Saturday, May 11, 2013

Wizard School - Issue #1

I’m (now) fully aware that issue #1 of Wizard School was released online in 2011. I’m currently getting back into the comic book game and decided that the best way to discover some new reading material was to check out my local shop on Free Comic Book Day. Sure enough there were plenty of titles to choose from. There were well known titles like Superman, Batman, The Walking Dead, The Tick and Judge Dredd right alongside lesser known ones (at least to me they were) like The Stuff of Legend, Endangered Weapon B, Molly Danger, The Strangers and Atomic Robo. I took all of the ones that looked interesting and fun and left all the kiddie crap behind (no Spongebob Squarepants for this dude, no way).

There was one that really caught my attention mainly because the shop employee told me that it was definitely not for children. That title was Wizard School. The art style looked kind of rough and edgy yet playful so I picked it up. Once I got home I did a little research and learned that Wizard School is an online series by Minion Comics, with individual pages released on a regular basis. They are up to issue 11 online, and had a limited amount of physical issues of #1 printed for Free Comic Book Day to help promote the series. They have multiple titles available on their website (The Lydian Option, The Night the Power Went Out, Minion and Cargo Cult) that I intend to check out in the future. As for Wizard School, I was laughing so hard at some of it that I had tears in my eyes. Seriously.
The storyline is basically a parody of Harry Potter, where a prophecy speaks of child with a sacred birthmark (three glowing stars on his forehead replacing the lightning bolt scar) who will kill a powerful evil wizard that threatens mankind. Funnily enough that child, now a teenager, is killed in the opening scene and is replaced with bumbling douchebag Russell Graham in order to allow the forces of darkness to more easily take over. Graham is taken to Bumblebane’s Magical Academy of the Wizarding Arts where he meets Headmaster Farnsdorf and is told about his “destiny”. He also meets his two roommates, Celeste (a more snarky version of Hermione) and Merrill (a virtually mute, Pugsley Addams version of Ron), and his talking animal familiar Goatsie (“And what’s the goat doing?” “Eatin’ shit.”). Lots of goofy stuff ensues.

The writing by Kevin Kneupper is clever at times and downright vulgar in others. The clever being when the big bad kills off the Harry Potter wannabe at the top of the book not with magic, but a gun (“Next time put up a ward against bullets”), and the vulgar being when and extremely drunk Graham is being set-up by a dark wizard to take the place of said Harry Potter wannabe and he says “its blowjob o’clock”. The use of adult language is funny at first, but Graham’s character constantly cusses so it wears thin by the end of the book. It also doesn’t help that his character is a complete ass, but the fact that no one seems to really notice or care in the wizarding world evens it out. It’s an entertaining fish-out-of-water story and I really enjoyed it regardless of how crass it can be at times. I’m just happy that it isn’t resorting to toilet humor… at least not yet.
The art by Robert Rath is indeed a little rough around the edges, but that’s what drew me to it in the first place. Sure I like traditionally illustrated comics as much as the next person, but everything here has a Heavy Metal meets old school children’s book feel to it. It’s in your face, colorful and the computer enhancements work quite well. There is some confusion at the start due to there only being a limited amount of space to set up the story, but I got the gist of what was going on. Everything else is laid out quite well and the visual storytelling is for the most part spot on.

So far Wizard School is a winner. This first issue kept me laughing, interested and wanting more. Now that I know that I can go online and continue with the series makes me a happy man. I hope that Minion Comics eventually goes with physical comic books in the future. There’s no better way to show your support than to purchase an issue with your hard earned dollars. I’d plop down a few bucks every month to continue with this series and the others too if they are just as good. I highly recommend checking this title out. Here’s the link to the Minion Comics website.

4.5 out of 5

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