A few weeks ago, while on Twitter, I scrolled across a tweet by Bruce Brown that evolved into a brief correspondence concerning the need for reviews for this comic. One of the luxuries of Twitter is that we get to have a near-direct line to all sorts of creative minds and – most importantly – otherwise-unsung talent.
“The Earth is ruled by ruthless alien invaders who came to our planet seeking a mysterious power source known only as Sf-92. Now, one year later, the merciless aliens have crushed the planet’s armed forces and annihilated all freedom fighters. All but one: SGT Coleman is Earth’s last hope. If he can find Sf-92 then maybe–just maybe–he can use it against the alien conquerors and win mankind’s freedom. His search brings him to Clay County: a backward, redneck slice of the deep south that is completely unaware–or too drunk to care–of humanity’s subjugation by an alien army. Together with the unlikely allies of Clay County citizens Blake, Vern, Hot Dog and Root, Coleman sets out to find Sf-92 before the Earth’s otherworldly overlords, save mankind, and drink a few cold ones along the way.”
This comic is the perfect example of why there are no real excuses left as to why writers/artists who want to create in such mediums can’t seem to find work and create a name for themselves. As I have said to many before, Nerd is trending. And there is no reason why, in the current market, you can’t get a fun idea out for those willing to give it the time of day. That being said, over the past few years, readers and comic fans have been utterly swamped with all sorts of ideas and reads, with not many of them up to snuff considering just how many “fun” science fiction stories are floating around now or are in the pipeline at various publishing/production companies. Even so, I’m an advocate of the fun science fiction story, particularly when it’s in comic form, because it’s the best delivery system for that genre species. There’s room for the funny, the outlandish, and the more adventurous artistic eye. Enter: Clay County.
The story starts out setting up the cast of redneck hillbilly bumpkins living in an unnamed state, with resistance fighter Sgt. Coleman soon happening upon them in the midst of an alien take-over. Brown cleverly uses their location to set up a joke at the end of the story, but does what happens in-between matter? Yes. Yes it does. Because through good writing and well-implemented art choices, the story moves along at a chuckle-filled quick pace. The story is tightly written; there are callbacks and running gags that compliment the narrative, and show that sometimes the best stories don’t have to be the grandiose, sweeping epics, or an ongoing protracted tale. Really, this story feels like a comic-ized classic episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, and that’s a good thing. It’s stories like these that set the standard for tight writing with fun, clever plot turns; who reading this hasn’t been influenced, in some capacity, by episodic storytelling? Yes, Twilight Zone/Outer Limits episodes follow their own physics and logic a majority of the time, but that’s the fun part about them — you never have to work outside of the story, and if you do, then you’re over-thinking it and missed the point.
If I have any complaints about this story, it’s Adam Mrozowski’s art and E.T. Dollman’s lettering. I was able to read this story rather quickly, and I did enjoy the art because it represented the script work well, but both really could have been a little better. It almost seems as though Mrozowski is channeling Bill Watterson with his line work, inks, and even colors, but I can’t be sure. Here, some panels seemed to be rushed versions of what they could have been, and clearer character designs and more detail-oriented locales and backgrounds (or lack there of) would have propelled this story so much further. Dollman’s lettering choices did cause me to re-read certain word balloons, but the dialogue layout overall was better than some mainstream work, if only by virtue of the more simplistic visuals. Even with all that, I would gladly read another story from this creative team featuring this cast of characters because it all does work well.
This story is available in our Digital Shop for just $6. Really, check the preview out, buy it, and enjoy it. If you choose not to, hope that it’s part of an awesome “Arcana Anthology” of some sort (because it deserves that much), if we don’t get the chance to see more stories from Clay County.