Ah, to ride the rails and be a hobo. Sounds like a free-spirited life, but the truth is it was a hard one which came complete with fights to the death! We recently interviewed writer Kyle Starks about this hobo punching series Rock Candy Mountain and what he said got us excited for it. Well, it’s here this week, but is it good?
Rock Candy Mountain #1 (Image Comics)
So what’s it about? The official summary reads:
SERIES PREMIERE Eisner-nominated comic creator, KYLE STARKS (SEXCASTLE), would like to invite you to enter the magical world of hobos. The world’s toughest hobo is searching through post-World War II America for the mythological Rock Candy Mountain, and he’s going to have to fight his way to get there. Lots of hobo fights. So many hobo fights. A new action-comedy series full of high action, epic stakes, magic, friendships, trains, punching, kicking, joking, a ton of hobo nonsense, and the Literal Devil. Yeah. The Literal Devil.
Why does this book matter?
Given Starks’ ability to write clever and humorous comics like his run on Rick and Morty or his instant classic Sexcastle I think he’s gained enough trust to dive into this new series. Given the premise, its assuredly going to bring some butt kicking humor.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is a fun first issue that sets up the key players and the buddy combo of the protagonists. Of course, being a hobo-centric series, the protagonist is a hobo himself and a famous one of sorts. He’s seeking the famous Rock Candy Mountain, but along his journey he runs into a man who needs a bit of looking after. Unfortunately for them both they run into a crew of hobos who are none too happy to share a train car together. This leads to conflict– AKA punching and kicking– and the start a beautiful relationship. Overall Starks draws you into the world with a kick to the mouth to start and plenty of intrigue moving forward. There are enough character moments to get you fully invested and you’ll be interested to see where he takes the story next.
If you’re familiar with Sexcastle you’ll love Starks’ style here, which is made even better by Chris Schweizer’s colors. There’s a great use of blue for night time scenes, and a mysterious horned character early on has just the right redness to make you ponder where he’s from. The color adds a new layer to Starks’ cel-shaded sort of style that makes it feel one step closer to great animated movie. That’s partly due to the kinetic nature of Starks’ art which helps when the “punch diarrhea” kicks in!
Great use of color here.
It can’t be perfect can it?
There’s plenty of chuckle-inducing moments, but I did find myself expecting more of a deep belly laugh that didn’t come with this first issue. It sets things up, and certainly has a way with words (like the punch diarrhea line), but it’s more muted and not as over the top as I’ve come to expect from Starks’ past work. Given how good the other elements are though it’s not a deal breaker by any means.
Is It Good?
This is a fun first issue that sets things up well and sprinkles chuckle worthy bits throughout. Rock Candy Mountain has the adventure of Mark Twain and the alcoholic machismo of Ernest Hemingway that’s hard to resist.
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