Spotlight On… Indie Comics – “Bob: Non-Union Psychic”

Visually stunning and bulging at the seams with imaginative concepts, Bob: Non-Union Psychic is a comic like no other. At the heart of the series is Bob Holbreck, a keen barber who happens to possess inherited psychic abilities from his great-grandfather. While Bob would rather make his living through cutting and styling hair, his great-grandfather pressures him to make the most of his gift, and to follow in his footsteps and become a unionised psychic investigator. This curious blend of barbery and the paranormal forms the back-bone of the series’ storylines as Bob attempts to balance his love for hairdressing and his latent psychic abilities. When monsters threaten to overwhelm the city, Bob must rise up to the challenge and prove himself to be a true hero.

Creators Lance Lucero and Adam Volle have crafted a truly original series here, blending horror and comedy together to create a light-hearted supernatural adventure that feels reminiscent of the original Ghostbusters. The world-building is pitch-perfect and there is a sense of plot progression and development across the three issues released so far, as secrets are revealed and motivations made clearer. There are several “ah-ha” moments as the two writers perform some M. Night Shyamalan inspired twists. Not only is the plotting of the comics amazing, but the writers do a brilliant job at conveying the characters – creating an extremely likeable rag-tag team of paranormal adventurers at the end of the three-issues. I particularly liked the dynamic between Bob and his great-grandfather Henry, as the pair bicker their way through life-and-death adventures.

As wonderful as the script is, it is but one half of the equation – the other half of the winning formula comes from artist Francisco Resendiz, who illustrates all three issues and makes them his own. His distinctive style instantly fits the madcap world created by Lucero and Volle, and straddles that grey area between horror and comedy that the series resides in. The cartoon style of the character helps maintain a light-hearted tone key to the concept of a barber-cum-psychic, yet Resendiz is able to conjure up some truly gruesome set-pieces when he needs to. The untimely end of Legros de Rumigny is one particularly nasty sequence that will get some goosebumps running down spines! The attention to detail in Resendiz’s panels is absolutely amazing, especially the full-page spreads which are peppered with ghosts and spirits interceding into our own world. Those pages are an absolute treat to pore over and examine the backgrounds.

The series began in 2015 with Issue #0 – a numbering choice that jars my OCD! Entitled “True Talent”, this introductory episode quickly sets up the status-quo and has our hairdressing hero up against a deadly demon from his great-grandfather’s past. While this adventure is self-contained and a brilliant introduction to the series, it also features plenty of subtle mysteries to be explored in later issues. While omnipresent, the psychic union is barely glimpsed in this first issue and is seen as a shadowy, conceptual idea – leaving the writers plenty of opportunity to develop them in further stories. Resendiz’s artwork is tremendous, and paired with Lucero and Volle’s writing, the issue runs along at a fast pace and rewards re-reading: something I seldom do with comics nowadays, so it is refreshing to get a series that requires a bit more brain-power to engage with it.

The second issue, released in Dec 2016, is actually labelled as Issue # 1 (now you understand my OCD) picks up one of the plot threads from the preceding issue and explores the link between Bob’s golden scissors and his psychic abilities. Again, Lucero and Volle conjure up another bonkers villain for Bob to battle, and Resendiz’s artwork continues to improve and grow in confidence as he works on the characters with a smoother, more polished look that benefits the series. This might be my favourite issue of the trilogy, thanks to the setting of French Revolution and the outrageously inventive wig-spider monster which our heroes have to vanquish. Yes, I said wig-spider monster!

The third issue (technically Issue # 2) came out this year, and brings the entire trilogy to a close as the mysterious Psychic Union makes its presence felt. A wonderfully satisfying conclusion, this issue ties everything up together and answers questions about the characters that you didn’t realise you had. The plotting on this issue is superb, and reading it alongside the preceding issues in one sitting allowed me to pick up on the subtle plot threads that were established and weaved in throughout the trilogy, particularly relating to the Psychic Union and its history. While the initial story-arc comes to an end, Lucero and Volle do leave the door open for further adventures from Bob and Co. and I would love to see the creative team reunite for another trilogy of adventures in the future. However, there is enough closure here to reward loyal readers of the series and cap off these three issues as a standalone trilogy.

Bob: Non-Union Psychic is a one-of-a-kind adventure and contains the sort of magic that is rarely seen in comics nowadays. With a stellar creative team, and a strong central concept, it is an independent comic series that deserves wider recognition. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Supernatural will love this quirky take on the urban fantasy genre – and it is easily one of the most professional and well-realised independent comic series I’ve ever read. Take a break from the spandex and check out a different type of hero…

All three issues of Bob: Non-Union Psychic are available in a digital format from Comixology and ComixCentral, or they can be downloaded directly from Warehouse 9 Productions webshop.

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