The Act-i-vate Primer
I’ll admit it: I thought web comics were a fad. I thought they were interesting, but they would be a passing fancy like pogs, trading cards and GI Joe. But it’s obvious that web comics are here to stay. The problem is there are so many web comics that I need someone to point the good ones out to me. Which is why I read THE ACT-I-VATE PRIMER, published by IDW. The Act-i-vate Primer doesn’t collect stories from the Act-i-vate webcomics site; it’s actually a collection of new material involving the characters from the site!
There were 16 stories within this collection and, like all anthologies, there are some stories that really worked, some that showed promise, but there weren’t any that failed. What makes Act-i-vate so strong is the fact that these are all established creators. Act-i-vate is a place for previously published writers and artists to try new things. Some of the highlights were:
(A) “When Lilly Met Cosmo” by Simon Fraser. This is a straight forward science fiction serial and probably the most conventional of all the stories. Our heroine Lilly is traveling to deep space where she will be one of the few women among a large group of men. Along the way she encounters some strange goings on and a man who seems to know her, but she doesn’t recognize him! This is a very polished story that quickly introduces the characters and a couple of subplots. But that’s to be expected from Fraser. He’s been working with 2000AD for a very long time and is a great writer/artist.
(B) “The Boy who came to Stay” by Roger Langridge. Langridge is by far the biggest name on the book because he most recently re-launched the Muppets for BOOM! He’s not new to the business and is one of the best cartoonists out there. This story involves Mugwhup the Great who Langridge has been writing for yours. It’s the same high quality humor that one expects from Langridge
(C) “Memoirs of Kid Immortal” by Joe Infurnari, which is a story about the quest for power and fame. It also made sure that there is a price to pay for such things. I’m not familiar with Infurnari but he turned in a great short story. He also set the pages up to look like an old comic book which was a nice touch.
There are to many good stories in this book to talk about all of them individually, but “Veils” by Mike Cavallaro, “Bring me the Heart of Billy Dogma” by Dean Haspiel (the one risqué story), “Motro” by Ulises Farinas, and “Persimmon Cup” by Nick Bertozzi were all very, very strong. Finally, all the stories are different. Some are science fiction, some are superheroes, some are just people dealing with weird situations but the diversity of the art and subject matter makes the book enjoyable.
A book like this presents problems for established creators because readers start with heightened expectations. I can easily say this book meets, and exceeds, any preconceived notions you may have! This is an excellent collection that combines good writing with even better art. For those that don’t have time to weed through all the web comics out there, this is a great way to see some of the best stories on the web. Highly recommended not only a book for your shelf, but as a way to find great comics on the web!
- David Lee