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‘The Formula:’ Comic Book Review (One Part R. Crumb, Two Parts Dr. Jekyll . . .)

While Marvel and DC (and publishers like Image, Dark Horse, etc.) have their appeal, as do the characters and properties they spin stories around on a monthly basis, Fanboy Comics will always hold a special place in its heart for the indiest of indie comics: the ashcan. A common, black-and-white, low-cost alternative comic book format that is quite popular in the underground comic scene, ashcans are the “punk rock” version of the comic book: edgy, always pushing the limit, and very often subversive. Recently, I had the opportunity to read the ashcan indie comic The Formula, which served as an brief, yet enjoyable, reminder of the disturbing, weird, and fun nature of the ashcan indie.


Written and illustrated by Aaron Paetz, The Formula is the story of brilliant inventor Dr. Z and his fall from grace after testing his “perfect” formula on himself in a moment of hubris. Despite the help of his erotically suggestive assistant, Dr. Z is transformed into a horrific beast and is forced on a quest to contact his colleague, Dr. X, and enlist his help in restoring Dr. Z to his former form.

Paetz’s art work is bold and quite striking, smacking of R. Crumb’s famous indie comic art work. Paetz delivers several phenomenal splash pages that may be simplistic in the content depicted, but excel in the black-and-white, pulpy style and large format of the book. While the story itself is pretty much paper thin, it’s less about what story is being told and more about how Paetz tells it. Both his story and his art have an intense, slightly insane sense of glee that is hard not to get caught up in, and The Formula serves as a well-crafted calling card for Paetz despite its short, somewhat predictable plot.

FINAL SCORE: 3.5 Deranged Transformations out of 5

That’s all for now, comic book sniffers! Don’t go taste testing any experimental formulas before the next time our paths cross.

‘Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer

Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President


Favorite Comic BookPreacher by Garth Ennis and Steve DillonFavorite TV ShowBuffy the Vampire Slayer Favorite BookThe Beach by Alex Garland


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