GUN, ISSUES #1-6
Cartoonist: Jack Foster
Publisher: Reckless Eyeballs Press
WHAT IS IT?
The first 3 issues of Gun are a complete story arc, a pulpy noir mystery. Like Smokin' Aces meets Blade Runner, except the world is a supervillain one instead of cyberpunk.
Issues #4-6 are part of an arc titled Gun: Slaughterball, which is very similar to Death Race 2000 and Cannonball Run, but it takes place within the established universe with some of our known characters.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Trevor Werner, AKA "Mr. Twist" meets a woman at a villainon meeting. She seems barely a villain, like she doesn’t want to be there in the first place, but not because she doesn't need help staying away from the villainy scene.
Mr. Twist himself is a villain, though he doesn’t seem like a terribly bad guy. But none of that matters when a job goes sideways and now, Twist and the woman he just met have to defend themselves from highly skilled contract killers.
And that’s just he first arc. Issues #4 and beyond find our heroic villains (and one very Hunter S. Thompson-y journalist) playing Slaughterball – a murderous, cross-country game enjoyed by villains all over America.
Issue #6 in particular takes a detour or rest stop to explore some character backstory, as the second arc typically does, pausing the Slaughterball action for some dark, emotional drama and character development.
While this breaks from the typical Comic Book Yeti format, I was given some really cool behind the scenes info from Jack Foster that I thought was absolutely fascinating. You might also be interested in it, too. Check it out!
I initially pitched GUN as a Count Vertigo story. In fact, Trevor is named after Trevor Von Eeden, the artist who co-created Count Vertigo and designed that amazing costume which is still one of, like, the top 5 costume designs of ALL TIME. (Now when I say pitched, I mean I took a script and completed art to San Diego 10 years ago and foisted it upon an unimpressed DC comics who never got back to me. But I liked the story, so I changed some names and here we are. Olive was an old Starman supporting character (not the cool one, the weird '90s one with the yellow & purple costume) & Agent Orange was an old Outsiders villain name Agent Orange. Haman too, was intended to be Katana.
I used Emily Haines as reference for Olive. When I first started banging out GUN, her first album had come out (Knives Don’t Have Your Back) and it’s really soaked into the DNA of the book. Dr. Blind was a song from that album, in fact a lot of the characters' names come from songs (Eve White/Eve Black is an old Siouxsie & the Banshees B-side) The name GUN came from a S&tB track of the same name, a cover of a John Cale song, I believe. It had this crazy manic energy and this batshit cast of hooligans in it, “Watch out for big mama, she’ll set you on fire/or go for your neck with a chicken wire.” I wanted to set a story in that universe.
GUN is my first and only comic book work. I’m putting a collection of 1-3 together now, we’re going to run a Kickstarter for it in May and it should be available in June. The current story, Slaughterball will run for 2 more issues. I have a definite arc in mind for GUN and would like to see it through so for the time being this is my only gig and I’m very happy to have it.
Though mostly villains, the characters of Gun are nuanced, likable and unique
Foster uses villains with D-list powers in strategic ways for a street-level story more entertaining than tales about omnipotent heroes
Fight scenes are wildly entertaining, and thoughtful, not just an explosion of superpowers
Representation of minorities, like women, non-binary people, people of color, trans individuals, the disabled, and more
Great pacing for panels, with visually dynamic page layouts, and pace of reveals feels natural and keeps you turning the page
Gun's cover art is absolutely iconic, and the art inside is well done, fully painted in watercolor and moody as hell
Fans of superhero comics from both Marvel & DC will pick up on tons of tongue-in-cheek references throughout, as well as others from Fight Club, Cowboy Bebop, and possibly Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
You'll also see tons of noir/crime tropes, like calling old contacts to put together a team for a job, blurring the line between "good" and "evil,"
There are little scenes throughout, like soliloquies in the third-person, each dramatic and filled with detailed art unique from the others yet tied to Gun's overall style – these often feel similar to (or influenced by) the classic Sandman comic series
Foster uses the comics medium thoughtfully, innovatively, like he knows the rules and knows just how to break them effectively
It's infinitely interesting to see the nuances between villains: the ones who just made bad choices and now they're here, the others who were messed up by their pasts and fell into villainy, and those who just seem evil to the core.
Color work is often the moodiest aspect of the comic, usually with limited palettes for each page
Though there's also a separate page for credits, the credits and title of the issue are often delivered stylishly, like movie scenes
Greg Sorkin's lettering was good in the first 2 issues, but once Jack Foster started doing it himself, it started feeling more cohesive, with hand-drawn balloons, font changes based on character, and sound effects incorporated into the art, keeping it stylish and authentic
An absolute steal at $1.99 per digital issue and you can download the 1st issue here
Because scenes are so cinematic and moody, you may wish there was a soundtrack for the series. Luckily, there is! Issues #4 and later tell you how to find it in the back of each issue.
Multiple story arcs mean this series could go on forever, and honestly, I hope it does
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Foster seemed to be getting his footing still with early issues. If you're not sure if you love them, consider reading issue #6 first and coming back to them later
It doesn't seem super clear why the villains play Slaughterball – the prize or point feels buried and forgotten
The character, Coffee Black, may come across as racist, even if she's inspired by classic crime/Blaxploitation characters
Nudity, sexual themes and cursing mean it's not for all ages
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
If you're a noir fan or love pulpy stories from the villains' side, Jack Foster has created a rich, visually stunning, stylish universe with plenty of story to tell. Mystery, romance, crime and superpowers make Gun a title with something for everyone. You won't be able to put it down.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Thief of Thieves, Vol. 1 by Robert Kirkman, Nick Spencer & Shawn Martinbrough
The Superior Foes of Spider-Man by Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber
Hawkeye by Matt Fraction & David Aja
If you like the art:
Dept. H, Vol. 1 by Matt Kindt
The Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth & Mike Dringenberg
Ogre by Bob Salley & Shawn Daley
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Jack Foster – Cartoonist
Multitalented: Wrote and painted all of Gun
New Face: GUN is his first and only comic book work
Used to work in a comic shop
Greg Sorkin – Lettering & Design (issues #1-2 only)
He and Jack parted very amicably after issue #2 because Foster wanted to shift the book to InDesign & he preferred to work in Illustrator, but Sorkin picked the font used in GUN, created all the bubble shapes and gave Foster a crash course in lettering when he took over
Multitalented: letters, designs, produces, writes, and edits comics.
A pop culture junkie, he’s channeled that energy into digital art prints, found at http://fontlordstudios.etsy.com
Nolan Smith – "Editrix"
A queer editor & writer based in New Haven
Skates in competitive Roller Derby for the CT All Stars as Your Mom (#53)
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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