Monday, November 28, 2011

Disposable Razors: A New Comic Review

Through the act of being interviewed for, I’ve recently gotten to know a young (at least relative to me), talented writer, creator and publisher of comics named Marc Alan Fishman, who represents one third of the Unshaven Comics team. The other two thirds of the group are Matt Wright and Kyle Gnepper, and the three of them are lifelong friends engaged in fulfilling their dream of making comics together.

Marc was kind enough to share the first three issues of their Disposable Razors title with me, and despite an increasingly hectic schedule over the last couple of weeks, I’ve enjoyed stealing a stray moment now and then to digitally flip through the books. As many of you who are trying to break into comics realize, it is a hard field to enter without experience. However, current technology grants you the chance to make your own books, print them on demand, or distribute them digitally, thereby controlling costs while you build your chops.

And that is exactly what the Unshaven crew are doing with Disposable Razors. They are building their own future via practicing their craft with interesting results. The art and writing steadily improve with every issue. All three books have stand alone, feature length stories, which share the framing device of an overarching story, The White, which begins and ends each issue.
The White

The White’s nominal hero, named Protagonist, is lost from our world, and roaming a dimension of infinite possibilities, named The White. He is accompanied by a sarcastic, shape-shifting native, Zordon, and their interaction as they discuss human nature provides the set up for the featured stories. It’s a difficult premise, and to be honest, one which I find less engaging than the actual plot-driven stories. That said, by the third and seemingly final installment The White finds its feet and develops a stronger flow as the two constantly bickering characters get more fleshed out. As they become more real in their unreal environment, the conversation shifts to focus on their own issues rather than simply being referential to other works.
Chasing Daylight
In the first issue, the long story is a zombie fest, Chasing Daylight, which chronicles a road trip gone seriously awry. The plot is pretty standard zombie material, but the dialogue among the four friends stands out and is compelling, particularly as their peril deepens.

The second issue features my favorite bit of writing, a reflective pass at a superhero, titled Ironside, Living Will. This is one of the stronger takes I’ve read in what seems to have become its own sub-genre: What it means to be a superman trying to fit in with the larger world. The story has many nice turns of phrase and good insights.

The writing is generally stronger than the art in the featured stories in the first two issues, but in the third, we start seeing stronger drawing, layout and even coloring in the Power Rangers parody, Samurnauts. Matt Wright’s art is uneven, but his strength in drawing likenesses and emotion offsets the roughness of his action drawings. His ability to draw real looking people begs for the team to try something more real world, like an EC-style horror story, slice of life tale, or a crime drama to better showcase his skills.

So, we have a series by three new creators which is flawed -- as are most first works, but shows promise. It’s a long way from looking as slick as a book from the major publishers, but is also more packed with ideas than many recent books from the ‘house of ideas’. My overall take on the series is this: Worth reading both for its current entertainment value and to be able to say in the future, “I’ve been following these guys since they started out!”

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