I loved the design of this quarterly anthology but as with any anthology you get a mixed bag of work. Hardknock is a labor of love for six former Northern Illinois University art students and the output in these two issues certainly shows it. The creators are billing Hardknock as a comic but to me it really felt like a zine.
The stand-out pieces in Hardknock #5 were the Stumps McGraw short, "Midnight Dissection" by Bernard Carson and "Story," an impressionistic journey of two philosophically dissimilar travelers by Sean Bates with art by Craig Gunderson. The Stumps McGraw story was compelling by virtue of its sheer weirdness. Hardknock #6 also had a Stumps McGraw story but the illustration style was extremely sketchy.
Issue six was a better package overall. "Minute Man" by Craig Gunderson was about a second-rate hero who avoids the call asking him to assist in defusing a bomb because all of the "A-list" heroes are away on a mission and was amusing. "Jesus is Where You Find It" written by Nick Wetmore and illustrated by Mikel Samson tells the story of pathetic strip joint patron, White Head and was a compelling yet disturbing read.
If youre looking for an interesting zine experience give Hardknock a try. Each issue is an attractive package of comics, faux advertisements and text pieces. If you like a lot of "art" with your comics this title could be right up your alley.
Hardknock probably wont be found on your local stores shelves so if youd like to try an issue or two write 261 East Lincoln, Suite 203, DeKalb IL, 60115. You can also visit their web site at home.earthlink.net/~cgundy/hardknock.html or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.