Concrete Park - A Truly Urban Fantastic Graphic Novel
I'm slow on the uptake, I will admit that because its true. I always seem not to discover the good stuff myself but fortuitously get introduced to it. I'm getting better though and one of these days it will happen and I will be the first to discover something really cool. But Until then let me introduce you to Erika Alexander and Tony Puryear's multi-cultural sci-fi graphic novel series Concrete Park, another one of my none discoveries.
A breddrin of mine introduced me to this graphic novel and I jumped on it immediately. My friend has discerning taste in all things sci-fi so I didn't hesitate. That was 2014 and I'm only now giving Erika and her screenwriter husband Tony Puryear some props for an awesome story and a beautiful book. If I was just judging it from its visual style, I would give it top marks. Don't be deceived by its simplicity, it is gorgeous. The plot is special too. When Earth's young outcasts are exiled to "Scare City," a vast outpost on a distant desert planet, they must find a path to redemption or be destroyed by their own violence. Concrete Park may used a tried and tested premise of a barren, desolate prison planet euphemistically called Oasis - to great effect. Luca our main protagonist, is a tough as nails leader of the M-80 gang who I love because she maintains her femininity but is undoubtedly a action heroine. The opening shots - I think cinematically - are of a near future world - Los Angeles in particular - that is in turmoil. Issac a kid caught up in surviving with his baby sister in a world spiraling into anarchy. He inevitably makes enemies and kills to protect the only family he has left. But his actions have consequences and Isaac gets caught up in a kind of urban pacification program that secretly transports the supposed scum of society off world to work for shadowy government or corporation. Luca and Isaac's path cross as the transport he's in from earth with the convicted criminals crash lands in Scare City. The tone of the book is established quickly with the destiny of Luca and Isaac intertwined from that day forward.
There is diverse and vibrant cast of characters alien and human alike. They have motivation and complexity and its all explored through the unraveling plot. They may be a billion miles away from our Solar System but it feels like certain parts of South Central LA, Downtown Kingston or Mexico City. That familiarity gives it an edge that elevates this work to another level. I was drawn into this world that has been lovingly created with all smoky wreckage's, barren landscape and helicopter drones or “buzzers” dotting the two sun sky. Erika and Tony's Hollywood background not only shines through in this fantastic book but so does their passion and belief in the project.
Personally I'm hooked.
Alexander is best known for her roles on The Cosby Show and Living Single and Tony is the screenwriter for the action thriller Erasure. To keep updated with tours, interviews and new work check out - www.concretepark.com.
Peace, love and Power