Maybe it's European, but it's definitely cool
Freak City is another May comic done by Mackenzie Michael Schubert which got 5/5 stars and a fav from me. The art and story is very entertaining and it's a nice concept that fits well in the 8 screens. Here is the synopsis: The traveling carnival freak shows seen in and out of our small country towns hold a secret that shakes our nation's way of life. Those performers, to whom we so willing give a nickel, possess talents that are well beyond that of mere shock. A fat man with adjustable girth, a strongman whose forearms naturally produce steroids under stress, a miniature magician, and a bearded lady whose hair needs more than just conditioner to be tamed. Under the guise of national security the carnivals have been forced onto reservations. Their cartwheels replaced by cinder blocks. The government tightens restrictions on the so-called "Freak Cities" and they become prisons in all but name. In such a situation what is there to do but rebel? In the carnival freak's first major attempt to gain back their liberty it becomes frighteningly clear that the government is willing to take drastic measures to keep control of its new, powerful population.
Step right up and test your strength
The first thing you notice is Michael has a strong command over his art style, and hits all his marks for characterization in the 8 screens allowed. The next most impressive thing is the pace the reader gets a nice silent suspenseful build up with the airplane making it's approach. This all started on screen one, imagine that no (well almost no) wasted space in a Zuda submission. This is one of those comics that a reader is helped by reading the synopsis first. I could have done without the square speech balloons, but it ain't text boxes so I'll deal. Screen 2 is a silent action sequence worthy of Jim Steranko, with a Joe Kubert style insert panel to end the screen on. A artist/writer that has no problem letting the art do it's thing which works out well for this comic with a few exceptions. Panel 3 screen 3 we see a insert panel of the Fatman's face which just looks weird in a uncool way. It would have had more impact to just bring the Fatman closer to the reader in perspective and skip a gratuitous insert. Seeing the wind pull back the Fatman's face reminded me of the video of the old woman sky diving who lost her dentures. The Fatman's descent is a nice funny bit in this comic as well as a means to show action, characterization, and their 'super-powers'. Screen 4 with the Fatman 'hulking up' and losing his clothes to turn into silly puddy mixed with lard was a screen composition highlight. Panel 1 on screen 5 makes you wonder who those Stretch Armstrong hands belong to. Panel 2 was a amazingly well put together panel with the Fatman in the villains sights. The not so good thing about screen 5 Mackenzie draws clouds of dust and flames the same way. Compare the 'flames' to panel 4 and see past the crunch. Screen 7 has already been talked about on MPD57's blog, but I'll repeat.
The colors are muted, and the flames just don't look like flames. We also get a whole series of insert panels here. Props to the creator for trying something different, but it ended up being a wasted screen. If you have to turn on the stove, or start a fire to make flames not look like a cloud of orange/peach colored dust do it. Aside from the flames in the back ground screen 8 was a great cliff hanger to end on. Seeing the villain go all Mr. Fantastic on the freaks collective ass was some great character composition. Mike was right the Fatman's gut does look a lot like a ....
"Oh thit" it's a good read
I loved the dialogue between the strong man and I guess the bearded lady on screen 3. It was very well written banter between these characters that also provided story exposition. The reader finds out things we need to know without feeling like the creator is beating necessary plot points into our minds with a sledge. I loved the idea that the Fatman had to be specifically told not to blow anything up, and did it anyway. Having other characters talk about a character to provide insights is a old trick that still works well. Who hasn't been in a situation in real life were you told someone to go left, no your other left! It is my go to genre and the story did grab me because it hit so many points a like to see in comics. We also get jokes about the Fatman going pop, and said Fatman's messed up voice after the crash. Very well written, insightful, and funny (even though it didn't have to be), dialogue. Mackenzie melded his art and writing talents together to tell a amazing story.
One of us one of us
It doesn't look like Freak City is going to be making that comeback to join the winner's circle at Zuda. My own vote is elsewhere, but should Zuda do the invite thing again (and they should) Freak city is going on my list. I would also ask the creator to give some of the other comic companies a try for submission. It is a different style perhaps than many Zuda readers might be used to -but changing the tires if you can't reinvent the wheel is a step up above most of the rest. I saw a hell of a lot of promise in the 8 screens at Zuda, and can only imagine how much better this story could get. In any case I hope to see the creator in question back in Zuda again if not Freak City: the next 8 screens, then some other comic.