Publisher: Image Comics
Writer/Artist: Kyle Starks
Colourist: Chris Schweizer
Release Date: 5th April 2017
Rock Candy Mountain is the latest offering from Eisner Award-nominated creator Kyle Starks, and this first issue introduces us to Jackson, a hobo with a mysterious past who finds himself on a journey to discover the seemingly fictional mountain. On his way he crosses paths with “Slim”, an unlucky soul lurching from one disaster to the next, and the pair decide to ride the rails together for a while — providing the local “Hobo King” allows it, that is.
While Sexcastle was clearly a homage to the cheesy 80s action movies we all know and love, Rock Candy Mountain feels more like a fantasy-tinged martial arts movie, with our mysterious hero on the run from the devil himself (yes, the actual devil) as he seeks out his legendary destination. The action is suitably over-the-top, and Starks makes sure to inject some humour into the proceedings with several absolute gems of dialogue, and – as should be expected by now – an utterly hilarious use of sound effects.
Visually, Starks keeps things simple, but packs a deceptive amount of expression and dynamism into what could erroneously be dismissed as “basic” artwork . There’s a wonderfully stylised approach to his pencils that really helps to sell the unusual nature of these characters, and his action sequences rapidly become a beautiful ballet of exaggerated limbs and bone-crunching impact.
His artwork is given an extra level of depth thanks to the colours of Chris Schweizer, who helps to provide the book with a noticeably more polished feel than Sexcastle. Schweizer, an accomplished cartoonist in his own right, really helps to establish the passage of time throughout the course of the issue, with his palette gradually shifting from the muted browns of late evening to the pale blues of the night.
The overall story is only hinted at here, with this first issue focusing on introducing us to Jackson and “Slim” and giving us a little taster of the hobo life — not to mention a showcase of exactly what Jackson is capable of when it’s time to throw down. There’s a mysterious, fantastical slant (see the aforementioned actual devil) to the series that makes it innately interesting, and our stoic leading man clearly has one hell of a tale to tell.
With a striking aesthetic and a heady blend of humour and action, Rock Candy Mountain provides a hobo-themed love letter to the classic martial arts movies of old, and given Starks’ impressive pedigree as a creator, this should be viewed as a pretty much essential purchase.
If you want to find out more about Rock Candy Mountain, make sure to check out our interview with creator Kyle Starks by CLICKING HERE.