| Malo #1 (of 4), by Dan Garcia |
Art by David Olivarez Jr., Andy Perez, and Javier R. Pena
$2.95 24 pages, Adversary Comix
The first two issues were originally published by Adversary Comix out of El Paso in 2001. The third issue was delayed until 2004, this time self printed in San Antonio under the Rubberband Press imprint. In Garcia's afterward for the third issue, he explains that the group left Adversary over creative differences, and in some ways, the book suffers for the break. While the first two issues are full-sized, black-and-white with a glossy color cover, the third issue is a Kinko’s special, 3/4 size and unstapled. But while the packaging got cruder, the story gets slightly better. During the three year's gap, Garcia seems to have matured as a writer, concentrating for much of the issue on actual honest-to-god characterization. Sure Malo spends most of the issue in a demon/alien battle royal, but at least the plots advancing, now, one beaten ass at a time.
Lonely in Black, the other book bearing the Rubberband stamp is slightly better written with more interesting artwork, though it seems to draw directly from Johnen Vazquez's work (Johnny and Squee especially.) And though printed locally, the books are full-sized black-and-whites with only a year's gap between issues. Unfortunately issue one of this book also begins with a long exposition from the author describing what the book intends: "what is commonly known to intelligent people as 'satire.'" Once you trudge through the condescension, the book's pretty enjoyable. The bizarre high school love triangle (involving a perky blond cheerleader in love with an awkward Goth who's bewitched by a Hot Topic vamp) is so ridiculous, it's kind of endearing, and unlike Malo, Black's hero, Wesley, is a character the average comic book geek can identify with, except for the cheerleader part, of course. Michael Garcia has an interesting perspective.
Compared to Malo's nightmare release schedule, Black is downright dependable, with Issue 3 promised for October of this year. No release date is given for Malo #4.
While neither book is perfect, and better are available on even a gas station's paltry comics rack, the effort the Rubberband Press collective must have expended in putting them on local shelves is amazing, and the constant improvement over the past few years is encouraging. The local comics scene is goofier, more immature and all-around better for having Rubberband Press, and the value of the company's output is only increasing. Here's hoping Malo has enough chingazos left for at least one more issue. To order issues of either comic, go to the Rubberband Web site: www.rubberbandcomics.net.