Readers of this blog must suspect by now that my favorite part of a comic con is neither the panels nor the celebrity guests, but finding and talking to independent comic creators. Why else would I drive four hours to Rhode Island in November?
Rhode Island ComicCon was a great venue to meet and talk to new voices in the comic book field. While I admit to still being backlogged on reviews from New York ComicCon, I do want to intermix the comics reviews from that Con with Rhode Island.
First up is Band. While moving up and down the aisles at RICC, I came across the wife-and-husband team of Christine and Erin Humiston. Christine is the writer and Erin is the artist of this neat and quirky comedy-drama book, which they self-publish.
Christine, who’s writing displays a sharp, sardonic yet ultimately upbeat sense of humor, has a deadpan which would put the great Stoneface, Buster Keaton to shame (Google him, kids). In a morose voice, she told me that she’s an unpleasant person with no sense of humor. She almost had me going. Her work on Band gave lie to her words.
This is the type of gem I keep talking about when I say that Indies are where the greatest creative action is taking place.
The book is about the struggles of friendship and relationships in the context of a garage band. Ace, the good-looking singer with the office day job just got dumped by his girl-friend, bassist, and band manager, Carol. Now, he’s crawled into a bottle while fellow band members Gorilla, a huge mechanic, and Mel, the sweet Polly-Annaish college student try to keep the Band alive. The main story is their search for a new bass player while Ace’s descent into self-pity and self-destruction ends up derailing those efforts. But the real story is about friendship, love, trust and ultimately never walking away from a friend in need.
Ace is not an easy person to like. And yet, his band members, who act more like siblings, refuse to give up on him. As Ace falls into the well of self-pity and tries to push away everyone, Gorilla and Mel defy his efforts. Friendship is, Christine argues, about a commitment to another person, and to be there even when they are being a self-destructive jerk.
Christine could have told a mawkish story, or one filled with melodrama. She could have also gone the other way and made everything into a joke. She missed that one as well. Instead, she balances the humor with drama. Even when Ace is being a total self-centered a-hole, Christine finds not merely the humor but the humanity in it.
When I asked her about her influences, Christine told me that she had read Archie comics until she was 7 and none since then. It shows. She’s neither trying to sound like anyone else nor following the track well worn.
Husband Erin does a great job complimenting the words. His work is slightly cartoonish, allowing him the freedom to play to great effect with the facial and body expressions of the characters. He draws Ace with a caved in look, as if he’s both defeated but trying to look cool about it at the same time. This perfectly fits the character Christine created. Gorilla is drawn as an almost caricature of a big, blond biker dude, which when juxtaposed with Ace creates some very funny visuals. Mel is sweet and innocent like puppies and bunny rabbits. When she is drawn into a scene the dynamics immediately shift.
The first four issues are collected into a trade and three more issues have been produced. Check out their webpage, http://band-comic.com/, check out their Facebook Page, and by all means check out their comic.