Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Review: Big Punch Magazine #1

This week has been a bit of a tough week thus far. As my new job starts to kick into high gear and I wait anxiously for my first monthly pay cheque since last summer, I'm busy trying to my ducks in a row before I venture on my travels up north over Easter to make an appearance at Sheffield Cosplay Con 7 (which I may discuss later).

This means comic book reading has dropped to a minimum, with single issues in short supply and many of the indie press books I'm still to read being graphic novel size and, thus, too big too read in the limited free time. It's meant having to wait and risk the shakes from my inevitable withdrawal.

Thankfully though, help has been at hand thanks to the team at Big Punch Studios as Jon Lock, Lucy Brown, Nich Angell and Alice White, along with artists Jack Tempest and James Stayte, recently released the first issue of the Big Punch Magazine, a new quarterly released magazine which shows off four original series, along Nich's fan favourite Cat and Meringue, to the fans (and multiverse consisting) of Afterlife inc. and 7String.

These four series consist of Cuckoos, which follows a group of adventurers as they travel in their ship, the Reflektor, through the cracks between dimensions to visit strange new worlds and, in this case, discover unusual relics. Meanwhile Orb is an alternate world story based on an Earth still recovering appearance of new gods, and their subsequent disappearance which tells the tale of an expedition to a destroyed settlement, where they discover an unusual Orb very reminiscent of those who came before. This is followed by 99 Swords, a tale which begins an epic adventure for a young girl in a world where legend of a man creating 99 swords in order to forge the 'perfect' 100th sword has lead to many collecting his 99 'failures. Finally, after the return of comedy team Cat and Meringue, comes the finally story entitled the Wall, which is set in a city contained within an inescapable wall and sees three friends endeavour to make that daring escape.

This is certainly quite a change of pace for the team previously responsible for full story arcs, both in terms of content and distribution, but I think with first issue they have, overall, managed to successfully transfer their unique style of storytelling to a more episodic format.
The whole gang are in on this one, even if they are just
illustrated. It's a cool sketch though. Art by Nich Angell.

The biggest draw to this book is the art, with which Messrs Angell and Stayte looking beautiful as always, giving their respective tales a good fun vibe, in turn making those stories more my favourites; Angell by making them look fantastical and Stayte with a real horrible histories look which truly suits 99 swords. Meanwhile Jack Tempest has totally changed his style from Afterlife Inc, providing a more noirish, end of the world tone which really matches the mood of Orb's premise.

As for the stories themselves, I really enjoyed the large majority of them, with Orb being a bit of a struggle and Cat and Meringue being my favourite. That said, this is more likely down to preference than anything else as Orb is a very dark, somber tale in comparison to 99 Swords, Cuckoos and the Wall as all three come across as brighter and more fun. Also, Cat and Meringue possibly wins out due to it having little change in format compared to it's prior life. That said, all of these stories are written really well, roping me in enough to make me wonder what happens next.

So, have the stars of every convention I've been to managed to shake more money out of me with this? Most definitely!! The Big Punch Magazine's strengths far outweigh any flaws (even those relating to personal taste) and while I'm unsure whether to pick it up in print, digitally or as a collection, I'm pretty sure it's another thing to join my book of life and Cat & Meringue collection. Damn it guys, stop giving me reasons to spend my money!!!

If you are reading this and I've whetted your appetite (to which I apologize to your wallet), Jon has asked me to mention that Big Punch Magazine #1 is available now and the the series is available either as a physical or digital subscription, with each new issue released every three months. If this is something which takes your fancy, check out to subscribe or just to get more information. Or you could get it at a con they are at, that's good too!!!

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