SPX Spotlight; 2 Mini-Comics from Bill Roundy

This is part of Panel Patter's SPX Spotlight, a series of reviews of work from creators or publishers who will be attending SPX in 2011 leading up to the show on September 10th and 11th, 2011!

A to Z in the Monstrous Manual

Written by Bill Roundy
Illustrated by Bill Roundy

I first picked up a Bill Roundy comic because he had done an excellent parody/tribute to a Marvel character, Northstar. In the comic, which I reviewed a few years ago, Northstar was treated as a human being with real needs and issues, while still addressing his superhuman powers.

It showed Roundy's storytelling skills, which mix humor, horror, and everyday life. In addition, we also get these familiar concepts seamlessly blended in with queer culture, which puts a new twist on the stories themselves. I really like the fact that when I pick up Roundy comic, it's not only going to have a different take on familiar themes--it's going to be good, too. I quickly became a fan.

This is a review of my two most recent pick-ups from Roundy. He is quite prolific and usually had new comics each year at SPX. Hopefully, 2011 will not be an exception!

Brood is a sequel to Yes, Master, which featured an Igor character deeply in love with his mad scientist. This time around, we've got an angsty vampire who pines for a human. Stalking him from afar for fear of rejection (or worse!), our protagonist can no longer stand still when his object of affection is in danger of dying. A love is born--or is it?

As the vampire soon learns, sometimes the dream of the relationship is better than the relationship itself. What to do when the love of your life isn't who you thought he was? If you're a Bill Roundy comic, the results are pure dark comedy.

Gay vampires are not unusual or new, of course. But I really like how Roundy plays with the tropes involved in that concept, doing it all essentially wordlessly and letting thought balloons carry the action. It's not as creepy as Yes, Master was, but I liked that he didn't try to do exactly the same thing, only with a different monster. I wonder if we'll see the Mummy or Wolfman get similar treatment in the future?

Like a fair number of the mini-comics I read, Roundy's art is not fancy, but he does a good job of making things work in Brood. There are quite a few visual gags in the comic that are completed with just a few lines. His art hasn't evolved much in the comics I've read, but it's settled in quite nicely, doing exactly what it needs to do. Though his work is in no way manga influenced, he reminds me of manga-ka who use their story to drive their work, rather than fancy linework, and that's just fine by me.


What's a bored, geeky cartoonist to do when his local D&D group gets cancelled for the day? Draw creatures, of course! A to Z in the Monstrous Manual is a cute sketchbook in which, with a few cheats, Roundy draws a bunch of things people who aren't me get together to rough up on a regular basis. There's everything from cloak monsters to kute kobalds (misspelling mine) to an umber hulk that shows another side of Roundy's geekiness.

Because of Roundy's style, none of these creatures look threatening but they are amusing and fun to look at. I like themed books like this (my small con sketchbook is also based around the alphabet) and guessing at how-what Roundy would draw was a lot of fun. This is a great pickup for you RPG types.

If you're going to SPX this year, definitely stop by Roundy's table and see what he has to offer. If you can't make it to SPX this year, then you can find his comics here.