Two months ago, I wrote this post. For the most part, I’ve pretty much stuck to the decision that I made then. I haven’t bought a comic from Marvel or from DC since. At the end of the post, I promised to check out comics that are off the beaten path, comics that are made by the huge number of people who aren’t represented by the big comics publishing houses.
I’m sure that most of you already know about Saga, Watson and Holmes, Rat Queens, and Genius, so I’m going to kick some new flava in ya ear. What follows is a review of a new, independently published comic series, one that I think you do would do well to check out.
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Credits: Keef Cross – Words and Art
Publisher: Rosarium Publishing
Format: In PDF, CBR, and CBZ
It’s always refreshing to read a work that takes an established concept and flips it completely on its head. There’s truth to the saying that there are no new stories, but there is a lot to be said about taking a new story and telling it in a completely different way. DayBlack is a comic series that takes the Vampire mythos and drags it into a completely new direction.
DayBlack is the story of Merce, a former slave turned vampire. Merce, after life full of adventure, has found himself a tattoo artist practicing in the small community of DayBlack, Georgia. DayBlack in itself is interesting: dense pollution keeps the sun from reaching the ground, so there is perpetual darkness. It is here, a place perfect for Merce’s existence, where we watch his unique take on being a vampire that doesn’t bite (often), eats actual human food, and has strange dreams. In the three issues that are available, you get the idea that there are some bigger forces at play here…but I don’t want to spoil anything.
The art smacks you in the face on the very first panel and doesn’t let go. Cross’ design and style is very unique, and sometimes that doesn’t always work for a story but Cross’ work is perfect here. Each panel is a work of art unto itself–most of the pages are splash panels where one or two pieces are the focus. In each panel, there is a depth of scene or a creative use of color that keeps you staring at the page. Color is used sparingly, but well. It’s always striking the first time you see Merce’s coffin, or blood. Interestingly enough, there is an in-universe explanation for why red occurs so frequently.
Cross’ take on vampires is another of the amazingly done parts of this story. Merce is a complex vampire awash in popular culture. His coffin is covered in logos–MF DOOM, Vans, Gorillaz, OutKast (shoutout to all of the Hip-Hop references in this book.). He eats human food, plays the guitar, and uses contemporary technology (shoutout again to the “cheat code” reference–you’ll know it when you read it.). He’s given up biting and gets his blood fix in a very unique way. Cross even presents an alternative on the HIV virus and vampiric reaction to religious symbols. As a reader of lots of sci-fi, it’s clear that he’s done his research and has made a really well-crafted world and character here.
There are only minor flaws in the story. I read three issues, and while learning about Merce and his hometown is interesting, the story is a bit heavy on the exposition. We don’t get anything that moves a plot forward until the middle/end of the second issue. Also, even though this is a book about vampires, there is one death that actually asks the reader to suspend disbelief a bit too much. But, again, those are minor, and don’t detract at all from the awesomeness of this title.
If you’re looking for a fresh comics-reading experience, I strongly advise that you give DayBlack a try. It’s well worth it.
Got any indie comics that you can’t live without? Do you write/do art on your own indie comic? Drop a line in the comments so that people can check you and your suggestions out.
And get DayBlack HERE!