Ghost Assassin: Prelude
(a) Charles Carvalho
FC, 16 pgs $3.00 US
Adam Watson always wanted to be a comic writer. He never considered opening his own comics publishing company, but a friend was always encouraging him to do so. When that friend died suddenly in 2005, Watson decided to act on his suggestion. In 2006, he founded Darkslinger Comics.
What continues to surprise me about the North American comics industry is that even though a small handful of publishers have the majority of the market share and readers are generally disinclined to trying something new, thousands if not tens of thousands of aspiring artists, writers, colorists and letterers continue to work hard to make comics. Comics take time and money to create, self-publish and promote. At the end of the day, the number of readers is likely to be small, the financial rewards little or even none.
Adam Watson doesn’t regret his decision. “You have total freedom to do whatever you want,” says Watson, discussing what he likes most about self-publishing comics. “As I am my own editor I have the final say in anything I create.”
He admits there are downsides. The biggest is cost. He’s a writer, not an artist, which means he pays others for artwork, colors and lettering. Having to pull together money to produce a comic means there are substantial delays between his projects. He’s also had trouble getting constructive feedback. “I usually just hear ‘It’s good’ from everyone that reads one of my scripts,” he says. “An editor might actually pick it apart.”
Fortunately, there is a lot of support for creators and publishers like Watson. Online communities like dimestoreproductions.com provide encouragement and services through a network of likeminded individuals while small publisher friendly retailers—both offline and online—make comics available to an interested audience.
Watson’s Ghost Assassin: Prelude, for instance, is currently available through seppukucomics.com, indyplanet.net and drivesthrustuff.com. It’s an overture to a planned series of the same name. The premise of the title is that an assassin is haunted and aided by the ghosts of people he has slain. The prelude introduces the hitman, David, and Todd, a ghost, as the two close in on David’s latest assignment.
What I liked most about Ghost Assassin: Prelude is that David’s target wasn’t the typical objective. He wasn’t a mobster, a criminal, a spy, a mole, a businessman, a two-timing spouse. In fact, the target’s death is unwarranted, a fact the ghostly Todd points out to David. As a hitman though, David does what he’s paid to do. His own morals don’t factor into the job.
Adam Watson wrote the tale. Illustrations come from Charles Carvalho, with coloring by Edward Bola and letters by Dave Rothe. Carvalho and Bola put together some impressive pages— wide shots that set the scene or smaller, more intimate moments such as when David and Todd stake out a movie theatre just prior to the hit. I wish though that Carvalho’s characters were more expressive. Their bodies are too stiff at times, their faces too rigid, devoid of emotion. An exception to this is the aforementioned theatre scene, but I think most of the credit needs to go to Bola. His use of colors added an emotional texture to what transpired.
Ghost Assassin: Prelude was published 2006. Watson followed that up with Ghost Assassin: Origin, which tells readers why David became a hitman and why he can see ghosts. Coming up next is a two-issue miniseries tentatively called The Dig, in which Watson reveals how Todd ended up on David’s hit-list.
Watson hopes 2009 is a busy year for Darkslinger Comics. In addition to more Ghost Assassin, he has a six-issue miniseries planned for The Pauper, another of his creations, and a secret project he hopes will be available in the summer.
There is no doubt Watson has a lot of work ahead of him—raising money, finding creative teams, publishing and then marketing his works—but hard work is not something from which he shies away. Like so many other creators and publishers like him, passion for his own work and comics in general is what keeps him moving forward despite the long, arduous road ahead. (Chad Boudreau)