Earlier this week, writer Chris Roberson and his wife Allison Baker made waves in the comic book industry when they pulled back the curtain on MonkeyBrain Comics, a fresh imprint where creators’ rights are of the utmost importance. MonkeyBrain represents a safe haven for creators to go to create without the need to worry that “The Man” would forever own their intellectual properties (he doesn’t).
Even crazier, MonkeyBrain, as of right now, is a completely digital enterprise. MonkeyBrain has teamed up exclusively with the forefront leader in digital comics, comiXology, to release all MonkeyBrain titles. And to celebrate “Independent’s Day,” as Roberson coined, MonkeyBrain released the first wave of new series under their imprint earlier this week.
I’m coming to you today to give you a rundown of each of the five new series – who’s writing and drawing them, what they’re about, how much they’ll cost, etc.
But before I get into the details, let’s me just start by saying all of the books are worth checking out, at least for their first issues. Personally, I didn’t find a rotten apple in the bunch. But then again, I have a very eclectic taste in comics, able to get into pretty much anything as long as it’s well written and well drawn. Your tastes may vary, however. So that’s where this guide comes in.
Aesop’s Ark #1
Written by: J. Torres, Art by: Jennifer L. Meyer, Cost: $0.99
How do you feel about animals sharing anecdotal stories to help each other live better lives? If that sounds like your cup of tea, then Aesop’s Ark is the book for you.
What I love about this series the most, however, is that it’s a perfect book for children (and let’s be honest: it’s hard to come by comics aimed for the younger crowd these days). Jennifer L. Meyer beautifully renders the book, and the stories by J. Torres relay important life lessons without ever feeling heavy handed.
Amelia Cole and the Unknown World #1
Written by: Adam P. Knave & D.J. Kirkbride, Art by: Nick Brokenshire, Cost: $1.99
At $1.99, Amelia Cole and the Unknown World #1 is the most expensive book in the MonkeyBrain lineup (how freakin’ awesome is that?!). The story follows Amelia as she protects the normal world from the world of magic, along with the help of her aunt.
Judging from the series’ first issue, Amelia Cole and the Unknown World has a ton of potential. The story has a strong setup and the mythology could go in any direction. Therefore, it's an easy recommendation to continue reading past issue #1.
Written by: Paul Tobin, Art by: Colleen Coover, Cost: $0.99
Of the five “first wave” titles, Bandette is probably my favorite. The book follows the thieving adventures of Bandette and her legion of dedicated cronies helping make it possible for her to get away without a scrape or run-in with the law.
According to MonkeyBrain’s official site, Bandette is a mix of Nancy Drew and Tintin, with a bit of costume action thrown in for good measure. I tend to agree with this description 100%.
Also, there is an adorable puppy in the first issue. Must. Buy.
Edison Rex #1
Written by: Chris Roberson, Art by: Dennis Culver, Cost: $0.99
Chris Roberson isn’t only the co-creator of MonkeyBrain, he’s also contributing one of the line’s first series. Edison Rex sets out to answer the age-old question: what does a super villain do when he gets rid of his arch nemesis? Imagine if Lex Luthor was able to finally destroy Superman, would he go about taking over the world or would he actually set out to accomplish everything he’s always talked about to prove mankind can aspire to be more when they’re not ogling over an alien up in the sky.
Edison Rex is a well-drawn series by Dennis Culver, whose cartoony visuals give the book a lighter tone, which works surprisingly well for such a inherently dark story. With how this first issue plays out, it looks like Edison is going to have his hands full moving forward. If I had to throw out a label, I would call this book a “dark comedy.” So if that’s your thing, give Edison Rex #1 the ol’ college try.
October Girl #1
Written and Drawn by: Matthew Dow Smith, Cost: $0.99
October Girl follows an 18-year-old girl named Autumn Ackerman, who is currently stuck at a dead-end job serving coffee and who frequently questions the meaning of everything (We’ve all been there, ammirite?).
The first issue of October Girl starts off a little slow. But if you stick with it you might find the best cliffhanger of all the MonkeyBrain titles to date. It was honestly an “Oh crap” type of moment. And I can’t wait to see where this series goes.
That does it for the first wave of MonkeyBrain comics. We’re definitely off to a great start and there’s more coming down the pipe, including a story written by Fables creator Bill Willingham.
The creative possibilities of MonkeyBrain Comics are endless considering none of these creators have to worry about corporate meddling. This is an imprint made by creators for creators. That’s an exciting notion, indeed.
If you’re a digital comics reader, then you can log into comiXology and find all the MonkeyBrain books for sale right now (there’s a handy advertisement on the home page). If you haven’t yet dabbled in digital comics, this gives you an excuse.
For readers interested in the books who don’t want to dive into the realm of digital, MonkeyBrain is looking into eventually bringing the stories to print in trade form. However, no concrete plans have been made just yet.
So what are you waiting for? Give some new creator-owner series a shot!
Erik Norris is a freelance writer for sites such as ComicVine, IGN and CraveOnline.com. You can stalk him on Twitter @Regular_Erik.