Johnny Blaster's M-Force: The Marshun Menace #2, Marshmallowville Media
creator: John De La Valdene
writer: Jason M. Burns
artist: Dustin Evans
Today, the penultimate day of the San Diego Comic Con, was a fruitful one. I found several obscure Silver Age issues to review in future A Comic A Day posts, and a perusal of the Small Press Area resulted in a Johnny Blaster's M-Force freebie. Now, as I've griped in my LiveJournal for the past few days, K.O. Comix, my self-publishing venture, is usually among those desperate wanna-be professionals, so I sympathize with the effort to create and distribute (ideally through sales) an independent comic. I try to find a redeemable quality in every peer's contribution to this lowest end of the industry totem pole. In that context, Johnny Blaster was a challenge.
In this issue, the M-Force battles various animals possessed by "marshun" invaders. Their weapons of choice? Marshmallow blasters. Apparently, Professor Fluffernutter's experimental marshmallows have the ability to vanquish alien despots and infuse their champions with superhuman bravery and strength. Don't ask me why; the Professor doesn't seem to know, either. The story is fueled by fluffy dialogue (pardon the pun) with inept attempts at modern youthful vernacular and pop culture wittiness, offering no explanation as to the tale's obscure situation. If the story didn't take itself so seriously, such an explanation would be unnecessary. If the story were written for kids (as its circumstances might imply), such an explanation would be superfluous, even. As is, I need an explanation to complete the story, to make it a yarn I could get into. As is, I was waiting for the sales pitch for Kraft Marshmallows on the inside back cover, like a classic promo for an issue secretly published by Little Debbie or something.
I was close. Marshmallowville Media is selling marshmallow blasters for a lowly $25. The real money is in toys, anyway.
As for the comic book, I'm sorry, but the art stunk. I know children capable of this quality. I hate to be so harsh of a peer in the field (heck, I'm not even their peer -- they have a table!), but the Comic Con is a competitive forum for talent and sales. Geeks aren't known for their fortunes. A comic, especially one sold on merit alone rather than history or hype, should offer a compelling story, engrossing artwork. The M-Force is as soft as their weapons of choice.
I hope to pick up a few more Small Press books tomorrow to review for the future. I wonder if I should invite their creators to read their reviews. If I do, and we do land a table next year, we might not have the most comfortable experience. In the Small Press arena, the strength isn't in numbers; it's in how few other books you have with which to contend.