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Review: Sand + Bone

Sean Hitcher has just returned from war. He didn’t die in Iraq, but part of him wishes that he did. He’s home now, back in the small Midwestern town where he grew up. But he is haunted by nightmarish visions of killing and carnage that seem to be the result of severe PTSD. But are they? Is there something he’s missing…

As mysterious acts of violence spread throughout the town, Sean begins to wonder if there’s more going on than he originally thought. What terror did he experience on the battlefield, and what horrifying secret did he bring back with him?

Written by J.T. Krul with art by Andrea Mutti, Sand + Bone is a fascinating graphic novel being released at Barnes & Noble. Bringing together the Iraq War, PTSD, and a small town setting Krul has created a story which is perfect for horror fans and at the same time has a deeper theme of the horrors soldiers bring home with them.

What really impressed me about Krul’s writing is the fact I wasn’t sure what was really happening when it came to the acts of violence in the town. I had my guesses, and in the end the revelation is something I feel like I’ve seen before, but Krul keeps us guessing until the very end.

On a deeper level, Krul uses the horror themes of the story to explore the actual horrors of war. Mixing in flashbacks with flashes of violence, you can easily see the allegory going on, that war turns man into monsters and peaceful individuals into killers. It unleashes the monster within and we as a people need to recognize that and treat those who need it lest the monster is let loose back home.

Mutti’s art masterfully captures the depressed small town location while at the same time keeping the vibe consistent with the horror themes. The art provides us glimpses and flashes of what’s going on but never full spells it out, an excellent decision that adds to the mystery of it all.

Sand + Bone is an excellent example of using entertainment to explore current socio-political issues and raise awareness of work that needs to be done. My only knock is the abrupt ending that felt more like a curtain suddenly being dropped than a flowing ending. Hopefully, we’ll get more of this story or an exploration of the world where Krul and Mutti can continue to expound upon this solid start.

Story: J.T. Krul Art: Andrea Mutti
Story: 7.95 Art: 7.95 Overall: 7.95 Recommendation: Read

Adaptive Books provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: All New Soulfire #2

ALL NEW SOULFIRE #2 (vol 6)

JT Krul – Story / Giuseppe Cafaro – Art / Wes Hartman – Colors

Aspen’s premiere action-adventure fantasy epic returns in this all new jumping-on point for new readers!

Malikai has come to enjoy his life in the spotlight. Being the ward of a powerful titan of industry like Rainier will have that effect. But, something else is stirring in the air – some strange and unlikely forces are being drawn to him. Are they friends? Enemies? Both? As his true destiny comes knocking on the door, will Malikai be prepared to handle the truth about the universe and his place in it?

Nearly fifteen of the best-selling series created by superstar artist, the late Michael Turner, have culminated in this brand-new SOULFIRE adventure by Aspen’s talented creative team! Please join writer JT Krul, artist Giuseppe Cafaro, and colorist Wes Hartman as they bring readers back to the magic, myth, and everything you loved about SOULFIRE!

SOULFIRE #2 is in stores April 19th, 2017!

FC 32 pages $3.99

Preview: All New Soulfire #1

ALL NEW SOULFIRE #1 (vol 6)

JT Krul – Story / Giuseppe Cafaro – Art / Wes Hartman – Colors

Aspen’s premiere action-adventure fantasy epic returns in this all new jumping-on point for new readers!

Following the events of ASPEN UNIVERSE: REVELATIONS, the world of SOULFIRE has a new status quo, as magic and technology have intertwined as never before! Meanwhile, Soulfire’s Grace, Malikai and friends now must also discover that things are not as they seem in the year 2211—including new—and old—dangers that seek to eliminate them!

Nearly fifteen of the best-selling series created by superstar artist, the late Michael Turner, have culminated in this brand-new SOULFIRE adventure by Aspen’s talented creative team! Please join writer JT Krul, artist Giuseppe Cafaro, and colorist Wes Hartman as they bring readers back to the magic, myth, and everything you loved about SOULFIRE!

SOULFIRE #1 is in stores March 15th, 2017!

FC 32 pages $3.99

J.T. Krul Discusses Sand + Bone, Plus an Exclusive Cover Reveal

Out this April, from writer J.T. Krul and artist Andrea Mutti, Sand + Bone is a graphic novel that brings together the Iraq War, PTSD, and a mystery in a small town.

Sean Hitcher has just returned from war. He didn’t die in Iraq, but part of him wishes that he did. He’s home now, back in the small Midwestern town where he grew up. But he is haunted by nightmarish visions of killing and carnage that seem to be the result of severe PTSD. But are they? Is there something he’s missing…

As mysterious acts of violence spread throughout the town, Sean begins to wonder if there’s more going on than he originally thought. What terror did he experience on the battlefield, and what horrifying secret did he bring back with him?

We got a chance to talk to Krul about the new series and have an exclusive reveal of the cover. Sand + Bone will be available at Barnes & Noble April 18.

Graphic Policy: Where did the idea for Sand + Bone come from?

J.T. Krul: Stephen at Adaptive and I had been talking for some time about working together and when he mentioned the idea behind Sand and Bone I was all in. We were both drawn to the concept of exploring the life of soldiers after service and their struggles to return to anything resembling normalcy. Add to it the more mysterious and supernatural aspect and I was hooked.

GP: How long have you been working on it?

JTK: In all, the project took about a year from the time I started talking with Adaptive. Working from the source material, we revised and largely reimagined the story and the overall focus of the story.

GP: How did Andrea Mutti come on board for the art?

JTK: That credit goes to Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. They are veterans in the comic industry and have been consulting with Adaptive on their projects. We talked about a lot of potential artists, but it was Jimmy and Justin that first suggested Andrea. And right away, we all knew it was going to be a perfect fit. There is a very gritty and dark vibe to the tone of the story we are telling, and Andrea’s heavy ink style really drives that aspect home.

GP: The story deals with the current war in Iraq, what got you to want to focus on that particular war?

JTK: Essentially, because that’s the war of our lifetime. Hard to believe it’s been more than 15 years since 9/11, and the struggle continues on. The deployment goes up and down, but there is a lingering presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean, honestly, is there even an end in sight? Ever?

And yet, at the same time, it’s the war that we as Americans are rather far removed from. You think about World War II and the sacrifices people made to support the effort. Being citizens during wartime required us to be aware. With Vietnam, the protests against the war were front and center. The controversy was part of everyday life. But today, for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nothing is asked of the people. The soldiers represent like 1% of the American populace and the powers-that-be seem to do everything they can to keep it in the background. The war is “over there” and not here. I’ll never forget in the days following the attacks on 9/11 and the government’s response, President Bush essentially urged us to go about our business. He actually encouraged us to go shopping. The whole war and those fighting in it and forever changed by it are largely ignored. People “support the troops” and wear yellow ribbons. They cheer soldiers for two seconds before a sporting event, but they really don’t do anything to support them. For the most part, it is nothing but lip service.

GP: I’ve read some studies that estimated about 20% of veterans from Iraq suffer from PTSD, and to me, it’s a health crisis we don’t focus enough on. How did that become a part of the story?

JTK: That was always a central part of the story. I mean, yes, we are telling a tale of suspense and the supernatural. It’s a thriller. But, at its core, the monstrous elements play into the hidden pain so many soldiers struggle with. We ask them to go into harm’s way, to risk their lives on behalf of our nation, and yet we don’t want to deal with the messy truth of war. Again, we as a nation want to cheer the soldiers before a game, or a salute a flag, or applaud when Air Force jets do a flyby at half-time, but we don’t want to deal with their pain. We don’t want to deal with their substance abuse, their isolation, and their struggles to re-engage with civilian life.

GP: Did you talk to veterans with PTSD or anyone that is involved with treatment of veterans to research it?

JTK: Absolutely. Working in the comic industry, there is a large segment of the fans that are current and former military, so I have been privileged enough to meet quite a few from around the country over the years. I’ve had a lot of talks with them, as they described what it was like overseas, the dread of multiple deployments, and the difficulty readjusting to life outside the service. One friend in particular, I watched literally deteriorate before my eyes over the years as his duty took its toll. His smile lessened, his hair fell out, his body grew frail. He shared stories about fighting just to get treatment through the VA. Sadly, it reminded me of watching someone struggling with cancer and going through radiation therapy. The physical and psychological toll is unbelievable.

GP: I haven’t read the comic yet, but already have some ideas running through my mind about the mystery that’s teased and the PTSD. Can you give us any hints as to how the two are related?

JTK: I think I mentioned that a bit already, but at its core the supernatural mystery of it mirrors the struggles with PTSD. It’s that sense of isolation and the inability to reconnect with society. You feel like a stranger in your own body.

GP: Entertainment can raise awareness of issues like PTSD and veterans. Is that something you’re thinking of while putting this together?

JTK: Definitely. I mean, yes, its entertainment, and I am not trying to equate our story with something like the movie Platoon. It is an effort to catch a glimpse into territory that doesn’t get covered as much. It’s all about connectivity and empathy and getting beyond the stigma associated with PTSD. It’s about putting these stories out there. The suicide rate for veterans is shameful, and the lack of the government, and we as a nation, to help those you have given so much to us is inexcusable. If our story can move readers to reach out, to lend a hand and support veterans’ causes and legislation, that would be great.

GP: Thanks so much and looking forward to reading the graphic novel.

Check out the exclusive cover reveal below!

sand-bone-cover

Preview: Aspen Universe: Revelations #4

ASPEN UNIVERSE: REVELATIONS #4

Joshua Hale Fialkov ; JT Krul – Story / Jordan Gunderson – Art / Peter Steigerwald – Colors

The most groundbreaking event in Aspen Comics’ history continues!!!

This summer, legendary creator Michael Turner’s two greatest creations, Fathom and Soulfire, unite as one in a crossover event so massive in scope, it can only serve to forge a BRAND NEW ASPEN UNIVERSE in the process! While Aspen and Malikai continue to fight for their world, the underwater civilization of the Blue find their very existence—future and past—threatened as never before!

From the mind of Harvey, Eisner and Emmy Award nominated writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and New York Times Best-Selling author J.T. Krul comes this world-shattering new crossover series event that sets the stage for all future Aspen Comics titles to come!

ASPEN UNIVERSE: REVELATIONS #4 is in stores November 9th, 2016!

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Preview: Aspen Universe: Revelations #3

ASPEN UNIVERSE: REVELATIONS #3

Joshua Hale Fialkov ; JT Krul – Story / Jordan Gunderson ; Giuseppe Cafaro – Art / Peter Steigerwald – Colors

The most groundbreaking event in Aspen Comics’ history continues!!!

For over thirteen years, devoted Aspen Comics fans have clamored for something special…something unique…something…UNIMAGINABLE! Aspen Comics has answered the call for loyal fans and new readers alike!

This summer, legendary creator Michael Turner’s two greatest creations, Fathom and Soulfire, unite as one in a crossover event so massive in scope, it can only serve to forge a BRAND NEW ASPEN UNIVERSE in the process! “Kiani. Killian. The Blue. The Black. Aspen watched them all die. Yet, here she is seeing them again – alive and well. But time moves on, as does the cataclysmic war that destroyed everything. Can Aspen and her new ally, Malikai, stop Armageddon from happening? Can they undo the damage done by the time-traveling Halazeel? Or is history doomed to repeat itself?”

From the mind of Harvey, Eisner and Emmy Award nominated writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and New York Times Best-Selling author J.T. Krul comes this world-shattering new crossover series event that sets the stage for all future Aspen Comics titles to come!

ASPEN UNIVERSE: REVELATIONS #3 is in stores September 28th, 2016!

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Preview: Bloodlines #6

Bloodlines #6

Written by: J.T. Krul
Art by: Sean Parsons, V Ken Marion
Cover by: V Ken Marion

Face-to-face with the monstrous alien entity that started it all, even if Eddie and the others win, they lose. For them, tomorrow may never come. And even if it does, will they want to live to see it?

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Preview: Aspen Universe: Revelations #2

ASPEN UNIVERSE: REVELATIONS #2

Joshua Hale Fialkov ; JT Krul – Story / Jordan Gunderson – Art / Peter Steigerwald – Colors

The most groundbreaking event in Aspen Comics’ history continues!!!

For over thirteen years, devoted Aspen Comics fans have clamored for something special…something unique…something…UNIMAGINABLE! Aspen Comics has answered the call for loyal fans and new readers alike!

This summer, legendary creator Michael Turner’s two greatest creations Fathom and Soulfire, unite as one in a crossover event so massive in scope, it can only serve to forge a BRAND NEW ASPEN UNIVERSE in the process! Both of Aspen’s most iconic characters meet in this era-spanning second chapter, as Aspen Matthews and Malikai encounter a Grace unlike anything fans have ever seen before—And one that could spell certain doom for the entire Aspen Universe!
From the mind of Harvey, Eisner and Emmy Award nominated writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and New York Times Best-Selling author J.T. Krul comes this world-shattering new crossover series event that sets the stage for all future Aspen Comics titles to come!

ASPEN UNIVERSE: REVELATIONS #2 is in stores August 24th, 2016!

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Preview: Eternal Soulfire #6

ETERNAL SOULFIRE #6

JT Krul – Story / Alex Konat – Art / JUANCHOo – Colors

Miya is determined to revive the spirit of her murdered father, but at what cost? Don’t miss the climax to this pulse-pounding sixth volume of Michael Turner’s flagship series!

The first all new Soulfire series to make its debut since Michael Turner introduced you to his incredible magical adventure over 10 years ago, is ready to take you on the ride of your life and explore the world of Soulfire as you’ve never seen it before!

ETERNAL SOULFIRE #6 is in stores February 17th, 2015!

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Aspen Announces Bold New Direction for Aspen Comics!

PrintWith the announcement of Diamond’s Free Comic Book Day releases for 2016, Aspen Comics has announced the publisher’s offering, Worlds of Aspen 2016, as a precursor to an all-new summer crossover event combining Aspen’s two flagship titles, Michael Turner’s Fathom and Soulfire, for the first time ever.

For over a dozen years since its inception, Aspen Comics fans have experienced both titles as standalone
properties existing in separate universes. Now, however, the publisher is listening to overwhelming fan response and merging both worlds into one cohesive universe—with more titles soon to follow. Aspen has also debuted a new Aspen Comics logo, cover dressing and branding to coincide with this new direction for the publisher.

Eisner, Harvey and Emmy award-winning writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and New York Times best-selling author J.T. Krul are teaming up to write the offering, Worlds of Aspen 2016, a new Free Comic Book Day 2016 exclusive zero issue kicking off the crossover, to be followed by the event series beginning in June 2016, along with more news to be revealed. Artist Jordan Gunderson of Aspen’s The Four Points and Executive Assistant: Assassins titles will take on art duties for the event.

Free Comic Book Day takes place on May 4, 2016.

Almost American
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