by Robb Fulcher
Comic book creators Mike Wellman and Rafael Navarro decided to cast themselves as gun-slinging, time-traveling adventurers in their new project, a whirlwind odyssey of dinosaurs, zero-gravity cave girls, cowboys and Indians, and menacing spacemen.
The new comic, “Guns A’Blazin’!” begins with a purpley-plump, star-filled illustration of cosmic space-time, and the promise that “time is a sinewy mistress.”
With that, Wellman and Navarro – who become more than a little bit hunkier as comic book characters – take off on a buddy romp that Wellman describes as “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Dukes of Hazzard.”
Issue number one debuted with brisk sales at San Diego’s recent Comic-Con geek-fest, and will be unveiled locally at a Wednesday signing party, complete with live music, at The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach.
Wellman, manager of the Bug and creator of the nationally distributed “Mac Afro” and “Gone South” comics, said he cast himself as the dashing blond gunslinger Kody after he tired of his previous characters getting all the action, and all the cave girls.
Navarro, a film animator and creator of the Xeric Award-winning “Sonambulo” comic, felt the same way, and cast himself as the dashing brunette gunslinger Eduardo.
“He gets the girl in the even-numbered issues, and I get the girl in the odd ones,” Wellman said.
Wellman writes the comic and Navarro illustrates it, but its creation was clearly a 50-50 proposition.
The duo decided on time-travel as a central device so they could saturate themselves freely in all their favorite things, from ‘70s rock to ‘80s sci-fi themes, to — well, whatever else strikes their fancy for the next six issues.
“Coming up, we’ll have some apocalyptic-muscle car-rage-destruction stuff,” said Wellman. The friends recently attended an Orange County demolition derby and Navarro’s forehead sprang sweatles while he filled up a sketch pad.
Although “Guns” indulges the two friends’ every fancy, the book also promises a trippy, and sneakily deep, look at time travel as the next issues unfold.
“The storyline through the first six issues, I think it has the best thought-out mythology of anything I’ve done,” Wellman said. “At first you might not think it’s that smart, but underneath that, we do have a plan.”
They also have a plan to find a larger publisher for wide distribution of the book, which is initially released under Wellman’s independent Atomic Basement banner.
The comic’s pages, splashed with panels reminiscent of 1970s-rock-and-roll-fantasy posters, are printed on a deluxe, heavy paper stock that the two describe as “gunpowder edition.”
“Because it’s blowin’ up,” said Wellman.
Mike Wellman and Rafael Navarro will sign “Guns A’Blazin’!” 5 to 7 p.m., with a performance by El Segundo folksters Hang Dog Expression 7 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 21 at The Comic Bug, 1807 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach. For more see www.thecomicbug.com