Folktales are important. They teach us about the many faces of good and evil. They teach us about ourselves and the foibles of humanity. They are cautionary. They pique the darkest recesses of our imagination to scare us into making wise decisions. Fanbase Press, with its #StoriesMatter initiative, is inviting yours truly and all of its staff to dig into why stories matter to us, and in broader strokes, what they mean to our culture, our history, or whatever the story inspires us to talk about. With Folklords, I can’t think of a better writer or a better story to begin delving into this goal.
I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about my favorite fictional universes - about what science fiction specifically means to me. It might be because the Skywalker saga came to an end, and that was one of the big stories that first captured my imagination when I was no older then 6. There’s Ray Bradbury, the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Korra, Alejandro Jodorowsky, to name a few. Amidst those few and far between, one name from recent years continues to find space in my mind, and that is the words and worlds of Matt Kindt.
Oof, wow. Issue 9 of Grek Pak and Giannis Milonogiannis’ Ronin Island is particularly heartbreaking. They begin the issue with a flashback, reminding us of Hana’s background. She’s the daughter of a poor Korean farmer living on a secluded island with a mixture of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean people and cultures. 20 years prior, the Great Wind swept across the land and killed almost everything in its path, except for the people on the island. As much as they are supposed to be a community, living and thriving together, racism and classism still exist. Hana takes the brunt of both, but she’s reminded by an elder that she has her place and will be the one to make it better.
The Winter Solstice has come and gone, but Hellboy and his friends are bringing their Winter Special to us in the New Year. I’ll take any new tidbits to the Hellboy mythology whenever I can get it.
Several years after Emmy left Harrow County, her dearest friend Bernice Anderson had been left as a protector, making sure that the local haints (weird creatures that haunt the local forest) are all in check and that the townsfolk are happy and healthy. After years of peace, however, a strange song is being sung at night, and the ghosts of the dead are returning and seem just as confused as the townsfolk. The song is also bringing back some pretty monstrous creations.
For Jeff Lemire, the world of Black Hammer is an open canvas. He wants to write a Punisher comic but doesn’t want to work for Marvel? So, he writes Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy. With his spin-off series, Lemire has explored everything from the Golden Age of superheroes in Spiral City to future sci-fi worlds, the multi-verse, the WWII era, to the present day. Skulldigger is about as close to present day as we can get.
To try and describe all of the intricacies, twists, and turns of one of the best comic book series currently running would be to destroy the experience of living with it as I have. Gideon Falls is about an ancient, evil entity that has breached our world (from where I will not say, and the four characters that have gotten sucked up into the fight against it. That’s the most straight forward way to put it, but it hardly does justice to the deep-seated lore at the center of this psychological horror story, and the discoveries the reader makes on both a world-building and emotional level along with these characters.
“They took everything.” A statement uttered by a character in the town of Holland, Michigan, your average, middle-American town where a newly opened store called Everything is taking its toll on everyone… by giving everyone exactly what they think that want. Consumerism and, as an extension, unfettered capitalism are the villains in this new, genre-bending sci-fi comic book series by Christopher Cantwell and I.N.J. Culbard.
Harrow County was one of the first regular series I followed as a reviewer for Fanbase Press. It was wonderful - a dark, mysterious, character-driven Southern Gothic story. Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook created not just a world for their characters to inhabit, but a mythology that stood up next to the likes of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy or Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. It was rich, full of dramatic textures and haunting storylines.
In the world of Black Hammer, Jeff Lemire shows us what a vigilante would look like in the form of Skulldigger.