Tales from the Udderverse (Mother Udder Comics)
Written by Darren Cameron and Geoff McGrath
Art by Francois LeClerc (including cover), Bolt-01, Bernard Campbell, David Deon, Mat Heldwen, Adam Stone
Colour (“Harla”) by Michael Sanders
Inks and Colour (“Sarna”) by Thiago Franciscato
Lettering: Bolt-01, Tim West
Mother Udder Comics is an independent comic book publisher from Northern Ireland whose first publication, Tales from the Udderverse is available now – a 48-page US format anthology title with a cover by Francois LeClerc, comprising six “prelude” stories with a view to progressing them to full standalone series, introducing a variety of characters and storylines.
Offering a taster of things to come, the stories are the inevitable mixed bag when it comes to what is, in effect, an anthology title, and I’m sure readers will have one favourite over another. It’s a matter of how distinctive the strips and characters are if the series continue as to which will grow and prosper.
The anthology opens with “M-Squad X“, written by Darren Cameron, drawn by Adam Stone – the setting an alien world colonised by humans – pitting a police force comprising aliens and humans against some intestine-loving monster from goodness only knows where. Out in the field, an unnamed duo of officers apparently fall victim to said intestine-loving monster, and the reaction from senior officers at M-Squad (who they were waiting for) seems a bit… mixed.
Running to just six pages, it’s too early to say just how this strip will develop – hard science versus magic? Sorcery versus evil monsters? So this opening episode offers a taster of things to come which works fairly well, but Adam Stone needs to loosen up on his art and definitely needs to use more camera angles to tell the story
In terms of story detail within the script, “Beasts“, written by Darren, drawn and lettered by Bernard Campbell is similarly scant in this taster title, but the art has a lovely nod to Moebius about it that makes it quite a distinctive tale.
“The Deepening“, also written by Darren, has some fun art from Bolt-01, revolving around an impending revolution in a lunar city. It offers an interesting central character in the form of a taxi driver, whose many fares include characters presumably integral to the impending uprising, and a view of a city in crisis that some wouldn’t consider. The line from many taxi drivers that you might not believe who they’ve had in the back of their cab never rang truer.
Three stories set on one world written by Geoff McGrath make up the rest of the book, the intention for these “Cluster” tales to feature in one comic, along with plenty of background feature material about the project. For me, McGrath lays his cards out more strongly in the context of introducing characters, and you’re not as reliant on having to read the extra features to work out what’s going on.
That said, there are moments where the script seems superfluous and over explanatory, for example in “Harla“, drawn by Francois LeClerc with colour by Michael Sanders, as it reaches its conclusion.
“Ezra“, drawn by Mat Heldwen, is stronger in script and execution, and delivers a fun mash-up of Old West justice in a futuristic setting, although I think Heldwen’s work would have benefitted from less panels per page, to let the action breathe a bit more.
Rounding off this section is “Sarna“, with art by Devid Deon, with a nice twist on the standard “young girl thrown to the mercy of summoned demon” trope, a completely silent strip with some strong visual storytelling.
Printed on glossy paper, Tales from the Udderverse offers an entertaining “prelude package”, delivering some tasters for a diverse range of stories on offer, and “laying out the stall” for Things to Come. For me, some work better than others and I’d argue from experience that few readers seem to have much patience for mystery and intrigue when establishing your characters is more important at such an early stage in publication.
Of the stories trailed here, “Harla” is certainly more stand out in terms of art, with some reservations on script, with M-Squad-X” a close second – as long as both characters and setting are better introduced within the strip, rather than attendant material, in future appearances.
I’ll be interested to see how these stories develop and I’m sure reader reaction will colour decision making from two busy independent creators, Darren and Geoff, who are not only juggling their own time to deliver new stories but accommodating the workloads of various artists, too, not just this year, apparently, but into 2021! I wish them luck!
• Tales from the Udderverse is available now for £5 plus plus £1.99 UK wide delivery. Payment and postal address via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org | For larger orders and international shipping rates, please contact the publisher via the same email address. All shipping via Royal Mail standard delivery
• Tales is also available from Comichaus either digitally or physical copies and on sale in all Travelling Man stores (Leeds, York, Manchester and Newcastle) as well as in Northern Ireland at Comic Book Guys & Coffee & Heroes (Belfast), Angry Cherry (Derry/Londonderry) and Buzzard Comics (Newry)
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.