For a period of about four or five months I kept seeing Charles Forsman name in my social media streams, talking about his new series called Revenger. So I looked over the previews and I liked that it had a look and feel similar to a few other cartoonists whose work I enjoy, namely Benjamin Marra and Michel Fiffe. Mainly what drew me in were the pages where Revenger is in a white background, nothing more than emptiness, no definition, her just killing clowns that are trying to attack and kill her with a baseball bats. There is no description of with the depicted action, we just have Revenger telling us what happened to her son, and why she’s doing this.
From there it goes into the story of a couple of teens who are in love, and of course the girlfriend is kidnapped and the boyfriend is upset and wants to get her back. So like any responsible boyfriend listens to rumors about a vigilante travels America righting wrongs and the number to call is… 1-800-Revenger! He calls and leaves a message and a few days later Revenger shows up in his town. Here we find out that it’s a bad Town town where girlfriends can be kidnapped and racism is dripping off the local officials.
Now I don’t want to give away the rest because it really is great, but I do want to say that Forsman has got some really interesting tricks he uses in telling the story. For example, alot of times something will happen off panel, not necessarily violence, but sometimes violence. Often times it made me laugh, in the same way I laugh when I watch Rambo or the first Predator movie. Violence is something just woven into the fabric of America, and how we understand that is reflected in so much of our entertainment and national dialogue, I think Revenger is tapping into that, much the same way that the Punisher comics do. Helping us face questions about the how and why of justifiable violence. Not to get too deep on everybody, but just stating the obvious here.
Also I have to say that the physical comics themselves are perfect, the quality of paper and colors are just exactly what I want out of a comic. They are not printed on the high gloss paper generally found in big two books, but not on flimsy newsprint either, these things are solid, they feel like heirlooms.
Now since I didn’t want to review each individual issue, cause the collection of the first five issues just came out, I thought to do something a little more and managed to get Chuck Forsman to answer some questions through the e-mail. Here for your consideration are his responses, potentially incriminating I might add…
Graphic Policy: What inspired the choice to make the latest Revenger series take place at a different point in her history, and will we see more issues like this?
Chuck Forsman: I think it comes from just that I am always fascinated to learn about characters in different points in their lives. Originally I had imagined to keep going in a linear direction but I would need to be selling a ton of comics to keep that sort of momentum up. So that also influenced the decision. I figured it would be easier to get people to pick up the comics if they were more separated as opposed to one long narrative.
GP: Do you have a grand finale in mind or is Revenger more of an open ended story?
CF: Ummmm. a little bit of both. I don’t want to ruin any surprises but at the same time, I do enjoy keeping things a bit open. For me, that is the most fun about making comic books is that often you end up in unexpected places. A lot of my past work was much more open ended. I really enjoyed an improvised approach. I liken it to playing a game. You set up the rules and boundaries and set your characters off and see where things take you.
GP: What sort of non comics art influences you? (movies, paintings, books etc)
CF: Right, now it’s movies. The last few years I have really embraced that place where genre meets art. Directors like John Carpenter, Cronenberg, Kathryn Bigelow, Brian DePalma. People who worked in or on the cusp of Hollywood but are complete visionaries. I think those movies really brought me over to doing Revenger. My past work is for lack of a better term, decidedly more “indie.” My obsession with action, horror movies wasn’t waning and also my renewed interest of comics from the 70s-90s helped fuel the fire. Trying to find the art within industrial comics is an obsession that won’t go away for me anytime soon. So I guess doing an action comic book like Revenger…I saw it as a bit of a challenge for myself. It’s very different from my other work and I was curious to see how I would handle it.
GP: If you could have a cross-over with any comic character and Revenger, who would it be? (example, like Revenger vs. Daredevil or Batman or Bloodshot or whoever)
CF: Oh jeez, I would probably pick someone a bit more obscure. One of my favorite comics was this 1986 5-issue series from Marvel called Dakota North. North was billed as a late-80’s fashion icon that was a sort of investigator for hire. It was written by Martha Thomases and drawn by Tony Salmons. I encourage anyone to find those comics. They are very common in dollar bins. Salmons is just incredible. A very adept action cartoonist. But anyway, I could see Revenger and Dakota teaming up to taking down a corporate goon and maybe not getting along very well.
GP: What books are you reading now that excite you about comics? (regular old pictureless books are acceptable too of course)
CF: At the moment I am obsessed with collecting comics garbage, as my friends and I call it. I love going into the dollar bins at a convention or shops and flea markets and looking for stuff from the 80s mainstream. I always buy Klaus Janson comics when I see his stuff. Especially when he is working on his own doing pencils, inks, and colors. I especially like his 5 issues of the first Punisher ongoing and he did a small run on a comic called St. George from Epic. I’ve been looking at the layouts in St. George a lot for inspiration. Michel Fiffe turned me onto Trevor Von Eeden and I just read the first issue of his Green Arrow mini from the late 80s. Again, I just marvel at every page. Von Eeden is a master as graphic decision making.A lot of that stuff is unreadable but there were amazing artists that work doing incredible things that I love to surround myself with.
I also love to find self-published comics from the 80’s black and white boom. I kind of see it as garage rock from the 60s. After the beatles every teenager in every small town started a band and some of them even cut records. I feel like this happened in the 80s for a time. A lot of young people made these comics that most people would laugh at but I see something magical in them. Benjamin Marra likes to call it “the passion.” And I think that is a perfect description for the stuff I look for in these bins. Just finding people who made comics in their bedrooms and they were putting their all into it. Just giving it all they had. I think I see myself in this work. I don’t consider myself a very good artist so I think I am attracted to the idea of making what I do have work. I’ll try to name some titles off the top of my head. New York City Outlaws with the art of Ken Landgraf is a great comic. I just read the first issue of Dog by Joe Vigil. That book is incredible. It’s about a tough dude who stumbles upon a tortured gay kid who spends his last moments talking to Dog. Then Dog gets angry and helps free the kids friends and kill the bikers responsible for torturing them. It is a visceral and satisfying read to be sure.
GP: Alright folks that’s it, go check out the official Revenger website where there is links to buy the comics direct from the creator, or get them digitally or demand your local shop get them!
MYFAKEHEAD is the online version of Benjamin Anthony, a former chef, janitor, lunatic, prisoner, cultist, clerk, tow motor operator (smooth) and currently an artist and writer. He is also morally and legally responsible for Super Awesome Comics. You can find him online at myfakehead.com and all your favorite social media internets.