View Full Version : King of Mars reviews School: A Ghost Story

King of Mars
10-11-2005, 08:15 PM
Well, Brian has put me in a weird spot here. See, I posted a thread bitching about a lack of honest/critical reviews on this board so I sorta feel obligated to come out and post reviews that are laced with biting criticisms, and I just can't do that in this case because School was actually good. So...I'm gonna post an honest, positive review here and save my criticism for a book that deserves it. Please, someone, point me to a book I can shred so I don't look like I've joined the Sunshine Brigade. :)

Also, before I get into the actual review, I gotta say, Defferding is a total pro about sending out your book promptly. Yeah, I realize he isn't running a big publishing company here but a fellow could still drag his feet with getting out orders and Brian didn't do that. I was amazed at how quickly my copy of School came.

School is a horror story that's set at Deltski Elementary School. The main Character, Lindsay Buckner, "wakes up" after being brutally and mysteriously murdered and finds she is a ghost trapped (?) in the school. Brian reveals all of this to us in really interesting ways, using flashbacks, overheard conversations, and Lindsay's own exploration to let the background info unfold. He really does a fantastic job of pacing the story and altering Lindsay's physical and mental landscape to allow the story to unfold smoothly. This creates a very natural feel that gradually sucks the reader further and further into the story.

Brian employs a very basic sort of storytelling dialogue with his characters. Typically, I like really snappy, witty dialogue because, for me, it plays a big role in getting me interested in fictional characters. Brian doesn't employ that sort of dialogue but, with this book, I think it works to the story's advantage. This book has the feel of a childrens' fable gone horribly wrong and, in the context of this story, the basic dialogue really seems to work and add something to the story. This is kinda like Where The Wild Things Are meets A Nightmare on Elm Street and it really doesn't need Buffy style witicisms to work.

Brian's art has drawn some negative feedback from certain publishing companies but I think it works beautifully here. Yeah, it's simple and sketchy but I think it's done that way intentionally in order to accentuate the "fable gone wrong" feel of the book. Although nowhere near as polished, it sort of reminds me of the work of Frazer Irving on DC's Klarion the Witchboy book. My only complaint is that, in certain panels, the sketchy art and lack of color (the book is all black and white) made it sorta difficult to tell exactly what was happening. I figured it out, but it wasn't as immediately obvious as it should have been.

I was also really impressed by Brian's character designs. Every horror book/movie/comic needs some quirky and/or imposing figures to give it flavor and keep people coming back for more. There are some interesting characters that appear at the end of the book that fill that role nicely.

In summary...I was really impressed by the 'Ding's work. The book was nicely paced, seemed to have an overall atmosphere and direction it was deliberately embracing, and it contained some cool, offbeat artwork. I think the best compliment I can give is to say that it actually left me wanting to read another issue. I want to see where this is all going and, because it's a very unique book, I really don't know where it's gonna end up.

Damn, that's a lot of sunshine pumping...but I really did enjoy it. :)

10-11-2005, 08:18 PM
I liked it a lot too, I think it's shameful Diamond won't carry it.

Brian Defferding
10-11-2005, 08:34 PM
Probably the best review I've seen thus far! Thank you for your honest and kind words, King of Mars. I can only hope you'll enjoy issue #2 just as much - and if you don't, by all means say why in your next review :)

And Alex Lannin - let me know when your book is available to order, I would love to read it!

Christian Beranek
10-11-2005, 09:04 PM
Brian's a real class act at the cons. Has a nice display set up too! Although Diamond decided not to carry School the first time around I would hit them up again when you have a collected edition ready to go.

Keep up the good work!

Brian Defferding
10-11-2005, 09:11 PM
Brian's a real class act at the cons. Has a nice display set up too! Although Diamond decided not to carry School the first time around I would hit them up again when you have a collected edition ready to go.

Keep up the good work!

That's a huge compliment coming from you :heart: Thanks man!

You don't do too bad yourself there Mr.Beranek! :) Love your series and I wish you the best of luck with future Dracula vs. King Arthur issues!

King of Mars
10-12-2005, 09:43 AM

Gotta give The 'Ding his props.

Brian Defferding
10-12-2005, 10:53 AM
By the way, a 9-page preview of issue 2 will be up by next week. I'll start an "Official" thread when it happens. :)