Readers claim to be looking for something new and unusual when they head to their local comic book shop, and Dark Horse is releasing a graphic novel that certainly sets new boundaries on the content and format we expect to see when we read comics. And it’s arriving this week on October 29th.
Andrew Vachss: Underground, originally written as a screenplay by Andrew Vachss, then adapted to comics by Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson and author Chet Williamson, has been drawn by 2000AD artist Dominic Reardon, and will build on the 3 part series that appeared in Dark Horse Presents to an expanded 100 pages of never before published material, with a cover by Sean Phillips. The experiment is being called “visual cinema” by Dark Horse because of its interaction with the screenplay format of the original story, and the subject matter itself is not something you often see handled in comics: the exploration of the dominating power of the media on daily life and the catastrophic consequences when freedom of media breaks down and the only hope is for it to rise again in new form.
Andrew Vachss is particularly equipped to tell such a story, having been a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, a social-services caseworker, a labor organizer, directing a maximum-security prison for “aggressive-violent” youth and now a lawyer in private practice representing children and youth. On top of that list of expertise, he’s a multi-award winning author.
Dark Horse describes the book thus:
When all sources of “news” are so clearly biased that none can be considered even remotely trustworthy or reliable, there is no news . . . and The Terror descends. For decades, The Rulers have been using prisoner/slave-labor to construct Underground, confident that those who flee there will willingly trade their freedom for security. Now, “truth” is what the Rulers say it is, and The Rulers rule all aspects of the human existence. But even within this antiseptically evil world, a revolutionary movement is brewing. A new breed of journalists–“The Book Boys”–risk everything to graffiti the truth on Underground’s pristine walls. The intolerable act of creating a reliable source of truth–“If it’s written in blue, it must be true.”–is against The Rules –a huge bounty has been offered for identification or capture of any of this crew.
A book that takes on the thematic significance of freedom of speech so directly and addresses the concerns of modern life so directly is a rarity in comics and certainly speaks to the “seriousness” of the comics medium to any who dismiss comics as ephemeral or purely for children, to say the least.
Here’s your preview of Andrew Vachss: Underground, courtesy of Dark Horse: