Creator-Owned Heroes is an interesting new project published by Image Comics. The first issue featured the beginnings of two comic stories (American Muscle from Steve Niles and Kevin Mellon, and Trigger Girl 6 from Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Phil Noto), as well as an interview with Neil Gaiman, a cosplay spotlight, and various other writings and photo galleries. I enjoyed the first issue quite a bit and was eager to see more. That opportunity came this week when the new issue hit comic shops everywhere.
Creator-Owned Heroes #2 sees the continuation of Trigger Girl 6 and American Muscle, along with various other articles including: Jimmy Palmiotti discussing a product and programs to aid digital artists and offering up Kickstarter tips, an interview with Paul Pope, Steve Bunche elucidating on content throughout the history of comics in “Warning! Objectionable Content,” an interview with entrepreneur personal trainer Victoria Pal, Steve Niles sounding off about music, piracy, and creator-owned work, a piece titled “How Do I Break Into Comics?” by Justin Gray, and Bill Tortolini singing the praises of the unsung contributors of comics—the letters and designers. The unique combination of comics and articles really helps to set Creator-Owned Heroes apart from most comics on the stands. I will briefly touch on each of the different comics and writings mentioned above in this review (but there are many of them, so this will take some time).
Switching up the order that the comics appear this time around, this issue opens with Trigger Girl 6 from Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Phil Noto. The first issue introduced us to a “Triggergirl” being programmed, awakened from stasis, and being sent out on an aerial assassination mission that involved a target on an airplane. This time around the assassination target brings her to the White House and to someone who seems to know a surprising detail about her history, as revealed near the end of this installment. So far I have just been going along for the ride with Noto’s lovely, clean, and action-packed art . We have learned about what this character does, but not much her mysterious origins. With the reveal at the end of this installment it becomes clear that patience is a virtue, and also that Palmiotti and Gray have a few interesting twists and turns up their sleeves. I have really dug some of the infiltration methods utilized and depicted so far in Trigger Girl 6.
I wasn’t totally sure what to think after reading the part one of American Muscle from Steve Niles and Kevin Mellon. The premise is as follows: the world has devolved into a dystopia after the complete collapse of humanity’s immune systems. Not content to live out the rest of their lives within the confines of walled-in refuges, seven people (many of whom share names with some of Steve’s collaborators, friends, and pets) set out into the wastelands in their cars to seek an alternate existence. They quickly learn firsthand just how dangerous it is out there. I liked the concept well enough, but it did take the until this issue for the art style to start growing on me more. Kevin Mellon has a fast-and-loose kinetic art style that reminds me of the wind blowing through my hair when riding in a convertible—not out of place given the subject matter of this story. It just took me a little time to get into it, and it seems to be getting stronger as the story progresses. At the end of the first installment, two members of the group wander off and end up finding trouble in the form of violent, mutant-looking attackers. This installment picks up with the rest of the crew trying to eradicate this threat. These people are heavily armed and don’t mess around. Not finding what they were hoping to in this area, the crew must plan their next move, but a defection in their ranks might mean trouble. American Muscle might prove to be a wild ride, and I look forward to reading more.
Next up was the article section of Creator-Owned Heroes #2. I think just reading the different thoughts of creators whom I respect so much is my favorite part of this title. You are here reading this on a website devoted to the coverage of comics, so chance are that you will enjoy some or all of these articles as well.
First up, Jimmy Palmiotti offers some thoughts on the Wacom Clintiq 24, Manga Studio X-4, and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro that will appeal to artists curious about the latest advancements in digital art creation tools. Jimmy follows this up with some good suggestions and tips that he has learned to run a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Next, Jimmy conducts a fun interview with multiple Eisner Award-winning creator, Paul Pope. It’s always fun to read interviews conducted by people who actually know the subjects in real-life, and this proves to be the case here. Some of the standout eclectic questions involve: snitching off a friend that has committed murder, inheriting a hypothetical bakery, winning the lottery, and more.
Steve Bunche’s “Warning! Objectionable Content” piece explores how comic content changed after World War II, the rise of the despised Comics Code Authority, underground comics, and the perceived defenders of decency that would be happy to stifle and quash creativity and free expression. I almost wish that this piece would have been twice as long, as I would have happily read even more. And yes, Mr. Bunche, damn straight I would read The Black Onanist versus the Disemboweling Catholic Schoolgirls From Mars.
Jimmy Palmiotti’s interview with personal trainer Victoria Pal seemed slightly out-of-place. As a man who walked away from a chef position with a decent salary, benefits, and 70-80 hour work weeks to start my own catering business and follow my writing dream, I totally understand that taking charge of your own path in life is an important choice. This theme is relevant, especially to people working in the arts or on creator-owned comic projects, I just found this interview a little random.
Steve Niles is up next, quickly weighing in on how piracy hurts indie artists, before talking about the latest Monica Richards album Naiadesthat he played bass and guitar on. The album is awesome, and features a book with art from such talented people as: Menton3, Bernie Wrightson, James O’Barr, and many others. On the next page Steve goes on to clarify his thoughts on creator-owned comics, encourages community and support networks for such projects, and maybe most importantly to inspire creativity and diversity in the medium we all love.
“How Do I Break Into Comics?” by Justin Gray further illuminates the importance of creator-owned work to new creators looking to get into comics. He goes on to offer some ideas of how to build a viable and lasting partnership between creators working together. Good advice, that many people don’t always consider until it’s too late.
This issue closes out with Bill Tortolini talking about the importance of capable letterers and designers. These people are make valuable contributions to comic books, yet their work often goes unconsidered by the readers of comics. It’s nice to see them get some praise in print.
Creator-Owned Heroes #2 is another solid issue. I am really enjoying this different take on what to expect from a comic, and this title feels like a free exchange of many ideas and inspirations that push the traditional boundaries of the medium. It feels like a late night jaw-wag over coffee or a beer with like-minded individuals. I am enjoying Creator-Owned Heroes quite a bit. If you haven’t checked out this title yet, pick it up and give it a go! There’s sure to be something here you will enjoy.