I have not written in months. Or rather, I have not written anything of much consequence. I’ve written for my day job, and I’ve posted here. But my personal work, the stories I must ply from my heart and mind, have largely sat untouched.
While reading Blue In Green, I figured out why I have not lately touched my personal work. It is because consequential work, work of the type I would like to produce, demands effort and sacrifice. It demands a level of commitment I cannot currently achieve. Hovering in a liminal state during perhaps the most liminal month of my most liminal year, it is taking most everything I have to continue being a partner, a friend, an employee, a son, and a brother. I cannot be a writer, too.
So I understood exactly how Erik Dieter felt when the pale man offered him a choice in New York City. Dieter simply wanted to cut through life’s bullshit, while he was still young and alive, and create something that felt real. Something that felt great.
It is ironic that, where Erik Dieter failed, Blue In Green succeeds. Ram V, Anand RK, John Pearson, Aditya Bidikar, and Tom Muller have created something great, while commenting on the very act of artistic creation.
In the early 2010s, Image Comics launched a plethora of kick-ass, hype-generating monthly comics series, written by a murderers’ row of writers pulled from Marvel and DC. Those series, including but not limited to East of West, Lazarus, Sex Criminals, The Wicked + The Divine, and Bitch Planet, quickly became the books I was most excited to buy each month (or every six months, for those I bought in trades).
At the time of this writing, most of those early 2010s Image hits have either ended, gone on hiatus, or shifted to irregular release schedules. And while I love plenty of Image’s current output, as a whole, those series are not generating the same amount of hype or sales (maybe arguable, but I looked – compare Image’s market share from 2014 and 2019) as Image’s early 2010s line-up.
So where did that heat Image Comics had at the start of last decade go? Well, in the 2020s, there’s another indie publisher that’s pumping out hit after hit written by some of Marvel and DC’s current top writers – and that’s BOOM! Studios.
I have read too many stories to be shocked by most of them anymore. But the first volume of Sleepless subverted my expectations in such a way that I feel compelled to recommend it to you, dear reader, so that you also can spend ten minutes flipping back and forth between Sleepless‘s final pages, your jaw hanging agape at what has just occurred.
I will not spoil Sleepless Vol. 1’s ending in this review, because I think you should feel that ending’s power for yourself. But I will talk about how Sleepless builds to that ending in ways that both set it up and make it surprising, paying off the book’s main points of tension.