Fantasy DoubleFeature a Fine Appetizer

A few months ago, we spoke to some gents from Four Star Studios who, in addition to other comics work, were banding together to create low-priced digital comics, available as a PDF or, along with bonus features, available through an iPad app. The first of the series was Action DoubleFeature;Horror DoubleFeature followed, then Sci-Fi DoubleFeature. On July 14, the final “genre” of the series was launched, with Fantasy DoubleFeature No 1.

As an admitted fantasy nerd, and sucker for fantasy anthologies, this was the issue I had highest hopes for. As with all the DoubleFeature series, it contains two stories: “Edrik the Lazy” and “The Cursed Blade.”

The DoubleFeature series itself remains very exciting in a few respects that go beyond the content. It’s an experiment in self-publishing which, particularly through the iPad app, may show us the future of publishing comics, as well as the democratization of such. In addition, when you look at the series as a whole, it starts to evoke a feeling of nostalgia for older comics such as the Marvel Fanfare or DC Showcase series that helped introduce relatively unknown creators to a wider audience. In this issue, for instance, Justin Peterson‘s art on “Edrick the Lazy” just grabbed me and put me in a headlock. I’ll follow anything he does from here on out.

A cartoony style I’d put somewhere between Evan Dorkin and Sam Kieth, the visual storytelling was the highlight of the issue. The story in “Edrick” was good, though at this point it’s becoming clear that these small chunks of story in the DoubleFeature series deserve more pages and fleshing out. “Edrick,” on balance, is a fine appetizer, but I feel like I need more (so here’s hoping the financial model bears fruit).

“The Cursed Blade” by Marshall Dillon and Matt Cossin, is more of a complete story that I’d put in the horror category as much as, or more than, fantasy. It’s a tight little tale that has fine art and a good, if rushed, story worthy of Tales from the Crypt or similar. A young boy finds a cursed knife, mayhem ensues.

On the whole, Fantasy DoubleFeature No 1., despite leaving me hungry for more and having nothing else available, maintains the high quality established by the first three books, with its fun/creepy tales and very good art—even without considering the price. But when you factor in that it’s 99 cents, people, this is can’t-miss comics.

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