BLACK CROWN QUARTERLY #1
Creative Team: Rob Davis, Cathi Unsworth, Cara McGee, Will Potter, Carl Puttnam, Philip Bond, Aditya Bidikar, David Barnett, Martin Simmonds, Jamie Coe, Tini Howard, Gilbert Hernandez, Peter Milligan, Tess Fowler, Lee Loughridge, Cindy Whitehead, Nicole Goux, Frank Quitely
Published by Black Crown
Release Date: October 25th, 2017
If you have not heard of Black Crown, now is the time to dive in and enjoy the bizarre journey this new IDW Imprint is taking through the world of comics.
Black Crown launched recently with Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler’s Kid Lobotomy, a psychological, supernatural comic about a kid named Kid and his strange hotel. This imprint was brought to life by Shelly Bond, a famed editor with a quarter century of comics in flames behind her. With Black Crown, she is turning the comics industry upside down, taking the best elements of the industry (and the creators!) from the weirdest, darkest recesses of the ’90s and throwing it all into the ring with rising stars and new ideas.
Black Crown Quarterly is the perfect way to jump into this new world. With nearly 50 pages of content ranging from comic previews and recurring shorts to tales of witches and memories from the Skateboarding Hall of Fame, there is something here for everyone to latch onto and follow into the depths of the Black Crown Pub. If you already read Kid Lobotomy and loved it, if you have never heard of Black Crown, if you have never read a comic in your life, if you’re a Punk kid who needs to feel at home, you can’t go wrong picking up this Quarterly special. It is a fun ride all the way through, and an absolutely perfect introduction to Black Crown.
The book opens with the first installment of a recurring series, Tales From The Black Crown Pub, which is not the publisher but a literal Pub, with a strange clientele and a new barmaid who has an interesting story to tell. Though this story will continue in the next Quarterly, it is a fun one-off read that feels like an introduction to the punk rock weirdness of the Black Crown imprint. It is fitting that this initial story takes place at Halloween, though I don’t think Black Crown will get far away from Halloween at all, no matter when the books are released.
Unlike some preview magazines, which tend to focus on book previews, upcoming releases, and essays, Black Crown Quarterly is put together in a way that is reminiscent of a grown-up ’90s punk zine. It is well-crafted and perfectly curated, but the content is still unexpected and interesting. What could seem random or disjointed instead forms a window into the vibe and tone of Black Crown as a line of comics, which is essential in bringing in new readers and re-invigorating this punk rock style of comics. There is a rad pull-out poster for you to tape up on your wall like a teenager, a skateboarding comic, a comic from the famous band, CUD, and more. Every page brings in new elements of style and fun, sometimes in very unexpected ways.
The biggest draw, obviously, is the array of comic previews of upcoming Black Crown titles. Like Image+ or the Young Animal Ashcan, printing comic previews and extra information in a new, interesting way is an innovative tactic to bring in new readers and introduce new comics and concepts. Black Crown Quarterly is a successful example of how comics publishers can go the extra mile to create a brand and a line of comics that is recognizable and cohesive, and the work pays off.
Kid Lobotomy released a week before the Black Crown Quarterly, but this preview is a nice snippet to entice readers to check into The Suites, despite the strange rumors surrounding the place and its inhabitants. Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler are a perfect match for this comics, and it feels retro and updated at the same time. This preview, and the entire first issue, are all over the place, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Kid’s world is weird, and this series could go absolutely anywhere.
Punk’s Not Dead gets a preview in this Quarterly as well, and it is just as innovative, fun and creative as Kid Lobotomy. Co-created by novelist David Barnettand artist Martin Simmonds, Punk’s Not Dead is a supernatural shout out to punk rock roots that combines music, style, and comics with ghosts and mystery. A lonely teen is visited by the ghost of Punk Rock’s past, presumably an undead, un-aged Sid Vicious who doesn’t seem viscious at all. This short preview is a great introduction to the series, which is set to release in January 2018.
The upcoming six issue series, Assassinistas, is introduced in Black Crown Quarterly as well. Like Milligan and Fowler on Kid Lobotomy, veteran artist Gilbert Hernandez is paired with Tini Howard, a witchy writer who has been rioting her way through the comics world (don’t skip her piece on witches and costumes in Black Crown Quarterly). With another perfect pair matched by Bond, Assassinistas opens on a group of female assassins, with a twist. The series covers the Assassinistas in their mercenary youth in the roller-disco days of bell bottoms and cool cigarettes, but also focuses on their future, when they have settled down and started families and built lives away from assassinations. Hernandez brings his signature style to the art, and perfectly captures Howard’s fascinating cast in Assassinistas.
Black Crown Quarterly is money well spent. This is a heavy issue, full of previews, interviews, and extra content. Reading Black Crown Quarterly is taking a shot of top-shelf Punk Comics, with a chaser of vintage Vertigo nostalgia. Bond and her team have something truly special in Black Crown, and these Quarterly specials prove that this is a truly brilliant, cohesive, curated line of creator-owned comics that will pick up the comics industry, shake it up, and spit it out.
Welcome to the Black Crown Pub. You’re going to want to stay a while.
The Verdict: 10/10