Champion City Comic Reviews

by Bill Gladman

I know what you're thinking. You're looking at this Champion City logo, again, and looking at the calendar, doing the math and coming to the following conclusion. Champion City was over a month ago already.

And this guy is still yammering on about it?

In a word... Yes. In a sentence...Yes I am. That show was the best comic convention experience I had my entire life. Not even meeting people such as Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Steve Englehart, or Peter David can compare to meeting so many of my fellow Comic Related family members for the very first time and hanging with them and so many others I have already met, however briefly that may have been.

And besides this piece...I still have one more Champion City article with pictures that I want to post whenever I find the time to do so (this time around it's all about the after convention stuff) , and that will be the last time that I will mention Champion City 2010.

I think. No promises.

One of the many highlights of this year's convention for me was picking up too really high quality, extremely entertaining, and overall just fun to read comics created by some of the best indie creators working in the "business" of producing indie books and who I actually have the pleasure of knowing.
Ron Fortier and Matt Zolman. First up the latest from The "Captain"...Mr. Jigsaw #7

This is without a doubt my favorite issue of this "award winning" comic. I mentioned this to Ron and he replied "every issue of Jiggy is your favorite issue of Jiggy." Not necessarily true. Every issue of Jiggy is great; Ron and artist Gary Kato set the bar as far as producing a consistent, high quality book on a regular production schedule. Full of great characterization, fun story lines and solid art work. Mr. Jigsaw won a Champion City Award for best on-going indie comic series for all those reasons.

But there have been issues I enjoyed more than others. Up to this point issue #4 has always been my favorite issue. For many reasons. I bought this book the very first day I ever met Ron in person at the 2009 Pulp Fest show in Columbus Ohio. I loved the cover on that book...and the story was top notch. Also, the first all original, full length story to run in the series at that point.

Jiggy #7 has much of these same qualities going for it. I got this book from Ron personally, not through the mail or anything like that as he was appearing in my home town, at a convention I help put together in which Jiggy #7 was one of the many anticipated book releases at that same convention. I know those are all personal reasons, but how do you top that?

Well...let's throw in another great cover. This time around drawn by an artist that I happen to know. Mr. Scott D.M. Simmons. Who just happened to win a Champion City Award as well that same day (best indie artist for his work on the Wannabez), making Jiggy #7 a double winner.

But the book would have been a winner even if Ron and Scott did not walk out of the show with trophies in hand.

Jiggy #7 was inspired by the cover art that Scott drew for the book, on a creative spur more than anything else. A piece of work that Ron immediately loved, but felt didn't really fit the character. got him thinking and it ended up inspiring a fantastic story!

"The Secret Life Of Charlie Grant" is the second full length Jiggy story to run in the series so far and focuses on the premise of a couple of day dreams that lead character Charlie Grant (a.k.a Mr. Jigsaw, Man of a Thousand Parts) has during his "day job" as a shoe salesman.

One story runs a pirate theme, while the other a secret agent theme, both using every member of the Mr. Jigsaw supporting cast in hilarious fashion. My favorites being the "almost" romantic interest for Charlie (Amy Boucher, always a favorite character of mine) as "Captain Hook" and Mrs. Germanie (Charlie's biggest female fan) as the seductive villainess in the secret agent spoof.

This issue comes across as a mix between "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and Uncanny X-Men #153. If you enjoyed either of these great stories you will enjoy this one as well.

Gary Kato throws in a few interesting cameos with the art of two "characters" who Ron knows real well and Jiggy #7 continues to earn every bit of praise the series has generated. Great job to all involved with this book!

The second book that I picked up and one that was equally impressive was Epic #0 by the creative team of writer Tyler James and artist Matt Zolman. Both of these guys are members of the Comic Related web site and the Comic Related family. When I first heard that these two guys were going to be working on a book together, I knew this was a "must have".

I was not disappointed.

I loved everything about this book from the beautiful wrap around cover by Zolman, the well thought out costume design of Epic, the teen age hero in the story, the writing, the look, the cast of characters and the "feel" of the book.

Geared up to bring "the fun back to comics" it hits on all cylinders as we are introduced to Eric Ardor, a young man who gets to live out his childhood fantasies and actually becomes a super hero with a very interesting weakness.

Beautiful women. I know some towns that this would make Eric a God...a true force of nature...but when you live in Miami...that could be a problem.

Tyler incorporates some common themes here. There are aspects of Kick Ass (the way Eric uses his secret identity to promote Epic on the internet, other than that these two stories are as different as day and night) and elements of Robert Kirkman's Invincible (without all the blood soaked beat downs) evident in the story, but at the same time the book and the wonderful characters within the pages of the book have no real problem establishing an identity of their own.

Issue #0 comes with a nine page pin up gallery that features the art work of Zolman and several characters set to appear in the series later down the road. Including some of the most interesting villains I've seen in comics in a while.

I think this book is going to be around for the long haul. James and Zolman are a near perfect creative engine, fine tuned and ready to roll down the highway and I hope the road trip includes a stop in Springfield Ohio for Champion City 2011. Epic is going to be true contender if it is nominated for a Champion City Award next year and is already a true contender, taking its rightful place with the other great indie comics already being produced by members of the Comic Related family.

If you haven't already picked up a copy of Epic #0, I strongly recommend that you do so. This one is going to be one of the ones everybody is talking about in just a few months and you don't want to be left out of that conversation.

That's it for now...back shortly with more reviews including the latest from Titan Books, Mike Luoma, and Ron Fortier's "Boston Bombers".

Until then...see you in the funny papers.

Bill Gladman - Bill is a writer and illustrator and currently working on several different projects including the first issue of an ongoing comic book series (Prodigy), an illustrated fantasy novel (The Book of Noheim), and the first of four illustrated science fiction/fantasy novels (Jack the Rabbit, Living Legend of the Purple Plains) as well as a light-hearted on going mini-comic (Three Wise Men). Bill also pens a column for Comic Related and will be doing a mix of regional convention coverage.

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