I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t back a ton of Kickstarter projects. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I often don’t have the money and I often don’t know about them until it’s too damned late. That being said, I do like Kickstarter a lot, and I’ve never actually been disappointed by anything I’ve gotten through it. That also being said, I usually end up backing things by people I know, like, and think are good creators. So take that with a grain of salt. Basically, I’m going to tell you about a Kickstarter project. Do with this information what you will!
So, to the point: Jason McNamara has a new comic, which he is releasing in four issues, called Ghost Band. The Kickstarter link is here. McNamara has written quite a lot in his career, and I’m not sure I’ve ever read a bad thing by him. He writes about a lot of different things, and he’s equally comfortable with science fiction as he is with a kind of creeping horror, which are the two genres he usually sticks to and which he often likes to blend a bit, as he seems to be doing here. Jason is also a hell of a nice guy and, as I’ve noted before, he’s very fun to talk to because he’s witnessed a lot of weird stuff over the years. I don’t know if that factors into your decisions to back Kickstarters, but there it is.
Anyway, if you want to know, like, what the book is about, Jason was nice enough to send me the entire first issue, so I can tell you about it! McNamara has a talent of establishing things very quickly and grabbing your attention, and within the first few pages of the book, we figure out that there’s been an apocalypse (the Golden Gate Bridge is partially wrecked and cars are abandoned on it), a couple named Sven and Johanna are sailing into the bay, and someone on the bridge is trying to kill them. Not them specifically, it seems, just anyone. He drops a brick with a cell phone taped to it onto their boat, which sinks it, and they swim to what Johanna thought was Alcatraz but is really a floating settlement, full of odd people. The “mayor” (he calls himself that because he wears a top hat and what appears to be Vin Diesel’s fur coat from xXx) tells them it’s the last day of human existence, and why not have a drink? So we’re off.
It’s mostly a set-up issue, which is fine, because there’s a lot of information to absorb. We meet a bunch of characters on the raft, one of whom gets treated rather viciously because he’s kind of a douchebag (we never learn exactly what he does, but it appears to involve disrespecting a woman). There’s a barter system, which includes information, so Johanna agrees to let a woman braid her hair so she’ll tell them what happened to the world (Sven and Johanna are from beautiful Klamath Falls, Oregon, so it’s unclear why they don’t know what happened and why they think the people on the raft would, but I guess they’re lucky to find someone who does know). The mayor speaks of “satellites” coming closer to kill them all, but he’s unfazed by it all. Somewhere inland, a man follows a group of dogs, seeing if they’re going anywhere, but he finds only trouble, in the form of a gang of punks who also speak of satellites and do something fairly nasty to him. The woman who braids Johanna’s hair tells them the story of the end of the world, and it’s clear that humanity’s reliance on technology came back to bite him in the ass. McNamara doesn’t get into it too deeply, but he leaves us with some clues and indelibly creepy images to drive the point home. In a first issue, it’s good to establish the premise, throw in a little action, but most of all, get the reader invested in the characters. We don’t learn too much about the characters, but they’re still intriguing. Sven and Johanna are obviously the “normal” ones, while the people on the raft are a bit stranger, but they’re not completely bonkers, so their oddness is interesting and we, like Sven and Johanna, want to find out more. It’s a good set-up, with a slight science fiction bent to the plot, some weird horror, and the fact that the world is about to end. The name of the book is explained just a bit, as Johanna is enticed to join a rock band because she knows how to play the piano. But that’s all the explanation we get right now!
Anke Gladnick does a nice job with the artwork. It’s not flashy, but it gets the job done – he draws regular-looking people, so their circumstances, while bizarre, don’t take us too far out of the book because everyone looks so damned normal. The odd costumes that some of the people on the raft wear are just that – costumes – so they still look like regular folk who maybe have frayed on the edges just a bit. The gang that appears to be the bad guys are also normal, but this time, it works against our expectations, because they appear to be privy to some kind of technology that is definitely a bit weird, which makes them a bit more menacing because they, also, look so damned normal. Gladnick also does well with the flashback part of the book, where we see the world before it all went to hell, as he uses thinner lines for folds in clothes and such to make everything look a bit sleeker, contrasting with the rest of the book and also setting us up for the horrifying final page. Gladnick’s faces are the slightest bit manga-influenced, meaning we get oblong, bean-shaped mouths without teeth, but that’s fine, because he does nice work with the eyes to show emotion, and the body language of the characters is also very well done. The colors are good, too – a lot of earthy tones when Sven and Johanna are out on the water, and even the blues he uses in a few places is more “chillin'” blue than icy cold blue, which contrasts, again, with the ice blue tones of the flashback, when technology ruled the world. I haven’t seen anything by Gladnick before, but he does a good job with this.
I was hoping to post this before the Kickstarter was fully funded in case it needed a little extra push, but I didn’t get it done yesterday and in the interim they met their goal. But that shouldn’t stop you from pledging if you’re interested in this! It’s a keen comic, and if I know McNamara’s track record, it will turn out to be a very good read. So if you think this is something you might like, head on over and check it out!