I had the opportunity to read a few titles from an independent comic book studio based out of Osterville, MA, called Dandelion Studios. The studio is run by Rick and Gynn Silva with a talented crew of writers and artists.

The titles that I’ve read, Kaeli and Rebecca, Stone, Perils of Picorna, and Zephyr and Reginald: Minions for Hire, were very enjoyable reads.

Kaeli and Rebecca cover courtesy of Dandelion Studios

The first title I read is the first issue of a fantasy adventure story entitled, Kaeli and Rebecca, written by Rick Silva and illustrated by Katrina Joyner. The first issue, “Reflections” has the feel of a fable. Two women, a fey priestess and a human warrior, seek out the old manor of a baron that has since become an evil wizard. Despite the feeling of foreboding in the direct area of the manor, the stories of travelers disappearing after seeking shelter within and the shunning from townspeople upon hearing of the womens’ destination, they explore the manor and discover that its many mirrors are not just a reflection of the wizard’s vanity.

Much like the portals within the mirrors, the reader is sucked into the story. The heroines conflict in personal philosophy, especially with respect to death, yet their camraderie is genuine, seen as they work together and eventually pursue the wizard.

I liked Joyner’s artwork. It worked very well with the story. Very loose but strong in style, she excels in figural studies, giving life to not only the main characters, but the sylph-like creatures of the mirror portal.

The second title I read is an epic fantasy and to a degree a coming of age story called, Stone, written by Rick Silva and illustrated by Alice and Vincent Veidt. This book was my favorite due to its heroine, Donna Stone. She is an aging and overweight traveler ambushed by a gang of thieves fooled by her matronly appearance. With her superior fighting skills, Donna is revealed to be a great fighter well known to this gang, who turn out to be a band of rebels still loyal to their kingdom home, Estania. Forced into exile by a greedy dictator, these rebels enlist Donna’s help in overthrowing him and getting their home back.

Donna Stone is the type of woman that does not bend to any man, yet her years of experience allow her to advise the rebels as well as aid as a fighter. What I liked best about this book is how legends are used. The youngest of the rebel band idolizes one female warrior, yet Donna gives the real story of this female warrior’s demise, adding depth as well as wisdom to the legend. This gives the reader a sense of perspective to the real people behind the icon. The linear artwork of Alice and Vincent Veidt gave each character a distinct and likeable appearance. Even a dictator was nice to look at as he tried to drug Donna’s wine!

The third book I read was the first of the adventure series, Perils of Picorna, written by Amy Kaczmarowski and Rick Silva and illustrated by Missy Pena. It follows the life of Picorna, a young apprentice cleric who was orphaned by a plague and rescued by a rising star in the Church, who falls into intrigue and peril. Picorna is sent to investigate a city church after a key church adviser turns up missing.

This is probably the catchiest of the stories that I’ve read from Dandelion Studios. The reader is drawn from the initial scene where an assasin is fought to the (literal and figurative) cliffhanger and the end of the book, not unlike serial adventure stories popular in the 1930’s and 40’s. Missy Pena’s anime style of illustration might not be what comes to mind when thinking of cliffhanger adventure stories of that era, but it works very well. This is a series that could be very enjoyable to children as well as adults.

The last two books I read is the story of a pair of super villain minions called, Zephyr & Reginald: Minions for Hire, written by Rick Silva & Gynn Stella and illustrated by Gynn Silva. Unlike the other books, this superhero tale is not set in a mystical fantasy land, but the very real state of New Jersey, and its two antiheroes are just a couple of bright programmers, engineers and overall gadget men who just want to hold down a job in their respective fields. This is a little hard to do with their social flaws and more so after one boss meets his demise after his grand scheme. They’re minions, they work for the bad guys, but deep down, they are just a couple of guys making a living….and trying to keep the boss off their tails when a scheme is thwarted by a band of heroines. The heroines in question are very cute girls in the eyes of our minions, one even forming a strange and unlikely captive/informant bond with the two. To tell the minion’s story is an unusual direction, and Gynn and Rick Silva’s storytelling make it work well.

Gynn Silva is a strong illustrator and my favorite drawings are of the animals. The Minion’s cat, who one would think might just sit in a lap or otherwise just be in the background, just pops out on the page. There is a sense of realism in a giant spider robot meant to attack a major city. I especially liked the back cover of the second issue where the cat attacks the spider, scaled down to equal size. Any cat lover could enjoy it.

When I read the books, I couldn’t believe how good they were. It has been awhile since I’ve been dead tired, but unable to stop reading. I didn’t turn in until I finished, Stone. I reread it the next day-for professional purposes, of course! At the same time, writer’s block hit me like a ton of bricks. Conveying this view to review form started to prove difficult, as I want to interest (and direct) readers to these books. Hopefully, I was able to do so in this review. I look forward to more titles.

You can visit Dandelion Studios online, or, if you are going to be in Stamford, CT, anytime soon, you can visit in person at ComiCONN on August 27th.