Comic Review: Kranburn

Kranburn, #1-3
Created by Ben Michael Byrne
FEC Comics
Release Date: July 15, 2012
Cover Price: 99¢

With the end of the Mayan calendar quickly approaching, reading post-apocalyptic comics, in theory, should elicit some less than positive emotions. But, as it typically is with comics and their readers, what should be never is. The success of post-apocalyptic comics like The Walking Dead and Sweet Tooth are always constant reminders that the end of progress makes for good reading. In that same vein of roving gangs of marauders and the collapse of civilization we have Ben Michael Byrne‘s Kranburn.

This indie comic from FEC Comics is a brutal gray-scale look into life after the fall of society. With constant nods to Mad Max, Kranburn is an unsettling look at the sacrifices we must make in order to preserve our humanity. When I say that Kranburn makes continual references towards movies like Mad Max, I am not kidding around. The opening panels of this comic introduce the story’s main character, Brand, as he races from wasteland bandits in an armored car. This comic repeatedly pays homage to the books, movies, and television shows that built the post-apocalyptic wanderer genre.

Kranburn follows Brand as he violently and irrevocably instigates a war between the desert outpost of Kranburn and the ruthless warlord Nong. Kranburn‘s story is fairly simple in its delivery, and with this style of book, it is welcome. Essentially, Byrne is looking to capture the troubling day-to-day life of his characters. It just happens to be that life in Kranburn consists of eating, sleeping, and surviving. That is this comic in a nutshell. Characters must survive as they scavenge for food, followed by dismembering members of rival factions then hunting for medical supplies. Kranburn, in its stark simplicity, evokes a very depressing and realistic look at the end of days.

It is a shame that The Walking Dead does gray-scale comics so well. Without any reference at all to Robert Kirkman’s magnum opus, Kranburn would have entirely unique artwork. However, Rick Grimes and his crew have made their stamp on comics and, as they say, the rest is history. For comics that take place after the fall of civilization, black and gray is a tough choice to make. On one hand, this style of art fits perfectly for the stark and joyless landscape of Kranburn. On the other hand, however, the work of Byrne will always and forever be, if not purposefully then subconsciously, compared to that of Walking Dead‘s Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn. I really wish this were not the case because Byrne really does capture the tone and mood of this book perfectly.

Indie comics are a gamble for any creator. Really, when you are competing against the big guys over at Marvel and DC, the chances of getting your name out there are slim. However, much to my infinite pleasure, writers and artists are still putting out small press indie comics. Kranburn is one of those comics. Byrne has created something purely out of a love for the medium and it shows. This is a comic rooted in a passion for everything that can and will go wrong once society collapses.

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