“Cartoonists Ted May, Jeff Wilson and Mike Reddy have released a new issue of their comic book series “Injury” after raising money through a Kickstarter campaign.
The book debuted at Chicago’s Alternative Comics Expo in mid-June, and is now available for sale from online retailers such as Wow Cool and Amazon.
Co-published by both May and Alternative Comics, “Injury Comics No. 4” strays a bit from the series’ usual beaten path to focus on a main story rather than a sampling of different short strips.
The main feature, “A Songbird Shatters the Still,” receives its title from the Iron Maiden song “Flight of Icarus,” and it was crafted by both May and Wilson after Wilson’s personal life experience.
“Songbird” depicts a cast of high school students decked out in Iron Maiden T-shirts, long hair and the occasional shoestring mustache. They all fit the metal calling card and, between flashbacks of what seems to be an unforgettable concert, we witness the group standing in a circle and passing a joint, getting as high as they can before what comes next.
And besides the following scene of the guys in detention, that’s the whole comic.
While “Songbird” contains a pretty simple plot, it delivers a lasting read through its pacing, attitude and humorous – yet somewhat stark – ending.
For the creators, the entire point is to feel the experience as the characters do and not take away some detailed list of events. In a sense, “Songbird” spits in the face of some expectations usually associated with the comic book industry as, with its $6 cover price, it does not really concern itself with packing in a lot of twists and turns to meet the reader’s admission fee.
If you are the type of reader who enjoys to watch and witness rather than unravel a mixed bag of plot items, “Songbird” isn’t a rip-off of you’re hard-earned money. In fact, it may re-establish your faith in the medium and remind you of the power and control a comic book artist has in their intimate domain.
Some may try to write “Songbird” off as more drug-themed slacker fiction or indie autobiography without even touching it, and while technically it has those themes, May and Wilson’s tone for the story feels more like a war narrative than anything.
A crew of teenage metal heads read as if they’re a platoon of soldiers preparing to experience heavy combat, and detention is their no man’s land.
Certain aspects of May and Wilson’s writing bring this together – like the lyric chants, uniform band T-shirts and lines ofdialogue such as “I will die with my boots on” – but it’s the representation of the detention sequence that really drives home the traumatic element of the story.
Between the still appearance of the time clock and the paranoid high experienced by the lead of our cast, you feel the pressure of the situation, and it builds the entire time until a breaking point presents itself with a loud scream.
Then the tension alleviates, and you’re left with this humorous ending in which the weight of the story vanishes and the expected indie comic book filled with gags and teenage nostalgia appears.
“Injury Comics No. 4” houses some great work, and with a story like “Songbird,” it may peep back up to be later recognized as one of the best comics of the year. But, for now, read it for the tension brought on by May’s panel composition and shot sequencing. That’s a good enough reason.
For more on “Injury” or Ted May, check out http://tedmaycomics.blogspot.com.”