Quinn-tessential Reading

Since starting For the Love of Indie I have been inundated with fantastic writers and artists, turning what was once a hobby into a true passion project (though sometimes life gets busy, chest la vie). It constantly amazes me how much talent is out there and how that talent can collaborate with other talent to create masterful stories. A prime example of this is writer Rick Quinn. Rick has carved out a solid collection of titles with numerous artists and each one of them presents us with a unique tale, often featuring a somewhat dreary (though poetic) future or a mysterious fantasy world. Today I’d like to introduce you to the worlds of Rick Quinn and his exceptional collaborators. Let’s do it:

Spirit Drifters, features a world of dying magic, illustrated by Erik Whalen. In this title world building is in the works as we see 3 tales of this world. The first shows us how those who use magic don’t command the respect that they used to, but while other are turning to machinery for defense, they appear to be the only ones that can help when disaster strikes. Next we have a prose piece about two young women, Yuri and Gala, who in the spirit of every classic fantasy go on a very strange journey. Finally we get to see some of the awesome power that is still held in certain objects, and how they can stop the forces of tyranny, but at what cost? Each of these stories allowed Quinn to run wild with the constantly fun protagonists he introduces. Alternatively we have a vibrant and mysterious world from Erik Whalen that consistently has more to show. We got mechs, we got magic, we have journeys of discovery… it’s a real treat! This is an environment that both creators really got to run while with, and that’s pure fun. Buy Spirit Drifters here!

From Quinn and artist Dana Obera comes Salt Water! Sera lives in a city divided. Half the city is the beautiful water surrounded Utopia where those with the means can truly do anything with their time, the other half is on the underside, under the water, tasked with mining and upkeep that keeps those above ground content. Sera, seeing how wrong this is, continuously decides to be a thorn in the surfaces side, causing some chaos before returning to the deep. Between the maddening dangers of the “Corroded City” and her family’s wrongful placement there, Sera has a grudge. You know what’s really fun? Seeing how that grudge plays out. The illustration and story telling in this book were reminiscent to me of something you’d see come out of Humanoid, with just a touch of Mobius. In 28 pages Quinn spells out these two parallel worlds so clearly, and between the subtle caste warfare and the way Obera draws the ocean and the machinery keeping both cities alive this is a jaw dropping book that I would love to see more of, especially after the end which I won’t reveal. Suffice it to say, Sera is a character with a statement to make, and through the talents of Quinn and Obera that statement is loud, clear, and gorgeous. Buy Salt Water here!

In Quinn and Martyn Lorbiecki‘s Ghost Butterfly, a spelunker of a dead world named David is living day to day with ennui. His days are spent gathering data on a bomb stricken land and his nights put him back in the metal box he calls his room, but separate of both of those is his desire to see his partner, whom was in the initial explosion, once more. This is a “soft tale of the apocalypse”, full of emotion, despair, and through all of it just the slightest touch of hope in a world that seems devoid. Lorbiecki uses water colors to give form to a cataclysmic landscape with devastation that is so detailed and varied the area David explores looks vast. Adding to that is the nature of the water colors, with natural gradients in the coloring making the world look actually toxic. Rick makes the choice of having a silent story until about halfway through the book, adding to the eerie quiet of David’s reality. When we do get to hear from the characters, we see that though the world is dead, the human element is very much alive… in not just one form. This was a bit of a tearjerker I thought, and the marriage of the two creative styles in this title is seamless. Get Ghost Butterfly here!

Of the titles I read, I found The Dead Sparrow to be the most realistic and sobering. Quinn teams up with G.R. Manning‘s illustrations and Aditya Bidiker‘s letters for a comic about letting go. When Maria suffers a terrible loss she is distraught. Feeling an emptiness, she turns to the birds, a species that she’d often admire, and that taught her (with the deceased) that every creature is special. Maria performs her own ritual to say goodbye… and then the story ends. In 18 pages (12 of which are double page spreads) we see the end of a relationship and something very rare in this type of story, someone doing something healthy to pay homage and say goodbye. Each of the double page spreads by Manning present a mural of Maria’s mourning period or the memories that give her the strength to let go. The story is illustrated with a (slightly muted) vibrant color palette, which really makes the nature imagery look alive and supportive of Maria during her time of need. Quinn shows us a different side to his writing here, introducing and taking away a character in a story that is equal parts beautiful, heartfelt, and for many, relatable. This book is available here!

Written by Rick with Milton Lawson teaming up on the script, letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, and illustration by Martyn Lorbiecki (of Ghost Butterfly fame, see above) is Earworm. Full disclosure, this was my favorite of the stories I read. Detectives have discovered a body with a blown apart head, however there is no forced entry, sign of struggle, or evidence of suicide. When investigating detective Minnie’s partner dies in a similar way, it’s clear that trouble is a foot. As the story continues and the evidence appears to be increasingly viral, we see a combination of the science fiction and horror genre concocting a brand new type of antagonist. Rick has weaponized nostalgia, and I refuse to give more details than that. The story hits every beat on the emotional spectrum as the bizarre combines with memories to form an interest in the main character as well as an overarching uneasiness from an invisible threat. This book puts Martyn through his paces and the result is a speedy mystery melding the ethereal with unknown technologies, introducing us to the insides of characters heads (both literally and figuratively) with explosions of color (with highlights providing effervescence) in deliberate water colored manipulations. Rick, Milton, Hassan, and Martin have collaborated to create a title that uses the memories that makes us who we are against us, with a bodacious color palette and increasingly haunting atmosphere. Get it Earworm here!

Though these five titles all have the same writer you’re able to see a different writing facet in each story, which is a spirit of independent comics that I consistently seek out. Rick Quinn’s stories takes humanity and puts it into stories featuring radiated ennui, explosive memories, dead magic, true loss, and underwater slavery and the result was very positive. I look forward to seeing what comes out of Rick and finding even more creators/collaborations to dig into. If you, the reader, my good friend, come across a book or creator you think should be on my radar, send an email to ftlindie@gmail.com.

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