Friday, December 29, 2017

Lively and Large Bodied

Rock Candy Mountain #5-6 (Image, November-December 2017, $3.99)
Like Spy Seal, Rock Candy Mountain is one of my favorite comic books of 2017. Luckily, that list so far isn't all Image Comics, but that publisher is over-indexing on the quality comics front this year. And this title has been a real pleasure.

Kyle Starks's simply and languidly drawn comic about hobos, selling your soul to the devil, World War II and the Spear of Destiny, and one man's struggles to return to his wife and daughter—perhaps at the titular mountain—is a lively, large-bodied story. Chris Schweizer's color work is excellent (case in point, #5's us of green on p. 3, the pinks on p. 11, and the muted evening shades on p. 14), and there's even a surprising use of panel-less space on p. 16 to bolster a transition. Starks and his colleagues have given thought to presentation and pacing, throwing in some belly laughs ("I think your face must be allergic to knuckles.") and teenage colloquialisms along the way ("Wreckt!").

Benito Cereno contributes a two-page text piece "The Destiny of the Spear" to offer background and context for the presence of the spear in the comic—as well as Hitler's possession of it.

While #5 was a little more flashback oriented and expository in nature, #6 is all action. The devil returns to Pomona Slim, and our hero is getting chased on a train. That chase lasts most of the issue, and it is very funny ("Guys! Please be better at your jobs!") and visually beautiful. As above, the art and coloring are particularly effective in this book, as is the timing of panel sequences—p. 3's initial leap between train cars is awesome. But it is the third panel on p. 15, and the single-panel p. 20 that impress the most artistically. That page—oh, that p. 20—is beautifully composed.

At the end of #6, Ryan O'Sullivan and Plaid Klaus serve up a five-page backup story promoting their new book Void Trip.

Availability: Rock Candy Mountain #1-4 have been collected. A second volume combining #5-8 is expected in March 2018. You can also buy the two issues online.

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