Zyklon B [zy-klon bee]
A cyanide-based pesticide infamous for its use by Nazi Germany to kill human beings in gas chambers of extermination camps during the Holocaust.
An independent horror comic book created and written by Adam B Cheal with art by Joel J Cotejar, colours by Mike Summers and letters by Mindy Lopkin.
The world of independent comics has never looked better. With websites like Kickstarter and indiegogo, creators can now get their work funded (by the public, no less) without having to go through publishers. This relatively new system works particularly well for possibly controversial projects, such as Adam Cheal’s Zyklon B. The title itself brings controversy and, combined with the language used and often gory artwork, the book has a sinister feel that may not appeal to some audiences. However, the book is clearly not intended for all audiences and the dark content is not used simply for it’s own sake. Cheal uses the strong language, particularly bloody kills and subjects such as Nazism and black magic to tell an interesting and horrifying story.
The story moves at a consistently high pace and it tells a complete story, something rather unusual in a world full to the brim with cliffhangers. Visher’s origin tale could have easily been told with a series unto itself, instead Cheal chooses to cover all the necessary points in issue #1 and allows for the rest of the series to expand in to a larger world of Zyklon B. This swift storytelling definitely helps maintain the reader’s interest at all times but sometimes lends itself to feeling rushed. There seem to be no truly good people in this world, a compliment to Cheal’s unconventional characterisations. The man turned into Zyklon B gas, now known only as Visher, is clearly the focus of the issue and is the most fleshed out member of the cast but he’s no hero. For the vast majority of the book, he is little more than a literal a force of vengeance. The most intriguing man in this tussle is Caleb Montana, seemingly Visher’s only friend before he becomes cursed with his gaseous form. He is not heavily featured in the book but every panel that the practitioner of powerful dark magic is featured in is a highlight. I know that he will be returning in the next three issues and I can’t wait to see where Caleb is taken, even more so than Visher.
Overall, a good balance of action and dialogue is struck but unfortunately, a few lines of dialogue feel unneeded and ham-fisted. More subtlety around the Nazi elements and characters would have been a nice touch but it doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the writing.
Joel J Cotejar’s illustrations and Mike Summers’ colours compliment the twisted nature of the script brilliantly. Every drop of bloody violence is extremely well detailed and the expressive close ups of faces particularly stand out. The panel layout is always fresh and never difficult to follow, something that can bring down even the best writers/artists.
An always unsung and under-appreciated member of a comic creative team is the letterer. Well, I’m glad to say that Mindy Lopkin’s work on Zyklon B is some of the best lettering work I’ve seen in quite some time. Unique bubble styles are expertly used, allowing the read to follow the script freely between character perspectives without hesitance. Lopkin’s letters emphasise the professional level of work of everyone involved in this project.
Despite the aforementioned lack of a real cliffhanger, Zyklon B #1 leaves you wanting more when you’re finished. Cheal’s writing is brave and powerful, Cotejar & Summers’ artwork is bold and striking and Lopkin’s lettering is simply superb. I’m proud to have helped the team on their way to seeing out their vision and I’m very happy to find that my time and money were well worth it.
Zyklon B would not look out of place on a shelf next to horror comics of the highest level. Bring on the other three issues!
To contribute and support Zyklon B on indiegogo: http://www.indiegogo.com/ZyklonBComic
Official Zyklon B website: www.zyklonbcomic.com/
Follow Zyklon B on Twitter: http://twitter.com/zyklonbcomic