Pod Nerdy Pull List: Hobo Hand to Hand
Welcome back to the Pod Nerdy Pull List, PN2M fans! As I said last time, this is going to be a regular feature found only here on Pod Nerdy 2 Me. I'll be writing about comics that might not have gotten the spotlight. I'm highlighting them here so that you can support these great books with your dollars. Remember, the only way publishers know that these books are the ones you want, is through preorders/subscriptions! These books can be indies, from the big two, or in this week's case from Image comics.
I'm talking about Eisner-nominated comic boy, Kyle Stark's Rock Candy Mountain. A rambling epic adventure about America's greatest traveler: The Hobo. Banish the ideas of comical layabouts riding the rails and stealing pies off the window sills where they were set to cool. Though cartoony and over the top, a lot of actual research went into creating this comic. Very early we learn the distinctions between a Hobo ('bo), tramp, and bum. Believe me, there's a difference, and it matters very much to the hobos that ride the rails. These distinctions lend an air of realism and credibility to the comic and allow its world to feel fully realized.
The story follows a newly minted 'bo "Pomona Slim" as he tags along with a seasoned hobo, Jackson. Poor Slim is just trying to get back to civilization after a failed turn at Hollywood and Jackson is watching over slim as he makes his way to the fabled Big Rock Candy Mountain. Yeah. That mountain from the song. Mystery surrounds Jackson. Somehow, he knows the general direction of where he's headed, but not specifically. On top of that? He's being chased by the ACTUAL devil.
As you can see, Starks has a cartoony style with a good eye for unique character design. Each character physically encapsulates his character traits. You can see Slim's "greenness" as readily as we see Jackson's weathered orneriness. Each hobo, tramp, or cop we see along the way has their own story and their look conveys it in a way that makes the reader curious about them. Along with fun looking, diverse cast of characters Starks also has a great eye for good ol' fashioned violence whether it's being delivered by the Devil himself or at the hands of Jackson, the man who can't be beat.
The great feat of which you may not be aware is that Kyle Starks is doing this book almost entirely by himself! Drawing it, he's coloring it, and of course, he's writing it. Now I've actually never read any of his previous books, but I picked this one up on the sheer word of mouth generated by his Eisner Award nominated book Sex Castle. I love the dialogue in Rock Candy Mountain. The mix of hobo jargon and casual speech makes for one of the more fun reads I've had this year. Then there's the fact that every issue has a gem like the one seen below.
In an interview, Kyle Starks said that before starting this project he was watching a lot of Wuxia movies. For the uninitiated, Wuxia is a form of story about martial artists traveling in ancient China. These stories often involve a long journey of mythic proportions that include both magic and of course, fighting. Kyle Starks tried to think of anything that fit that kind of storytelling in America. And what he discovered was hobos. They traveled across the country looking for work. They developed their own tall tales and often spoke of magic and the like. Throw in a bit of hobo brawlin' and you got yourself an American Wuxia story, or something close to it. So if you're a fan of that, fight comics, and having a laugh during the whole thing do yourself a favor and pick up Rock Candy Mountain!