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average writing
skilled art
historical bonus 2
total score 6
Near Myths #1
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Only Printing / 1978 / 44 pages / Galaxy Media Distribution
On the table of contents of its first issue, Near Myths declares itself to be "A Science Fiction and Fantasy Comic for Adults." This is similar to the declaration from Brainstorm Comix (1975) that it is an "Adult Fantasy" comic series, but Brainstorm's content was clearly underground in nature. Near Myths, on the other hand, really is more like a sci-fi/fantasy series, akin to Heavy Metal, and therefore probably belongs in the alternative comics library, but since it will be a while before that section of Comixjoint is launched, I will keep it here for the time being. Near Myths is indeed a science fiction and fantasy comic series, but with some exceptions its content is significantly weak compared to Heavy Metal.

In the editorial on page 16 of its first issue, Near Myths states their objective to provide an outlet for British comic creators to "express themselves in an unrestricted format." As well, they believe that "Science Fiction is the most expressive medium, and the one in which no other can offer greater scope for the exposure of original ideas." That latter point is certainly debatable, but whether you agree or disagree, you won't find many original ideas in Near Myths #1.

The problem here is not the artwork, which is mostly good and sometimes better than good. Graham Manley and Bryan Talbot are both accomplished illustrators who went on to lengthy professional careers (Talbot's being exceptional). Alecks Waszynko (Bonk), who went to school with Talbot and contributed to Brainstorm Comix and Moon Comix, certainly shows promise here. The problem with Near Myths #1 is the writing, and therefore the stories, which generally do not present particularly original ideas. In fact, they seem to be bogged down by clichés and overwrought exposition and dialogue.

For example, the lead story in this issue, "Kraimer," presents the first chapter in a serial that is illustrated by Manley and written by Michael Wilson. Manley's artwork is fine, reminiscent of Talbot's, but Wilson's script is ornamented with too many instances of florid prose like this; "Kraimer oozed away the hours with every breath..." and this; "For a while a threatening silence that could only read anxious words." The story is infused with this melodramatic writing throughout, instead of just telling the story and allowing the drama to build from the plotting.

Manley's other story, "Tales from the Edge," was written by him. It suffers from some of the same melodrama, but at least there is some action to enliven the pages. My issue here is with the characters and the plot, which don't engage the reader with any compelling conflict despite all the chasing and explosions of violence. John Eunson's story near the end of the book suffers from similar weaknesses, except it doesn't even have the strong illustration to pique one's interest.

There are two stories in Near Myths #1 that are effectively written and illustrated. One is "Radio Comix" by Alecks Waszynko (Bonk), which leaps from the pages with its bold graphics. It's a one-joke story, but unlike the previously mentioned tales, the pace is swift and straightforward. The other is Bryan Talbot's first chapter in "The Adventures of Luther Arkwright," entitled "Napalm Kiss." Though it also suffers a bit from pretentiousness, it provides intriguing characters and smart writing while building the complexity of its plot. It also delivers some humorous exchanges between the two lead characters (Arkwright and Rose) that are essential to building our rapport with them. Unlike the other chapters in this book, "Napalm Kiss" leaves me anxious to read the next chapter in the story.

Near Myths was partially inspired by Heavy Metal and apparently sought to build a similar comic series with all British creators. In its editorial, it acknowledges that Heavy Metal is "possibly the best adult comic on the market," but its attempt to replicate that quality falls quite short. For the most part, the artistic talent is at least in the same ballpark as Heavy Metal's, but as any comic veteran can tell you, you must have great writers to connect with your audience for the long term. Near Myths #1 does not have that level of storytelling excellence.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted.
Graham Manley - 1, 4 (ads) 5-8 (art) 17, 19-28, 44
Bill Reid - 2, 43
Michael Wilson - 5-8 (script)
Bryan Talbot - 9-15, 18 (ad, shared)
Hunt Emerson - 18 (ad, shared)
Alecks Waszynko (aka Bonk) - 29-33
John Eunson - 33-37
Chris Haddon - 38-42