If you work online for long enough - and if you're as active on Twitter as I am - people will begin sending you things, entirely unbidden. Short films they directed, screenplays they've written, books they're trying to get published (or books that're already on their way to getting published that desperately need reviews), you name it. The grind-and-hustle culture we apparently all agreed to somewhere along the line makes these self-promotional moves mandatory, and I respect nothing as much as I respect a creative who's willing to put their work in front of a relative stranger and say, "Alright, here it is. Lemme know what you think."
Recently, a BMD reader by the name of Chris Condon contacted me about a new Image Comics series he's launching in May, something called That Texas Blood. "It's a pretty cinematic comic, I think," he told me. "Hence being perfect for [the Birth.Movies.Death. readership]. Plus, I dunno, Texas." Attached to this email was an image of the first issue's cover, a press release, and copy of the first issue. I can't always set aside the time to read through everything that comes my way, but Condon's email arrived at precisely the right time: I'd just sat down with a cup of coffee and needed something non-work-related to read through while powering up for the day. So, I read it.
I don't know if the entire run of That Texas Blood will be as good as that first issue, but I do know that what I read is strong enough to warrant a recommendation to you, the gentle BMD readers of the world. The comic's website elevator-pitches the series as "True Grit meets Breaking Bad", and that feels about right (though the first issue does indicate things could eventually take a turn for the supernatural): the story revolves around Sheriff Joe Bob Coates (a dead ringer for Sam Ellliott, who really oughtta be on the phone with his agent right now) who, on the occasion of his 70th birthday, finds himself drawn into a horrifying crime - and perhaps something more sinister - while attempting to track down a casserole dish his wife lent out to some friends. It's clear That Texas Blood will be taking us to some very dark, very wild places, and the first issue left me deeply curious to see how it'd all play out.
Here's the cover of the first issue, along with three pages.
Generally speaking, I am not a big comic guy. I'm not really into superhero books, and super picky when it comes to artists and writers. I do like a good crime story, though, and I especially like a good crime story with supernatural undertones. I greatly enjoyed what I read of That Texas Blood, and will happily keep up with it once it starts rolling out in May.
Here's what Condon has to say for himself:
"I've always had a fondness for the West. When you're a kid it's the Old West—cowboys and six-shooters, the lawless frontier of Deadwood and Tombstone. As you grow older you learn the truth about the place—you see it as it is today. The character, the grit, the creeping darkness of that vast landscape. You learn it through Portis, Thompson, the Coens, through books, television, or the news. Texas is America's mystical land, where laws don't necessarily apply, where right isn't always right and a gun can be on every hip and every itchy finger ready to pull the trigger. I wrote a story about this place, moreso the feeling it evoked. The character that grew from that wasn't a sinister villain but a good man with a complicated relationship with his place in the world. What came were dreams of Texas. Dreams of a sheriff trying to make right in a wrong world. What came was Joe Bob. He's almost like a friend now. I hope you'll feel the same."
Image Comics will begin publishing That Texas Blood on May 27th, in two editions: one featuring a cover by the series' artist, Jacob Phillips, and another featuring a cover by Phillips' father, the great Sean Phillips (that's the one you're seeing above). It's be available for purchase across many digital platforms, including the official Image Comics iOS app, Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play. I recommend it, and hope y'all enjoy that first issue as much as I did.