Here at LaptopZombie we’re supporters of all things indie, be they films, video games, comics, or any other mode of creative expression. One of the most satisfying aspects of running this kind of website is being exposed to indie gems that we might otherwise have overlooked. Gems like the first issue of writer/artist/letterer/all-round-one-man-band Todd McCullough’s WHO NEEDS THE MOON?, an e-comic distributed through the usual means (ComiXology and DriveThruComics), and on Amazon’s Kindle. A slow-burning tale of small town werewolves and vampires, it covers familiar territory, but in a fresh and invigorating way.
Issue one of WHO NEEDS THE MOON? feels like the pilot episode of a quirky and dynamic TV show – TRUE BLOOD meets TWIN PEAKS. Such comparisons, even of beloved shows, can sometimes be disingenuous, but not here: there are enough similarities to draw parallels, but enough differences to mark out WHO NEEDS THE MOON? as its own creation. As mentioned above, we’re dealing with vampires and werewolves (ghosts also make an appearance), but the focus is very much on the creatures’ human alter egos. The action sequences are restrained and there’s no gore, but it’s still a very adult story. There’s a smattering of profanity and some casual nudity, but it’s the sophistication of the narrative, its emphasis on characterisation, that makes it so grown-up. McCullough spends most of the issue introducing us to the lead character, a tortured soul who is a study in duality, the person he is inside in stark contrast to the face he shows to the world (a disparity made all the more profound by the fact that he’s also a lycanthrope).
As accomplished and engaging as the story is, the art is its equal. It’s both cartoonish and expressive (no mean feat), and McCullough demonstrates enough stylistic flourishes to prove he’s more than a one-trick pony. His night scenes are atmospheric and claustrophobic, with digital colours that are reminiscent of Frazer Irving’s exceptional computer work. The diurnal scenes are more open and less richly coloured, but are packed with details. His panel layouts are superb, helping to communicate mood and further elucidate the nuances of the story, and at a whopping 29 pages for a mere $0.99c it represents exceptional value.
WHO NEEDS THE MOON? is everything you could hope for from a first issue. It firmly establishes the location and lead character, gives us plenty of plot to chew on, and throws enough unresolved threads into the mix to convince us to come back for more. The artwork is impressive, skilfully blending form and function, and the lettering is mercifully bereft of grammatical errors (a bugbear of mine that has ruined many an indie reading experience). Furthermore, for less than a dollar you can’t possibly go wrong.
The comic can be purchased through McCullough’s website. Go on, treat yourself!