COMIC REVIEW: Root & Branch

It’s Taff Screams time again. Long overdue, too.

Ever wanted to tag along with a beautiful, charming, and absolutely adorkable elf woman on a quest of exploration and discovery? Then Root & Branch by Pink Pitcher is exactly right for you. In it, we follow young Ariana on her search for the Tree of Life, a journey she sets out on all by her lonesome. On her way, she meets hu-mans. And what strange people those are, with strange customs and strange ideas; some friendly and welcoming, others not so much.

I admit I haven’t finished the entire series- there’s a lot to read! :3 -but Ariana charmed me quickly. She’s kind, with an innocent heart and almost naïve (deceptively so) approach to things. Which is why seeing what she’s capable of when the situation calls for it really hecking good, and I cannot wait to see how her journey pans out, how she grows with it, and how the world grows around her.

Yes, in this house we stan Ariana. There’s this particular moment that I passed only recently where she ditches a piece of clothing she’d been given, going back to her a little more revealing outfit. She says, aptly, that The wind misses touching me, and I think that was the moment I probably fell a wee bit in love.

The art style is also real gorgeous, full of unique charm and rich with warm and welcoming colours. Everything feels so lovingly crafted; down from the line art all the way to each panel and even the website frame.

So please, please, go give it a shot if you like something full of heart and adventure and a display of open kindness.

Find it here: Root & Branch
The creator: Pink

Comic Review: Drugs and Wires

Drugs and Wires

By Mary Safro aka Cryo and Io Black. Find it here!

Welcome to another episode of Taff Sceams About Something She Really Loves. Today I’ll be screeching about a comic I recently caught up with; Drugs and Wires.

Let’s start with what it says on the tin:

The year is 1995.

Grunge and alt-rock dominate the airwaves. Floppy disks are still the storage medium of choice. The mainstream media can’t shut up about this amazing new thing called the “Information Superhighway.” And in the shadows of glittering megacities, a loose alliance of cyber-anarchists, techno-pagans, and razorgirls is waging covert war against power-hungry corporations, sinister governments, and injustice and corruption in all of its forms.

This is not their story.

No, this is the story of Dan, pissy misanthrope and recovering VR junkie, now condemned to a dead-end job delivering sketchy packages in a post-Soviet urban hellhole.

This is the story of Lin, a cybernetics installer who treats concepts like “anesthesia” and “disinfectant” as annoying inconveniences, and likes to soundtrack life-altering surgeries with Cannibal Corpse.

About Drugs and Wires

And here’s what I got to say about it:

Drugs and Wires tackles difficult topics and sometimes it comes at you swinging hard. Hard enough to make me pause after I finished a page, two of which have taken up permanent residency in my head. They live there, rent free, and occasionally pop to the surface to give me a Oh Damn moment.

Now, anyone who knows me might now be going But, Taff. You like your fiction light-hearted, what’s up with that? And I’d go: Hold up, you reading my blog? Aw, shucks, thanks. You’re also not wrong. But Drugs and Wires handles these topics (addiction, transhumanism, corporate greed, etc..) with so much grace, I’m having a really hard time coming up with a comparison to it in mainstream media. Plus, the creators pack it full of humour – not only delivered by the story and its characters, but also in tiny details added to each panel. Smush those two together and its like you’re getting a perfectly balanced breakfast served.

A breakfast for the eyeballs and heart.

Speaking of eyeballs.

The art. The art is great. But the artist does this thing where you get animated panels thrown into the mix? They’re perfect?! If I’d worn socks when I came across the first one they’d have come off, but alas, I was reading in bed.

And the world building! You can clearly tell a lot of thought and care went into it and it provides a consistent (but continuously developing) backdrop for the characters. Oh yeah. The characters! Design? 10/10. Personalities? 10/10. Did Taff develop another crush? Yep. Two. One of them is Dan, who has charmed me with how he isn’t perfect, how he struggles, how he tries, and then falls, and then gets up again, and I just want to see him get better and grow and *incoherent flailing*.

So. Yeah. Thank you for coming to another episode of Taff screams.

You should totally read Drugs and Wires. Especially if you like any of the following: Cyberpunk. Floppy Disks. Dark humour. Cute luggage with something resembling an AI. Technology Nostalgia. Dogs (seriously, there’s dogs, I love ’em). Human misery washed down with great pacing to keep you from feeling emotionally exhausted. And great characters that aren’t great heroes.

I do want to note what D&W notes on Who probably shouldn’t read it. Just in case: This comic is not recommended to any reader likely to be offended by unapologetic drug use, body horror, questionable medical practices, existential angst, or unflattering portrayals of Slavic banana republics. In other words, proceed at your own risk.

No more “Taff Reviews” – Only “Taff Screams”

Sinvik, the embodiment of :eee:

(ノ°▽°)ノ︵┻━┻

I am horrible at reviewing work. I can’t do it. I can’t pick something apart and try and lay out its flaws, because honestly that is what apparently reviewing is supposed to be about. When I review something I want to do so because I loved that piece of media so much I want to climb a tall house and scream from the roof about how it watered my plants, groomed my dog, and healed my stubbed toe.

So, from now on, Taff Reviews is called Taff Screams and no one’s going to stop me.

‘Cause I am not here to analyse someone’s work while donning a thinking cap or some such thing. I just want to declare my appreciation for their dedication, creativity, and general brilliance.

~ Taff

Comic Review: Radius

By Katrin Gal. Find it here!

Rarely I find something that snatches me up as quick as Radius did. I mean, honestly, how couldn’t it. Have you seen the art? That’s what got my attention anyway. Came for the gorgeous visual. Stayed for the world building, the layered characters, and the burning need to know how their story continues.

Tom Ravens, Tank, Surfer and Buster: The “Hellhounds” are an elite unit tasked with keeping Avon’s rebels in check. Their most recent mission does not go as planned…

Radius is a gritty cyberpunk/sci-fi story in an original setting focused on a (literally) split planet divided into two distinct halves and held together by a mysterious energy source. Each half is home to a distinct faction who do not see eye to eye. To spice it up some more, an artificial virus turns its survivors into dangerous cyborgs. Which is exactly the sort of spice this Taff wants and needs in her life if you know anything about her.

The art is delicious. The panels creatively put together. There’s an entire section in the second issue where one of the main protagonists, Tom Ravens, is having himself a shower and then a bit of a breakdown, and I swear to the dog currently licking my ankle that those pages are my absolute favourite of any comic I have read up to this point.

There’s so much emotion and motion conveyed in the art that I just got to praise it and recommend to anyone.

The characters got depth and are intriguing. The good guys and the bad guys. My fav used to be Tom but then I learned some stuff about Tank and I think I may be team Tank now because, EXCUSE ME SIR?! He made my printer overheat. c( ⁰ 〰 ⁰ )੭ Anyway.

I got little else to say that’d do this justice. You should experience it for yourself and you can totally do that (in English) over on Katrin’s Patreon. And if you’re in Germany or Austria, maybe even get yourself a physical copy? They look gorgeous on shelves.

Radius comics on my shelf. They look gorgeous.
Pardon the dust.

What to expect: Cyberpunk aesthetics. Action. Two factions at odds (one sleek and clean, one gritty and rough). Beautiful visuals. Great panel composition. Gorgeous characters. Also handsome characters. And beautiful characters. They are really good to look at, okay?!

What Taff didn’t like: Uhm. Needs more Tank on a horse. Obviously. Duh.

Book Review: Wulfgard, The Hunt Never Ends

Wulfgard, Werewolves, Monsters, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Monster Hunting

By Maegan A. Stebbins. Get the book on Amazon!

In the civilized world of humans, ‘monsters’ have all but passed into legend. But when something goes bump in the night, when people begin to disappear, when a dark mystery begins to haunt even the most peaceful villages, there is only one organization to turn to: the Hunters. The Venatori. Having lived a life of discipline and service, former soldier Caiden Voros finds something even worse than the wars of humans: the monsters that hunt them. Horrors yet unknown even to him and his many scars await in the claws, talons, fangs, and mysterious powers of creatures so far beyond humans that he must dedicate himself entirely to the art of slaying them. Harboring a secret of his own and in a constant struggle to find answers while maintaining his sanity, however, Caiden begins to ask the age-old question… Who is truly worse, the monsters or the Men?

Myths. Legends. Monsters. Knights. Already that’s a winning recipe for me. But add rich characters that make me kick the blankets and go Eeee and you’ve won my heart forever. That’s what Wulfgard has and why I want to share it with everyone.

The Hunt Never Ends follows a veteran of life and war.

Caiden isn’t the New Guy who needs to grow into his boots and fill out his uniform. Figuratively or literally. He’s fought his battles. He’s lived. But all of it he’s done with a burden: He hears thoughts that aren’t his, dreams dreams that aren’t his, and feels emotions that, well, also aren’t his.
Which, to be fair, immediately endears him to me personally. Because jgåöphsd, I’m endlessly fond of abilities like that. They get me to keysmash. More so though, it all acts as real good glue that sticks this collection of short stories together, providing a rising threat as living with this unknown gift/curse/burden gets worse and worse as the stories progress.

Not that it’s the only thing that does!

See, there is one particular thing that I think Maegan really, really excels at. Well, two, actually. There’s her folklore research which she packs into her stories. That’s one of them. But the one that has me hooked on her work are her characters. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about her Big Protagonist or a only briefly mentioned side character. They’re all characters. They have depth and they come alive and I can’t stress enough just how much I’ve fallen in love with them.

So read it and experience them. Give them, and the world of Wulfgard, a chance to make a home in your heart like they did in mine.

Get the book on Amazon!

Book Review: The Graverobber’s Sword

A Dungeon’s and Dragons like adventure with a crude as it gets hero, a dutiful sword, and a lot of heart.

By Jessy Jordan. Get it on Amazon!

The Graverobber's Sword

ZEPHELOUS IS AN INSTRUMENT of destiny, an awakened sword passed from hero to hero to combat the ever-looming threat of chaos and darkness. That is, until its previous wielder met his untimely end without naming a successor. Now it lies in wait, clutched in the death-grip of a friend, waiting for a new hero…

KERA NO-CLAN DOESN’T BELIEVE in heroes, destiny, or sobriety. Spending most of her life running from her past, she has little aspirations beyond her next drink. She spends her waking hours robbing graves and pawning what she finds to fuel her hazy nights, with little consideration for tomorrow. Little did she know that one grave–one sword–would change her life, whether she wanted it or not.

She is now forced to face a destiny that she has been unknowingly hurtling towards, racing against time to face the consequences of her own actions while hating every second of it.

What I expected:

Going into Graverobber’s Sword, I was prepared for a sort of buddy tale shared between a sentient sword who digs destiny and greatness, and his new wielder who doesn’t.

This wasn’t it though.

What I got:

A Dungeon’s and Dragon’s like adventure campaign that occasionally goes off the rails.

While the book starts out as I’d expected and we’re focused very much on Kera and Zeph, it quickly takes a turn before they (or we) can get comfortable. Not saying Kera was anywhere near comfortable. Neither was Zeph. Because hoo-boy, Kera is a mess. And that mess meets Smith and his daughter and then we get to see just how much of a piece of work she really is.

Right about thereabouts, I almost put the book down. Kera’s distrust for others and her absolute disregard for anyone but herself came to a boil and really, really tested me. But then I didn’t — and I got to admit that I admire the author for getting that reaction out of me and convincing me to keep reading anyway.

After introducing us to Smith and his daughter and the disaster that follows, the book takes another turn and all of a sudden we’ve got a Quest and a band of reluctant campaigners on our hands. Each member of the group is unique, comes with their own baggage, and they spend the rest of the book unpacking said baggage in mostly very unfortunate circumstances.

By the time the book was over, I’d grown to care for all of them, with Will probably being my favourite. And then I realised there’s a sequel, so I guess I am gonna have to go and check that out.

Bit like you should check out this one.

Get it on Amazon!