There are two stories in this issue of Image’s anthology comic that I just loved.
The first is titled “Captain Bill” and is by longtime small press artist Ron Kasman. In it Kasman tells the story of a guy named Jim and his encounter with an interesting junk shop in his hometown. Jim’s a guy in his 40s or 50s, married with no kids, having a nice quiet life designing furniture catalogues. One day Jim is out rollerblading and wanders across a mysterious shop. Seeing a copy of Fantastic Four #1 in the window kindles Jim’s curiosity, so he wanders into the shop. The comic in the window is just a Golden Records reprint, but the store is full of treasure: “milk bottles, train sets, dolls, magazines, vinyl records, posters, lunch boxes… it’s not the same stock they have at the comic stores.” Buying a copy of Fantastic Four #6 for $9.25, Jim happily goes on his way. Jim returns to the shop again and again, slowly befriending the owner, Captain Billy, all the whole buying comics and getting happier and happier. Jim even takes up drawing again, a hobby he had abandoned years previously. I won’t reveal how the story ends, but the ending fits the story beautifully and provides a memorable hook for readers.
Kasman’s story is charming and interesting, and reminded me of more than one dream I’ve had about comics. In fact, I know this story has worked itself into my dreams at night, since I’ve dreamed the collector’s dream of finding the perfect comic shop. In my dream the shop is a lot like Captain Billy’s. Kasman’s art on this story is wonderful: light and loose and charming, while at the same time giving the story a really nice feel.
The other story I loved isn’t as much a story as it is an anecdote. “Paradox Outlet” by Jeremy Nichols and Raymond Rieck is a couple who move into an apartment and find an odd electrical outlet in one wall. The story is not quite a mystery, not quite an enigma, just one of those odd little things that happen to you one day. This story has a kind of Harvey Pekar-like vibe to it; in fact, this is one of the most Pekaresque stories I’ve read in a long time that’s not by the American Splendor creator. This story really made me intrigued to read more by Jeremy Nichols.
There are other stories in this issue, and most of them are quite entertaining. There’s a funny one-pager by Brian Bolland, and a funny tale of “The Cute Zombies” by Chris Giarrusso. Matthew Smith’s “Fade” is intriguing, and “Love in the Summertime” by Piredda, Auriema and Honorato is a very nice four-pager.
But for me the stories by Kasman and Nichols are the real winners in this issue and make it well worth the cover price.