By Dustin Cabeal
I’m a fan of Skuds McKinley. Yeah, that should take me out of the running on this review, but that’s not how Comic Bastards works. McKinley submitted Dead Days in Kowloon and let me know that Red-Eye is a vapor company that asked him to design six characters and make six comics about them, but that was the only correlation. He could do whatever with the characters and so here we come to Dead Days in Kowloon. Neo-Tokyo is dead. Long live Neo-Kowloon. What I mean by that is thank you, Skuds McKinley, for picking a city that wasn’t overplayed and over “Neo’d.” We meet Harvey Gomez, a man with a red hand as he’s on his way to a job. He’s a bounty hunter of sorts but referred to as a freelancer. He’s given a clean-up job, another freelancer fucked up and is now on the run causing the employer to send Harvey to retrieve the goods no matter what.
The story is simple, but the world and characters are fantastic. McKinley’s character designs are memorable and very cool. Harvey is dressed pretty plainly, but he has a James Dean quality to him. If Dean had a mech arm and a scar over his left eye. But it’s not just the big time characters like the second freelancer or the mech controlling woman that shows up later. No, it’s all of the characters. Even the police have a memorable design give the world personality. The plot may be simple, but the art elevates it to the next level.
McKinley’s art has also improved since the last time I saw it on Plunder. I’m still partial to his black and white work since he really understands what goes into art when working with only two colors/contrast and what not, but it’s really good here. On Plunder he had a colorist that didn’t understand his style, but by coloring his own work you can see how he changed his linework and really grasped both sides of completed product. Ironically McKinley asked me to go easy on his lettering, but I didn’t have a problem with it at all. I probably wouldn’t have paid it any attention if he hadn’t mentioned it.
What’s really developed is McKinley’s storytelling. I think back to Rumble Moon which had a series of short stories, and while they were all good, only one of them could continue on past that point. While this is a one-shot story as well, the construction of the story is much better. It’s paced just right and really highlights McKinley’s abilities as a storyteller.
If there’s five more of these to be expected, then I’m looking forward to it. Even if they’re different from this, but I would be happy to read more adventures from Harvey or just other stories set in this fantastic future that’s been created. Other creators would kill to set up a sci-fi future this easily; that’s how smooth it is. For only a dollar, you should definitely check this issue out.
Red-Eye Comics: Dead Days in Kowloon
Creator: Skuds McKinley
Publisher: Red-Eye Comics