In Review – ‘CPS – Child Possession Services’

(Artwork by Bobgar Ornelas – for review purposes only).

‘CPS – Child Possession Services’

Case 001-002.

Script and Letters – Jon Westhoff. Art by Bobgar Ornelas. Flats and Colour Assist by Timothy O’Briant.

Case 003.

Script, Letters and Flats by Jon Westhoff. Art by Bobgar Ornelas. Colours by Winston Gambro.

Cover by Bobgar Ornelas.

Variant Cover by Robert Hafferman.

Pin-Up by Bryan Boles.

Published by Part-Time Comics and Coming to Kickstarter on 21/1/2021.

44 Pages – Full Colour.

The Story – ‘Connie is a social worker by day. She has clients to see and tedious paperwork to never be caught up on. She also has a special talent and advanced training in removing and preventing demonic possessions in children. The world has seen a rise in spiritual possessions over the last few decades. In response, the American government has outlawed any possession of minors and created state and federal programs to combat this threat to our safety. C.P.S. (Child Possession Services) is one such program. Constance Dhar is one such disgruntled employee. Connie has worked for C.P.S. long enough to have forgotten that she was once a rising star of the agency. Now she is going through the motions, between nights at the bar. When a series of truly strange possessions begin popping up, Connie will have to decide if she cares about anything other than the bottom of a bottle and her betta fish. ‘

The Cover – This is a good eye-catching cover that has a storytelling element which always works. There are some strong colours on display that should get it noticed on a digital shelf. The image of Constance Dhar with her legs crossed in a circle/pentangle with the tentacles encroaching bears a little more examination. She isn’t wearing a badge or a gun and there is a little pile of cigarettes in front of her where she has been waiting. It immediately gives you a little peep into who we will be reading about. One small problem I have with the page is the placement of the company logo. The first two times I looked at the cover I had to look back to make sure it wasn’t part of the pentangle design. A move top left may assist.

The Review – I just had a little watch of the upcoming Kickstarter video and the writer is American I am guessing. Although the spelling of ‘Mum’ in the opening sequence initially had me guessing differently. What Jon can be forgiven for not knowing is that in the UK the letters ‘CPS’ most commonly refer to ‘Crown Prosecution Service’ (the equivalent, broadly speaking, of the District Attorney in the US). These letters are also know as a more general term for ‘Child Protection Software’ which perhaps has a little more bearing on the story. After I first received the email with the review request this did rather confuse me. Who would bother to do comic about that dusty old establishment organisation The CPS?

But….. that is not what this is about. A fact that almost straightaway became obvious.

It would be an easy go-to to describe this as a post-Fleabag inspired detective story…but….she does fuck a priest and she’s both a little damaged and is a little morally broken. I rest my case your Honour!

This is a supernatural/procedural comic that is split into two stories. Although this may not be immediately obvious on an initial read through as they do fit together seamlessly. These tales provide a decent introduction to the burned-out mystical detective Constance ‘Connie’ Dhar. She is casual in the extreme when presented by a child who is possessed and is more interested in getting off work on time. She is distinctive and likeable in a Millennial/Columbo way. She is also rude and possibly somewhat lazy but gives out the confident manner of a knowledgeable veteran of the squad.

The story has a decompressed feel and focuses on only a few scenes. The encounter at the start of the book is a little bit of a quick read and makes use of quite a few reaction shots for comedic effect. It’s not until we get to the flashback sequences that the writer and artist fit much more detail into a panel and you get a denser, and for me, more satisfying read. There are a few panels which I had to reread to get right and the balloon placements of first person to second person speaking could do with the occasional check.

‘You really fucked this up. Nice!’– Was a particularly unclear comment that still doesn’t sound right? Maybe another balloon with ‘Nice!’ to space the comments apart? The flashback scene also threw me off my reading stride for a moment as it could have done with a caption or a visual hint showing that Connie was remembering back to the time she…..(no spoiling).

The art is solid and consistent throughout. Bobgar manages a new cast of personalities well and they recognisable both in and out of their clothes! The smoking constantly thing, I’ll admit, did get on my nerves a little – but like I say Columbo used it for those moments of consideration so why not here? I notice that at the bottom of one of the pages is a note that says ‘not final colours’. I’m guessing that this applies to the whole of the issue as they do come over as a little flat at times aprt from in the very last (post pin-up) sequence. I also felt that the very different style used in the pin-up broke the flow of the reading experience a little. It has a more Love Interest/Romance concept on show and is a little bit of a sudden change of pace. It’s not bad but maybe just a little out of place.

(Much improved colour work from the last third of the book).

I won’t spoil the ending but it could have been a little bit more foreshadowed and came over as ‘What happened there? Is that the end?’ Maybe that was the point?

In Conclusion – I had some fun with this one. It’s pretty violent and sexual. And it has a sense of humour. The protagonist is someone I would read onwards about and not the least because she likes to sleep around with the odd priest!

The book is due to go live on Kickstarter in just a couple of days so you can have a read and a watch of the video to see if it is up your particular street.

Here’s that Kickstarter link again.

And here’s some details on the creators from the KS page.

Bobgar Ornelas- Co-creator, writer, colors(“origin” stories), cover and internal art, Bob is the driving force behind this giant book. Bob has almost 2 decades of indie comic creation and publishing experience. 

Jon Westhoff- Series co-creator, Jon also scripted and letters the 43 pages of Connie’s story. He has been creating and publishing comics for over  a decade.

Winston Gambro- a Chicago based artist and creator of the comedy webtoon Gumshoe City, mystery webcomic, Overflow and the all-ages action comic Rex Radley: Boy Adventurer. During the day he works as a graphic designer and moonlights on comics he hopes you’ll enjoy. He currently lives with his cat, Hazel.

Bryan Boles- Fantastic artist and creator of many of his own characters, Bryan has provided his awesome take on Connie for the book.

Robert Hafferman- Stunning traditional painter, Robert has provided the Variant full-color cover, for an exclusive tier.

Many thanks for reading.

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