Filed under: Comic Reviews, Indie Comics | Tags: Caio Oliveira, Gordon McClean, No More Heroes, Small Press
Here at Comics Anonymous we love our DCs and Marvels of the world, but most of all we love a well made comic. With the big two and others churning out so many books a month, you could argue that too many cooks spoil the broth, which is why we particularly enjoy the other side of the fence, the small press, where just as much effort has gone into making a book, but perhaps with fewer people and certainly less money. It’s always nice to see when all of that effort pays off and leads to something great, which it certainly has for local boy Gordon McClean, writer of small press title No More Heroes. The book has had a fair bit of attention in the last week or so, but not for some of the reasons you might normally associate with an indie comic.
The book itself has a brilliant origin story – Gordon took his redundancy cheque from his previous employment, sold his Playstation games and set about making a comic. It’s many a comic fan’s dream to chuck in the day job and go do something you enjoy – we’d certainly love to go full time on Comics Anon – but with so many risks involved, most people would rather play it safe. It was a big gamble for Gordon, but I reckon it’s definitely one that has paid off.
I’m always a bit scared just before reading small press stuff that I think I might want to review for the blog – I desperately want it to be good. It’s easy for us to say that the latest Spider-Man or Aquaman is a pile of poo because it’s still going to sell thousands and DC and its staff aren’t going to lose out on anything just because of one bad review. With Small Press however, you’re messing with something that people have poured their all into, usually financially and emotionally. Jumping into No More Heroes was as daunting as always, made more so by the fact that I’ve met Gordon and he’s a really nice chap. I breathed a sigh of relief as I finished the last page.
Like many other books, No More Heroes is set in a world of superheroes, though thankfully we’re not bogged down with a who’s-who of characters and super powers – in fact powers are never mentioned throughout. This is probably a good sign that there are more important aspects to deal with than inventive new ways to beat people up. For all we know, based on the fact that the opening of the book deals with a superhero suicide, there’s even a chance that these guys are just normal everyday Joes who walk the streets in capes. Instead, the book focuses on Sid Millar, a nobody who receives a text message from an unknown number asking if they should kill themselves. With a bit of peer pressure from his mates, he replies to the text and it’s from here that the story starts to unravel.
This first issue is really well written and unfolds naturally over its 22 pages – Gordon’s done a great job at keeping the story tight, there’s no filler here. It’s a nice mix of whodunit mystery mixed with the nonchalant pop cultured youth of today, written without the fake-American tone. Although I’m proud of my fair country, it can be difficult to find a place for the Scots dialect in comics (with the exception of Oor Wullie and The Broons of course) so I was pleased that the story took place elsewhere. What’s sometimes even worse is when Scottish/British writers try to cover up their roots by creating an American world that’s made up of how we perceive America in movies and TV. Yes ok, there might be a diner scene in No More Heroes, but at least all the dialogue flows naturally.
Gordon’s also done well to find a skilled artist that perfectly matches the tone of his book. I’ll be honest and say I was a little worried when I saw the coloured cover, however the black and white interior works much better and really shows off Caio Oliveira’s talents. Without sounding ridiculous, this looks like a comic – something that not all indie books do well. There’s nothing too fancy here with page layouts, opting for good old fashioned boxes and splash pages, which only adds to the classic comic book feel that this book has going for it.
So far the response to the book has been positive, but what was surprising to hear this week was the book was amongst some of the top illegally downloaded comics from torrent site Demonoid. On realising the book had been downloaded roughly 1,600 times, Gordon commented:
“This has blown my mind, to be honest. I knew we’d made a good comic, but to see it become so popular so quickly is crazy. I would’ve loved those 1,600 sales, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve decided to take it as a really positive thing that so many people want to read No More Heroes and word of mouth has been so good. The goal has always been to attract a publisher for our comic and we hope this proves there’s an audience out there for it.”
It’s an interesting take on the world of illegal downloading – most of the time this is seen as damaging to the industry due to loss of sales, however there is a different train of thought that suggests that if something is good enough, people will be willing to pay money for it to have their own copy. We are increasingly reminded that we’re living in a digital world, but it’s hard to take this seriously with the number of comic book stores, cons and marts selling physical items that people want to hang onto. An excellent use of the new digital-era is the “try before you by” method – one that Gordon has adopted aside from the torrents of his comic. His web page gives readers 10 free pages from the 1st issue – almost half the book – but if this results in more people buying a product they’ve no real knowledge of to start with, it’s only going to help sales.
We would definitely encourage you to go and check out the web page and sample the book – and with options to buy both digitally or in print, you’ve no excuse for missing out on all of the 1st issue.
This is a series to keep an eye on, and I know I’m looking forward to seeing more in the future.
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