The talented MariNaomi kisses and tells (and does a lot more) in the sixth issue of her self-published ESTRUS COMICS. Don’t be put off by its hand-stamped, do-it-yourself cover, because this San Francisco artist’s stories justify the $5 price. These confessional comics document her flirtations and copulations from boyfriends and assorted flings past, including the car-radio thief who immersed himself in role-playing games (“… and the other day when we were making love, I was imagining we were in one of my maps and you were an elfin princess”). Her cartooning style is deceptively simple — its clean lines and ink-black backgrounds really allow you to focus on the characters’ emotions, which are real and raw. That makes MariNaomi’s work honest, brave and sometimes awfully funny.
In the “visual novel” MR. FOOSTER TRAVELING ON A WHIM, the key word is “whim,” as in “whimsy.” Tom Corwin’s loosey-goosey story follows the fair Mr. Fooster as he walks with no intended direction, thinking about arcane mysteries of the universe (like why no word rhymes with “orange”), encountering various insects and reptiles, and blowing soap bubbles that turn into objects like cars. There’s a point, eventually, to its 100 pages, which enchants, but one can’t help but think Corwin — like Fooster — took a longer route than need be. Craig Frazier provides detailed illustrations on every spread. It’ll take you all of 10 minutes to read, but its message sticks with you a little longer. And if it doesn’t, you need to read it again.
PARACINEMA may look and sound like a zine, but its writing and presentation places it much higher than your average publication devoted to B-movies and cult classics. Despite an unwieldy subtitle I’m not retyping, it’s also shorn of the usual fanboy panting, instead taking a more essay-driven route. Less-than-serious movies, after all, do deserve serious discussion. Issue #3 contains a piece of understanding the “Droogs” language in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, complete with a glossary; an appreciation of director Jim Wynorski; interviews with CREATURE OF THE BLACK LAGOON‘s Ricou Browning and splatter pioneer Herschell Gordon Lewis; and much more. It’s all in full color, on slick paper and — avoiding the death knell of most indie movie mags — nicely designed.
Included as a freebie with select unrated DVDs of ALIENS VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM is Dark Horse Comics’ one-shot ALIENS VS. PREDATOR: DEADSPACE. It’s a short and simple little tale of two astronauts floating through space who come across some acid-spewing queen Aliens, who then are hunted down by some laser-shooting Predators. The end. It would be neat as part of an overall anthology of several stories set in this franchise-meshed world, but on its own, what’s the point? There’s not much to Mike Kennedy’s script, but Francisco Ruiz Velasco’s art is nice to look at. Random pinup pages pad the page count. Glad it was free (too bad the rotten movie wasn’t). —Rod Lott
Buy it at Amazon.