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Canadian purveyor of fine comics Renegade Arts Entertainment has sent along some preview images from its 2014 slate.
I’ve recently spotted Dept. of Monsterology artist Paul “PJ” Holden tweet of his disappointment that the positive buzz and great reviews for the comic haven’t necessarily translated into sales, and that’s a shame. The first three issues were among my favorite comics of 2013, jam-packed with old-school pulp action, with writer Gordon Rennie filling it with Easter eggs to be spotted by fans of classic sci-fi and horror.
I’d heartily recommend it to fans of the Mignola-verse, Doug Moench’s Master of Kung Fu comics, or Moore and O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. 2014 will see the first miniseries end, to be collected as a trade paperback at some later point, and hopefully we’ll also see a second series commissioned soon, too.
Readers of 2000AD already know the writer Gordon Rennie as a go-to guy for comic strips expertly merging the fields of action adventure, the supernatural and horror. He’s the man who brought us “Necronauts,” “Caballistics Inc.” and “Absalom,” all strips that gleefully cross genres, and share something of a Wold Newton-ian outlook. “Necronauts” was the strip that introduced many of us to the work of Frazer Irving, and told the tale of a team-up of sorts between Charles Fort, Harry Houdini, Arthur Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft. The much-missed “Caballistics Inc.” featured a team of supernatural investigators forced to migrate from the civil service to the private sector, and featured casual references suggesting it shared a universe with Doctor Who, Quatermass and 2000AD’s own “Zenith.” “Absalom” was an indirect spinoff of “Caballistics Inc.,” fusing classic cop-show DNA into the mix. At one point, Inspector Harry Absalom lists Jack Regan of The Sweeney as an old colleague.
Rennie worked with artist Paul “PJ” Holden on the 2000AD strip “The 86ers,” which, while set in the world of Rogue Trooper, still managed to have allusions to Lovecraft lurking in its backstory. You may well know Holden’s work from the critically acclaimed Numbercruncher, being published by Titan Comics. Others will know him as one of the men who essentially invented digital comics as we’ve come to know them, working on comics that could be distributed as apps way back in 2008 (as well as being the first to run afoul of Apple’s censorious streak then, too). He also occasionally finds the time to be one of the trio of presenters of that most uproarious and vulgar of all comics webcasts, Sunnyside Comics.
Their upcoming comic together at Renegade Arts, Department of Monsterology, shares a lot of influences with these predecessors, while being notably less dark and cynical than Rennie’s work for 2000AD. There’s a great five-page prequel at USA Today that goes a long way to revealing the tone of the first issue: While the debut features pitched battles against Lovecraftian undersea creatures and Chinese vampires, the more playful emphasis reminds me of the Indiana Jones movies. Like Indy, the cast members of DoM are ostensibly academics who just happen to find themselves in the unlikeliest of high-stakes adventures, all in the name of science. We spoke to Rennie and Holden to ask them about Department of Monsterology, its influences, and their hopes for its future.
One of the best new strips in 2000AD in recent years is Gordon Rennie and Tiernen Trevallion’s “Absalom,” and now they’ve reteamed, alongside co-writer Emma Beeby, to produce the original graphic novel Robbie Burns — Witch Hunter for Renegade Arts, coming in 2013. Tiernen has sent along an exclusive glimpse at the project, including a first look at a completed page, as well as some typically amazing developmental character sketches from the book.
Trevallion is in possession of a great style that should make him a comic book superstar — a little bit Mike Mignola, a little bit Kev Walker, with a pinch of Simon Bisley. And of course Rennie, the comics industry’s equivalent of Private Frazer, is the perfect man to document with a straight face this little-known period in the life of Scotland’s national poet. *Cough*. Excuse me.