There are comic book creators and there are comic book creators. And then there’s Howard Chaykin.
Perhaps most famous as an uncompromising and often controversial writer and artist in the medium, Chaykin is notable for his award-winning works comic book works American Flagg, Black Kiss and American Century. He famously reinvigorated the pulp character, The Shadow for DC Comics in the mid 1980’s, bringing the man “who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men” into the twentieth century. His oeuvre of work spans five decades that includes every genre you can think of including science-fiction, fantasy, crime noir, superheroes and westerns.
And that’s where today release of Chaykin’s Century West comes into focus.
Written and Illustrated by: Howard Chaykin
Published by: Image Comics
Century West first saw life, years ago, as a television pilot concept for Paramount. A full year of episodes was broken down, but the potential series never really got off the ground. Never one to throw away a good idea, Chaykin resurrected the concept for Disney Italia in 2005 and released it in comic book form in that country and Spain, two cultures that have always loved and admired the western genre. Now, for the first time, Century West comes to North American audiences, courtesy of Image Comics.
Image Comics has a history of publishing shorter graphic novel works in softcover form. Century West runs 64 full-colour pages and tells the story of three distinctly different Texas Rangers, yet each one an émigré, protecting the citizens and the law of the town of Century at a moment where a new century abruptly bumps up against the preceding one. Innovation, growth and modernization provide the backdrop for crime and drama. An early page of the graphic novel showcases a horseback rider entering the small watering hole of Century as it grows, panel by panel, into a sprawling town and then city, visually detailing the challenges, excitement and opportunity of “modern” western life. Even the fonts used in the text change styles to reflect the scene. It’s beautiful storytelling.
Howard Chaykin doesn’t create comic books half-heartedly. He pours everything he has into them and each one, be they risqué, acclaimed or some form of all of these, has something important to say to readers.
From television to spaghetti western to this very Wednesday, make the run to tour local comic book shop and pick up Century West. It will make for both an important and entertaining read.
Every Wednesday, JP makes the after-work run to his local downtown comic book shop. Comics arrive on Wednesdays you see and JP, fearful that the latest issue will sell out, rushes out to purchase his copy. This regular, weekly column will highlight a particularly interesting release, written in short order, of course, because JP has to get his – before someone else does!