All this week we will be celebrating the true spirit of independence with self-published comics. These brave men and women have broken free of their corporate masters and have taken on all the risks and responsibilities of publishing their own books. Some will be successful. Some will not. But all represent the true spiriti of independence!
Today’s book is Winter City by Patrick Purcell, Carl Purcell, Pablo Verdugo Munoz, and David Arevena Riquelme.
A creative team out of Australia has managed to recreate the excitement and feel of the early Spawn issues in their book, Winter City. With exciting art and multi-layered storytelling, Winter City is truly a book worth seeking out.
In one of the most corrupt cities in the country, wealthy business men are being murdered. On the surface, each of these men seem to be pillars of the community. However, as a mysterious reaper-like figure hunts them down, their sins are laid bare before them and each man must pay the price for his sin. The two detectives assigned to the case are having almost as hard of time believing the stories from colleagues of the dead men as they are believing the stories of the eye witnesses to the murders. And just what connection does all of this have to the seven year old boy who is abandoned by his mother and left to live with his uncle in the country?
The writing team of Patric and Carl Purcell deliver a tight script that hits all the right notes. They spend plenty of time building the tension and layering on the atmosphere so that when the reaper figure finally appeared it sent chills down my spine. They make a good decision to split each issue in to roughly thirds so that it is difficult to know exactly who to view as the protagonist. Is it the detectives on the case? Is it the grim reaper who brutally murders men who deserve it? Or is it the young boy who is the innocent victim of a life he did not choose? Any one of those would make for compelling characters in their own book. However the skillful combination of all three raises Winter City to a new level.
The art by Pablo Verdugo Munoz is clearly influenced by Greg Capullo’s Spawn issues, with a healthy dose of Bernie Wrightson thrown in for characterization and atmosphere. Like the writing, the art is skillfully applied. Each of the three sections of the book has a slightly different feel. From the more standard and realistic look of the detectives going about their investigation, to the dark super-heroics of the grim reaper, and finally the soulful rendering ouf the innocent boy, Munoz has a fantastic eye for creating the right atmosphere for each character. (For comparison sake, you can check out the first attempt at the story by another artist on the Winter City website. It is not nearly as atmospheric of effective)
My only complaint about the art or storytelling is that it borders on cliche from time to time, particularly when it comes to race. The first issue opens with a news report about violence in the city and links it to gangs. The suspect in custody shown on the news is black. When the young boy is dropped off in the country, the person with his mother is black and dressed in a fly pimp suit that would not be out of place in the movie Super Fly. What makes it all the more disturbing is that, at least in the case of the gang member in the first issue, he was originally white. Somewhere along the line, a decision was made to turn that character (who only has a single panel appearance) black. Like I said, some of the racial stereotypes drifted a bit in to cliche territory and detracted a bit from the book.
Overall Winter City is a fantastic book that recaptures the spirit of early Spawn issues without being a pastiche or knockoff. It blazes its own trail of horror and heroics that will leave the reader in a state of agitation with each issue. Winter City is a book that will have you wondering just how clear is your conscience!
The first three issues are available now, with the fourth issue to be released in September. Winter city is available in both hard copy and digital downloads directly from the creators.
The first issue is available for free, and there are seven page previews available for each of the next three issues. You can find them here.