In that vein (hunting for stories that make my eyeballs dance) I recently walked the show floor at the New York Comics Convention with my sonar pinging, sculling the aisles for hidden treasures. I tend to walk the floor to scope things out on day one, then return on later days to pick up things I must have.
On my last day, so far empty handed, I decided to load up before heading home and stopped by the Archaia booth. They had a buy-one-get-one sale where I stocked up on hardcovers of favorite comics for my own home shelves.
There I discovered a book that opened that barn door in my head and let the prairie sky in.
The book is Royden Lepp’s Rust: Visitor in the Field.
Some years following a ruinous world war, a young farmer struggles to keep his family farm in working order. But the arrival of a boy in a jet pack and the menace that follows bring an immediate danger to his struggle, and raise further questions.
Sepia toned art recalls faded photographs from a bygone era. The heft and clank of the war machines sputter and pop like diesel engines, suggesting a plausible technology both advanced and somehow, very last-century.
As a native of the Canadian prairie, Royden Lepp evokes the wide open but never empty spaces of the American heartlands, here in lower 48 and with our neighbors to the north. The contrast of these implacable broad sunny flatlands with the desperate immediacy of violent action calls to mind how isolated are these family farms. If you are to survive, it will be by wit, toil, determination and perhaps the help of a distant neighbor.
A beautiful luminous light suffuses the book, even when driving a lone motorcycle under a starry night sky.
Some war violence bumps this book onto our young adult shelves. Though the message and tone would be appreciated by all ages, the realistic setting may prove a bit scary for our early graders.
I nominated this book for the YALSA list of best Graphic Novels of the year. Sadly I sent my nomination in on Friday the 28th, and nominations closed on the 31st; the book was only released this past August, thus I doubt it will catch a 2nd nomination unless the committee is paying VERY close attention, but, c’est la guerre. Still, it may not go unnoticed, apparently Fox Studios has optioned it for a movie deal.
By all means though, check it out, I suspect you’ll be as eager for volume two as I am.
Discovering new artists and chatting with favorites is always the best part of the Convention, I highly recommend you attend at least one Con, either here or the Small Press Expo in Bethesda for this reason.
My favorite section of the show is always the Artists’ Alley and Independent comics aisles. Here you get to chat a bit with comics creators, folks who have spent many long hours in a chiropractic nightmare, hunched over drawing desks or computer screens hoping to communicate their inner vision to an appreciative audience. This is one of the only chances they get to see their audience face to face, to find out if their dream translates, whether or not it transmogrifies into money. You meet a fair lot of generally nice guys. eager to chat about their work.
Nice guys with great books include:
Brian Clevenger and Scott Wegener of Atomic Robo ( a great YA book full of Action Science. Like Hellboy without the Hell. Will review soon). Chris Giarrusso of G-Man (previously reviewed) and Jacob Chabot of The Mighty Skullboy Army (will review as soon as he writes another one, consarn it! Both G-Man and Mighty Skullboy are great all-ages books, good humor, I was happy to find out that Chabot and Giarusso are pals).
Artists I will keep an eye on included Sergio Calvet of Chibi Comics (Samurai Dinosaur, Skyjack and the Forty Thieves).
I’ll review my notes and add any others, but will probably review them all one by one in the future anyway. I’m prepping an order for great books I found at the NYCC, so watch this space and watch our shelves.