Black’s Myth, the supernatural noir series from writer Eric Palicki, artist Wendell Cavalcanti, letterer Rob Steen, cover artist Liana Kangas, and publisher AHOY Comics has a collected edition due out later this month. The series, which follows private detective Janie “Strummer” Mercado, who also happens to be a werewolf, has already been announced as returning for a second series later this year. Today The Beat is pleased to present an exclusive look at the full introduction from writer John Layman for the Black’s Myth trade paperback.
Here’s how AHOY Comics describes Black’s Myth:
Meet Janie Jones “Strummer” Mercado—just an ordinary werewolf PI, trying to make it on the mean streets of LA. When the case of a lifetime falls into her lap, it’s up to her and her charming djinn assistant Ben Si’lat to figure out just how many silver bullets have been used. And just where do silver bullets come from, anyway?
Layman is no stranger to comics about detectives with extra-human abilities, having co-created the hit Image Comics series Chew with artist Rob Guillory. Still, his contribution to an AHOY Comics title is a bit of a surprise given his long-standing feud with AHOY editor-in-chief Tom Peyer, who has over the years referred to Layman as, among other things, “the Jerry Falwell, Jr. unzipped pants of comics,” “the malicious Captain Kangaroo of comics,” and, recently, “the horse dewormer of comics.” If there’s any book that it’s worth putting their animosity aside in support of, though, it’s Black’s Myth.
Check out Layman’s full introduction below. The collected edition of Black’s Myth arrives in stores and online on Tuesday, February 15th, and in comic shops on Wednesday, February 23rd.
“Worm’s Eye View”
By John Layman
I guess the jig is up. No more hiding, no more secrets. And I owe it all to BLACK’S MYTH. Y’see, I’m not actually John Layman, half-assed comic writer, sometimes letterer, and TPB introduction hack. I’m actually Olghoi-khorkhoi, the Mongolian death worm from all those legends and tales of yore that terrified you as a child, the ones that kept you up at night screaming for mommy, and left you with yellow puddles soaking your bedsheets. (Not AN Olghoi-khorkhoi, by the way, THE Olghoi-khorkhoi.) I burrow underground, spit lethal venom, have an electric discharge, and live in a swank subterranean lair that houses both Genghis Khan’s tomb and his priceless collection of plundered treasure and artifacts. My mortal enemy is Húxiān, the nine-tailed (worm-eating) fox-spirit, and ours is a hatred that spans the eternities. You only think you know me from all my little bullshit comics—but BLACK’S MYTH has inspired me to tell the truth!
That’s the thing about BLACK’S MYTH, and the world inhabited by private investigator Janie Jones “Strummer” Mercado. It’s only ostensibly our world, a world inhabited by normies, Muggles, and “mundanes.” Deceptively normal on the surface, though, in truth, around every corner is somebody with a secret, a strange secret, a weird secret. And for a P.I. who we are told deals primarily in “mundanes” (a code word for boring normal folk like you!) our dear Ms. Mercado sure has a knack for sniffing out the weirdness.
Of course, Strummer’s ability to sniff things out is part of her unique weirdness. No ordinary P.I. is she, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself as you venture further into these pages. No ordinary partner, or contacts, or even cases. Or pets, for that matter! The whole world of BLACK’S MYTH is weird. Now, I don’t want to say writer Eric Palicki throws the Weird World everything-but-the-kitchen-sink into this book, because that may sound like a bad thing, and it absolutely isn’t. So I’ll rephrase: Around every twist and turn of this book is some strange and bizarre surprise, and that’s what makes BLACK’S MYTH such a goddamn delight.
A P.I. with a supernatural secret might be high concept enough to carry some books, but Palicki doesn’t stop there, populating the story with creatures of the night, creatures of legend, characters from myth, monsters, gods and… and… what the hell was that fish dude, anyway? Rich, lush world-building here, and I’m surprised how much world was introduced in only five issues, without ever seeming overdone or overwhelming. At the same time, Palicki keeps things grounded but with some familiar noir procedural trappings, while a hearty dose of sly humor keeps things light and fun even as blood is spilled and bodies drop. This book is many things, but one thing above all else: Entertaining as hell!
It’s a good-looking book, too. Credit to Wendell Cavalcanti for bringing this story to life, being equally adept at acting and action, quiet moments and ultraviolence. Fine storytelling, and Rob Steen’s lettering ain’t too shabby either. (As a letterer in my former life as a mundane human and closeted Mongolian death worm, lettering is something I tend to be overly critical about, and Steen, alas, gives me nothing to complain about.)
The truest test of a book like this, and all the magnificent world-building that went into it, is whether the reader wants to return to this word. I absolutely do, and am eager to read more tales of Strummer Mercado, and see even more weirdness from Paliciki and Cavalcanti. This isn’t just a world I want to return to, this is a world I want to live in. That’s what’s given me the courage to reveal my true, weird self, my Mongolian death worm self. The world of BLACK’S MYTH seems like a place where a Mongolian death worm can be perfectly at home, where I can fit in, where I can not just survive, but thrive. As long as I stay out of trouble, that is.
Or, at least, don’t get on Strummer Mercado’s bad side.
Somewhere in underground Mongolia
Living his best Mongolian death worm life
John Layman is the writer and letterer of various comics, including CHEW, CHU, BERMUDA, THE MAN WHO F#%&ED UP TIME, Mars Attacks, Godzilla and various bullshit corporate superhero books. He also, along with AHOY editor-in-chief Tom Peyer, wrote Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen. None of this matters. Layman is, in fact, the dreaded Mongolian death worm of legend, Olghoi-khorkhoi. He is sick to death of humans. You disgust him, and he has grown weary of your antics. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!