The publishing activity behind Viper Comics is a good sign that the comic book market is changing, opening up to newer readers and can deliver unique contents to various tastes. Viper Comics is a Texas-based publisher established since 2001. Two of its series, Dead @17 and Moonrush, will be available in November 2003.
If any of you reading this are would be comic book publisher and start ups, you should look at how Viper is doing business. Viper is a small start up. Yet, it does things right and doesn’t rush. It has separated its creative heads from the business ones. Artists are working on books while business managers are working on the business. This is a healthy model.
Viper’s president, Jessie Garza is no slouch in the business side of things. He headed a comic book store with his current partner, brother Tony Garza before going back to college and working on Viper. One assumes that he has all the problems covered. Viper’s public face is its Web site. It looks impeccable and more professional than Marvel’s. It’s quite easy to get around, actually.
Viper has a creative director, Jim Resnowski, with experience with other things than comics, although he seems to love them very much. Separating the creative duties from the business ones make sense. It seems that the folks at Viper believe in having the best man for the job. I agree with that way of thinking. It only shows how serious and professional these guys are.
Dead @ 17
From the sample received from Viper Comics, Dead @ 17 is a suburban story written and drawn by Josh Howard, a 26-year-old creator with a distinctive style. According to Howard, Dead @ 17 is a story he has wanted to write for years. It stayed with him in the back of his head, until he could put all his ideas in this four-part mini-series.
In Dead @ 17, Nara Kilday, a 17-year-old suburban girl, is brutally murdered in her own home. The scene reminds me much of the shower scene in Psycho. However, I believe the similarities will end there. A few days after her funerals, her best friend Hazy Foss and former boyfriend Elijah meet in a diner pondering over the loss of their friend. Something weird is going on, but we don’t know what.
The best word to describe Howard’s art is stylized manga. The girls have big eyes. The guys all squint. The character’s shapes are simple but clean. Backgrounds are never overwhelming but service the story by putting the emphasis on the characters. Howard uses a two-tone colour palette for the colouring perfectly suitable for the book. This series seems like it will be fun.
Moonrush is an intergalactic story at its best handled with a twist. Like any great epic, we get two competing sides. The Ghorn, a race whose planet an asteroid nearly destroyed, is on the verge of collapse. To continue their survival, they rely on a rare ore available on Moon 314. Moon 314 is an independent colony about to ally itself with the universe spawning Tussolar Alliance.
Some members of the Tussolar Alliance clearly look like regular humans. Usually, one would think that because of that, the Alliance are the good guys. Well it’s not so clear who the good and bad guys are in Moonrush. That’s why the story is told from the viewpoint of the Alliance and the Ghorn. Within each groups, there are more factions. This is a political epic at its best.
Just like the writing, the artwork is divided into two teams. The parts previewed in the sample were by newcomer artist Erik Reeves. Parts of the illustrations were rough. The inking, by fellow writer Jaime Mendoza corrected some problems but not all. The colouring by Sebastien Lamirand overpowers the artwork instead of enhancing it. It should be much lighter.
Despite these minor criticisms, both Moonrush and Dead @ 17 seem like they will be very innovative and successful series for Viper Comics. Each of them had strong hooks in the mere eight pages available for reading. If you don’t know about Viper Comics, check them out already. They seem like they’ll be one of the better innovators on the stands in the coming years.