Small Press Perils: Whatever happened to Mack Turner: Slayer of the Dead?

Whatever happened to Mack Turner: Slayer of the Dead? Or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb that is small press, creator owned comics.

By: Kevin Powers

adWhen TJ Comics was formed in 2009, the initial idea was digital comics. Then it morphed and evolved into a full-blown small press publisher. A few titles started and disappeared and a few titles were announced then never came to be. Why, you ask? Well, the simple answer is because that is the nature of small press comics. While certain titles like Monster-Hunting Dummy were announced, I can tell you that it is still coming. An artist change followed by a format change delayed it a bit, but what truly matters is the end product. This is the way of the world with creator-owned small press comics.

Of TJ Comics’ first two titles, there was Mack Turner: Slayer of the Dead and The Argonauts. Keith Dallas’ Argonauts has reached issue 5 with issue 6 in production and a graphic novel collection coming. Then there is Mack Turner. A title created solely for fun, a character that was meant to smirk in the face of the entire zombie genre and he did. Three issues came and then it halted.

Admittedly, I never wanted to be one of those creators whose books were delayed between issues. But this too is the nature of small press comics. I also discovered a new trend in the marketplace during the last year or so. Unless you have the name of a big publisher slapped in the corner of a comic, single issues are not feasible. Graphic novels and digital comics are the best outlet for creator owned books. As a publisher, I was well aware of this, but as a creator, I think I wanted to avoid it.

It may seem obvious, but this is miniscule in the grand scheme of creating comics. The key to creating comics, especially a higher standard of comic that I hold TJ Comics to, is the production and the team involved.

Israel Gonzalez was perfect for Mack Turner. He’s extremely talented and was willing to work on the book because he loved the idea and he was looking to break into comics. Issues 1 and 2 of Mack Turner came fast, they were exciting, the artwork was phenomenal, and then there was a delay on issue 3. It was partially my fault and in no way was it Israel’s. My intention for Israel was to get him noticed, to show off his amazing artwork.

It’s safe to say I succeeded. In no way am I claiming credit for Israel’s newfound success, but I will say that newfound success is what has kept the second half of Mack Turner from seeing the light of day. Israel picked up some work helping out Marvel colorists. His hard work and his excellent eye for quality has now accelerated him to getting full on credit in current Marvel titles. Check out Uncanny X-Force and Marvel’s Infinite Comics Wolverine.

I couldn’t be happier for Israel and his success, but it left me with a dilemma. He no longer had time to finish Mack Turner, and given the limited budget constraints of a small press, creator-owned book, I couldn’t pull him away from the onslaught of work Marvel was giving him.

So Mack got shelved.