Milk Cartons & Dog Biscuits


Written & Colors by Kevin Tinsley
Art by Phil Singer

Published by Stickman Graphics
Price: $38.95 (Hardcover), $19.95 (Softcover)

My Verdict: You had me at "lycanthrope."

Welcome to Stonehaven. Imagine a large metropolis like New York City, but here's the twist: living amongst the mehums are elves, ogres, sprites and any manner of fantastical beastie you can think of. Into this sprawling mass of life and concrete steps Ranger Dan Parsons--though not by choice. His daughter, Melody, has gotten mixed in with the wrong crowd and has run off to Stonehaven and seemingly disappeared. Parsons doesn't trust the City Guard to handle his daughter's case, but hey--he may be law enforcement in the provinces, but he gets cut no slack in the big city. He turns in desperation to half-elf private investigator Victor Jardine and sets in motion a chain of events that will lead him towards his daughter, yes, but into scads of danger as well.

I was trying to figure out exactly how to relate to you how well this book reads. And I finally figured it out: it's like a damn good Law & Order TV movie. Hey, that's a compliment: I'm a Law & Order junkie, dammit. I mean, don't go putting pointy ears on Jerry Orbach or anything (oh crap, sorry, it's already in your head, isn't it?), but the similarities are there. The mystery of Melody's whereabouts is nice and twisty and isn't obvious as to what's going on. You've got two well-defined protagonists who are hell bent on recovering the girl and they have that antagonistic buddy chemistry thing going on. Jardine is all about the cash but takes his job seriously, and Parsons is constantly trying to stave off the corruption that he feels the city brings down on him. Tinsley's very good at creating a world and characters and having you care about them, then taking the whole thing on a joyride.

Singer's artwork is solid as well. He's got great facial expressions. Nothing pisses me off worse than an artist who draws faces and they look like they're really saying "I'm having a Maalox moment" instead of whatever it is the word balloon has them spouting. That's just lazy as hell. Frame composition is also quite good, shifting the camera focus around to keep everything interesting, even in a scene where there's nothing going on but lots of conversation.

This sucker weighs in at over two hundred pages, so the price is right even before you get into the bonus material. And oh, you know we're fiends for bonus material. There's an entire appendix, I guess you would call it, of information on the world of Stonehaven, to get you acclimated for your stay. Luckily, there's also a sneak peek at the next story in the Stonehaven series, Subterranean Hearts, which is good--personally, I'm looking forward to it. There's always room for more good stories on my shelf.

The book itself will not street until March, so make arrangements with your comic book store to order a copy now. My store is used to me coming in with last minute requests; I'm sure yours is no different.

Quote: "Are you nuts! Why did you warn me we were going to see a bunch of sociopathic werewolves."

Art copyright 2004 by Kevin M. Tinsley.

NOTE: This preview art is in black and white; the final book is in color. For more preview goodness, check out their site here.

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