Creator: Kyle Starks
If you ever meet a guy who’s so obsessed with Dracula that he tries to seduce women using tips and tricks learned from the vampire, run. In Kyle Starks‘ new graphic novel, Old Head, Nash “The Knife” “Old Head” Gliven, Jr. and his daughter Willie get caught in a totally bizarre, totally unexpected fight to the death with a group of shapeshifters who are also total creeps. In true Starks fashion, Old Head is a jokey fight book with a fairly serious message. It just so happens to also feature one of the most famous vampires in the world.
Starks describes Old Head as “Space Jam meets Fright Night,” which is a fair description. When the shapeshifters in question attempt to take down Nash for their master (Dracula) and kidnap 12 year-old Willie to become Dracula’s next bride (gross), they quickly learn that although they’re physically strong (and totally down with hurting kids), they’re no match for the Glivens. The cold open provides readers with the first look into just how powerful and feared the Glivens are, including Nash’s late mother — whose funeral and subsequent sale of her home to “the weird castle people” up the road sets off the chain of events in the book.
Basketball is definitely a focal point here, as Nash is a retired player who got into the game in order to deal with his aggression. Starks takes the reader through some scenes from Nash’s childhood and his years as a professional, before diving into the day of his mother’s funeral. From there, there are some flashbacks to what happened before Nash was born, preceded by well-placed foreshadowing that adds a particularly daunting and creepy vibe to the dialogue.
One of Starks’ strengths as a storyteller is his attention to detail, and there is plenty of that in Old Head. Although the advanced PDF isn’t yet colored — more on that below — Starks’ distinctive style brings the characters to life and his voice shines on every page. There are deeply uncomfortable moments with the villains in this story, which makes the ending all the more satisfying — but I won’t say anything else so as not to spoil. The way this story comes full circle is particularly great, especially as small hints are dropped throughout the book that then come to fruition.
Currently on Kickstarter, Old Head features writing and art by Starks; when the project is funded, it will be colored by Chris Schweizer, who also did the colors on Starks’ Eisner-nominated Image Comics series Rock Candy Mountain. Backers can opt in for PDF or physical books, a Dracula enamel pin, a T-shirt, and original art. Starks is aiming to raise $20,000 by Saturday, Nov. 2 at 6:23 AM ET; at time of writing, the project is more than 50 percent to goal.
If you enjoy jokey fight books, weird monsters (like, really weird monsters), and women kicking ass, consider grabbing a digital or physical copy of Old Head.