Thee Comic Column #97 Robert Kirkman Outcast!

outcast_02This is going to be short and sweet because I’m pushing to get the current novel I’ve been writing for two years finished by this Wednesday. It might not happen – I’m not going to rush the ending. But I have to know I did everything I could to at least try. I’m sooo close. But I also am not about to neglect my weekly column here so that leaves the question, without just throwing up something that is piss poor, what can I talk about that won’t lead into the kind of lengthy dissertation I’ve been increasingly wont to fall into here lately.

Hmmm…

Oh! Got it! A new book that we don’t know too much about yet but that can completely stand on its own, both because of the popularity of its creator and the strength of its premise. What book is that you ask?

Robert Kirkman’s new monthly series Outcast!

And let’s get this out of the way first for anyone new to the column here: I am an avid Lover of Mr. Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. Not the show, that’s okay at best and disappointing most of the time, to the point that, for now, I finally gave up on it last year. However, The Walking Dead comic series has been my #1 book for, oh, I guess eight or nine years now and shows no signs of loosing that position, so yes, I am a Kirkman fan. That said, I have read none of his other series. Not Invincible, not the Wolf Man book, not Thief of Thieves, none of them. This isn’t an instance of boycott, I just haven’t got around to them yet. Eventually perhaps… but I digress; back to the new book by him that I do read.

Ah, Demonic Possession. One of my favorite horror sub genres from the 70’s/early 80’s. I can vividly remember circa six years ago discussing with any horror hound that would listen how very much I wished demonic possession would make a comeback in horror cinema. Flash forward to today and I think it’s the most over-used device going – I got what I wished for and in true Monkey’s Paw fashion I’m sorry I did. There’s so many possession movies, most of them lesser reiterations of better movies that came before them; it feels a lot how zombies felt circa 2002 when I thought they were overused. But all that aside, there’s still room for great stories involving the subject matter and I could tell directly after reading issue #1 of Outcast that this was going to be one of them. Why? Because there’s more going on in Outcast than just your run-of-the-mill, overdone set-up/knock down plot structure that accompanies many of these types of stories. I’m not quite sure what that is yet, but that’s the beauty of the book thus far. Mr. Kirkman is setting up something that feels like it will run for a good long while, and he’s doling out information slowly. The story revolves around a young man who has survived a childhood that was destroyed possession and is now, as an adult, being asked to step in and help out another case. And yeah, that might sound conventional but trust me, it’s not.

Part of the appeal of Outcast, beyond Kirkman’s plotting and script, is the art. Paul Azaceta’s pencils and Outcast 1Elizabeth Breitweiser’s colors give the book a very dark tone that is perfect for bringing out not only the horror, but the paranoia and pain of the characters’ lives. There’s a definite comparison to be made between Azaceta and David Lapham in certain panels, and this adds to the simple, practical yet still effective visual style of the book, which perfectly compliments the story Kirkman’s building and the pacing he’s using to build it.

Issue #2 of Outcast just hit the stands this week (or last week I think) and its great. Issue one is most likely going to be given a second printing, if it didn’t get one already; this was a big deal – that first issue garnered all kinds of publicity, from magazine articles in more mainstream entertainment periodicals to major market radio interviews, to the news that Cinemax had already acquired the television rights for the series.

Okay, that done it’s back into the novel I go. Wish me luck!

……………………..

Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!

 

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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