Driving down from New York to a new home in Florida back in the summer of 1980, my Dad had the tough time of keeping eight kids occupied. When stopping at a Holiday Inn at the halfway-there point, he imparted upon me a tremendous gift: Shogun Warriors #10 by Marvel. The forty-cent purchase instilled in me a love of giant robots and of comic books. And it kept me from yapping for the rest of the journey. Fast forward to my wanton high school days when my love for science fiction, fantasy, and horror grew. During a visit to a comic book store near the answering service I worked at (that’s human voicemail for doctors and lawyers), I saw the cover for Predator volume 1, number 2.
I was renewed.
For a good five years I amassed longbox after longbox of X-Men, X-Force, Punisher, Star Wars, and Superman comics. Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come taught me that comics could be literature and art. I ended up writing my first academic article on the way Superman achieved mythic status according to the Campbellian Monomyth structure in Kingdom Come. You see, Superman is portrayed as the Christ. Since Superman can’t die and end the series, this is a loophole to justify that he’s full-on myth.
But that’s another story.
A few years ago I walked away from a teaching job to chase a writing dream that burns in the hearts of all downtrodden English teachers. While reading a comic called The Key of Z, I came across a site called Comic Bastards. The review on the site mimicked the impression I had of the book. Then, I listened to the podcast. Dustin and Kevin cracked me up whilst keeping a level head about their reviews. No glowing. No berating. No bullshit.
When I wrote Dustin an e-mail thanking him for his candor, he signed me up to review some books. Over three years and close to a thousand reviews later, I have come to this point.
I think you know what’s coming.
Before that happens, let me tell you the great things about those three years. First, I discovered hundreds of books that I loved, hated, and rated. Each had its own charm, even if it did earn only one star.
Two books stood out as pure joy and reasons why the comic industry must always exist. Eric Powell’s The Goon is the artistic equivalent to Da Vinci and the mental equivalent to Stephen Hawking and Daniel Tosh’s love child. Writing and illustrating the book, Powell presents one of the best-illustrated and wittiest writers in the industry. He deserved the lifetime achievement award after issue two. Yes, it’s that damn good.
Robert Venditti’s work on X-O Manowar showed me a comic can keep me guessing, entertained, and inspired after several story arcs. A hometown hero of mine, Venditti made each issue of X-O punch my guts with perfectly plotted action and the best balance of dialogue and plot. Venditti is the writer’s writer.
In my reviews I have made some enemies with IDW. I will go on record now as saying that I love IDW with all my heart. The company has amassed some of my most beloved licensed characters: Ghostbusters, Transformers, and Godzilla. IDW’s handling of the stories has been lackluster, for sure. But it is out of that respect that I constantly pointed out the flaws. No, IDW, I am not attacking you. I was being the voice that showed what you could rise to be. Hate me all you want, I will always be awed of you.
A quick nod to Dark Horse for being the most enterprising and accomplished publisher. Grindhouse shows that the alternative story can pay off immensely, and other books (too many to be named) from Dark Horse fall into that category.
As this reviewer hangs up his pen, I say a humble thanks to Dustin, Kevin, and the cast of Bastards that made this experience grand. I will continue to check in and get my comic news from this site, and I will keep listening to the podcast with vigor. As I work on new projects, I will be sure to drop a line to Dustin to help me promote them.
So I thank you all for those pages, and I thank you for those moments.
See you in the next issue.
Writer: Carl Boehm Artists: Dustin and Kevin Publisher: Comicbastards.com Price: Billions Release Date: 1/28/15 Format: On-going, and going on