Michelle reviews the indie comic, Cromwell Green. Read it.
It's unfortunate that the independent comic book scene doesn't get as much love as the "big two" because there are some gems waiting to be picked up by voracious readers. Cromwell Green is one such jewel--with great art and lighthearted writing. It was created by Michael Wooley (the artist) and Jessica Kobe (the writer) and together they make an interesting team.
There are currently, as of this writing, three issues of the comic available and each of the issues is a self contained story. I enjoy this type of episodic storytelling as it keeps the narrative fresh and exciting. We follow the adventures of a fifteen-year-old goth kid named Cromwell Green and his friends in a small town named Krakenport. This comic has a bit of a Lovecraftian, almost British vibe to it, which makes sense since in real life Cromwell Green is the name of one of the entrances to the British Parliament. It seems to be a mish-mash of nerd references, old English poetry/stories, high fantasy and cheesy comedy. It shouldn't work as well as it does because it combines so many different genres, but it all comes together with a cohesive feel.
Wooley's art is outstanding and it resembles a combo of Rob Schrab's comic Scud: The Disposable Assassin (1994) and Jhonen Vasquez's work on the popular cartoon Invader Zim (2001). This is not to say that Wooley doesn't have his own style because he has definitely carved out a niche for himself. The interior of the comic is in black and white and Wooley uses this to his advantage--his intricate cross-hatching, shading, and texture work is a pleasure to look at. The panel work is awesome too and he utilizes the "gutters" (negative space between panels) to insert lovely designs or even story elements. I was highly impressed by the layout as well, though at times it does get a little busy to the eye.
While the writing is pretty good for the most part, I feel like it will be a bit "dated" in years to come because it uses a lot of pop culture references. This isn't really a negative aspect, but it is worth noting. I was overjoyed to see lots of wordplay and "Dad Jokes" being used, mainly because that is my favorite type of humor. The pacing of each story is quick and snappy and makes each issue fly by. Each character has their own distinct personality and they are endearing and relatable. Often times indie comics end up being really self-indulgent and biographical in nature, but Cromwell Green manages to buck that trend and stand out as a result. Hopefully the creators get a chance to continue the series because I would enjoy finding out what happens next!
Check out our podcast with the writers behind Cromwell Green too.