Published: January 5, 2011
Brett Pinson, who writes and draws for the local indie publishing house Boomtown Press, which puts out the Boomtown Scabs book, agrees, but he doesn't think that Detroit gets its props, considering what it has given the comic book world. "Detroit has launched a ton of talent in every area of entertainment," Pinson says, with a puff of the chest. "Unfortunately, I don't think it gets the credit it deserves. People think everything comes out of New York or L.A. Actually, when you look at it, a lot of these guys have had ties to Michigan and had to move away."
Michael Marcus is part of a collective called the Hamtramck Idea Men (HIM), which put out the IF-X and Terra 2920 books. He agrees with Pinson, and believes that such big-name natives as Geoff Johns and Jim Starlin should reach out to their hometown. "I'm really happy that they were able to make the leap," Marcus says, before pausing for thought and adding. "I would love to see them help others from the area make the same leap, or at least help them find their way to get started."
Katie Cook, best known for her work on the Fraggle Rock and Star Wars comics and her own online comic strip, Gronk — A Monster's Tale, believes that this is a healthy time for comic books in Detroit. "I think that Detroit has a great underground indie artist movement going on," she says. "People still love Marvel, DC and the mainstream characters, but there's a growing need for great stories and great artwork that don't have anything to do with Spiderman or Superman. There's a Michigan writer and artist called Jeremy Bastian who does a comic called Cursed Pirate Girl that is amazing — one of the most artful books I've ever seen. There are so many people that live in this area that are talented artists and are applying that artwork to indie comics. It's just an exciting time to watch."
It's not surprising that Detroit has proven to be such a rich breeding ground for comic book artists, writers and characters. As perhaps best illustrated by The Crow, the city provides the ideal, Gothamesque backdrop for crime-fighting, and you can't have any crime-fighting without crime. Our music, film and art scenes show how great art rises from struggle. Comic books are really just another medium. Due to the isolating nature of the work, and that big names will inevitably relocate to New York and L.A. in order to get work with DC and Marvel, perhaps a widespread Detroit comic book "scene" is too much to ask. But that the Detroit Triple Fan Fair convention was resurrected this year (as the Detroit Fanfare) and that there are pockets of indie writers and artists putting out quality books on a regular basis means that Detroit still has much to be excited about.
So maybe the Justice League of America will move back here, preferably bringing Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman with them this time.
Thanks to Dennis Barger and his staff at Wonderworld Comics (22391 Ecorse Rd., Taylor; 313-292-8697) who helped immensely with research.
> Email Brett Callwood