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5 Best Local Comics I Picked Up at Comicpalooza

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One of the best things about visiting Comicpalooza is that it's a great opportunity to meet local comic creators hoping to get their name out. This past weekend I picked up five new books from our hometown heroes, and they are well worth looking into.

Weretrucker I loved Weretrucker from the moment writer and artist Kaitlin Edlund put it into my hand. For starters, she assembled it there for me from printed pages that she hand stapled. It was such an amazingly old-school zine moment that warmed my cynical old heart.

The books is about... well, a were trucker. Not a man that turns into a trucker at the full moon, but a trucker that turns into a wolf on the full moon. Yes, that should be truckerwolf, but let's not be pedantic about the whole thing.

Anyway, a trucker listening to accounts of brutal slayings along the highways pulls over and finds himself turning into a bloodthirsty monster ready to eat an accident victim. Luckily for him, he has a guardian angel in the form of his Husky, Derrick, who serves as an animal conscience for the trucker when he turns. It's a short, dark tale that has a kind of Del James brilliance about it, and it makes me very eager to read more from Edlund.

Doom Ranch 5000 Mark Nasso has compiled an amazing collection of Texas ghost tales in a single amazing volume. Anyone that grew up devouring Time Life books on the Loch Ness Monster will be instantly hooked, and Texans especially will be thankful to see some of our more interesting mythologies given life.

Each page contains a story and art by a Texas creator. Bruce Small's whimsically haunted toy shop in Galveston is a treat, and Jessica Correa's take on La Llorona is worthy of that absolutely terrifying spectre. Seriously, Correa, thanks for her even more frightening.

Of all the stories in the anthology Amanda Rogers' haunting depiction of El Muerto De Tejas stands the furthest out. A notorious cattle thief was apprehended by the Texas Rangers, and to serve as a warning to other lawbreakers he was decapitated and his body strapped to his horse to wander the plains. His severed head bounces tied to the saddle horn, and his body is marked by the bullets and arrows of those that have tried to send the headless horseman to his final rest.

Mindblowing stuff that any self-respecting appreciator of Texas ghost stories needs on their shelf.

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Psycho Girlfriend Meredith Nudo of Space City Nerd is one of my favorite local personalities. She knows almost every single comic creator in the city, and writes a fair stick herself. Teamed with Jessi Jordan, the two have written an amazingly hilarious domestic comic that should be made a movie post-haste.

It's the story of a man and a woman who live together. The woman is fairly normal, all things concerned, but the man is an insecure dillweed who takes literally every comment from his girlfriend as some kind of hidden sign of derision or aggression. It's the complete and total inversion of the "bitches be crazy" trope that is done with such amazing wit that you find yourself mentally punching every man-child you've ever met that couldn't handle himself without drama.

Also, it contains the single best exchange I've ever heard in a comic book.

Man: You're mad at me.

Woman: No but I'm going to be mad if you keep interrupting Robocop.

That's gold right there.

Atomic Robo Vol. 9 #1 I don't talk about it nearly enough, but Atomic Robo is just a really great book that Red 5 Comics puts out. The story follows a robot built by Tesla that has different adventures across time periods. The best part about the series, especially if you're me and you've missed about six volumes, is how you can drop back into it at a moment's notice and never miss a beat.

Robo has been thrown back into time thanks to an explosion and the antics of time traveling dinosaurs. Now he's riding the range in the Old West and trying his best to not affect the time lines. That all goes to hell when he saves an old man from a ruthless bandit gang and is forced to help a small town defend against the repercussions.

Oh, and there's a drunken Doc Holliday because of course there is. If you ever watched the movie Shane and thought, "This could use more robots" then this is the perfect book for you. Brian Clevinger just does wonders with the story. Don't worry if you've missed the first eight volumes. You can (And should!) buy them later.

Transyltown #4 Bruce Small continues to draw and write the most adorable little monster comic in the world. Timmy the Vampire has come so far from being just a shy kid unable to talk about girls to a... well, he's still kind of that. Still, the friendship between the monster slayer Alicia and the werewolf pup Luna is beyond cute.

This is basically Transyltown Goes Hawaiian, complete with surfing competition. Timmy, Alicia, and Luna are here to relax, but the Southpaw Gang (Rapping werewolves, and yes, it's eye-rolling when they talk) are here to lay claim to the beach. Luckily, Alicia plans to beat them at a surfing competition all the while hunting for a legendary sea monster.

There's some great adventure, good humor, and most of all a lot of fun. Finding good all-ages comics in this day and age is hard, but Bruce Small delivers while still keeping the story adult enough to identify with.

Houston is turning out to have a hell of a local comic scene full of a variety of talent. The artist alley in Comicpalooza is always a great way to discover just how true that is.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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