Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review - The Adventures of Punk and Rock (Issue 1)

The Adventures of Punk and Rock, Issue # 1, is a comic book that was sent to me, that I might review it.

It hails from the hands of artist Scott Twells and letterer Dario Reyes, with the cover logos handled by Bob W. Pierre. The writer is Austin Hamblin. It is being published under the auspices of Hamblin Comics!

It is the tale of two characters named Punk and Little Rock. Little Rock is a character who reminds me of The Thing from Fantastic Four fame, as far as his looks go. And Punk? Well, he's a thug, of sorts, one with a rather lengthy rap sheet.

Artistically, Issue # 1 is an exercise in gray scale. The gray tones dominate the visuals, albeit in an inconsistent manner. But, I will freely confess that gray scale is not my personal preference, when it comes to comic books. For this comic, I think that the gray scale approach worked better, when the gray was in lighter tones, rather in the instances where it was applied in a heavier, darker manner.

This comic book adopts a light approach to its subject matter. It encompasses humor lined with sarcasm.

The story is also told with an active narrator - one who directly injects himself into, and participates in, the storyline. This part of the comic book is handled competently enough, and the story moves itself along, without this approach unduly weighing the story down.

As far as the story, itself, goes, there's not a lot of depth to it.

Rather, it's just a short tale about one episode in the lives of Punk and Little Rock.

They are hired by a lady to retrieve a cat from her ex-husband, and this quickly proves to be an invitation to complications in their lives. The cat, you see, is in the possession of her ex-husband, a fellow who, as it turns out, just so happens to be an interstellar crime lord.

Did I mention that the cat is located on a planet that is one big strip club?

Of course, the point of a review is typically not to divulge the entire story, nor to spoil the ending for other readers, so I am faced with the balancing act of telling you about something, without actually telling you too much.

The story proceeds at a fairly fast pace. These two guys, Little Rock and Punk, they clearly are experienced at getting themselves into trouble - which is to the reader's benefit, since it doesn't take long before things begin to get screwed up, and our "heroes" of this little tale find themselves in the trouble that they are all too familiar with.

Of the two of them, I think that punk is the more visually interesting of the two. When they were handing out looks, Little Rock apparently found himself near the end of the line.

The greatest strengths of this particular issue are its dialogue and storyline, which are the province of the writer. The lack of depth to the storyline was intentional, since this is merely one take out of many from the lives of these two second-rate hoodlums. Honestly, I don't even know what I should call them. Hoodlums strikes me as too generous a word for the likes of these two fellows. They are incompetents, lightly coated in likeability. But, that's the whole point, isn't it?

Perhaps misfits is the right word. Like those broken toys from that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer animation that I used to watch as a kid growing up, Punk and Little Rock are looking for a home, it seems.

I want to like them. I certainly don't hate them. But, do I love them enough to give them a home by actively seeking them out in future issues?

Honestly, the answer to that question is, "Probably not."

It may well be, though, that the beauty and depth of these two characters is something that can be brought front and center over the long haul. But, what is it, I ask myself, that I - the reader - am supposed to fall in love with about this comic book and this cast of characters?

The art in this book is sufficient to carry a comic. But, to make readers fall in love with this series, the artist really needs to step up his game. To borrow some phraseology from Issue # 1 of The Adventures of Punk and Rock, visually speaking, this issue is sorely lacking in what the narrator of the book would call bad assery.

But, whatever criticisms could be directed at the artist, the weakest point of Issue # 1 is the lettering. The dialogue balloons are passable, but the narrative boxes cry out for substantial improvement in the rendering of the lettering.

Additionally, though this issue contains a multi-page fight scene, this comic book made sparing use of special effects lettering - and where it did occur, it came across as unimaginative and lazily rendered. Apparently, the letterer even had to enroll the services of the narrator, to fill the gap in certain instances.

 This comic book has potential. But, having potential and effectively exploiting potential are two very distinct things.

It's far from being the worst thing on the market, and in fact, it's better than most of the stuff that I see churned out by independent comic book creators.

But, it's not my place to make excuses for the shortcomings of comic books. Rather, it is the job of those producing them to not just publish a product that people can read, but to publish a comic book that people gravitate to.

This particular comic book was Issue# 1 of what I suppose is going to be a series. It's not that things cannot be improved upon in the next issue. Rather, Issue # 1 should be a grand attempt to grab the reader's eye and to command their attention. Otherwise, you stand to lose momentum for your follow on issue.

The Adventures of Punk and Rock is not without merit. It was enjoyable, to a certain degree. Not all comic books are. But, I believe that there is substantial room for improvement.

This issue did feature a color cover. But, even that ended up equaling missed opportunity. The pose of the characters on the front cover is animated, which is a plus, but the coloring is second rate and accomplishes nothing of note. If this comic book were sitting on the shelf of a comic book store, that front cover would get deliberately passed over by potential buyers, I do believe.

The saving grace of the front cover is not the animated pose of the Punk and Little Rock. Rather, it is the artwork of the title lettering.

If you want to judge this comic book for yourself, you can pick up a copy at their online storefront.

The credits for Issue # 1 belong to Austin Hamblin, Scott Twells, Dario Reyes, and Bob W. Pierre

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