Optik Noize #4
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a comic with no clue as to who produced it or how to get in touch with them, but Matthew managed. That’s right, I already know who he is, but that’s only because I’ve been reading his comics for years. His website also appears to be down, so I’m not entirely sure how you’d get a copy of this if you’re interested, but I’ll do a review of it anyway because maybe you’ve also been reading his comics for years and have a good way to get ahold of him. I missed the third issue of this series, but he seems to be telling a continuing story, as the intelligent dog from the second issue is still around. Anyway, this time around Mark has decided to make a few clones of himself to help with an equation that’s been troubling him. No big deal, it just has the potential to solve basically every problem. That sounds a little too all-encompassing to me, not to mention vague, but I’ll let it slide. Mark decides to go to see a movie with Julie and to leave his clones to do the work, the clones run into some troubles and decide that they need another pair of hands, and they find out the hard way that it’s not a good idea to clone a clone. Some tricky moral questions get asked and dropped and a nemesis is still teased at the end of the book. Matthew has done a great job of keeping this a fun series over the years, although I could do with a bit more character development at this point. Still, it might be heading in that direction after the events of this issue, or it might already be there but I don’t know about because I’ve missed a couple of issues. Either way it’s still worth checking out. Provided that you can find a copy, that is, and I’ll update this with new contact information if I find anything out. That includes the price, obviously, so I’ll guess… $4!
Optik Noize #2
Ah, one of the genuine perks of this website: I get to see talented comic folks mature throughout the years. Well, that wasn’t the plan originally, but as I’m still doing this 10+ years after I started it is now one of the perks. Matthew did a series of minis a few years back that were mostly fun, all-ages science stuff. The cover has improved and the art is noticeably better and in full color, but it remains full of fun, all-ages science stuff. This time around our hero has developed a mind enhancement machine and has used it on his dog and a rat to prove that it worked. It’s still too untested to use on a human, so naturally his nemesis overhears it (with a complicated spy device, it’s not like his nemesis was in the room with him or anything) and schemes to use it on himself. Shenanigans occur, hostages are taken and an over-sized brain gets thrown into the mix. Matthew has also been much more creative with his panel layouts this time around, as I remember them being pretty standard for most of his minis and they’re all over the place (in a good way) for this one. His stuff wasn’t bad to begin with, but he’s made a leap forward with this one. If you’re a fan of grim and gritty realism then you should probably pass, but this is perfect for the kids or people who like a little scientific mayhem in their comics. $3.50 and that website is still pretty bare, but I’m sure that he’ll get it updated in no time. Right?
Strange Science Fiction #7
Clones! Had to get there sooner or later. It looks like this is the second to last issue of this series, which is a shame because it’s been a blast, but really, Matthew has probably taken it about as far as he can and he has a new series to work on. Still, he’s not done yet. In this issue Mark decides to make 4 clones to do various chores while he goes out to the movies with Julia. Just friends, of course, as Mark has his head firmly wedged up a nether region in that regard. The clones decide that they need more help, make another clone of their own, and things go downhill from there. For the characters, that is. The comic was a lot of fun. Well worth a look, especially considering that I believe these are all still only $.50 each, and how else are you going to understand the dramatic conclusion unless you read the early issues?
Strange Science Fiction #5
Here’s a tip to anybody who is making a comic and trying, in whatever fashion, to get it noticed: keep making them on a regular basis and keep sending them to people like me who are willing to yammer on about them. I suppose that’s two tips, but you get the idea. Matthew has been cranking these minis out consistently (about one a month, maybe even a little more than that) and has been sending them to me just as often. Not that this little site is going to make or break anybody, but it doesn’t hurt a thing to have your book talked about on a regular basis. So how about this particular issueï¿½ Well, as you can see from the cover, it’s about time travel, a rich subject that could go on for issues and issues if he wanted. In this one Julie falls out along the way, and Mark has no idea where or when she might have landed. She ends up meeting a real man in prehistoric times, and most of the issue is spent with her adjusting to life in a new environment. These are never anything less than an interesting read and this one is no exception, and as always more than worth a look for that measly $.50 price tag…
Strange Science Fiction #4
Here’s another solid issue by Matthew, as Mark discovers a new dimension. Naturally, this means that he has to explore it, and something like that is never going to go off without a hitch. Matthew also looks like he’s putting more work into his backgrounds, something that never fails to improve the overall look of a book. Well, I suppose it could fail if the artist had no skill whatsoever, but that isn’t an issue here. Also, without going into spoiler territory, we get the best punchline of the series. That sexual tension between these two isn’t going anywhere for the time being, even if I do occasionally get the impression that they have roughly the same anatomy as Barbie and Ken… $.50
Strange Science Fiction #3
Finally, some giant fighting robots. I was wondering how long it would take Matthew to get to them. This comic is the best of the bunch, and not just because of the robots. The bland main characters finally take some baby steps towards personalities, and we get to see a rival, a young man who perpetually finishes second to Mark in all things related to science. In this issue the rival (Zedediah) sees that Mark has completed his giant robot, which naturally leads him to unleash his giant robot so the world can see which one is better. Mark also cluelessly misses his friend Julie hitting on him, which sets up hilarity for future issues. Good stuff this time around, even the art looked a little crisper. $.50
Strange Science Fiction #2
Note to anybody who sends me stuff, or really to anybody who puts out comics: please take a minute to read your comic after it’s produced so you can make sure that the pages are in the correct order. I was rolling along, reading a perfectly enjoyable tale about an extraterrestial blob that fell from the sky and seemed to want to kill a lot of people, when suddenly the main characters went from being trapped on a school staircase to falling off of a cliff. Oops! If you don’t mind that sort of thing this is still a fun book, and it’s still only a measly $.50, but as far as mistakes go that’s a pretty big one, and something that’s easy to fix if you’re careful while copying pages. Not that he’s the only artist ever to screw up like that, but it’sï¿½a good chance to remind all you youngsters out there, assuming any youngsters read this, and assuming that any youngsters are still making comics by hand and not just on their computers. You damned kids, get off my lawn! $.50
Strange Science Fiction #1
Who doesn’t love a good story about a shrinking man? If that’s you, um, please move along, as you should be able to tell by that cover that you’ll hate this one. As for the rest of us, it’s mostly a blast. A young girl named Julie (I’m guessing they’re both in high school) stops by to pick up her friend Mark for school. Mark is experimenting on a shrink ray, and of course he manages to accidentally shrink himself. In the confusion Julie turns herself into a giant, and hijinx ensue. My only problem here is that the perspective shifts were sometimes awkward, as Mark was hidden from the world while in the palm of Julie’s hand… yet he was about halfway up to her knee when she set him down. Still, it’s a tricky thing to keep completely consistent, and it can be overlooked for a good old fashioned fun comic, which is a measly $.50 to boot. There’s two more of these still to come (he sent me the first three), and he’s managed to put them all out this year, which is an impressively consistent streak to start things off. That website up there is possibly the barest I’ve ever seen (not counting the ones that are eternally “under construction”) but there are still links to buy stuff, if you’re of a mind to check it out…
And Who is My… Neighbor?
I’ve been hoping that Matthew would branch out a bit more in his comics, and this is certainly a step in that direction, but the whole thing left me a bit cold. It’s essentially a modern retelling of the Good Samaritan story from the Bible. A young man gets beat up and left for dead, and a white middle class Republican, an evangelical conservative preacher, and a black liberal democrat libertarian (yes, this is how they’re all described and no, that’s not the start of a joke) all walk by him, with one of them stopping to help the poor guy. Which one stops to help tells you a bit about Matthew’s politics but that’s about it, and there haven’t been any changes or additions to the story to improve things. Why improve a classic, I suppose, but it’s a scant 6 pages (of three full page spreads, I cut one in half for the sample instead of giving too much of the story away), and it’s hard to avoid feeling slightly preached to. As for side annoyances, they’re here too, with the see-through cover image with the title, while a good idea in theory, really hard to read in practice. Then there’s the fact that there’s no identifying information of any kind in here, so it’s lucky this was still in the envelope because of my recent medical issues. Not much here to recommend this, frankly, although I did like the layout of the pages, but paradoxically I still think it’s a step in the right direction for the guy, at least in creative terms. No price, nothing on his website, but I’d guess $2.
Well, this certainly gets top billing on the page, as it’s the first issue of a projected 32 issue series. That’s a serious commitment, and something Matthew, with his prolific pace in putting out Strange Science Fiction, might actually be able to complete. The first issue is all about the lonely life of a young teenager named Jonny. Jonny has a crush on a girl at school, and things take a turn for the worse when he sees this girl with his friend Jimmy at the movies. I liked the silence of this issue, the way Matthew lingered over some of the more awkward moments in high school and didn’t bog the reader down with endless explanations and exposition. As for the story, obviously it’s the first piece of a very large puzzle, so all I can really say for now is that it worked and has me looking forward to the next issue. I do have a couple of complaints, because what kind of reviewer would I be if I didn’t? Matthew could really use something to differentiate his characters. There’s a scene at the start of the book where Jonny is walking in a scholl hallway and is being made fun of by a group of boys, all of whom look pretty much the same at a casual glance. Maybe some different hair colors would help, but I can see this being an issue between Jonny and Jimmy down the road, as they look pretty much the same too. More distinctive names would have helped tell them apart too. Still, it’s early in this story and I still have very little idea where it’s going in the long run. It’s worth a look anyway, that’s for sure. As for the price… $2 maybe?
Strange Science Fiction #6
It’s been fun over these last six issues watching Matthew play with various types of science fiction and fantasy staples, so it’s about time that he got to the “a computer that makes dreams a reality” concept. And he mixed comic book stereotypes right into it, as Julie is reading a comic with a generic superhero fighting a Joker-like villain while plugged into the computer, so they pop right into existence. The bad guy must be stopped, and kudos to Matthew for putting together the best ending yet. Look, six issues of a solidly entertaining series isn’t easily dismissed in this business, as it’s sadly not a mark that’s reached by many people. With all the various science fiction cliches out there Matthew should be able to keep this up for ages if he’s so inclined…