I had the good fortune, not only of hearing what Black Crown had to say at panels at SDCC ’17 and NYCC ’17, but of picking up the convention exclusive of the first issue from the imprint at IDW at the New York show.
Edited by Shelly Bond, the imprint is set to create a shared geography in a loose universe containing what might be described as “dark fantasy” titles but you might want to reconsider what that phrase could mean in the context of an imprint like this. So far, the titles announced range from a kind of upbeat psychological horror (Kid Lobotomy) to tales of female assassins aging out of their roles, or are they? (Assassinistas) to full-on Punk reverie (Punks Not Dead). And to be fair, we don’t fully know what Black Crown may yet be, since it is still evolving in its identity and scope.
But Kid Lobotomy arrives for its first issue this week and deserves a careful read and some judicious thinking about where this imprint is headed on your pull list. Written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Tess Fowler, with colors by Lee Loughridge and letters by Aditya Bidikar, the book is bound to surprise, whatever else you may have heard about it in the time since its announcement as the debut Black Crown title.
Here are three reasons to pick up #1:
1. Though the darker tones of the book have been the most hyped for publicity purposes, comparing it to Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and more, the buoyancy of Fowler’s artwork actually brings an airy energy to the story that will carry you right along as you enter this new world. That’s not to say her work can’t carry gravity, but rather than she has a good eye for the movement of the narrative and making sure this comic keeps pacing in mind for the reader.
2. There’s an interesting, unreliable narrator. This is the story of “Kid” who lives in a hotel owned by his rich father, Big Daddy, and runs in, meanwhile attempting to restore and maintain his sanity after a series of seeming breakdowns. Cheery, right? And yet, Kid’s narrative, stepped in self-mythologizing, is emotive enough to make you care about him. Especially when the comics page “shows” you the real life situations he faced in contrast to his self-concealing narrative. Unreliable narrators are, quite simply, the most interesting narrators of all, and the comics medium is a great place to explore that.
3. It’s a mystery. It’s a very strange, complicated mystery that doesn’t play by the rules. Because of the unreliable narrator, and the revelation of information to the reader that Kid doesn’t fully realize the reader is receiving, we’re in a unique position to try to piece together his life, whether his strange visions are madness or not, and what it all might mean for him as a character, as well as the other denizens of The Suites. That does mean a certain degree of collaboration between the reader and the comic creators in building this story, but it’s a challenge that team Black Crown seem to fully intend.
They are opening the door of that eponymous pub and urging us, as readers, to have a drink and take part in this shared universe along with the creators and characters in a mix of overlapping realities created through the fiction of the comics page.
Check out Black Crown’s Kid Lobotomy #1 arriving Wednesday, October 18th, from IDW.