‘Grafix Chronicles #2:’ Comic Book Review

Comic book artist and letterer T. Warren Montgomery launched his own independent publishing company, Will Lill Comics, with a handful of other small press artists and writers, and this marks their second issue of Grafix Chronicles, a black-and-white ongoing anthology series.  Comprised of three individual stories, writers Mark F. Davis and Ron Fortier explore numerous genres from superheroes to horror to science fiction.  They have a solid grasp on storytelling and know how to manipulate the genre tropes to intrigue us and, at times, to subvert our expectations.  Assisting them are artists Ron Stewart, Armin Odzic, and Paul Moore, and each artist brings a different look and feel to their stories, two of which are to be continued in future issues.

The issue starts with Mark F. Davis’ "Skyscraper: Crisis," the first part of a superhero origin story that tackles the idea of personal revenge and the responsibility that comes with power.  The internal struggle that Chad Johnson and his alter ego Skyscraper deal with is relatable, even without being a superhero.  Skyscraper’s desire for closure through revenge is realistic, and the way it affects him and his interactions with those around him carries emotional weight.  The art by Ron Stewart is simple and lean, and Skyscraper’s armor exudes strength and resolve, which is the exact opposite of how the man wearing that armor feels.  Hopefully, in future installments, Davis and Stewart will put Skyscraper’s abilities on display more, intermingling the drama with higher doses of action.  In the second tale, "A Late Night Story," Ron Fortier mixes the very real dangers of urban life with an unexpected element of supernatural horror, proving there’s strangeness everywhere.  Evil may be lurking around the corner or down a dark alley or it may be right in front of you, just waiting to strike.  Montgomery provides the inks for this story, and along with Odzic’s pencils, there is a nice feeling of place, of a nearly vacant gas station and an empty city, where people make in-the-moment decisions and where anything is possible. 

With the third story, "CFAR (The Clinic for Alien Research): Another Day at the Office," artist Paul Moore evokes the pulpy style of the horror and science fiction comics of the thirties and forties, such as EC and Creepy Comics, with lurid, heavy blacks, detailed character designs, and bizarre, shocking, or grotesque imagery, all with an out-of-this-world sensibility.  For me, this was the most intriguing and enjoyable of the three tales, as it merged alien abduction with psychotherapy.  Davis just jumps in without really setting up the premise, which helped to grab and pull me into the story.  "CFAR" was also the most frenetic of the three, which I felt energized the art, while the narrative taps into our fear of the unknown and of the mind.  Davis also leaves us wanting more, and his ending reveal promises to give it to us, building out from his setup and raising the stakes immensely.

Montgomery does solid lettering on all three pieces, and there are variances in his style, so each story has a different feel to the lettering in accordance with its style and tone.  Will Lill Comics has a growing stable of titles, all available in print and digital at www.warrenmontgomery.com, and the number of issues for each series is growing, as well.  Grafix Chronicles could be longer, so the ‘To Be Continued . . . ’ stories do not feel quite as truncated, or maybe only contain two longer stories to help initially build a deeper connection to returning characters, but as long as Montgomery and the various writers and artists continue to explore unique ideas and push themselves, they will be creating an independent title worth checking out.

Go to top