Skip to main content

COMIC BOOK SPOTLIGHT: 'Concrete Park' Deserves 'R-E-S-P-E-C-T' in Exciting Sci-Fi Debut


“Black people don’t like science fiction – they don’t see themselves in the future.”

There are millions of movie pitches rejected for a million different reasons every year in Hollywood. It just so happened that the science fiction movie pitch featuring an ethnically diverse cast of characters trapped on a prison planet elicited a racist, ignorant, and absurd response from one studio exec. Screenwriter Tony Puryear and wife, actress Erika Alexander, were shocked at the exec's ridiculous assumption but not defeated. They took their creative vision to another medium in need of some diversity itself - comic books. The result is a five-issue limited series from Dark Horse Comics entitled Concrete Park: R-E-S-P-E-C-T debuting this Wednesday.
 We set out to make a sci-fi epic in a future that's as diverse as the world we know. What that means is different colors, different ethnicities, different languages, different cultures, different sexual orientations. We thought we could bring that to the future and show a really funky version of the future. But mainly, we want it to be entertaining and work on a big canvas. -Tony Puryear* 
After a critically acclaimed run in the publisher's anthology series, Dark Horse Presents, Concrete Park had earned a shot at an ongoing series but that now rides on the success of the mini-series. Artist Puryear co-writes with Alexander (co-created with brother Robert Alexander) and have been the epitome of independent spirit. Undaunted by Hollywood's racist stereotyping, even when offered to make their project using white actors instead, they marched forward despite a litany of challenges.

Alexander was a fan favorite as Maxine Shaw on 'Living Single' while Puryear's 

screenwriting credits include Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Eraser'
Puryear, a screenwriter by trade, had not written a comic book script before nor had he drawn one. Alexander was a comic book neophyte. More importantly, African-American creators are still a rarity in the industry along with minority characters that lead their own titles. The fact that they've come this far is a testament to their dedication, ingenuity and creative versatility. It didn't hurt that they had a compelling story to tell.

On a future Earth, exiles and criminals are transported to a dry, desolate prison planet ironically named 'Oasis' to work as slave labor mining natural resources under scorching dual suns. We meet Isaac an exile from the gang environs of Los Angeles when the transport ship unexpectedly crashes on the planet killing everyone aboard but him. He meets the leader of one the gangs, Luca, and must learn to navigate his new home fraught with rival factions and individuals with dubious interests. A classic stranger in a strange land story as immersive and expansive as any literary epic all told without the obligatory shining white knight as the protagonist.
In our world, you see the world as it truly is, populated by mostly brown, black, yellow and red, and there are white people there, and they’re going to have a place, but most of them, in the end, will not ever be defined by their race, at least not their color. They’re the human race against the people who own that planet, but they’ll all have to learn to work together in order to live.- Erika Alexander**
The subtext speaks to similar issues found in present day Earth as science fiction often does with allegories of the human condition. Exploitation, tribalism, the politics of power and gender, and in the end the hope of survival amid it all. Puryear and Alexander have a larger story to tell and five issues may not be enough. They find inspiration in Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones where alliances and differing loyalties across an expansive world of characters fuels the action and drama. Issue one gives the reader a glimpse in what's to come. 


Isaac is quickly saved from an approaching crowd of rivals and a gun fight ensues. Luca takes him to safety and we see how violent and precarious the state of affairs in Scare City are and the appearance of the Potato King sets the tone of one boss laying claim to his territory. Along the way characters are named in the panels foreshadowing their stories to come in the penal colony of Oasis. 

Concrete Park: R-E-S-P-E-C-T is an exciting debut and as good a first issue as any dystopian story on the comic book store shelves right now. It's a worthy addition to any pull list because as any good book should it will leave you wanting more. It's an original point of view sci-fi tale that transcends race and culture to create a dangerous and unpredictable world with characters you haven't seen before. It's taken Puryear and Alexander ten years to bring their vision to life and this is just the beginning. Get on board now.  

And if at all possible get the print edition because as a bonus you get a separate story about a fictional character within Concrete Park, Talladega.


The five-part bonus story, Talladega in ‘A World of Hurt,’ is unusual in that it follows a fictitious character within the Concrete Park story world. Talladega is the star of a series of movies and videos, watched by everyone in Scare City. She’s a thief, a will-o’-the-wisp  in magnetic boots who rides the skies of the planet Oasis standing, Silver Surfer-style, atop her flying car. Everyone in this rough part of the universe knows Talladega and her bigger-than-life adventures are fake. Everyone is wrong, and as the five-issue R-E-S-P-E-C-T miniseries progresses, Talladega may fly off the screen and into the streets of Scare City.
The bonus story is co-written and drawn by Tony Puryear and co-written by Erika Alexander. Presented in a restrained three-color palette, drawn in a comic-strip style, the bonus story has a different look and feel from Concrete Park’s Technicolor desert hues.

Tony Puryear explains the five-part bonus story addition.
First, we love print, and we fell in love with comics you could hold in your hands, swap with your friends and collect. Second, we love comics shops, and we want retailers to have something special from Concrete Park that you cant’t get anywhere else; you have to come into the store. Third, it’s a chance to play with a different look and feel for our world and to tell story in a different way. Lastly, Talladega is cool, and to build this crazy story in a story is so much fun.”

Lastly, the 7-part story from Dark Horse Presents will be collected in hardcover and available in October. 



* CBR

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

All-New Mythological Thriller GOD COMPLEX Coming from Top Cow

Writers Paul Jenkins (Inhumans, Wolverine: Origin) and Bryan Lie team up with artist Hendry Prasetya (Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers) for an all-new mystery thriller in GOD COMPLEX, an ongoing series launching from Image/Top Cow this October.


GOD COMPLEX is set in the futuristic city of Delphi where a young digital-forensics investigator named Seneca finds himself embroiled in the bizarre murders of three church acolytes. Guided by his cryptic mentor, the Ruler named Hermes, Seneca uncovers a stunning conspiracy and a mystery that will turn his entire world upside down. 

Join the GOD COMPLEX team on a unique vision of a digital future powered by mythological gods. GOD COMPLEX is the first original toy line-up from Jakarta-based GLITCH. It features sci-fi and high-fashion reimaginings of mythological gods from various beliefs/regions like Greek, Egypt, China, and Japan. The toys first released in 2012 and are available for purchase at www.glitch-store.com. GOD COMPLEX is created by Brya…

REVIEW: 'Crosswind' #2 by Gail Simone and Cat Staggs

Chicago hitman Cason Bennett and mousy Seattle housewife Juniper Blue have inexplicably switched bodies and lives. A mysterious stranger has called them each to tell them they have to play the game. 'Crosswind' by Gail Simone and Cat Staggs is a juicy satisfying crime fantasy that sizzles with intrigue.


CROSSWIND #2 Story: Gail Simone Art / Cover / Variant Cover: Cat Staggs Published: July 26, 2017 Diamond ID: MAY170671 Digital : $3.99 Print: $3.99
Score: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
The mind-breaking crime fantasy continues! Slick Chicago hitman Cason Bennett and mousy Seattle housewife Juniper Blue have inexplicably switched bodies and lives, and a heartless, relentless killer seems intent on killing them both. Don't miss this edge-of-your-seat thriller by fan-favorites GAIL SIMONE and CAT STAGGS!
Cason and Juniper are forced to play their new roles in their new bodies. Juniper has to clean up a bloody crime scene from the end of the last issue and Cason has to make a killer dinner for Jun…

RAVEN YEAR 2 Begins: The Teenage Lesbian Pirate's Quest for Love and Vengeance

RAVEN is a pirate revenge adventure, a soap opera full of messy teenage love stories, and about a dozen coming of age stories set on the high seas. Think "Legend of Korra" at sea with an all female cast.


This series has one of the most diverse and exciting casts of any comic on the market. It's full of action, adventure, and revenge - but even more full of love stories and soap operas. RAVEN is one of the first YA comics with an openly gay leading lady. But on top of that, it has a cast of women who represent a wide spectrum of the LGBTQ community. It's equal parts soap opera and actual opera.
Writer Jeremy Whitley hopes readers experience "Joy, connection, and love" when reading this book. He goes on to say that "It's a book where different types of people are heroes than what we're used to, especially in YA fiction. I feel like everybody should be able to find at least one character they either relate to or fall in love with in the pages of t…

REVIEW: 'Genius: Cartel' #1 (of 5) by Adam Freeman, Marc Bernardin, and Rosi Kampe

"Seventeen-year-old Destiny Ajaye took on the LAPD in her South Central Siege and paid for it-not with her life, but with her freedom. Now, Destiny is sequestered in the Madrasa Institute, a government school for prodigies. But will she use her gifts to wage war at the military's behest-or is she already planning another revolution?"


GENIUS: CARTEL #1 (OF 5) Story: Adam Freeman, Marc Bernardin Art / Cover: Rosi Kampe Colorist: Brad Simpson Letterer: Troy Peteri Published: August 16, 2017 Diamond ID: JUN170655 Digital : $3.99 Print: $3.99
Score: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
As you can imagine it hasn't been an easy transition from street-level revolutionary to government think tank subject. Destiny Ajaye is frankly too smart, too many steps ahead of the class to find the black ops simulations stimulating. It also drives her crazy that her field boss doesn't listen to her suggestions resulting in disastrously executed operations. But what is a teenage prodigy to do when your only ch…

KICKSTARTER SPOTLIGHT: 'Death Metal Zombie Cop' Issue #1 by Felipe Smith

A Superstar LAPD Rookie (Marco Miranda) & his disillusioned Training Officer (Rhonda Riley) discover that a corruption-plagued Justice System and the tightening stranglehold of the Drug Cartel are just the tip of the iceberg when L.A.'s deadliest Urban Legend reveals itself to be very REAL.


The creator who brought Robbie Reyes, the All-New Ghost Rider, back to life for Marvel is back with another high-octane adventure with his Kickstarter passion project, Death Metal Zombie Cop. If the title alone doesn't grab you then check out the amazing art. 


DEATH METAL ZOMBIE COP is an Action/Horror comic originally conceived in Japan (shortly after ending serialization of PEEPO CHOO with Kodansha) & now made in Los Angeles. It's infused with Dark Humor, real LAPD situations, West Coast slice-of-life antics, and over 5 years worth of development and HEART! 

ABOUT THE KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN
"All pledged funds will go towards DEATH METAL ZOMBIE COP #1 production costs and bac…