Yet another comics shingle has just been set out:  The Lab Press. This one is launching with ESSENTIALS, a SF graphic novel written by novelist/actor Luke Arnold, who and Emmy-winner Chris “Doc” Wyatt (Rocket and Groot). The book will launch on Kickstarter.

The team behind The Lab Press includes founder and CEO Nicholas Kalikow, Editor-in-Chief Dagen Walker, Vice President of Business Development Diane Richey, and Chief Creative Officer and partner Mike Zagari. Who is Kalikow? According to his Insta, he likes to photograph fancy cars. He’s also a director (Concrete Blonds, Carter and June.)

Mike Zagari is a name better known in the comics world, which many credits to his name, including DC and most recently, the short-lived AMC Publishing line, which included plans for work by Bill Sienkiewicz, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kirk Hammett, and Stephen King among others.

the lab press team
The Lab Press team

On art, ESSENTIALS features many familiar names including DaNi (Sandman The Dreaming), Glenn Fabry (Preacher), Jason Howard (Transformers), Vince Locke (A History of Violence), Brendan McCarthy (Spider-Man: Fever),  Andrea Mutti (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), M.K. Perker (Air) and a cover by Bill Sienkiewicz (New Mutants). Rounding out the team: colorists Jordie Bellaire, Brad Simpson and Wesley Wong; letterer DC Hopkins of AndWorld Design; and design by Emma Price (Barnstormers).

These varied artists will each capture one of the realities ESSENTIALS takes place in. 

In the press release, Walker promises The Lab Press will be where creators can be “audacious with their wildest ideas, subversive stories and compelling art.”

The Beat was provided with further insights from the team:

Walker: “The comics and literature that I secretly consumed as a child changed the course of my life so significantly that it seems almost karmic that I would now be in a position to shepherd powerful stories into existence as Editor-in-Chief.”

Richey: “What I love about comics is the partnership between creator and artist, I’m deeply passionate about creating the space that turns extraordinary ideas into reality.Our mission is to empower and uplift creators, we encourage them to fearlessly share their personal stories, it’s in their sincerity that the soul of great storytelling lives.”

Zagari: “I’m proud to collaborate with such amazing people, both on the talent and company side, to create thought-provoking original graphic novels. The Lab’s well established and up-and-coming writers and artists will be creating meaningful stories that need to be told!”


As for the debut project:

In ESSENTIALS, the world you see around you is not real. It’s a fabrication created for you, by you; built from your fears, your hopes, your miseries and your memories. This subjective reality will soon consume you completely and then all humanity will be lost. But don’t give up! Disgraced mathematician Harris Pax has teamed up with Buttons (an interdimensional being possessing his niece’s favorite toy) and they are here to set you free.

“ESSENTIALS was born out of impossible questions: what matters most in a well-lived life? Is joy more valuable than truth? Does mortality give meaning to our existence? At what point do our perceptions become our reality?” says Arnold, who aside from playing a pirate on TV has also written the novel The Last Smile in Sunder City, and the ongoing series The Fetch Phillips Archives. “We’ve managed to assemble a staggeringly talented group of artists to explore these ideas with us, creating a story that traverses a post-apocalyptic reality, multiple subjective projections, an interdimensional collective consciousness, and the kaleidoscopic labyrinth of our own minds. We wanted to tell a story that could only be fully realized in this medium, and this incredible team has taken it beyond our wildest dreams.”


Co-writer Chris “Doc” Wyatt produced the cult hit comedy film Napoleon Dynamite and has written all your favorite cartoons on TV.  Of the new venture he says, “We’re proud to be working with THE LAB PRESS, a company that has given us total creative freedom and total support, even when we say things like – ‘our vision is to switch between seven different artists on this book to do the different realities, and you have to coordinate everything. THE LAB PRESS is all in. They make it happen.”

They are making it happen with a team that also includes Editorial Assistant Lindsay Musil, and freelance help including Lillian Laserson, John J. Hill, Ryane Lynn Hill, Olivia Ngai, and David Hyde and Dustin Holland of Superfan Promotions.

And there you have it, another scrappy gang of upstarts (and seasoned professionals) looking to make their mark in the world of comics. To follow the adventures of THE LAB PRESS and its first Kickstarter, visit them on Bluesky, Facebook, Instagram and X.