo Arcuti. Lettered by Jamie Me. Writting by Rob Wolingsky.

A team of loggers are setting up to get started on the next section of forest. Unknown to them, a figure is watching from the shadows. This figure reveals itself in the shape of a kung-fu trained rabbit. The strip is heavy on the action so artwork has plenty of angles and sequences to bring out as much energy as possible in each page. An enjoyable and fast moving action strip.

And there you have it. As you can see from the above, the anthology has a variety of takes on the theme ‘fantasy’. There’s also a variety of art styles that should cover most tastes in comic art. It’s a well produced anthology and it’s great to see Luby and Carroll in there holding their own amongst the other strips.

The anthology is available in digital format on Gumroad for €3.99 which is a steal when you consider it’s about 150 pages of comics. That’s plenty to read for your euros. So check it out and support indie comic creators at the same time.

One Comic To Rule Them All available via Gumroad.

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