DEMONS (32 pages cover to cover)
Content: (28 pages)
Story & Art by: Eric Kim
Editing: Christine Rentschler, Chris Eng
Publisher: Inkskratch Publishing
Cover Price: $8.00
Time to focus on some local colour. Smack dab in the T-Dot, there’s a vast array of artists, animators, illustrators, inkers, writers that flesh out the four walls. For all you uncultured individuals, I’m referring to Toronto, the capital of Ontario, one of ten provinces in Canada.
Eric Kim is a do-it-all gentle man. How much more talent can one have? He writes! He draws! He inks! He has a wicked sense of humour! Maybe he can belt a tune and strum a guitar as well. More on him later.
DEMONS is brand new!! Hot off the presses doesn’t begin to describe it. Mr. Kim completed this individual book early this year and featured it at TCAF (Toronto Comic Arts Festival). The best thing about this story is that it’s one-and-done. Five characters comprise the cast. Short and sweet!
The character simply known as The Old Man spots a sign to Niceville. He decides that he has no other recourse than to head there. The town’s name is a definite misnomer. As soon as the elderly citizen is spotted, the residents think of ways to swindle him. Niceville is town of ex-cons, you see. They desperately need income. If the coot shells enough bucks, it could turn into a tourist trap.
The next few panels demonstrate the blatant hornswoggling plaguing that town. The Old Man is wary and wise. Bert Nox and Anna Shade approach him, showing their hospitality. He refuses to be generous to strangers and weirdos. Their conversation is interrupted when furious flipping is taking place in the lake. Dollar signs are in the eyes of Bert and Anna.
Bert rushes off to the rescue. He is the consummate capitalist. “What, don’t wanna go for the money?” The Old Man retorts: “I’m too old to go diving for dollars, thanks.” Bert continues, “Come to Daddy, moneybags!” Anna is vying for the victim’s wallet. The drownee turns out to be a Demon a.k.a. a madskipper. This is their ticket to the Big Time. The Old Man tries to make the duo see the error of their ways.
After an examination, the doctor deadpans: “I treat people, Anna. Not figments of the imagination!” The demon awakens. He is most definitely not for sale. When he sarcastically states that he will contemplate the offer, his back is strained and he produces two offspring. It’s chow time! Even as the townsfolk are being consumed, Anna is still focused on a get-rich-quick scheme. Exit, anywhere but here!!
Somewhere in the swamp around a campfire, Oldie scolds the twosome for their avarice. Anna has a viable solution. She will summon the Kronk. After a stomp and a quick invocation, the Kronk appears like a genie out of the bottle. After pointing him in the right direction, he dispatches the Demons quite easily. All magic comes with a price. Turns out the Kronk is the lesser of two evils. His reward will be to possess all of Niceville. He’s eyeing settling down. Yuck yuck yuck!
The trio find themselves in the swamp once again, safe from harm but broke and hungry. An anonymous source belts out a rhyme for them to use against their ‘saviour’. A strand of his hair stirred in wine will turn him to stone. Bert and Anna arrive at the right time. The Kronk is in a peaceful slumber. Bert plucks a hair. Unfortunately, this awakens the beast. Kronk is outraged that no poems were recited nor songs sung to compensate the disturbance. Bert is successful in placing the hair in the Jesus juice. He then offers the decanter for consumption. A poor attempt at “Roses are red…” is muttered before Bert is stuck at finding a word that rhymes with poison. What a maroon!! This sets off Kronk who is ready for the kill. Much to their surprise, the spell worked :0 Kronk is now a statue.
Bert says thanks to the invisible entities. Guess who? The madskippers!!! The diabolical imps are just as shocked that their ruse worked. The Old Man provides a much needed save. He topples the monolith formerly known as Kronk. Instead of being grateful, Bert and Anna are outraged that their cash cow has gone up in smoke. The youth of today, eh? One Demon emerges from the rubble. He and Oldie make eye contact before they head off in different directions. Be careful what you wish for because it just might come true!
The themes are quite apparent: greed and lack of responsibility. Life’s greatest challenges and most serious matters cannot be swept under the rug or pushed aside. Everyone must take onus for his/her actions. Money never buys everything. Money is not the root of all evil. Greed is. It spreads its tendrils entangling those that embrace it but also affects all others.
Eric cuts to the chase with this cautionary tale. The dialogue is straightforward and clearly defines the human cast. The Old Man is knowledgeable beyond his years but anyone younger will not or cannot listen to reason. Bert and Anna’s obsession with the dough outweighs any real sense of danger but not poverty. The Demons act according to their nature. The Kronk is the schoolyard bully — a temporary solution to an underlying problem.
Mr. Kim’s pencils are sharp. The outlines are easily distinguishable. His inks have just the right amount of shade providing an air of mystery to The Old Man on page 4 and a sense of foreboding when the trio are in the swamp a second time around on page 23.When Kronk is put in a trance, his face is evocative of the Gorillaz frontman 2D. Anna is especially feminine on page 21, panel 1 even though she is fraught with fear. The rest of Mr. Kim’s renditions have a manga-esque vibe with the exaggerated reactions and playful demeanor of the Demons.
Eric is awesome at illustrating the onomatopœia!!! This beats the Batman TV series’ explosive captions!! Have a gander at pages 9-10, 13-18, 22, 26-27, and 29.
Capitalism: a Love Story
Bert and Anna are a bona fide couple. They are the loveable cons that wouldn’t wish harm upon anyone. Their hare-brained schemes give them a world of trouble but they forge forward.
“I know people that would pay good money to see a real life Demon!” – Anna, p. 8
“Oooo! Our star attraction can speak! He’s worth more mon-eyy!” – Bert, p. 8
“I’m Anna, and we would like to offer you a deal that would make you rich beyond your wildest dreams.” – p. 9
“Imagine the money just to snag a peek at’cha!” – Bert, with diamonds in his eyes, p. 9
“Uhhhh…Aren’t you guys interested in working for exposure? We’ll make a ton of money together!” – Anna to the mini-Demons, p. 11
“Alive and broke, of course…” – much to Anna’s dismay, p. 20
WTH is a Madskipper?
I punched this into Google, Duck Duck Go, and Ixquick. Each of them asked if I wasn’t inquiring about a similar word: mudskipper. According to Wikipedia, they are totally amphibious fish that use pectoral fins to walk on land. You learn something every day!! They resemble lizards if you see any photos.
To say that Eric Kim is spread out over the world wide web is putting it mildly. His résumé has Oni Press, Udon Entertainment, a cover for Dynamite Entertainment (via Udon), some pin-up work for Dark Horse, as well as Simon & Schuster for major gigs in addition to independent companies. You can find him on the Social Network, Twitter, DeviantArt, Instagram and more!! The best way to check out his impressive offerings is to head to www.inkskratch.com
More and more, I’m appreciating the non-traditional masterpieces produced by the numerous talented men and women that embrace this medium. I’m still a stickler for super-heroes but my horizons have expanded and my awareness is ever-growing.
I dare not make an agreement with any archfiend. Nonetheless, I give this book a 1.8 out of 2 horns (90%).