Out this week in print for the first time is Blue Book, one of James Tynion IV’s first series sprouting from his Substack. Featuring art by the ever-amazing Michael Avon Oeming and letters by Aditya Bidikar, the first issue aims to deliver the series in a traditional format to a whole new audience. That scares us as we contemplate if aliens are real.
This isn’t very hard to do, with UFOs being destroyed by American Air Force seemingly once a week. The story opens with a couple in 1961. Heading home early from a modest vacation, they drive in the middle of the night when they encounter something extraterrestrial.
Woven in with the expertly creepy sightings by Oeming is a story about two people who work hard and want to make the world a better place. They both work for the NAACP, break their backs for a modest income, and have no reason to believe in aliens. Life is hard and too unfair as it is. As the story progresses, the creative team chips away at their denial of aliens and inability to conceive of them.
Oeming’s art shines by utilizing only black, white, and blue. The contrasts are stark, creating a beautiful night sequence. Decidedly retro, it suits the setting and situation.
The main story, however, feels a bit cut short. It’s a decent opening, but I was left wanting as it cuts to the backup before things get good.
A second backup story closes out the first issue with art by Klaus Janson. Set on Coney Island in 1889, the captions set up a story of a man who sees something extraordinary above the beach in the sky. Captions detail how we live in a world where our minds are too closed, but if we simply open them, we might be surprised by what we see. This story is a fun way to learn a bit about the oddities of Coney Island while capturing a different time and place.
Janson’s art is detailed and cast in black and white with Ben-Day dot stylings. Lots of details in the backgrounds give it a European feel artistically.
Bitikar’s letters in the backup are great, with a cool torn-from-newspaper style for the captions. Captions in the opening story have a nice blue border that also adds to the story. In both stories, there’s an edge to the word balloons that enhances the tension in certain moments.
The fantastical is typically depicted in the future or at least the present, but both stories in Blue Book explore the supernatural under a historical context of the past, making the weird and unusual feel unique and new. Read Blue Book for the supernatural uniqueness but stay for the enjoyable exploration of humanity.
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