The world of indie comics is a bigger place than I once imagined. Makes sense, seeing as how indie games are a prominent part of a medium I love very much. It just never dawned on me how prevalent and worthwhile tracking down independent comic artists and writers was. A few years back I wound up at WV Pop Con, a comic book convention held in Morgantown, WV. I only went because the convention was close to my home and I’d never been to a con that focused on comics.
That first day I met some of the coolest local artists and writers, one of which was the writer of today’s comic we’ll be focusing on, Shawn Padraic Murphy. Murphy penned the story for Mechanaflux, while the art was done by Ava Berman. We’ll discuss a bit of the history of the Mechanaflux project, dive into the first issue, and get some insight into the future, as the newest issue is seeking help on Kickstarter.
Mechanaflux is a fantasy adventure written for all ages, but has the tendency to stay on the upper age range in a way that’s comparable to Avatar: The Last Airbender. Originally penned as a screenplay, Murphy realized that the story couldn’t be told without a fairly high budget and a dedicated studio, two things he lacked dearly. After quite some time, Murphy finally made the decision to bring the idea into comic book form, already creating three issues. Our story takes place in the fantasy world of Flux, which has been taken over by an tyrannical, robotic overlord named Gaudra, who has slowly been converting the world into his own image one brutal massacre at a time. Hence our title, Mechanaflux.
The first issue starts with a flash back of a scientist working on an item that could bring about salvation from Gaudra. He forms a green heart amulet, that he then breaks into two pieces and places them on the necks of his two children who are sound asleep. Unfortunately, in the process of creating the amulet, the scientist gives his own life force, only to be discovered by a powerful wizard. The wizard quickly puts a sleep spell on the children to wisk them away just as an attack blasts away most of the town outside. Robots march about, burning everything in sight, looking for the amulet. Just as the wizard looks to be destroyed in a wave of lasers, the reader is thrust to a modern day Earth.
Tossed into a scene more recognizable, we see several characters dealing with typical teenage problems, an abusive father, never waking up early, and sneaking out the girlfriend before anyone finds out. All of these new characters are connected with soccer, as they all play together on Saturdays. Not long after their game, a green heart flashes through the sky, reminding the group of a pendant worn by Father Reese, the patron of an orphanage they all came from. They take this as a sign they should snag the pendant from the often greedy father and move on to make it happen.
Meanwhile in the land of Flux, the same heart blasts across the sky and our heroic wizard from before gets a glimmer of hope in her eyes after years of turmoil. After a quick exchange with some higher ups, we learn that the wizard Darius has been at the heart of the resistance against Gaudra, but has almost given up hope. With the sky sign, she resolves to go to Earth to find the child she hid away, in hopes to use the fabled amulet. However, this is just one half, as the other child remained in Flux, trained by the wizard. Maria, the child with other half of the amulet in Flux, is permitted to go with Darius to Earth, who are joined by their centaur friend. Together the trio travel to the town where it all began, Maria’s home, now a burned husk of what it was in days passed.
On Earth, the three soccer boys Cory, Arad, and Jackson wind up finding the amulet in the orphanage. Upon Cory touching it, the boys are ripped through a rift into Flux, where they awaken surrounded by robots. The two amulets now rest in Flux, but the dark powers of the world will stop at nothing to destroy them. Will our heroes unite the amulets to lead the resistance? How will these Earth raised boys adapt to the fantasy world of Flux? These are the questions that’ll have to be answered in later issues.
Judging on just the first issue and talking with Murphy about the project at Pop Con over the last year, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed this start up. The fantasy world is established in just a few frames and a lot of the action is done nicely, especially in scenes involving the wizard Darius, who is an utter badass. The writing is a little rough at points, but it does get the point across. There’s also a bit of humor to be had too. While the premise is a bit cliche, the execution of the comic is solid overall. It’ll be interesting to see how the lives of the characters effect their interactions later on.
Now, as this is an indie comic, Murphy and Berman have turned to crowd funding for select issues of their series. The fourth issue is available for consideration on Kickstarter. Readers can find Mechanaflux on various comic outlets with many options on Murphy’s website. Murphy has written several other comics as well and are also available on his website. For another of his comics to check out, I recommend The End, a set of stories in which each issue focuses on one character’s coping with the end of the world. Really interesting stuff.
For more from the artist of Mechanaflux, check out Berman’s Deviant Art page.
At the end of the day, the world of comics is just as expansive as any other creative medium. Explore what’s out there! There are plenty of projects that could even be happening locally, but with the internet, new things to enjoy are always just a click or two away. Can’t wait to see what other indie content I can uncover through my adventures!