Writers: James Asmus & Jim Festante
Illustrator: Abylay Kussainov
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
WHAT IS IT?
When America becomes a deregulated hellscape, a group of former public broadcasting puppets fight back in this dark comedy action comic.
The first issue of the Survival Street miniseries plunges Sesame Street-influenced characters into a high-stakes A-Team adventure.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
By the year 2028, corporations have secured all state and national congressional seats, privatized the U.S., and rolled back all protections on public services for profit. Amidst this capitalistic hellscape, the children's public broadcasting program "Salutation Street" has been shut down by the newly established immigration and customs enforcement.
Some of the fuzzy puppet stars of the show thrown out onto the streets travel to Florida in 2031. Known by the media now as "puppet extremist," the hardened group essentially forms a mercenary band to continue their mission of helping children. The former edu-tainers will stop at nothing to protect and educate kids from the deregulated sociopolitical war zone and crumbling climate imploding around them.
Can the puppet A-Team pull off a dangerous heist to combat greedy corporations trying to sell immigrant children in future "Best America"?
James Asmus and Jim Festante prove that co-writers with similar acumen and comedic sensibilities can bring a high-caliber level of talent to a project that may have fallen short without influencing collaboration. Their work here is top tier, bringing razor-sharp wit into a blunt political satire to humorously address present social issues.
Although the comic features living puppet characters rebelling and committing acts of violence for the greater good, the absurd never overshadows the believable, emotional aspects the writers want us to ruminate upon.
The linework by illustrator Abylay Kussainov in Survival Street turns the comic from a captivating premise into immediate visual allurement for potential readers. Kussainov creates expressive characters and scenery boasting a commanding alignment with the cynical humor apparent in the narrative.
Building off the comics' visual lure, colorist Ellie Wright articulates tonal satire by allocating appropriate colors to make the puppets stand out, but not distractingly so in the grunge-tinged future.
Ravaged by climate change, Best America takes on a dusty, grimy appearance while the once candy-colored puppets adopt some of that dampened coloring following their ostracization from television. Their muted hues add credibility to the narrative and accurately portray the puppets' personality changes as mercenaries.
Taylor Esposito always hits a home run with lettering. Here, the typeface for the puppets' dialogue cramps together with minimal kerning and slants violently to convey their outsider status. This contrasts well with the more traditional rounded typeface applied to the human speakers.
Environments are rendered with originality and blended with the trappings of classic pulpy dystopian landscapes.
The puppet character designs stand out in the massive storm of alternating panel layouts, detailed backgrounds, and caption boxes on the page. Particular favorites include the two-headed reporters, Bob and Rob, recovering sundae addict Gurgle, and the massive rainbow sweater-wearing pink hippo, Hippy.
Survival Street #1 is a near-perfect comic issue, addressing multifaceted topics through gallows humor, nostalgia for childhood educational shows, empathetic characters caught between compromising their moral values to make a difference, and the stand-out artistry.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: Survival Street takes its characters on a dark journey full of murder, profanity, and rebellion, so don't let the muppets on the cover fool you about the gritty content inside.
In dystopian stories where the sociopolitical issues involved are topical, readers should always consider their emotional regulation capabilities. The comic touches on government policies fighting against immigration, forced child labor, destructive climate change, and other real issues that could hit too close to home for those looking to read "escapist" literature.
Of course, comedy is always subjective. That being said, some readers may not find humor in familiar muppet-esque characters swearing and shooting their enemies in this satire comic.
The issue is a heavy read. It tackles a good deal of relevant subject matter in a single comic issue while introducing several main characters. Although feeling the need to re-read a comic immediately to catch what you missed is not a negative point, you will be spending a lot of time taking in all the details in Survival Street #1.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
It's not often you read a comic redefining both the dystopian genre and the comic medium as a whole. Survival Street #1 hints at familiar threads but deviates radically away from any other story where puppets exist in adult situations. The comic infuses the recognizable with cynical satire, where readers will experience a full spectrum of emotions and storytelling within this plausible dystopian tale.
You will quickly forget you're reading about former children's television puppet characters when faced with the comedic brunt of topical issues recontextualized here. Survival Street throws readers head-first into this fully fleshed-out world where we can easily place ourselves in the mindsets of its felt protagonists. Here, the comic pushes the narrative forward with each extraordinarily detailed page.
Readers will benefit from taking their time to read this action-packed comic, slowly digesting the weight of its concepts, the tonally spot-on artistry, and the comedy elevating Survival Street one street above the rest of other comics in this sub-genre. This is a hit comic in the making. You'll certainly hop in the van with this motley crew to help kids survive prescient social calamities in subsequent Survival Street issues.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Rick & Morty: Corporate Assets by James Asmus, Jarrett Williams, & Jeremy Lawson
The End Times of Bram & Ben by Jim Festante, James Asmus, & Rem Broo
Justice Warriors by Mat Bors & Ben Clarkson
If you like the art:
G.I.L.T. by Alisa Kwitney & Mauricet
The All-Nighter by Chip Zdarsky & Jason Loo
The Me You Love in the Dark by Skottie Young & Jorge Corona
ABOUT THE CREATORS
James Asmus – Writer (@jamesasmus)
Multitalented: Asmus is a five-time Harvey Award nominee who has also won awards for his comedy, comics, and playwriting. He launched his writing career with plays like LOVE IS DEAD: A Musical NecRomantic Comedy and the inspired-by-actual-events modern romantic tragedy HEARTS FULL OF BLOOD.
Prolific: He has written for nearly every major comic publisher, scripted episodes of MARVEL'S VIDEO COMICS cartoons for Disney, as well as written and produced shows for History and Discovery networks.
Dream Team: Asmus and Festante have created, written, and developed comics, animation, and live comedy together.
Jim Festante – Writer
Multitalented: Festante has written for various networks including NBC, Comedy Central, MTV, and Syfy, as well as media outlets like The Washington Post, NBC TODAY, Discovery Networks, and Slate Magazine.
He has worked as an actor and starred in national commercials, was a recurring sketch performer on NBC’s LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O’BRIEN, recurred on ABC’s GENERAL HOSPITAL, and appeared on TV and original series for ABC, NBC, MTV, and Comedy Central.
Dream Team: Festant and Asmus have published several comics together, including FIELD TRIPPING for comiXology, THE END TIMES OF BRAM & BEN for Image Comics, and RICK AND MORTY presents: MR. MEESEEKS.
Abylay Kussainov – Illustrator (@abylaykussainov)
Kussainov is a rising comic book artist.
Outlander: Hails from Kazakhstan and currently lives in Almaty.
Ellie Wright – Colorist (@elliewrightart)
Wright is a professional freelance Digital Colorist that specializes in comic book color painting & VFX.
She has worked as a colorist and cover artist for comics such as James Bond – Goldfinger, Batman The Shadow, Sherlock Holmes, Bettie Page, Elvira, We Only Kill Each Other, and The Black Ghost.
Oultander: She hails from Ireland.
Taylor Esposito – Letterer (@TaylorEspo)
Prolific: Esposito has done a variety of comic-related design jobs, and quite a few graphic design jobs, all of which can be found on his website.
He has worked on books for DC, Dynamite, Dark Horse, and now Vault Comics.
He is also a second-degree black belt in Koei-Kan Karate-Do.
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The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Survival Street characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Jim Festante, James Asmus, or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED