Pop Gun War

by Farel Dalrymple

ISBN: 1569719349

I heard the buzz about Dalrymple’s comic when it was coming out in single issues. So, apparently, had just about everyone else, because the individual issues sold out before I could buy them. More about what I see as a problem with that in a minute — what about the buzz?

In a word, justified. The story centers on Sinclair, a young black kid with angel’s wings. He picked them out of a trash can after they were removed with a chain saw — or were they a gift? There is both grit and wonder in the city Sinclair lives in. We meet a floating fish who wears glasses, a dwarf and a giant, a tormented homeless man, a label-crazy eccentric, and none of these seem out of place. The stories question what is real, and what is believable, and how these aren’t always the same thing.

I can say now I’m glad the individual issues were sold out when I went to buy them. It would have been incredibly frustrating to wait for the next installment, rather than reading issues 1-5 straight through as I did thanks to Dark Horse releasing a trade paperback compilation. Yes, I miss the color covers of the individual issues — and with their stark images painted on solid-color backgrounds, they were visually compelling — but I get the same talent with the strong black ink on every page, the engaging layouts, the energy in the line, and the satisfaction of reading “the whole story” all at once this way.

I just don’t think an individual issue of a comic — unless it is a one-shot, because those are designed to be self-contained stories — is worth reading most of the time. As a reader, I find there is more tease than reward in them. The stories barely have time to grab my interest and then they are over, and I have to wait until next month to see how things develop. A good writer doesn’t need a publishing schedule to create suspense — they do it with their art.

I don’t know what Dalrymple’s plans for Pop Gun War are; I know I am deeply interested in the world he has created, and I see possibilities for many more stories with Sinclair, Addison, and others in this city. I’d love to see them played out in a longer format from the beginning — there is a novel’s worth of material in this world, at least one. Highly recommended.

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