Comic of the Week: Wizard Beach #1 is an under-the-radar debut that deserves attention

Wizard Beach #1 is out 12/5.

By d. emerson eddy — This week has seen a fair number of incredible debuts, end-loading the year with some great reads like Die, The Freeze, and Self/Made from Image, Martian Manhunter and Shazam from DC Comics, and Killmonger and Winter Soldier from Marvel. Any one of those could be considered a phenomenal read this week, and you shouldn't be disappointed. From flights of fantasy to intrigue thriller, intellectual science fiction to lighthearted superhero family drama—these comics have you covered, and I can wholeheartedly recommend any of them. But there's one debut this week that may have flown under the radar and deserves your attention, Wizard Beach #1 from BOOM! Studios.

The main draw for me here is the line art from Conor Nolan. I first noticed his art earlier this year when he was working on Bedtime Games from Dark Horse (with Nick Keller, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and John J. Hill), and the artwork just captivated me. Nolan has a style that looks highly influenced by artists like Bernie Wrightson and early Sam Kieth, with maybe a little Eric Powell, presenting highly detailed, but highly exaggerated artwork that works incredibly well for horror, but now also here for humorous fantasy. Nolan's work tends towards a more refined, almost cartoon-like approach for this story, with a fairly clean fresh-faced design for our main protagonist, Hexley Ragbottom, amidst the scruffier cast of characters.

Joining Nolan to tell the tale is Shaun Simon (previously of Art Ops and True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys) and what we get here is a very unique take on wizarding and a world of magic. Often times in these sorts of things, we'll have an upstart young wizard looking to upend the rules and forge his or her own way, but not so here. Instead we get the reverse. Hexley wants to see a return to the days of old when wizards were powerful and respectable, in part to halt the end of the world and the decline of magic, and also out of what feels like responsibility to his heritage. When his father refuses to help, he searches out his uncle, Salazar, who, much to Hexley's dismay, is a beach bum. It's a very funny reversal of roles and leads to some rather unique predicaments even in this first issue.

Rounding out the creative team are Meg Casey's wonderful colors, presenting an amazing darkness in the opening battles between wizards and monsters, then changing to the brighter atmosphere of the wizard beach itself. And Mike Fiorentino embellishing upon the designs on the page with a nice flair for some of the chapter headings and newspaper articles, giving even the lettering a feel of blending the natures of both a magical and a mundane world.

Overall, this isn't the type of story you'd necessarily expect. It's at turns humorous and irreverent, and plays with some entrenched fantasy themes, turning them on their ear. Simon, Nolan, Casey, and Fiorentino have the beginning to something different here, something different and also something highly entertaining.

Wizard Beach #1 (of 5)
Shaun Simon
Artist: Conor Nolan
Colorist: Meg Casey
Letterer: Mike Fiorentino
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Price: $3.99

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on twitter @93418.