Author JL DuRona’s love for mythical, macabre and peculiar does not disappoint in his fantastical tale entitled, “The Berge Sisters Tour The Neitherswarth.” He received his BA in Children’s Literature from Castleton University in 2007 and earned his MFA from the Center for Cartoon Studies in 2011.
If you are a fan of books like Goosebumps, by R.L.Stine and The Night Gardener, by Jonathan Auxier, then you are in for a wonderful journey into the wondrous world of the The Berge Sisters!
Stepsister’s Cal and Lacey have a tumultuous beginning but as they embark on a crazy journey into a world unknown located in the depths of her great uncle’s mysterious mansion their relationship grows into love and respect. Monster’s, spiritual forces and relatable themes are all found in this well-written, thoroughly engaging chapter book for the young adult population. Although, as an adult, I enjoyed the complexities of the characters and the interesting twists and turns that held my attention throughout.
JL DuRona birthed a wonderfully paced young adult story that will keep even adults turning the pages. His characters were well crafted, likable as well as relatable. The plot was suspenseful and engaging. He used contemporary themes such as step families, sibling rivalry and death of a parent and was able to write them in a way young adults can relate. His use of prose was brilliant! All in all, I give his first book five stars and I look forward to his next book!
In it’s second year, the Rail City Fan Fest did not disappoint. Held in the beautiful Saint Albans, Vermont on June 24-25, 2023, Luke Hungerford the owner and promoter of this new event did an amazing job welcoming the vendors and artist’s alike.
The Fan Fest was held at the Collins Perley Sports Center, Luke provided bottled water, donuts, coffee, finger sandwiches as welll as pizza for all of the vendors and artists. The two-day event featured a varity of pop-culture vendors, comic book creators and the typical comic con bling. There was a video game tournament, cosplay contest , trivia contest for both children and adults, as well as entertainment by NYE Mechworks Fighting robots.
Hero Shack’s personal highlight was the introduction T-Mach, the all in one creator and producer of the current Hero Shack collection of amazing comic books.
Overall, it was a well run and friendly event. One in which we plan to attend next year!
Hosted by the Athol Public Library and Hero Shack Press. The fall event was held on Saturday, October 1st at the Athol Town Hall. There was a steady flow of guests who came to see the many amazing independent creators as well as enjoy the kid friendly super hero themed activities.
Held from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, there was a creator panel and writer workshop in which you could interact with our guest artists. We also featured a hero training course, create your own hero gear, villian bowling and many more hands on activities for the young and old alike. Cosplayers and a cosplay parade were also featured along with a free raffle. Participants were given a raffle ticket upon entry to the comic book fest. Additional raffle tickets were awarded each time they visited a vendors booth. In turn, the guests were directed to put their raffle tickets into the selected can for amazing prizes.
Along with creator tables, super hero balloons and a photo booth were available to help everyone get in the comic con spirit! The Athol Library offered their used books sale located at the library. Our volunteers ranged from high schoolers to literacy volunteers from both Athol and Orange, Valuing our Children was there to help out as well.
It was a wonderful community event and with the terrific turn out we had, we hope to bring it back next year!
Saturday, June 4th arrived with the warm sun sitting against a baby blue sky, a slight breeze keeping the bugs at bay, it was a perfect day for an outdoor event. This was our first time particpating in this event and we were not sure what to expect. Our expectations were exceeded tenfold by the amazing people we met as well as the other independent comic book artists and creators who were there.
Offering a cosplay contest, games, special guests as well as hands on activities for young and old alike, Winchendon’s small town vibe turned out a big event! The family friendly environment and the fun loving attitude of all the volunteers made the day a worthwhile endeaver. All the money dontated is slated to the all new children’s room addition that is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2022.
Overall, Hero Shack Press was ecstatic to be a part of it and plan to participate the next time this event is offered.
One of my favorite past-times is to read independent books, either comics, novella’s or novels. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading a very cool novella by one of our frequent visitors to our weekly youtube stream. I did a short review of his work and wanted to share it with you. The book, entitled, “The Revenant and the Tomb”, by Herman P. Hunter can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
A Fantasy, Lord of the Ring Vibe!
Venture into the fantastical world in which magic, demons and a mysterious strange young man named Halsedric embark on an adventure led by a weathered old guide who just wants to get paid. The story begins in a squalid tavern as Halsedric convinces Drahm to take him to the Horn of Torgiv, a mystical mountain that Durham has led others before, only to find their demise. The old guide assumes that Halsedric is after the riches supposedly hidden in the depths of the cold, dark tomb. However, Halsedric is not who he seems to be and is after much more than prosperity. The agreement is made. The time is set. The journey begins. Other notable characters that join the two unlikely compadres is Tulvgir, a Wodeman whose muscular build and toughness makes him seemingly invincible. They are also joined by a young woman, Herodiani, an Elanni, she is an expert hunt and other mystical arts.. The four begin their expedition toward the dark and diabolical tomb.
The character interaction along with supernatural events kept my attention throughout this well written novella. Hunter uses a distinct eye dialect especially with Drahm and Tulvgir which helps to give the story a “Lord of the Rings”vibe. The story’s plot, pacing and overall tone demonstrates Hunter’s keen ability not only as a writer but a significant story teller. You will not be disappointed!
May, 2023 – Kids Con of NE, Concord, New Hampshire… what a show! I have to admit, I wasn’t necesarrily feeling ‘up” to a convention this weekend, but it was such a breath of fresh air I’m super happy we went! I didn’t realize just how much energy comes off the kids as they swarm a convention created specifically for them!
My favorite story of this convention was the young man who came up to our table and explained that he had a poster of the Great Cycilopian hanging on his wall and he was dying to get the boks. After they left the table, we thought back to how he must’ve gotten the poster?
It was our prize wheel! At previous shows we featured a prize wheel giving away everything from cards, to comics, to poster pronts. This young man had WON the poster, and he liked the Great Cyclopian so much, it became part of his everyday world!
This is where making comics is the most rewarding. We are so grateful for our younger readers! I can’t wait to see everyone at the next show!
Independent comic book creators continue to flood the comic book market. Which in my opinion is fantastic! Recently I picked up a book entitled, Melvin #1 created and written by Timothy Lee Olson. This is Tim’s first comic book and he put in a sincere effort in bringing his characters to the pages!
The story is told in linear narration, the basic plot structure of a good guy sent to rescue a girl, is a familiar one, however there are a few surprising twists and not all is what it seems.
The main character, Melvin, is a cool warrior archetype who is given a mission by his Master. The mission is to rescue Princess Alice, a rebel archetype who goes against her father the King by sneaking around and winds up in trouble. As the story unfolds we learn that Melvin has incredible strength and Alice’s beauty does more than turn a head.
The pacing of this 37 page story is good, the layout of panels, and coloring were all interesting.The protagonist Melvin battles many beasts and cultists from another world while trying to rescue Alice and return to their world. Alice surprises Melvin by fighting her way out of captivity and battles monsters and cultists in her escape. The two meet up and plan their return. The story itself is interesting and has some dynamic elements to keep the reader engaged.
Areas that need work:
The most prominent area that should be addressed is the dialogue and the amount of information given during the narration. In both instances, an editor would have been able to help shape these areas by decreasing unnecessary words to make the statements stronger.. For example, when Melvin is assessing the situation he says, “I feel I must hurry”, take the words “I feel” out and say “I must hurry.” The dialogue continues with this “…I don’t think she has a lot of time left to live.” Again, take out “I do not think” and just state “She has no time left to live.” As a reader, I want to be able to get to the point of what is happening. It is a common mistake that amatour author’s make but something that is easily rectified by using an editor.
The overall story arc was good, there was a conflict that was addressed and the best part for me was a cliffhanger at the end. I will now have to get Melvin #2 to see what happens. This is an action packed comic book with a 1980 flair!
Scott Harris-King is a comic book creator that brings us a hero from the Golden age of comics. Chuck Chandler, a hero initially introduced in the Boy Comic series, makes his return in this jammed pack comic book. Featuring Chuck Chandler and Scott’s original character,Trixie Trouble, the contentious duo take on crime like no other! The Crime Buster, Issue one picks up from when the Boy Comic series left off with issue #119.
One thing I really enjoyed while reading this comic book was the detail in which Scott offers not only for his character design, but the background information found at the end of the book. Scott put’s substantial effort in so that his readers can get to know the characters by offering a brief bio for each character. You have a good sense of whose, who, before you even delve into this fast, paced fun tale.
The art style is in the likes of the classic Archie and Scooby Doo comics. The black and white art fills each page with action. The caption boxes are placed well within each panel. Some of the page layouts were quite creative, they may not be to everyone’s liking but I enjoyed the freedom and diversity.
The Crimebuster comic offers the reader a walk down memory lane. The story is set in the 1950’s at a college called Curtiss Tech. Scott brings us an exciting story filled with mystery and adventure that provides the reader with more than a 20 minute read!
Check out Scott’s website and order a copy of The Crimbusters #1 for yourself. He also has a digital copy free!
By Pearcy Snyder
- CATEGORY – Amateur Comic Book
- Publisher: Superior Comics
- Writer: Peter Harte
- Artist: Muir
- Letterer: Paul; Carroll (?)
- Colorist: Grace K
- Editor: ?
- Page count: 19 story pages
One of the first books I received this year for review and it was 8 months late. While delays are always disappointing the real payoff is when you get a book worth waiting for. Was Balor worth the wait? Let’s discuss.
Story: The story centers around Sean James who’s brother was murdered. He has also found himself the recipient of super natural powers after visiting the shrine of Balor, according to the page one summary.
When the actual issue starts we witness a ‘Mythical’ named Lucia getting interrogated by two agents of SCMP. I assume shes an important character from issue one, but theres not enough exposition there to be certain.
Ultimately – the agents back off a little from Lucia so not to kill her during interrogation, and we learn that they are members of Alpha Team and they’ve been assigned ‘Balor Duty.’
We are then introduced to Sean, who is anxiously trying to learn more about SCMP. Though its not made clear in the issue, I assume SCMP has something to do with the murder of Sean’s brother. Sean has scoured the internet looking for information on SCMP but gets annoyed as the internet appears to believe he’s spouting a conspiracy theory. He also gets annoyed as ‘spam bots’ start posting to his threads.
Sean, using the powers he gained from the Balor Shrine, hits the streets looking for the ‘Don’. I assume he is connected to SCMP, though this not made clear and ends up in a battle with Alpha Team. Sean is more powerful than they can handle, they manage to surround him and insist on his surrender. In his efforts to escape, he falls, although its hard to tell exactly what happened by the artwork, and lands on a pillow he created by using his power in an alley way. His power appears to be similar to the Green Lantern’s powers, manifesting physical ‘power objects’.
From there we are introduced to others from ‘Mary’s’, a public business similar to a restaurant or bar, but again this unclear. Ultimately, they express an interest in training Sean to better use his powers and offer him a new outfit that looks fantastic and has enhancements to assist with Sean’s power.
As the book closes, we see someone, presumably someone from Mary’s, securing a trainer for Sean.
Ease of Reading:
It’s a little hard to come in on issue two without a good summary of issue one. Never the less, there’s plenty of meat on this bone. Harte is building a world and its interesting. The scripting felt a little too stiff at times but the plot comes across as needed. Unfortunately, the lettering makes it really hard to piece together and understand the story line.
Art – While there are several points in which the art shows flashes of brilliance, there was also a lot of art that just didn’t seem to match the story. It struggles to match the intensity of the action as well as the serenity of the quiet moments. While I see lots of potential, its one of the reasons we’ve listed this as a ACB. Although not considered a mainstream comic, its definitely worth checking out!
Lettering: I found the lettering to be a little tough to read. The sizing was inconsistent, balloons are often cramped and forced into the panels, and there are times where the letterer has opted to position balloons on angles. Overall, this was likely my least favorite part of this book.
Colors: The colors are the highlight of this package. Though they aren’t up to the mainstream standards, there’s a lot of great looking color here.
Production: There seems to be some issues with a white border line at the top of some pages.
The over all layout forced the comic to end on the inside back cover. This isn’t a deal breaker but it was unexpected and unusual.
The cover is repeated, albeit darkened, on the back. I would’ve liked to have seen almost anything else there for example, company logo, alternative art, story summary, hype paragraph.
I couldn’t actually find a credit section in the book. There is a reference to Harte, Muir, and Grace K on the cover but there’s no way to know who did what on that alone outside of presumptions. Going through the campaign page on Kickstarter I’ve tried my best to assign the proper credits (someone let me know if they know differently than what we’ve posted).
Final Conclusion: While theres a lot here to work with, I feel like the team has a way to go before they are ready for prime time, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. I feel like this is a project worth watching to see where it goes and how it improves over time. I don’t know if I will be buying issue 3, but I’lll certainly check it out when it launches. If there are improvements to the overall ‘book’ I’ll definitely check them out again.
Final Grade: C-