Last fall Jeremy Owens published Burly, a book of pinups featuring bearish men. Now he returns with a new comic titled Bludgeon, featuring a superhero who just happens to be a bear – and not the Marvel character whoever the hell that is! And a big bellied, bearded, and hairy bear at that. Plus, he wears glasses and some guys are turned on by guys wearing glasses. How often do you find a superhero who wears glasses that aren’t part of his or her secret identity disguise?
As debut issues go, Owen does a good job with setting things up and introductions while adding a dash of mystery. Owen has his hero arrive in the bustling metropolis of Albuquerque not with the power of flight, super speed, or teleportation, but by bus. We are not off to your typical start with a superhero book, are we? Of course since he’s taking public transportation he’s in his secret identity of Mike. Just Mike for now. He’s being discrete. Don’t worry, not discrete like straight guys looking for sex in the “Men seeking men” section on Craigslist meaning of discrete. Mike is simultaneously proud and low key about his sexuality as Alice the overly friendly / slightly overbearing coffee barista discovers when she sits down to chat. Alice is an interesting foil for Mike, who for now in this intro, seems a little more on the reserved side. It’s through Alice’s inquisitive nature that we get a better sense of Mike the man, his humor, as well as more indication for his purpose in coming to Albuquerque (or just ‘Burque as the locals call it). Something tragic happened in his past. Whatever it was (my sense is a lover/ sidekick/ what have you is involved) has haunted him and he’s determined to find justice in time for the next issue.
This is Owen’s first published foray into sequential art. His thick lined art style for thick waisted guys remains unchanged. On a related note, I can’t decide if a little variety in his line weight would add a little visual variety, for instance with Alice the barista, or if it’s simply my own personal wishes in play. Panel layouts are conventional for the most part, except for the at the end where he lets loose. Drawing sequential art requires other skills in addition to the basic skills used in portrait, pin up, or illustration work. Character facial consistency for one, and Owen has this down. Scale and spatial relationships are another set. While it doesn’t distract from enjoyment of the story, there seems to be some inconsistency with elements in the coffee shop, ie: other tables and a pair of other customers. It’s a skill that best developed simply by more drawing and observation. The price of color printing typically isn’t affordable for the self pubber. Owen creates a range texture with lines and marks though I wonder if using gray tones or washes here and there would add another layer of interest or change the already established feel
Minor art quibbles aside, you should check out Bludgeon, especially if you’re hankering for a bearish guy of a superhero.
Visit Burly Press to order your copy, see art samples, and read about Jeremy.