Michael Chabon’s novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” has it’s writer and artist team creating comic book characters The Escapist, Luna Moth and others in the Golden Age of Comics. Someone at Dark Horse, or perhaps Chabon himself, had the fine idea of creating actual comics stories about those characters. This series takes the concept one step further: in the present day a trio of young aspiring comics creators get the rights to the characters and begins to produce a new series about them. Then they dress up their letterer, Denny, as The Escapist, and plan a real-life publicity stunt to help promote their comic. (You can see right there one reason why I loved this book!)
Writer Brian K. Vaughan has done a wonderful job with this story, weaving together a very contemporary story with lots of classic comics elements. Sure, there are plenty of insider nods and jokes, including a very flattering one about me, but the main storyline is strong enough to engage the reader even if they don’t know a lot of comics history. While the credits don’t make it very clear, Philip Bond seems to have done most of the contemporary story art, and I thought his style was perfect for this book. His characters are appealing and real while still fanciful enough to carry the more out-there elements of action and melodrama.
While the main focus is on writer Max Roth, artist Case Weaver and letterer Denny Jones and their struggle to get the series published, interludes show some of the actual comic stories they’re producing, but with interesting twists, such as having the dialogue reflect the thoughts of the creators rather than the story the art is showing. I think this art is by Jason Shawn Alexander, other sections are by Eduardo Barreto.
The plot thickens when a big corporation’s CEO decides he wants to acquire the rights to the characters, and will stop at nothing to get them. Vaughan deftly weaves together his knowledge of the comics business with an exciting, yet believable storyline.
Great stuff. Nice lettering by Tom Orzechowski, too, which I don’t get to see enough of these days. Good coloring by Dave Stewart, Matt Hollingsworth and others. Excellent cover by Alex Ross. And the introduction by Chabon adds another delightful layer. Highly recommended!