Bluewater's Cornucopia of Comics
The Many Titles of Bluewater
by Nicholas Kier
I, unfortunately, was never into comics as a child. I had some Sunday funnies that I loved (i.e. Calvin and Hobbes), sure, but the allure of comic books never hit me until I was about 15 years old. From then on, it was Spider-Man this and Batman that and I never really grew out of the Marvel and DC canon until just a few months ago. So when I was offered the chance to review a whole line of independent comics, I jumped at the chance to not only offer my reflections on an art that I love but also to broaden my own horizons as a reader.
Founded in 2007 by Darren G. Davis, Bluewater Productions has over 30 titles to it’s name and I was able to review single issues of seven of those titles, plus the first volume of their award-winning Lost Raven. Having read Marvel and DC books for years, I was worried about the preconceived notions I had about a smaller company’s product. Would the art suffer? Surely it must. How about the writing? Clearly it had to. Thankfully, Bluewater surprised me with the quality and the thoughtfulness behind almost all of their books. I don’t have time here to go into depth about what I thought about each book, but I would like to hit the high notes and the sadly-present-yet-thankfully-minimal low notes. First the disappointments because they were few and more time should be spent on praises. The premier issues of Insane Jane and The Blackbeard Legacy offered the exact problems that I was worried I would run into. Both stories, while somewhat original, were flimsily told and their artwork was subpar. With the style of art and writing decided on, a three to four panel daily web-comic might have been a better way to go about distributing both of these titles.
But on to the good news! Bluewater Productions has been fortunate enough to work with the offices of distinguished storytellers with their lead titles being presented by everyone from Ray Harryhausen to William Shatner. The Ray Harryhausen titles, Sinbad: Rogue of Mars and Wrath of the Titans were both extremely enjoyable and gave wildly different, yet equally fantastic, visual presentation. Jeff “Chamba” Cruz deserves special credit here for his pencil work and coloring of Sinbad, which was easily my favorite of all the books visually. His use of shadows is the best I have seen in any book, Marvel, DC, or otherwise. Wrath of the Titans is a great read for any fan of the movie (1981’s “Clash of the Titans” for those of you who apparently never had a childhood), or for anyone interested in Greek mythology in general. The writing and art is as epic as the lore that it is drawn from and the book reads like watching a popcorn flick, slowing down for brief moments for personal connections but always gearing up for the next battle.
The most overall enjoyment and satisfaction came from Bluewater’s IP Book Award winning, Lost Raven. Written by Davis himself, this book was written in partnership with the Evergreen AIDS Foundation and, while it is not revealed (at least not in the first volume) how Raven contracts HIV, it is the only book to explore any LGBT theme. Lost Raven follows Zak Raven who, after being told that he is HIV+, leaves his cushy law firm and goes on a sailing trip to reflect on what he and his body are now going to be put through. Unfortunately for Raven, his boat is destroyed and he is castaway on an island that happens to be a government testing center. As much as I enjoyed most of the other Bluewater books, I would not have been sold on this company without Lost Raven. Being half adventure tale and half thoughtful narrative on what happens to a man once he has been given life changing news, Lost Raven is the book that proves Bluewater has as much heart as talent. The art here is wonderful, the first issue being the stand out, and the storytelling keeps you guessing about what lies in wait for Raven as much as it sustains a real, emotional connection a character who has no idea what to feel. I believe that it would have been very easy for this book to slide into being preachy or whiney, but thanks to the talent of Davis it walks the fine line and instead provides a real person whose body is now as much of a danger to him as the creatures he finds on the island.
At only two years old, Bluewater Productions has proved well enough that it is here to stay. While there are some title that could use more work or some polishing, there are twice that many that I would feel proud to have sitting on my shelf next to Watchmen or Spider-Man: Reign. This company really has opened my eyes to the power and substance behind independent publishers. The next time I visit my local comic book shop *cough*CapstoneComicsplug*cough* I will definitely think twice before passing over these hidden gems in favor of the Marvel or DC fool’s gold.
Nicholas Kier is currently enrolled in Austin Community College's Radio/TV/Film program, and is intending to transfer to the University of Texas in the Fall to complete his Bachelor's Degree. This is his first foray into the comic industry, unless you count a rather brilliant satire of the "Fantastic Four" he wrote and illustrated in High School called the "Radiation Four." Nick is a part-time actor, a part-time bookseller, and a some-time comedian. He can be reached, day or night, at email@example.com.
Comics © 2008 Bluewater Productions. Review © 2009 Nicholas Kier.
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