By Dan Traeger
I have a little secret to share with you all. It’s kind of embarrassing because it involves a colossal multinational corporation that holds an illegal monopoly on my favorite industry. I hate big corporations. They’re faceless and soulless and they swallow up people in their destructive wake like Great White Sharks on a bait ball of Mackerel. But…
The dirty secret that festers in the dark corners of my psyche is, I love Diamond Comics. I think Steve Geppi is quite probably the only reason I can still buy a comic book in the United States. I love that he bought a museum just to display his comic book collection, and I love Previews. Yes, Previews Magazine, the big catalog of stuff coming hopefully three months from the time you order it. I pick up my comics weekly, but the awful truth is… I look forward to Previews week most of all.
There’s a little problem with Previews though, and that’s an issue of space. Don’t get me wrong. It’s organized well enough, probably even as well as it can be, but it’s really difficult to sift through everything and find new and cool books. I do my best to hunt through it looking for something new and interesting each month, and every so often something catches my eye and I order it. It’s my little way of supporting the indie comics community and most of the time I’m pleasantly surprised. Sometimes though, things go horribly, horribly awry with this scenario and I’ll order something, forget to write it down and have absolutely no recollection of it three months later. Which is exactly what happened with Tap Dance Killer #1.
It just showed up in my pull box and Collan, my current crack dealer, in his typical unflappable deadpan fashion handed it over with a, “Huh, cool cover.” That alone got my attention. You see, Collan rarely comments on anything. He’s not judgy at all and he’s used to the oddball stuff I pull every month. (A notable exception was Alien Toilet Monsters but that’s a story for another day.) He likes what he likes and though I usually agree with his tastes in comics anyway, in the case of this cover, I agreed damnit! But Tap Dance Killer #1 was oh so much more than just another pretty cover.
Tap Dance Killer is the kind of high concept plot most writers can only dream about. It’s the story of triple threat actress Nikki St Claire who gets cast as the lead in a new horror play called Tap Dance Killer. Everything’s coming up roses until her psyche gets stuck in the role and she begins bringing her stage persona into her real life. That’s really all you need. It’s not necessary to know that Nikki is part of a new shared universe that started with Sikora’s other book Apama. Her tale just jumps you right into it with a backstage pass to the story of an anti-hero with a Vaudeville background and a soundtrack by Postmodern Jukebox.
The story is actually a throwback to about mid to late 1970s Marvel. Back in the day you could buy the entire Marvel line for around $20 and every month you got stories from great writers like: Steve Gerber, Jim Starlin, Roy Thomas, Roger Stern, Steve Englehart, Len Wein… the list goes on. While the writing on Tap Dance Killer reflects lessons learned from these comics writing giants; plot, pacing, basic story structure, Ted Sikora definitely has his own highly distinctive voice.You can tell he’s a fan of Bronze Age Marvel but he mixes the lessons learned from these comics writing titans with his own unique voice, and the result is absolutely fabulous. I was stunned to read writing this good on a self-published minor indy comic. The characters are well formed each with their own clear, distinct voice. The plot's pacing humms right along with no hitches and you can see Sikora’s world building exploding off of every page.
I know, I’m gushing and I haven’t even gotten to the artwork yet. So, let’s talk about Nikolaus Harrison for a bit. The most shocking thing about this artist is that Sikora didn’t have to grab him off a steady gig on X-Men or The Avengers. Harrison’s art is professional and polished and light years ahead of most of the current artists with more high profile jobs at the big two. Let me see if I can break out a decent visual descriptor for you. So, Harrison’s art style is like an alchemical mashup of Phil Jimenez’ linework, Jim Lee’s sense of light and shadow, Terry Dodson and Adam Hughes’ sense of anatomy and figure construction, and Todd McFarlane’s ability with perspective changes and action shots. In short, it’s his own style and he’s brilliant!
Tap dance killer is an absolute jewel of a comic. It’s a great story with smashingly awesome art that’s written into an active and vibrant universe that will hopefully just keep expanding. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes great comics and that’s everyone… well, almost everyone, but that’s a story for another time.
Tap Dance Killer #1
Ted Sikora & Nikolaus Harrison
Hero Tomorrow Comics