Looks cool! Glad to see a b&w comic. Your website is nice: minimalist, easy to navigate, with a great look. The url to the graphicly page under "Buy the Comic" isn't a hyperlink though. Best to make it as easy as possible for folks. Also, the process for ordering a physical comic seems cumbersome. Couldn't you use paypal? Many other creators do and it works easily. Making it as quick and simple as possible to access your content is key in this point & click world.
Had some good reviews so I thought I might share them to see if it entices any of you!
From Forbidden Planet:
Yes, PT Barnum presents…. yes, the same PT Barnum who runs the circus. Except in here, it’s the Psircus he’s running, the Psircus being a way for writer (and sometime artist) Daniel Bell to shoehorn PT Barnum into his comic in a sort of weird Professor X (less wheelchair, more elephants perhaps?) fashion, the leader of a secret society of psychics, and secret saviour of the world.
Once you get over that bizarre, slightly off-putting inclusion, what we have here is 28 pages of comic, and three stories that deliver this Psi-sage really rather well. It’s by no means perfect sure, but for what it is, for what it’s trying to be, it does a fair job.
Kathy and Icarus are two girls with psi-powers, and in the three short tales we get a couple of origins of sorts, and a joint mission. What I thought was handled particularly well was Bell’s control of his storyline. He’s obviously got something bigger he’s trying to tell through this and hopefully future issues, but he understands that to tell what he want to he has to tell the smaller stories first, establish his characters, work them into the plot, and if he’s clever enough, he can combine all of that into these 28 pages.
Quick answer – yes, he’s clever enough.
(Kathy Isn’t Right by Daniel Bell and Katja Lindblom)
Kathy’s tale involves young Kathy breaking out of the mental hospital she’s been incarcerated in to deal with what they see as her paranoid schizophrenia, but actually is her massive psychic power.
She’s part of a power struggle between the afore-mentioned Barnum and some other, unseen force that calls to Kathy to escape. And this is very much her first meeting with Barnum, her introduction to the world she’s to inhabit in the future.
(Icarus by Daniel Bell and Iain Buchanan)
Icarus’ tale has something of the Leon about it; the young girl being apprenticed in the ways of the professional assassin. Or at least that’s what she thinks she’s doing.
In actual fact, she’s a powerful telekinetic, and her trainer is more concerned with the power of her brain than he is the power of the gun. I could tell you more, but that’s a sweet twist in the story that’s yours to discover.
(The Pull by Daniel Bell)
Finally, in story three – The Pull – we get to see a little of the girls in action now, what feels like a few years after their individual origin-ish stories. Now they’re working for Barnum’s Psi-operation and out on a job tracking down a particular piece of lowlife with low level psi-abilities that he puts to all too pathetic use.
Kathy and Icarus trawl the local flesh pit nightclubs, posing as more prey for this nasty little rapist, and deliver a suitable punishment after a well worked psychic conflict.
Three stories, each one well done, short, sweet, telling a tale within the story, yet also delivering something more, something of the greater saga.
If I had to criticise, it would be over bits of the art. None of the three artists are particularly bad here, but neither do any of them really stand out. Personally Bell’s story with his own art is the best of the three. Too much of Lindblom’s work seems too rough to me, with some panels really making me question just what she’s trying to show me. Buchanan’s art is suffering as it seems to be merely a black & white version of the colour work on Bell’s blog. It makes the tones artificial.
But even as I write those criticisms I feel a little too harsh. What worked best of all was the story, and each artist delivers the story as best they could, without real detriment to my enjoyment. For someone who’s always more story driven than cares about the art, that’s just fine.
There’s some interesting questions left unanswered here, although never to the detriment of the story in front of you. But who is Sunnyside? Who are the girls reporting to at the end of The Pull? It’s not Barnum. Who was Barnum up against in his fight over Kathy? How long has all this been going on? Who is Icarus’ trainer, Barnums’ partner, something else, just another team member?
Just having this many questions and still having enjoyed the comic tells me that it worked, that it’s enjoyable as a single issue, yet full of enough to make me want more. That, I think, is proof of job done for any #1 of a comic. Well done to all involved.
Now, where’s issue 2?
And from Broken Frontier:
Three interconnected stories make up creator Daniel Bell’s portmanteau offering that combines asylum-based horror, super-powered assassins and a covert organisation run by none other than that great American showman P.T. Barnum! In ‘Kathy Isn’t Right’ we learn some of the background of Barnum’s mind-reading operative in the eponymous Psircus in a creepy tale with supernatural overtones. Then we’re treated to some insights into the disturbing past of the telekinetic weapon known as Icarus, before being re-introduced to all three characters once again in their role as “the Psircus” when they use their gifts to bring a deeply unpleasant slimeball to poetic justice in the final story ‘The Pull’.
The main drawback on a first reading of Psircus is that these three stories placed together, without any framing sequence, present a disjointed, slightly confusing narrative. It took me a couple of read-throughs to work out the full structural relationship between each story and, even then, there’s still a jerky, fragmented feel to the proceedings. Now that’s not to say there isn’t promise in the premise. On the strength of the unsettling but effective third story I’m interested in seeing where Bell takes the strip in the future. He certainly knows how to structure the short story, that most difficult of all narrative forms to master. But I can’t help thinking that a greater tying together of the disparate tales in this first offering, and an acknowledgement of the questions they posed, would have provided a stronger hook to entice the readership back.
However, there’s a definite adult 2000AD Future Shocks vibe to the proceedings here that is certainly appealing, and the set-up is refreshingly different. The art is strong throughout, with each segment having its own distinct mood; from Lindblom’s gloomy gothic environment in ‘Kathy Isn’t Right’ to the tonal clarity of Buchanan’s actioner ‘Icarus’, through to Bell’s own tight and atmospheric visuals in ‘The Pull’. I’ll be intrigued to see how Bell develops the concept in the future. If a second issue elaborates on the premise to a greater degree, and emphasises the relationships between the cast more fully, this book should have a strong foundation to build on.