Review: John Carpenter’s “Tales of Sci-Fi Vault” Will Give You Chills

Rachel Moulden for The Pit

By: John Carpenter (Writer), Andres Esparza (Artist)

Publisher: STORM KING PRODUCTIONS, INC

Release Date: July 26, 2017

Synopsis: When the moon-bound crew of Gaia stumbles across an enormous alien vessel, more technologically advanced than their own, priorities change. The mystery deepens when the crew discovers the name of the vessel along the hull…

*Vault (#1 of 3) is the first story of John Carpenter’s monthly anthology series Tales of Science Fiction.

Review:

Vault #1 takes its readers into a Sci-Fi space universe that is out of this this world. The story follows the crew of the Gaia as they trespass into an giant alien ship, and soon they find out they’re not alone.

The beginning of the story starts off in the present where they are investigating the alien ship, and then shifts to the past events that led us to that point in the story. We get a small introduction of the crew in Issue #1, and a small glimpse of their personalities. I was hoping to see a more personal background of each character, but the story only gives a general backstory of the crew mission. Hopefully, we will gain more insight into each character as the story moves along.

Usually, I’m not the biggest fan of hardcore Sci-fi stories, but Carpenter’s writing along with Esparza’s artwork has me immediately engrossed in the story. I found his characters to be interesting, the world building was smooth, and the suspense kept me on edge.

Esparza’s artwork felt so realistic, especially the way the characters emotions were drawn, you could feel their evident fear of the unknown and that helped to increased the story’s tension. On top of that, the use of vivid imagery and color, helped to make it a fully immersive experience.

I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen next in this three part series and I highly recommend reading this comic if you like galactic space stories.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Interview: CYRIC Delivers The Joy of Comics to Syrian Refugee Children with “Haawiyat”

Rachel Moulden for The Pit

Recently, The Pit got to “sit down” with A. David Lewis, Founder & President of the organization CYRIC to discuss their Haawiyat project and getting comics into the hands of refugee children.

What is CYRIC and what is its mission?

CYRIC stands for the Comics for Youth Refugees Incorporated Collective, and much of our goal has been built into that name: we want to give free comics to refugee children. It may seem like a small thing – and, certainly, considering what many of them have lost, it may well be. But many of us in CYRIC believe in the power of comics, whether it’s their ability to grant a small respite and escape from the reality around a reader or their capacity to stoke the imagination and emotional centers of its audiences. With so much having been taken from these kids, my team and I want to make something specifically for them and to signal that they matter. Their dreams matter, their traumas matter, and their lives matter. Let this humble comic be some glimmer of what still lays ahead for them.

 

How did CYRIC get started?

Ha, in frustration! That is, I was growing tired of seeing so much in U.S. media about Syria and so little being done for them – in Aleppo, in Idlib, all over the provinces. While informing the U.S. public is important, sure, I was feeling more and more like we remained the “consumers” of these refugee stories, just one more thing taken from these displaced people. As I was following the Twitter feed of 6 year-old Bana Alabed, I felt compelled to offer something back to her and all the children like her. So, I brainstormed a “Bana Comic” with some other interested creators, and that grew into Haawiyat, our first title.

 

What is the Haawiyat project? What is the story about?

Haawiyat in Arabic means “container,” and, like the relief goods that are being sent overseas in huge shipping containers, the comic aims to redeploy Syrian folk lore back to Syrian children. Rather than foist U.S. culture on them, I knew our content needed to be grounded in their home, in the culture that’s been scattered in this diaspora.

Admittedly, my team and I may left our fingerprints, figuratively speaking, on the stories, but the goal was always to be as faithful a conduit as possible of these native narratives and tales, not their champion. My hope is that Haawiyat gives them a connection back to their home that feels valuable – a reminder of Syria as a place of great history and richness that transcends its current besieged state.

 

Why did you choose Haawiyat to be a comic book rather than a novel?

Well, there are two reasons, but the first one is quite simple: Comics are what I know how to do! I was quite hesitant at first, I confess, but my wife, in particular, encouraged me to see this through; if comics were what I had to offer, then so be it. Moreover, as a comics studies scholar in my professional life, I can testify to the uniqueness of the verbal-visual hybridity that make up comics. Without disparaging prose or music or sculpture or any other expressive medium, I do see comics as engaging both hemispheres of the brain – and for all levels of readers! The images and the words work in tandem with the sequentiality of the panels to light up the minds in a way that, I feel, is inimitable.

 

What was the process of creating Haawiyat like and the process of getting the comic into reader’s hands?

Initially, it was much like the standard process of putting together a comic. I mean, I tend to do a good bit of research for any comic that I’m interested in writing, so the deep dive into Syrian folklore was a familiar maneuver if also an exciting, new field. Add to that the guidance I was given by mental health professionals and on-site relief workers about what themes and story lines would be the most healing for this population. So, after scripting each story into a comics format, I teamed with various collaborators to produce the art, then I turned to lettering professionals and layout experts.

The trickiest part here was getting the translation and the Arabic right, a process we took pains to get right. Wonderfully enough, the folks at Ka-Blam Digital Printing were willing to produce 400 copies of our initial 8-page effort entirely for free, and our partners at NuDay Syria took it upon themselves to get those books to kids’ hands in camps along the Turkish border. In many ways, it was a reasonably straightforward comics-making process, though my eyes watered up in a way they never had before when I saw pictures of Haawiyat being enjoyed by these children.

 

Congratulations on Haawiyat reaching overseas! What are your future goals for this project?

Now with the initial process tested, it’s time to expand Haawiyat and create the comic book I originally had in mind: 64 pages of full-color art with folk lore from all across Syria and its existence. There are so many stories still pouring out of my research and the land’s rich history. We have many new artists joining us and have received some early funding to pay for their services on additional stories. It’s quite exciting to see this move ahead with such force!

 

What future goals does CYRIC have as whole?

In the long-term, I would like to see two things happen, ideally. First, I would like for CYRIC to aid, in addition to Syria, refugee populations from all around the world: Yemen, South Sudan, Myanmar’s Rohingya, and so on. Sadly, I don’t see a day coming where there won’t be refugees fleeing from some land, and no children anywhere deserve to be traumatized by such conflict. Therefore, as the need presents itself, I hope CYRIC can expand to include whatever populations of kids need the attention.

Along with that, CYRIC’s other goal would be to produce comics created by the children we’ve reached. It would be tremendous to help amplify their stories and let their imaginations reach readers not only all across the globe but, perhaps more importantly, also displaced from their shared home. If CYRIC eventually grows to provide children displaced from any country the opportunity to feel valued and empowered through comics storytelling, then it will have fulfilled its larger mission.

 

How can people become involved with/support the Haawiyat project?

The best way right now is to help make our goal of printing and distributing this expanded version of Haawiyat possible by making a tax-exempt donation to our Razoo page. Spread word, share CYRIC’s work, reach out to others. We continue to look for partner organizations and corporations who might share in our goals of supporting displaced kids wherever they are and from wherever they may have come. Every kid deserves a comic book.

To learn more about the Haawiyat project visit: http://syriacomic.com/

Review: “Escort” Entices Readers With a Futuristic Dystopian World

Rachel Moulden for The Pit

the-escort-1

Escort #1 by Iggy Michniacki

Publisher: Project Nerd Publishing

Release Date: February 15, 2017

Synopsis: Audiences have been waiting for the follow up to Barrens, Project-Nerd Publishing’s first title to go to second print on two different covers, but the project came to a halt after Chapter One. With the creative team moving on to other projects, it left the door open for Esme Ford to return in a different capacity.

Set in the not too distant future, The Escort follows Esme Ford as she proves to be the best guide through the barrens as she transports goods and people between the few remaining fortified cities left in the world. Ford will open up a brand new mission with the debut issue of The Escort in January 2017.

The Escort is written by Esme Ford creator and Project-Nerd Publishing Founder, Iggy Michniacki, and will feature the pencils and inks of J.C. Grande (Johnny Monster, Necessary Evil) and colors from Esteban Salinas (Deviant Apple Studios). Erin Lei will return as Esme Ford for a cosplay cover variant of the first issue with Salinas also creating the series’ cover art. (description from Project Nerd Publishing)

Review: The story of Escort follows main protagonist, Esme Ford, a transporter of goods in a barren wasteland. Not too much is said about her character in the first issue, but based on her interactions with other people she is well-known and revered around the land. She’s sassy, resourceful and skilled in fighting, which makes her an interesting character. Her mysterious aura is key to drawing readers into the story.

As for the story’s setting, there are small glimpse of what the futuristic setting is like here and there, but there was not enough description for me. I would have enjoyed more of the world-building process and want to see more of the setting that Esme lives in.When looking at the artwork, I wished it had a smoother, more detailed look when it came to the characters and background settings. But I did love the variety of colors and textures used to give the characters definition and depth.

Overall, the first issue of Escort says enough to get readers attention, but raises a lot of questions about its main protagonist, secondary characters, and setting. I hope the next issues goes more into depth about the setting and Esme’s backstory.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars