Written by: Dennis Hopeless
Art by: Kevin Mellon
It isn't often that I read something beginning to end in quite as voracious a fashion as I did Gearhead. I first encountered Kevin Mellon 13 Steps, the book he drew for Phil Hester and Chuck Satterlee. I first met him at Planet Comicon in Kansas City in April of 2008, you might remember that I interviewed him while we were there. When Darren and I went down to Joplin for Hurleycon 2: Wrath of the Con we were welcomed into the home of my friend and friend of the show Jeremy Haun and while there we happened to crash with Kevin and Gearhead writer Dennis Hopeless as well as artist Kyle Strahm. By the time we reached the venue I knew that I wanted to wander by and see what Dennis and Kevin had going on with their booth. I had seen Kevin's artwork in books that I love like 13 Steps as well as Antoine Sharp: The Atheist and had recently reencountered his work on Hack/Slash. (part of me thinks I might even have the single issues of Gearhead somewhere in the vastness of my collection that I probably picked up from Kevin back at Planet Comicon last year). When I was talking with them at their booth and whatnot Kevin very graciously offered me a copy of Gearhead, the first work that he and Dennis had done together and said "If you need anything to help sell it in your shop just let us know." During the car ride home I thought that it would be in my best interest to go ahead and read Gearhead so that I could get around to letting Kevin and Dennis know what, if anything, I might need to help sell this book in the shop that I manage.
There is something that I think would help to sell this book at my store: More of it. This is really one hell of a fun ride from two guys with all kinds of talent and passion for the comics industry. I think that Dennis is not only a really nice guy with a really great sense of humor but is also a really great writer with a great sense for pacing and a fantastic talent for developing interesting characters in just a few pages. And Kevin isn't just a really nice guy with a very contagious laugh but is also an incredibly talented artist who knows that when an artist has passion for what he is working on that it shows on the page and who has grown better and better as his career has gone along which is really saying something when you see where he started out. These guys have put together a really fantastic book that had me laughing and smiling and turning the pages like a madman to consume the story as fast as I could.
Gearhead is the story of Shelby Cooper, a car enthusiast in the truest sense trapped in a world where cars have become modular pieces of electronic technology ... which have none of the heart and guts of a classic internal combustion behemoth of the likes that Shelby drives. It is also a world where superheroes have attained such popularity in the world that they have now become politicians and run the United Cities of America ... and they do a lot less protecting these days ... and seem to have a little more going on behind the curtain than anyone is likely to ever know. Shelby lives outside the city and runs a tow truck company and repair shop for the people who live out in the uncivilized world ... those who still have the kind of cars we would all recognize ... the kind that are no longer allowed inside the city limits. Shelby got her love of cars and the grease, soot, and oil that runs in her veins from her late father. And while her brother Rod might have a more successful business selling car parts in the big ciity he just stayed in the family business but left behind the passion for what a great car really is, and this drives a wedge between him and Shelby. But when he is kidnapped and a revelation is made about who their father really is Shelby steps to the plate and goes to war with anyone who will stand between her and her family. The cast of supporting characters is instantly likeable and the villains are equally interesting enough to want to read more about but at the same time are clearly villains (once you figure out what's really going on).
I can't recommend this book more highly. It's exciting, it's fun, it's beautiful ... the only problem is that it isn't done. It sounds like it is supposed to be a 12 issue story when all is said and done and this trade paperback only covers the first arc, the first 4 issues.
Seriously these guys have the kind of talent to take the industry by storm, the passion to do it, and the smarts to turn everything on it's head once they've got the keys to the doors.
I know I'll be ordering a few of these trades over the next few weeks and that I will be pimping the hell out of it to anyone who likes books like The Boys, The End League, The Bratpack and others, as well as fans of movies like MadMax, Big Trouble in Little China, and curiously enough ... Mystery Men. This is a very great book that has the kind of appeal that could worm into just about anyone's heart. Support these guys, they deserve it.
Hey All! We've moved the Blog portion of the ComicDorksCast over to The Fantasy Shop's Website! Just Click on Wallace The Dragon to find all our new articles. We will still be posting the episodes here as to not interrupt those who have subscribed through iTunes and various other podcatchers but all of our articles have found a new home. Come find us! We've got reviews on games as well and the message boards are once again alive and active!