In the 1990, cartoonist Pepe Moreno created Batman: Digital Justice, one of the first comics to be produced solely through digital programs. Prior to this, he also worked closely with the comics magazine and publisher Heavy Metal throughout the 1980s and then made the transition into video games, designing Hell Cab and a number of successful Beachhead titles. In the midst of all these prolific releases though, Moreno was also making some less well-known works that never made it into the hands of English-language readers. Now though, one of those works, Gene Kong, will be serialized for the first time in Heavy Metal #278 and #279, releasing in January and February 2016.
The graphic novella follows Eugene Wong, a biogenetic engineer whose small frame and stature leave him vulnerable in New York City, which in the 1980s was not the paradise we know it as today. He decides to splice himself with Gorilla DNA, and one fateful night, as he is assaulted by neighborhood villains, he changes…but is it for better or worse?
Heavy Metal’s press release features some cool tidbits about Gene Kong that will be especially notable for New Yorkers:
Pepe Moreno explains, “NYC was a rough town in the 80’s; crime and decay were part of the city’s “charm”, back when 42nd St. was still 42nd St. and not a street from Disneyworld, back when the later to-become-mayor- Rudolph Giuliani was NY’s us attorney and back in the time when “Bernhard Goetz”, The infamous “subway vigilante” was loose on the streets.”
Pepe was living in the East Village in the 1980’s and would just take a subway ride and his sketchbook if he needed a character for his story. Many of the background extras and speaking characters are based on real people from his neighborhood.
EDIT: the press release misnamed Digital Justice as the first all digital comic. The error has been corrected. We apologize for the confusion.
Alex is the Managing Editor of the Comics Beat. He is also a freelance comics editor with previous credits at Papercutz. He is your go-to fella for creator interviews, conversations about comic book structure, and general DC Comics nerding. Currently geeking out over movies, too.