Indie Comic Review

Proactive Insurance: The Pros

When I met him earlier this month at Rose City Comic Con, Steven Stormoen gave me the worst pitch I’ve ever heard for his (or any!) comic series: “If you’re into insurance companies, you’re going to love The Pros.” He was dramatically underselling it.

Pros 1 Cover

The Pros has a decidedly cynical premise. It stars a group of covert agents working for an insurance company to fix events ahead of time in high risk scenarios in order to give the company foreknowledge about how said scenarios will turn out. The company doesn’t care what the agents do or whether the scenario has a happy or tragic conclusion, it just wants to know the outcome ahead of time so it can plan accordingly––and make a lot of money. It’s the kind of set up that can only come from a place of deep despair regarding the state of contemporary culture.

Proactive Insurance Explained

But here’s the thing: The Pros was clearly created by idealists. Stormoen is acknowledging the seeming hopelessness of our current state of affairs, affirming all our suspicions about the inherent corruption in our society and then making an argument for the only moral response to these facts: resistance. Even if you fail, you have to push back.

Don’t get the wrong idea here though. This is a fun book. Beautifully crafted by artist Jelena Dordevic. It’s farcical, cathartic fun. Which makes it all the more impressive an accomplishment that it is also a book about something.

You can pick up all four available issues of the first story arc at …and you should.

Pros Camping scene

Mad Doctors

How do you read an indie comic? In my view, if you approach an independent creator’s work the same way you approach a mainstream comic, you’re going to miss what’s extraordinary about it.

Mad Doctors #1

Mad Doctors #1

Mad Doctors, by Matt Blairstone, has all the hallmarks of an indie comic and yet subverts the expectations implied by such a presentation. The art is whimsical, stylized with larger-than-life character designs like something from back in the golden age. The page layouts and overall compositions possess a rough sensibility, complete with small pagination imperfections. Holding the print edition of the book in my hands, it has the overall the aesthetic of one of those morose, hand-crafted comic zines.

But Mad Doctors isn’t one of those lyrical autobiographies about a depressed illustrator; it’s a weird tale. Very weird. It imagines a world were evil geniuses, in the vain of Dr. Doom, rule the planet and hatch machinations to undermine each other's mad science empires. It’s dark sci fi; by the second issue I began to suspect that the cartoony style is intended to soften the blow of its bleak setting. Yet, for every scene of dystopian political intrigue, there might be a battle between a t-rex and a muscle bound cyclops or else some ironically banal office repartee. Whenever you think you have Mad Doctors pegged, it shows a different side of itself.

So, how do you read an indie comic like Mad Doctors? You take it on its own terms. I guarantee you’ve never read anything like it.

You can find Mad Doctors in book stores through Emerald Comics Distro or on Comixology.