In an episode of alarming synchronicity I’m able to review a Denver-local indie comic debuting at Denver Comic Con on the day the con opens. If you can’t be in Denver to pick up a copy of WICKED AWESOME TALES in person, fear not, there are links that will enable you to attain a copy. What we have here is a volume anthologizing five comic shorts with a definitive pulp homage flair, from its painterly cover by Felippe Ecchevaria to its interior artwork and themes. Each carves out a corner of the pulp tradition universe with its own original accents in tact.
WICKED AWESOME’s five tales include “The Paranormal Consultant”, “Starcrosser”, “The Smuggler’s Lament”, “Dad 2.0”, and “Thunder Monkey”. The titles give a hint about what genre traditions they display, from weird tales to speculative fiction and sci-fi genre-mixing. The concepts in the anthology alone are appealing, but the artwork is especially strong, each story grounded in its own firmly argued aesthetic.
“Starcrosser” is also written by Todd Jones, drawn by Bill Thompson, and lettered by Gaubatz, and features the “intergalactic marshall” Ian Hatfield who brings the tropes of the old west into an alien bar to right some wrongs. “Starcrosser” feels like something out of 2000AD both in energetic lines with richly brushed inking and in its blending of sci-fi with a central indomitable figure with tech on his side.
“Thunder Monkey”, (or as it’s more fully titles “Night of the Beast: Starring Thunder Monkey”) is written and drawn by Lee Oaks! and combines superhero features, the elements of a monster tale, and even the sub-genre of animal hero stories with a little of a Hellboy take on the grim and gritty of keeping the world safe. Oaks’ panels are packed with attention to mood and creature-creepy detail. The “starring” aspect is another reminder of the serialized heroes of the pulps, but also of the early short narrative combinations of the golden age of comics.
Title: WICKED AWESOME TALES
Publisher: Nasty Wolf Comics
Creative Team: Todd Jones, Ron Fortier, Lee Oaks!, writers/
Jeremy McHugh, Bill Thompson, Chris McQuaid, Chad Blakely Lee Oaks!, artists/
James Gaubatz, Brian Level, letterers/Felippe Ecchevaria, cover
Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress. Find her bio here.