US Publisher: Guild Works Productions
Date of publication: 2007
Psychosis! is a 56-page, B&W, horror anthology. The main theme each issue involves a number of relevant looks at the fears that affect men and women in the 21st Century. Contributors to the title come from a number of different backgrounds and are a true mix of established talent along with enthusiastic younger talent cutting their teeth on powerful themes.
Somewhere between Madness and Mayhem lies…Psychosis!
I consider myself a pretty ardent defender and a first-line advocate of independent/small publishing comics.
Few things are more beautiful in this craft than to witness the strides an artist or a creator does in the business, watching the creative team start at the bottom and eventually climbing to stardom. Yes, there are not many success stories like that, but I would venture to say that the numbers are climbing, and it is easier to be more successful now as a small publisher than 10 years ago.
I’ve seen success stories of this type take place, but I’ve also have witnessed very worthy artists bounce around the wrong circles, not getting the credit they deserve, and then one day, just quitting the scene.
Keep this in mind when I tell you how in the 2011 NYCC I found this stand, with Mark Mazz and Juan Navarro. Mark Mazz, a consummated sales man, and a comic book lover like few, makes a pitch about the importance of stories in the comics as a greeting, and I linger around listening to his pitch.
Then after exchanging a few words, I pick up Psychosis!#2 , 2 issues of The Zombie Years, and Welcome to Miami #2
Let me start with Psychosis! #2. The cover is attention-grabbing, but perusing through its content leaves a me a bit luke-warm on the first impression. I set aside those concerns, prioritizing two criteria: They are an independent/small publisher and secondly, sometimes the art is not visually striking at first glance but is so well timed with the story that it grabs you upon reading further.
Psychosis! is a thick magazine collecting 6 stories, all involving different degrees of horror and fear.
The title is catchy, the cover is very flashy, mainly because #2 displays a muscular and eerie man-bat creature sitting in a regal throne.
The stories contained inside are strong stories.
But this is a comic that throws me off in so many different ways and directions that I am still trying to gather my bearings. In all fairness let’s insert here a disclaimer, before I start analyzing the book.
The Disclaimer: Sometimes I have to write non-flattering reviews. I try not to be negative, but it is not fair to only look at the bright side of things.
Concerning Psychosis! #2, I am a bit puzzled by why I am at the stand of Guild Works Productions in the 2011 New York Comic Con and everything in this volume that I am purchased has been copyrighted in 2007. And right there, under the GWP logo, my old-man eyes squint and I can read that this issue in my hands has been scheduled to be put for sale October 2007.
Should I infer that GWP has kept overstock of unsold comics around since 2007 and they are still trying to sell them now? Mhhh…. Is that the best course of action, to bring your old wares to a yearly Comic Con, where people expect to see the latest, flashiest and greatest?
What complicates matters more is that reading this comic you find solid stories. Good Stories. Very worth-reading stories.
The main problem I face is digesting the choice of art that illustrate these otherwise pretty decent stories.
I shuffle around trying to find the appropriate words to describe the art, and eventually I arrive at the conclusion that the majority of these artists are really wet behind the ears when it comes to the art of graphic-story-telling. The plasticity is not there. The backgrounds are not there. The angles on the panels are not there. The expressions on the characters are not there.
Someone at the editorial helm has let something slip when putting together this product. Maybe they do not understood yet the basics of comic book publishing here. They seem to think that one aspect of the comic creation process (the writing) can compensate for the other (the art). The problem with this approach is that you are not capturing the largest market possible, and thus you are not rendering your product as commercially viable as it could be. In other words, you are selling yourself short.
If you insist in giving more importance to one aspect of the Comic Book Creation Process (as in this case, the script/story), you will then have to resort to a lot of claims, such as your comic is only for a specific audience, or you don’t care about sales figures, just altruistically care about the craft, or any other number of excuses.
But last time I checked, in the comic book world you usually want to sell your product. In modern society, popular culture items (such as music and comics) place a large quantity of its intrinsic value on the sales they generate. I am not saying this is right or wrong, nor I think is the most efficient way for the market to operate, but as of this writing, it is how it usually works.
Good editors who try to market their books know that the art has to be fluid, and the graphical narrative should be able to tell the story even without balloons or words.
That is usually not the case with Psychosis #2. In this case, if I don’t read the text, I would barely have a clue what the stories inside this comic are about.
So that leaves wondering if the target audience for this book are people who like to read stories. But those folks are not easy to bleed into the comic world market. They prefer books, you know? The ones without pictures? And even that preference is not written in stone. I have plenty of acquaintances who DO NOT LIKE COMICS, they prefer what they consider serious literature. But all of them make exceptions to this rule. One that I know, ONLY buys Heavy Metal magazine. Another published author has a confidant on who she trusts blindly when it comes to reading comics, and she became a fan of Joe Sacco graphic novels, and now has just discovered (don’t ask) Will Eisner, and those novels are in their bookshelves, next to Kafka and Khalil Gibran.
So yes, this comic is worth reading as a powerful book of stories. Sadly, the largest weakness is how this comic brings those stories into graphic mode.
When I was reading the stories, the majority of the time the graphics turned me off from what I was reading. This left me wondering… would a different readership, one that is not focused on graphics, in art, judge this comics in a better light? Would an audience who is not prolific on the conventions of graphic-story-telling not find the art to be a hindrance, and thus enjoy more the stories that are told in these pages?
Summarizing: This is an interesting experiment in independent publishing, and the stories are worth reading. Not sure it is a success as a comic.
So, on my Critics rating, Psychosis! #2 gets
4 out of 10 STARS