Ain't It cool says "Sheer Style and Definite Promise and Unique Vision"
Another indie title joins the ranks of the sci fi/horror comics on the stands with the first issue of the anthology ATOMIC TALES. I have to admit, I’ve got a soft spot for both this genre and the anthology format, the granddaddy of both being EC’s classic TALES FROM THE CRYPT, WEIRD SCIENCE and their respective brethren. Over the half a century since EC made the mold and proceeded to break it, there have been many slavish disciples and shameless imitators that have come and gone, and I’m always on the lookout for new comics trying to fill the sizeable shoes worn by Gaines, Feldstein and their cadre of exceptional artists. ATOMIC TALES, to be blunt, is a far cry from the high standards set by its forbears. But what the comic lacks in terms of execution, it makes up for in sheer style.
Four science fiction stories and one horror tale make up this premiere issue (plus a nifty pin-up). I’ll give the writers points for coming up with plots that eschew the space-adventure clichés; the stories in ATOMIC TALES feel more akin to the New Wave sci fi that emerged in the late 1950s and early ‘60s than the gung-ho space westerns that popularized the comics and pulp magazines of yore. The stories here are all pretty trippy—tales of astronauts mutated by alien environments, having their consciousness scattered into the infinite by singularities in space, and being transformed by unexpected extraterrestrial encounters. This mood is enhanced by the book’s artwork…which is a decidedly mixed bag.
The actual linework ranges from serviceable to amateurish—in short, what you’d generally expect from an indie book these days. What saves the artwork and elevates the lesser pages is ATOMIC COMICS’ sense of style that I mentioned earlier. This comic fully embraces the retro sci fi aesthetic in its color and text design. I’m a big fan of fonts, and ATOMIC COMICS (especially the title lettering) is a great example of using interesting and appropriate fonts to add to the overall tone of the book. And the coloring is also done with a retro-flair, with halftone patterns used throughout. Are they a little heavy-handed sometimes? Sure, but I’ll give the artists an E for effort here.
The best thing about this issue of ATOMIC TALES is that the series shows definite promise. The creators obviously have a unique vision for their work, and having a vision is what sets great comics apart from the mediocre masses. ATOMIC COMICS isn’t great yet, but I’m willing to give it time to see how it grows.
When released from his bottle, the Imp transforms into Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from New England. He's currently hard at work interpreting fellow @$$Hole Optimous Douche's brainwaves and transforming them into pretty pictures on AVERAGE JOE, an original graphic novel to be published by Com.x. You can see some of his artwork here.