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REVIEWS for The Festering Season

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    " Graphic Novel of the Week: The Festering Season by Kevin Tinsley & Tim Smith 3. Rene DuBoise has returned to the city because her mother was the victim of a police shooting under some very suspicious circumstances. What she finds when she gets back is that everybody is at everybody else's throats with violence and chaos bubbling just below the surface of everything. But what does it have to do with her mother's death? And what can she do to stop it? Well, New York's seen its share of comic book mayhem, but I can't remember the last time I've seen it used as the epicenter for supernatural warfare like this. A fascinating tale of vodou in the big city, this Stickman Graphics release is one of the best mystery/horror bits I've read in a while--and considering its heft, the price is definitely right. Recommended.

    Complete review posted 02/04/04 @

    Publishers Weekly

    The New York Times

    "The Festering Season is no light read, it is full of twists and turns and conflicting motivations, and these 227 pages will keep you engrossed for quite some time."

    Complete review posted 03/07/03 @

    Comic World News

    Complete review posted 03/07/03 @

    THE FESTERING SEASON (Graphic novel)
    reviewed by Scott Woods

    Writer/Coloring – Kevin Tinsley
    Art – Tim Smith 3
    Editor – Deborah S. Creighton
    Stickman Graphics (

    This title doesn't go wrong where a lot of indy comic creators do. Tinsley and Smith don’t rush the tale just to get to the fight scenes they’ve had sitting in their portfolios for years, and they’ve gone to respectable lengths to capture the world around the characters as much as the characters themselves.

    The tale concerns Rene DuBoise, a young voodoo priestess-in-training who comes back home to New York after her mother is murdered under mysterious conditions. The city is in the middle of social and civil turmoil and the murder has only exacerbated the problem. Teaming up with a cultural anthropologist and a woman whose brother was also recently murdered, Rene sets out to get to the bottom of the mysterious workings of the murders and the city’s unrest, since discovering that they’re inextricably linked. With the book’s voluptuously posed heroine on the cover and the description on the back, it all sort of comes off as Hellblazer for Chicks (and Black chicks at that) or possibly even a female Witchdoctor. Fortunately it plays out far more original upon reading and carries its own weight in a lot of ways that most major titles can’t.

    It’s an engaging read, with nicely crafted characters for the most part, given to real tensions and reactions. The horror and fantasy takes more of a backseat to the people story here, which both works and gets tired in spots, but not even close enough to not recommend it. The pacing and lack of in-your-face fantasy give it a great sense of foreshadowing and dread, and you wonder how a major title in the same vein like Fables might fare with such treatment by the clearly gifted Kevin Tinsley.

    There are times when the tale spends too much time on “city talk” in an attempt to capture New York life from a New York perspective. I’d venture to say that the book would be fifty pages shorter without as much of this in it, but it certainly wouldn’t be as winningly audacious as it is without this material. The city itself becomes a character in the story, and that gives it great edge and potential…potential that the story runs with admirably.

    If you come to it looking for some magical slam-bang right off the bat you’ll only find a surface-level buzz overall, since the book is crafting a different manifesto than, say, Hellblazer (though through the same devices, but not unoriginally so), but it’s definitely worth checking out. The art has a great manga-influenced-but-not overwhelmed style that still leaves the characters original- if not natural-looking for the most part, though the often left-over pencilling was WAY distracting at times, particularly when it wasn’t supposed to be. The thing about it that is VERY much like a major-released title is that despite the fact that the lead is a strong woman who uses her brains as well as her mystic muscle, we are offered her presence throughout in an artistically hyper-sexualized way despite her qualities. Lots of cut-off clothes, coy bends of the waist and from-behind (literally) shots, if you get my meaning.

    In the end we’re left with a strong story set with real characters, good pacing and some engaging art, especially with its daring two-tone presentation (tan and gray). That the book was designed as a novel and not a series allows it to unfold in a natural, non-repetitive way that’s refreshing, even at 227 pages.Check it out. The company’s got the Motts, and if they keep their editorialchops up, they’re set to release some really stunning work in the future.

    Scott Woods is a writer and popular poet, with over eight books in this vein. Check him out at

    What You Should Know
    Behind the police brutality and racial tension in the city of New York exists a supernatural conspiracy of world-threatening proportions. In this 240 page original graphic novel, sorcery and Voudou connect with Òreal worldÓ events to form an interesting and creepy tale.

    The Book:
    There are three big reasons that I can give you to read THE FESTERING SEASON Ð the debut creator owned work of Kevin Tinsley and Tim Smith 3.

    1) It is an independently published book of considerable weight without a single bootleg superhero in sight. Highly original.

    2) The creators don«t prance around the politics behind their work. The FESTERING SEASON presents a critical look at the NYPD and NYC government in a time where they«re treated like saints, and sold as "the greatest American heroes." The writers have put some research into their critique, written in the wake of the infamous police killings of Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond, as well countless other abuse incidents, the authors explore the highly racialized public relations war between Mayor Giuliani, the NYPD, and the city«s Black, Latino, and immigrant communities (we are given an uncanny parody of the Black community«s self-appointed spokesman, Al Sharpton). No real-life personalities actually appear, though they are caricturized Ð and the authors make it clear that this is a work of fiction. There are a lot of political ÒissuesÓ in this book, some dealt with better than others (some characters have a tendency to preach). Yet, the framing of a fictional mystery tale within a socially conscious outlook is refreshing, when comics rarely touch any Òsocial issuesÓ with vigor. Rather than simply using New York as a backdrop, like many other books, the creators explore the ways that people live there, and the policies affecting the city and its residents.

    3) The book boasts some impressive, highly professional design work and a 'state of the art' (hundred year old) dual coloring process. It shows how a desktop computer, the skills to use it, and some innovative research can boost the production value of a self-published work dramatically. The lay-out is boffo. And anyone keen on samples should check out the publisher«s website.

    Amongst the political caricatures, Tinsley and Smith 3 create an engaging cast of leads-a young Voudou practicioner, a University cultural anthropologist, and a street-wise young woman - with developed personalities and slick designs. One qualm is that at times there are too many characters to sort out; and the artist has a lot of fun playing with the fashion and the hairstyles of the leads, so that I had to go back and sort them out more than once. The total package of artwork could have used a little cleaning up- but there are sequences, especially action scenes, where the art really shines.

    Keep your eyes open for the works of STICKMAN GRAPHICS-hopefully this is only the beginning of what they have in store.

    THE FESTERING SEASON retails for $19.95 for 240 pages, softcover. You can order it through your LCS or on-line retailer.

    Score: (3 stars)
    Reviewed by M. Mayuran Tiruchelvam
    October 14th 2002

    copyright 2002


    The Festering Season: A Tale of Urban Vodou By Kevin Tinsley Tinsley and Smith 3's new work concerns a Vodoun priestess in training who finds herself battling an evil sorcerer in downtown Manhattan. Sci fi, horror and Caribbean-African spirituality are woven into real-life acts of police brutality. Rene DuBoise returns to New York from Haiti after her mother has been killed, much like Amadou Diallo, by two NYPD cops. The city is already on edge with the ongoing trial of several police officers charged with the murder of a drug dealer whose brother, Gangleos, is part of a Cuban Santeria-related cult that worships the dead. Gangleos is also a suspect in Rene's mother's murder. Filled with zombies, spells and supernatural explanations for real events in New York, the book will make readers think twice the next time the city sprays to kill West Nile virus. Tinsley offers a polemical perspective on Gotham life under former Mayor Giuliani, and Smith 3's cartoonish, manga-influenced drawings bring out the grit of lower Manhattan. While the duotone color is impressive throughout, the panels that integrate the drawings with photographic backgrounds really pop. Ambitious, political, pointedly critical of the NYPD and very New York-centric, this is an engaging, fast-paced action-drama that places legitimate religious movements like Vodoun and Santeria in a realistic urban context despite the supernatural plot. Tinsley's script has an urgent subtext commenting on the illegal police brutality endured by many black and Latino New Yorkers.

    copyright 2003

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