Monday, 18 April 2016

GalaXafreaks - Dark Vibes

While the commercial comics industry in the UK seems to be shrinking, there is no shortage of creators doing their own thing and using the crowdfunding phenomenon to finance their own self-published comics.   A quick look at Kickstarter today showed 184 live comic projects, with a good dozen or so from British creators.  
One of these is Andrew Pawley’s latest GalaXafreaks comic, Dark Vibes no 2.  Andrew has previously published four issues of the GalaXafreaks comic and one of the proposed five part Dark Vibes miniseries.

From Dark Vibes issue 1
Dark Vibes is the story of Meeko the Darkling.  A mild unsuspecting heroine thrust into an intergalactic stellar adventure that is beyond her, and at least at the beginning, my understanding.  But that doesn't matter, it’s the energy and the vibrancy of the artwork and the story that carries you along.

Beautifully printed in extreme colour on glossy paper with card covers, these 32 page tales of cosmic weirdness have echoes of Moscoso from the old underground Zap comics, of Steve Ditko's Dr Strange at its most outlandish and of what we used to call Saturday Morning cartoons, but which now seem to be on 24 hours a day.  His colour palette threatens to burn out your retinas and his figures are bold and unique.   

The scripts are anarchic, wild, violent and cosmic.  Like Robert Crumb and Jim Starlin working on the Beano with a colourist recovering from some long strange trip he took in the sixties.  It came as no surprise to hear that he cites Leo Baxendale as an influence on his style and remembers laughing hard at Leo's Bash Street Kids.  He also talks about Mike McMahon and Kevin O'Neil from 2000AD and Robert Crumb as other artists who have had an impact on his work. 

And once he mentions those particular artists you can see what he is getting at.   Each of them drew with a freedom and a freshness that was different from what came before them.  There is nothing in Andrew's artwork that looks like it was done by Baxendale or McMahon or O'Neil.   But there is the same spirit, the same disregard for the rules, and the fashions of current comics.  The same freshness of style.  Really, I'm not sure if I've seen anything quite like these comics before.  

Oh and watch out for the 'Easter eggs'.  Lyrics from a few old Prog Rock bands seem to appear here and there, adding to the air of sixties psychedelia that permeates the whole project.  So, if you like what you see here, take a look at Andrew's Kickstarter Page and his GalaXafreaks web-site (links below).   This is the kind of high-quality production that deserves our support. 

To try out the series issues 1 and 2 of the original series available as free downloads from the GalaXafreaks website.  And if anyone has a physical copy of issue 1 going spare, I'd like it to complete my collection.


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