Comic Review: Empty Zone – Conversations with the Dead by Jason Alexander
I don’t know exactly when I first picked up one of the Empty Zone comics by Jason Alexander, but it was either on the recommendation of a proprietor of a comic shop or one of the house ads in the back of an issue of Poison Elves, a comic also being published by Sirius Comics at the time.
Empty Zone takes place in a cyberpunk dystopia. The main character, Corrine, is something between a gutterpunk and spy. She steals data for a living, in what is more like a Warren Ellis style grinder-cyberpunk world than a Neuromancer-cyberpunk of William Gibson. There is only street here, no shiny corporations, no beautiful matrix. Or if there are corporations, they are so far away all you can see is there shadows.
(Oh, Poison Elves. There was a comic by someone who just did not give a fuck, but could pour his soul out into what anyone else’s hands would have been yet another comic about elves. But, with a setting where magical Desert Eagle revolvers, a purple speedo wearing marauder, and a psychic imp could all coexist with a couple of main characters who worked actively as assassins for a significant portion of the book, the book had more going for it and more to say than most other publishers do.)
Empty Zone has been published sporadically since 1999 and every time I find a new series I am struck by how much his art has changed, but also by how much I really enjoy this book. It has the feeling and tone of a good indie comic from the 80’s or 90’s. That feeling where instead of trying to a run that is going to last forever, they are telling a great story from just one moment in a character’s life. There is no need to reference decades of continuity or worry about how this fits into the overall back story, no this is just a good story.
And the art. The art is unique, Alexander has done work on Abe Saipan and Queen & Country, but here his art varies more than I have seen it before. Not quite at the building each page ala Dave McKeon or David Mack, but there is some influence and growth in the art and there is more mixed media type art. It works in a very good way.
The book comes out monthly from Image and there are two collections of the current series available. Hopefully the old stuff will find its way into print as well.