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You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yeti

Erik T. Johnson's 'The Outliers' is good and deep and weird.
Wayne Alan Brenner, 1:30pm, Tue. Sep. 3, 2013
Style. Substance. Sasquatch.
Alternative Comics – the indie publishing company that used to be run by Jeff Mason down in Gainesville, Florida – has been blitzing my mailbox lately and I don't want this practice to stop anytime soon.

AC is now run by a guy named Marc Arsenault, and he's out of Cupertino, California, and he's making a mighty righteous roar of introduction to the company's published and/or distributed wares. It's a valid righteousness, I'd suggest, for the man who plans to continue a legacy of print that includes works by Dash Shaw and Josh Neufeld and the Hanuka Brothers and so on.

[Note: Don't even get me started about the freaky brilliance of Rebecca Dart's Rabbithead.]

This is how, I'm figuring, Erik T. Johnson's first issue of The Outliers showed up in my Chronicle in-box, arriving in an envelope beautifully designed for the purpose of enclosing just that volume. And the volume itself, digest-sized and wafer-thin perfect-bound, with a four-color dust jacket wrapping around a letterpressed cover of silver ink on heavy dark paper … this is one of those objects, one of those printed art objects, that you want to hold onto regardless of whatever the actual content might be.

Bonus: The content is something you'll want to hold onto as well, clutching it to your memory to keep company with the other cherished modern fables that reside there. And this is just chapter one of The Outliers, the story of "a speech-impaired 11-year-old boy living in the Pacific Northwest who has a very unusual relationship with an 18-foot-tall hairy woodland giant."

Could be downright idyllic, right? Like My Neighbor Totoro? Well, look, if you require comparatives at all, perhaps better to faintly imagine The Iron Giant. But biological. And more basically … eldritch. And with the young protagonist "exposed as a link between our world and one on the periphery of human consciousness." Indeed: The story's already shaping up to be a mystical monsterfest, a cryptozoologist's dream come true, and – especially with Johnson's detailed art bringing his fantastic, original narrative to paneled life – it's a story comics-lovers will look forward to experiencing the rest of.

[Note: There's a section in the back of this first Outliers book, thanking those who helped fund the project via Kickstarter. Damned if Kickstarter doesn't seem more & more worthwhile. Damned if, sometimes, crowdfunding in general doesn't work toward the furthering of everyone's cultural enrichment. Maybe give the process another look-see while you're here clicking around?]

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