‘Archaic’: Death, Dames and Daggers

I stopped reading comic books about five or six years ago, figuring that it was time I ‘grew up’ and stepped away from the world of technicolor heroes and their clear-cut morality. However, I recently picked up a new indie comic that blends genres and blurs all the lines, and since then, I’ve been sucked back in wholeheartedly. Think mysterious and intriguing, dark and sexy. The one comic that’s bringing me back? ‘Archaic.’
‘Archaic’ is produced by Fenickx Productions, an independent company consisting of the very two men who created the comic book, writer James Abrams and artist Brett Marting.
Childhood friends from Missouri, the two went to the Ringling School of Art and Design in Florida together. Their ideas and talents would culminate years later in Fenickx and ‘Archaic.’ Although it is exceptionally difficult to manage everything with only two people, they take it all in stride.
Abrams attributes their success to ‘luck and not sleeping,’ while Marting acknowledges their hard work.
‘Every moment is dedicated to thinking [about] or working on [the comic book],’ Marting said.
The two are also quick to point out their friendship as a big factor for their success.
‘We’re very like-minded. It doesn’t take much to communicate a thought,’ Marting said.
Abrams and Marting, although both quite dashing in appearance and charming in demeanor, are very grounded, proclaiming themselves ‘comic book geeks and nerds,’ which they believe is a misnomer for people who have a lot of imagination. For two ‘geeks,’ they’ve done pretty well for themselves so far.
‘We’re living the dream, [and] it’s good,’ Abrams joked.
‘Archaic’ is their first comic, billed as a ‘Goth-Tech Fantasy,’ which is ‘an amalgamation that really hasn’t been made before,’ Marting said. ‘We just wanted to put that dark twist on the fantasy scene … because … it’s fairly untapped, I think.’
Currently a bimonthly comic, the first and second issues dropped in January and March, respectively, and show a strong start for Abrams and Marting. They laid the foundation for an epic power struggle between good and evil, complete with a feuding noble bloodline, dark magic and some delicious battles taking place in an unstable world called Tzenebraum. Issue one boldly throws you into the action immediately as Lord Petr Drakanov squares off against the army of his uncle, the sinister King Groznyj.
The battle rages on in issue two against a backdrop of fire as betrayals are cemented and warriors fall, leading to a cryptic prophecy at the end. Showing a great amount of promise and hinting at things to come, these first two issues left me hooked and craving more.
The artwork is phenomenal. Marting is truly an accomplished artist with a mastery of illustration.
‘Pick up an issue just for the cover, seriously,’ Abrams implores. ‘You’ll see a cover, you’ll like it.’
The covers are gorgeously rendered with intricate details, while vivid colors blend with shadow to beseech the eye to look. The interior artwork has excellent graphics and show Marting’s range as an artist.
All of the characters are richly illustrated, from ladies with flowing hair and gowns to the strange, alien-looking races that populate Tzenebraum. Muted backgrounds offset sweeping, elaborate settings and the dark feel of the graphics compliment the story nicely.
Abrams is a creative writer, crafting an incredibly impressive story that’s full of depth and has all the right subtleties to keep you hooked. Although the story is simple enough to understand on the first read, there’s much more to it beneath the surface for those brave enough to sift through and look. Abrams has created a complex world with intricate, complicated characters, but with a realism that makes them believable.
‘When [characters] die, they die. When [characters] get hurt, they stay hurt. And they have histories behind them,’ Abrahm said.
He takes archetypes, familiar stories and aspects from all different genres and refreshes them into something that’s wholly his own.
‘We take traditional themes and we put a new spin on it,’ Abrams said. ‘This isn’t your average adventure epic with your average bad guy and your average heroes. Frankly, this isn’t your average comic book.’
‘Archaic’ isn’t easily defined and categorized; there are too many different elements and layers in each issue to take them at face value. ‘Archaic’ staunchly defies standard conventions, striving instead to be something more unique and interesting; this is one comic book that refuses to be pinned down by any simple stereotypes. And there’s nothing glossy about it.
This comic is very dark and refuses to apologize for it, but Abrams and Marting are able to capture a beauty within the darkness that draws you in and captivates you … even if the beauty is shrouded in blood.
‘If you like epic stories with great drawings, th[is] will hook you,’ Abrams said. ‘I’m not sure what happens next, but I can’t wait to find out.’
The third issue of ‘Archaic’ hits shelves this May, so go out and request it at your favorite comic book store today, and be sure to pick up the first and second issues, as well. Check out http://www.archaiccomic.com for more info or swing by the ‘Archaic’ booth this July at the San Diego Comic Con to get your issues personally from Abrams and Marting themselves.