Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett reveals some of his favorite new books hitting the market, including some of the work of Ron Fortier as well as manga by Chifuyu Sasaki and Naoko Kawano (Gurihiru).
Due diligence compels me to reveal Ron Fortier, author of comics such as Green Hornet, Terminator: Burning Earthand The Lost Universe of Gene Roddenberry, has been a friend of mine for decades. In January 2009 (see “The New Cool”), I plugged in his comic Mr Jigsaw, and as I said then, I know that promoting the work of a friend can expose me to accusations of cronyism. But I was a fan of his work first and his friend much later, and knowing me never guaranteed anyone a positive review.
I felt this preface necessary because this week I wanted to write about Fortier’s latest comic, beyond the stars, a six-issue miniseries about “a group of unique Science-Warriors called upon to save all of humanity from unimaginable horror”. I saw a PDF of the first issue, and it deserves your attention, because it’s a kind of sci-fi that we don’t often get in comics these days.
Right now, comic book shelves are overloaded with stark dystopian sci-fi titles, so much so that it’s become the default face of the genre in comic books. What’s the other reason I love beyond the stars as much as me: its future is decidedly on the utopian side without ever seeming creaky old-fashioned.
Fortier and Italian artist Andrea Bormida (whose work is nothing short of amazing) do top-notch world-building work, creating one-of-a-kind clothing, gadgets, and spaceships. Along with a well-realized vision of the future, Fortier does his usual exceptional job of balancing mythology, action, and characterization in the right amounts.
beyond the stars #1 is 1/3 of a “Silverline Sci-fi Extravaganza” for a Kickstarter campaign slated for May 5 through May 22, with the other two comics being Obsolete #1 by Wes Locher, Aaron Humphres, Jose Fuentes and Haley Martin, and Krey #1 Remix by Roland Mann, Steven Butler, Ken Branch and Jeremy Kahn. The trade paperback will feature a total of 70 pages of history and art.
If the Kickstarter is successful, comic retailers can order any combination of the individual comics; 5-10 copies = $4 per copy (+ $8 priority mail flat rate), 11-20 copies = $3.50 per copy (+ $8 priority mail flat rate, 21-30 copies = $3.25 per copy (+ $14 flat rate priority mail) and 30+ copies (up to 100) = $3 per copy (+ $14 flat rate for priority mail) Retailers wishing to order the trade can contact Roland Mann for details .
I’ve been a longtime fan of Astro Boy and its creator Osamu Tezuka (see “The Imending Boy Robot Rebirth”) and a big fan of the Gurihiru illustration team (see “Where The Eyeballs Are”) aka Chifuyu Sasaki and Naoko Kawano (Eisner Prize-winning comic artists Superman crushes the Klan). So imagine my amazement when I learned that Tezuka Productions, Gurihiru and Samuel Sattin (who wrote the graphic novel adaptation of the animated film wolf walkers) had launched a Kickstarter for a new version of Tezuka Unique titled manga Unique: Awakening (Unique: Mezame no Ohanashi).
Contrary to Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, Unico, an incredibly adorable baby unicorn “born with the gift of making all living creatures light and happy” is not widely known in the United States. But I’m already a fan because in the 80s, while I was on vacation, and without knowing anything about them, I picked up two tapes at the video store, The fantastic adventures of Unico and Unico in the Island of Magic, and was blown away. Both are available for free on YouTube.
The Kickstarter had a goal of $50,000, but yesterday over $83,000 was pledged. So it’s pretty much a sure thing that in 2023 we’ll see Unique: Awakening on paper. Gurihiru worked with Tezuka Productions and drew Superman. Maybe eventually, we’ll finally see the Astroboy meets Superman comic that I wanted to see since I was 10 years old.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ICv2.com editorial team.