For a title that was originally rejected for inclusion in the Previews catalog by Diamond on the grounds that its format was “unpopular with collectors and retailers,” Frank Santoro and Ben Jones’s psychedelic sci-fi action-adventure teen-angst punk-rock extravaganza Cold Heat sure is generating enough prequels, sequels and spin-offs to satisfy even the most dedicated fan of front-of-Previews mega-events.
At the Cold Heat Comics blog, co-creator Frank Santoro reveals that the upcoming Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, will see the release of three new CH titles, featuring the continuing adventures of sword-wielding teenage heroine Castle, resurrected rock god Joel Cannon, and their cosmic alien allies and evil government enemies. First up is Cold Heat 7/8, an omnibus edition of the PictureBox-published series’ next two issues. Next is Fantagraphics’ ongoing anthology series Mome Vol. 16, which like Vol. 14 will include a Cold Heat prequel story — two, actually, one of them featuring art by Jon Vermilyea. (A preview of the Santoro/BJ contribution, and the rest of the issue, can be found here.) And finally, another Cold Heat Special is on the way, the latest in a series of limited-run comics made by Santoro in collaboration with such artists as Dash Shaw, Jim Rugg, Lane Milburn, and Ryan Cecil Smith.
Cold Heat has been at the crest a new wave of unabashed alternative genre comics, including C.F.’s Powr Mastrs, Kazimir Strzepek’s The Mourning Star, Brian Ralph’s Daybreak, and Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit. Readers who like their science-fiction slugfests thought-provoking as well as pulse-pounding would do well to check it out.
Attentive readers may remember that I mentioned that the first several issues of Cold Heat, the comic book series by Ben Jones and Frank Santoro, were available for free online. Now, the duo have released chapters five and six of their ongoing saga in honest-to-god paper comic book form after a lengthy hiatus. Santoro explains:
This is a big climax issue. We decided that after the long wait we would put the story arc that unfolds over issues 5 and 6 together. I think it reads extremely well as a double issue. It’s a megablast of raw power and I’m proud of what Ben and I have crafted for you. We know it’s been two years almost to the day since the last issue came out. Please forgive us. The complete collection will be out sometime but until then we are releasing the series as it was originally intended to be released: as serialized installments. We like how the issues, the page counts CONTAIN the story and want to retain that for the remainder of the series. It’s a formal choice. We want to make comic books. Comic books are 24 pages usually. There’s an inherent “pace” that we’re playing with and in this double issue we really turn up the volume, quicken the pace and exploit the arc of the standard comic book. It’s a thrilling ride. I promise: these issues live up to the hype. We killed it.
The first four issues of Cold Heat, the hallucinatory comic, written by Ben Jones and drawn by Frank Santoro, is now available online for free. What is Cold Heat you ask? I’ll let the creators answer that question:
Cold Heat is the story of Castle, an 18 year old girl who embarks on a life altering adventure through anti-depressants, corporate rock’n'roll, globalization and sex.
Cold Heat is a hypnotically tranced out, maximum volume take on the action/adventure genre that stays out all night and doesn’t come home until the party’s over and it’s time to crash.
Cold Heat is a ten issue comic book series. Issue 5 will be available to read online in March 2009, with new issues to follow each month.
Originally serialized in 2006-07 by PictureBox, publication had to be halted due to poor sales, though an eventual trade collection was planned (the Web site doesn’t seem to have any news on that front). Seriously, if you haven’t had the chance to read this amazing and highly original work yet, this is a fantastic opportunity to do so.