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I Read an Indie, Creator-Owned Comic, and I Liked It - A Review by Angela Rairden

comic reviews indie comic LIttle Sally review

For as far back as I can remember, I have loved writing. Aside from that year or so when I was a kid and I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian (doesn’t every animal loving kid go through that phase?), I have always wanted to be a writer. So, when Kevin Fields posted that Frankie’s was looking to hire a blogger or two, I jumped at the chance and, well, here I am.

Although I wouldn’t say that I’ve completely, unequivocally accomplished my dream (because I’m still trying to finish writing a book, among other things), blogging for Frankie’s is definitely a step in the right direction, and I pinch myself at least once a week when I think about the fact that I’m doing this at all. So, when an aspiring local comic book creator posted in a Facebook group that I’m in that he was looking for people to review the first three issues of the comic that he had written and illustrated, it only seemed right to pay it forward a little and write about it here.

Although you probably haven’t heard of Joshua Estes, or his comic Little Sally, it was clear to me from the first few pages that this comic has been a labor of love for him, and it only seemed right to share it with a larger audience (that’s you, Frankie’s fans!). In a short bio section on the webpage he’s created for Little Sally, Estes explains that the idea for the comic first came to him back in 2003, at which time he created a short one shot that, nearly twenty years later, he’s finally expanding into a full-fledged series.

I went into Little Sally knowing nothing about it, and really having no idea what to expect. In exchange for writing this review, Estes had sent me a digital collection that contained the first three comics in what he plans to be a twenty comic series before he’s through. The comic is dark, both in artwork, and subject matter. Narrated directly to the reader by a somewhat deranged talking teddy bear named Ted, Little Sally is a vengeance story in which the title character has been resurrected after a violent death to help other children that are in danger. Aided by Ted and an attention-challenged stuffed unicorn named Uni, Little Sally’s two favorite stuffed animals in life, the three mysteriously reanimated friends punish those who would do or have done harm to innocent children by enacting a violent death upon the evil doers themselves.

Sally has been brought back to life to be “an instrument to correct that which is wrong” by “restoring the balance which has been tilted too far to the darkness”. She is given a sort of demonic power which she uses to dispatch of “the worst of the worst” and, with each evil soul they reap, Little Sally and her friends gain new powers.

In a way, this comic reminded me of The Crow, and I don’t mean that as a bad thing. Although the premise may have some slight similarities, the addition of Ted and Uni offer a unique spin on the usual “back from the dead to enact vengeance” trope, as does the threesome’s growing powers. Estes’ artwork is reminiscent to me of James O’Barr’s illustrations in the original Crow comics – set mainly in black and white with dark, black backgrounds and a satisfying mastery of shadow. Estes incorporates just the right amount of color into his work, however, consistently painting Little Sally’s eyes green, her hair bows red, etc. A pop of color in an otherwise monotone afterlife.

My only gripes with this comic are minor ones. First, the font was very light and hard to read. I read this on my laptop and I had to zoom in to be able to read the lettering. I’m not sure how it would have looked on my phone since I knew from the beginning that I wanted to view it on a larger screen. Second, there are a decent amount of type-o’s and misspellings. As a writer, these things stand out to me. However, it could be argued that this tale is being told to the reader by a stuffed animal brought to life, so perhaps the misspellings aren’t terrible. Third, in the first comic, the word bubbles aren’t placed in a logical order in which to be read. I found myself often reading the reply to a comment before I read the comment itself. By the second issue, however, this is no longer a problem.

The more I read of Little Sally, the more I really marveled at Estes’ command of a comic book style of art. The panels and the layouts are really quite expertly done, and I really enjoyed the many different viewpoints he provided for both the characters and the setting.

As I mentioned early, this comic is dark, and it is definitely for mature audiences only. There’s blood, death, nudity, and curse words. If these things don’t bother you, I suggest you head over to Little Sally’s website, where you can download digital copies of all three comics for only fifty cents each.

Do you have an completed indie comic that you'd like me to review? Leave a comment below or email me at angelarairden@yahoo.com and tell me about it!


Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.

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  • Josh Estes on

    Thanks for the review. The Crow is a part of the inspiration along with Spawn, Punisher, Ghost Rider and Sin City. I’ve always been a fan of a good revenge story.

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