Review: Omega Comics Presents, Vol. 2 #2

by Derek Royal

Omega Comics Presents, Vol. 2  #2, by Dan Schkade, J. D. Faith, Jesse Snavlin, Russell Lissau, and Christine Larsen (Pop! Goes the Icon)

In 2007, Las Vegas writer P. J. Perez started Pop! Goes the Icon (PGTI), a blog devoted to comics and pop culture and a place where he could post personal reflections, news, and commentary. After several years he decided to turn his web-based brainchild into a publishing endeavor, one that has become, according to the PGTI website, “a boutique print and online publishing house, specializing in comic books, graphic novels, OCP2-2webcomics, and other forms of graphic literature and pop art.” Its first title was the webcomic created by Perez, The Utopian, which began in 2009 and later published in hardcopy as a limited edition at that year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

A year later, PGTI put out its second title, Omega Comics Presents, a black-and-white anthology modeled after similar comics such as Dark Horse Presents. There were two issues of this anthology, featuring the work of not only Perez, but also of other independent creators such as Alex De-Gruchy, John Dimes, Russel Lissau, Glenn Arseneau, Dino Caruso, Andy Gray, and Jason Copeland. Last year, PGTI brought back the series in a second volume, this time in full color. Issue #2 of the revitalized title has just been released, and it features two stories. The first is the inaugural installment of what appears to be an limited serial, San Hannibal (written by Dan Schkade, art by J. D. Faith, and lettering by Jesse Snavlin), and the other is a short macabre piece by Russell Linssau and Christine Larsen, “Sweet Dreams.” Together, they make the latest installment of Omega Comics Presents something worth noting.

The core of this issue is the first chapter of San Hannibal, a detective/crime narrative set in the fictional city of San Hannibal, CA (which may or may not be a futuristic/dystopic setting…SH19we’re never sure, at least in this first installment). It’s the story of Ira Avery, a private investigator who is hired to look into the strange disappearance of a prize-winning photojournalist. The publisher describes this story as a “neon noir,” and Faith’s style bears this out. The art is monotone pink with heavy blacks. At first, choosing hot pink as the base color for a noir narrative seems counterintuitive, at best. What does pink bring you in terms of grittiness, how does it suggest deception or duplicity, and in what ways does it reveal the shadiness and unsettledness of the contemporary urban landscape? But the “neon” intensity suggested by Faith’s art does underscore a noir tone. It’s like a harsh light has been cast on the subject matter, distorting appearances and affecting the way that Avery sees the world surrounding his missing journalist. In fact, what unfolds in this first chapter brings little in the way of clarity. Everything converges — the suspect lover, a self-centered musician, and a small hipster with a jackhammer left hook — in a smoke-filled club that, true to the “neon” quality of the art, is described as an “electric trespass of the undiscovered venue.” I would guess that we have to wait for the next issue of Omega Comics Presents to see where this story leads, or we can see the next installments on the San Hannibal website…whichever comes out first.

The other contribution to this issue of Omega Comics Presents is “Sweet Dreams,” an eight-page story that every parent can relate to…that is, until the final twist. It’s about a young boy, Billy, who won’t go to sleep because of the monsters he thinks are in his closet. He tries the patience of his parents, especially his father, who feels that the boy is too old for such nighttime foolishness. Christine Larsen’s art is perfect for this short piece, presenting an innocent, iconic, and “sweet” style that contrasts with the grotesque (albeit playful) revelation on the final page.

PGTI is still a young outfit, and while they still have a long way to go, they’re starting to make their mark as an indie publisher. They continue to add new titles to their lineup, including Tales from Lost Vegas, which began as a successful Kickstarter campaign and has recently been released as a comic book. Let’s hope that their roster continues to grow, that their publishing platforms expand, and that we don’t have to wait long for the next issue of Omega Comics Presents.

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