Overview

Skullkickers #1

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Skullkickers #1

Credits

  • Words: Jim Zubkavich
  • Art: Chris Stevens and Edwin Huang
  • Inks: Edwin Huang
  • Colors: Misty Coats
  • Story Title: "One Thousand Opas and a Dead Body - Part One"
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Sep 22, 2010

I went to high school in rural Canada. We’re talking the boonies here. I didn’t even live in a town and my high school was located about a quarter of a mile off of an aboriginal First Nation. We didn’t have much to occupy our time. If you didn’t hunt, fish, or own a snowmobile, you were pretty much destined for the life of a shut-in.

I was a city boy transplanted from Toronto. I didn’t hunt, couldn’t afford a snowmobile, and usually fell asleep when fishing. It was a tough transition. One of the things that kept me sane, besides reading an obscene number of comic books, was playing Dungeons and Dragons with the other geeks. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to interview Jim Zubkavich, creator of Image Comics’ new fantasy book, Skullkickers. As I suspected, among his influences in the creation of his humorous fantasy-action romp, was good ol’ D&D. From the nameless, archetypal characters to the traditional village setting to the familiar tale of mercenaries and mayhem, I felt like I was immersed in one of my old Dungeonmaster’s action-packed, slightly absurd personal creations.

Zubkavich isn’t reinventing the fantasy genre here. There’s no trendy deconstruction going on; no asinine cosmologies to wrap your head around. There’s just straight up action-comedy, crafted with both precision and heart. Zubkavich’s comedic timing is impeccable, as gags and fight scenes are interwoven with child-like glee. According to Zubkavich, you can chalk this facility with humor up to a healthy appreciation of British comedy – and it shows. The dialogue, while a little too modern for a medieval setting is snappy and distinctive, each character possessing a unique voice and adequate mike time to have it heard.

Humor is hard to pull off in comics. It often seems mistimed or unbalanced, as the words and pictures trip over themselves to deliver the punch line. Not so with Skullkickers. Zubkavich’s comedic timing is brilliant and fluid; his words balanced with ease by artists Chris Stevens and newcomer Edwin Huang.

Huang in particular impresses with an intuitive understanding of visual storytelling. Each sight gag and action sequence is laid out with an equal amount of clarity and attention to detail. His figures are robust without coming off as over-exaggerated; his backgrounds full and nuanced.

A welcome addition to a genre that can sometimes feel a little too full of itself, Skullkickers takes us back to a time when escaping into a fantasy world of magic and mayhem was fun.

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