Midwestern Genre Storytelling

Source Point Press and the future of pulp genre comics.

Small press comics are a tough industry to stand out in. Some companies rely on pre-existing properties, others on their ability to draw in big-name talent, and others are just too weird to be like anybody else. Source Point Press makes its own niche in the comic book market by striving to deliver the best in genre storytelling. Source Point Press (SPP) prides itself on being the premier home for sci-fi, fantasy, pulp, horror, and more in comics. Formed in 2012 in Detroit, Michigan, and has now settled in Saginaw, Michigan, SPP’s storytelling feels very much in line with its midwestern roots. Their books can oftentimes feel raw and can deliver an underground aesthetic that feels fresh in a market that too often feels like it’s playing it safe with their storytelling. What midwestern storytelling can do better than anybody else is tell and convey more real experiences with its characters, with books that don’t feel as superficial or glossy as more mainstream comics can. They’re genre books written by and for genre fans. With stories ranging from the occult and supernatural, to fantastical and otherworldly, SPP’s creators manage to deliver books that still feel real or at least come from a real place. They’re personal stories or stories that creators have had in their minds for so many years and have just been waiting to be put on paper and brought to life in comics. The talent behind SPP does an excellent job in focusing on a specific market, delivering multiple titles that can vary drastically in genre and tone, but still, feel on-brand for the overall identity of Source Point. For fans of sci-fi, fantasy, pulp, and horror, SPP has plenty for comic readers to dig into.

The biggest and best-selling title in Source Point history has been 2021’s breakout indie hit, Good Boy, co-written by Garrett Gunn and Christina Blanch and with art by Kit Wallis. It’s the inverse of the movie John Wick, with the dog being the hero of the story going on a revenge tour after the death of his human companion.  Fans of that movie will feel very familiar to a lot of aspects of Good Boy. There are a lot of guns, a fraternal society of assassins, and plenty of cannon fodder bad guys who don’t stand a chance. In this world, dubbed the Absurdaverse, humans and dog people co-exist and there’s hardly a mention of it being out of the ordinary. After the lead dog Flint Sparks leaves a trail of dead bodies behind at a gas station in issue #1, the police are getting a witness statement from a young woman who was there. The officer is skeptical of “giant crazy dog assassins,” to which the young woman replies “I don’t know why ya’ll are acting so suspicious of me! You know anthropomorphic characters exist in this literary universe.” What sells Good Boy the best on how ludicrous and over-the-top the story is, is just how straight Gunn and Blanch play it. These are real characters in real danger. 

I recently got the chance to speak with co-writer Christina Blanch more about her book Good Boy, her previous works with Source Point, and also more about the company and the direction their storytelling takes and why readers should care about this small press company from Michigan. 

Dr. Christina Blanch is a comic book writer and owner of Aw Yeah Comics in Muncie, Indiana. She’s a former college professor of anthropology from Ball State who now works full-time in comics. Her first comic, The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood (also by SPP), started as an experiment in comics writing that later turned into therapy for her. The lead character of the story, Charlie Wormwood, begins teaching inmates at a prison in order to make ends meet for his family and sick son, but this new job opportunity plunges Charlie into some dark places that he might not recover from. 

It’s a personal story, and a great debut from Blanch, but being a comics writer wasn’t always the plan for her. Trying to juggle both her burgeoning comics career and her teaching career was extremely taxing for her, and she had to give herself an ultimatum: 7 days to decide which she’d stick with. On the seventh day, she was actually leaning towards teaching because it seemed like the smarter choice, but then she got a call from another writer, Bob Salley, who wanted to work on a book with her. Salley is the writer and creator behind the SPP dieselpunk post-WWI series Broken Gargoyles and asked if she could collaborate and co-write the second volume with him. She saw this call from Salley as more than just one from a colleague, but from the universe itself. She realized she was meant for comics. She accepted that offer and has since co-written Broken Gargoyles: Sin and Virtue, Christmas Caroline (also for SPP), and she’s even done work in Tales From the Crypt. Now with Good Boy, she’s got a megahit on her hands that has single issues that have sold out across the nation, a trade paperback coming soon, and a second volume also coming later this spring. Good Boy is the best-selling title from SPP and with good reason, it’s definitely something small press fans should check out.

Cult of Dracula is a comic that is straight-up bananas. Plenty of times flipping through this book as I read it, I couldn’t believe what was happening. It’s violent and visceral, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart, but it’s a real labor of love by the creators (writer Rich Davis and artists Henry Martinez and Puis Calzada) and a big winner for fans of horror. Cult of Dracula reads like the classic horror movies of the 70’s and 80’s with a little B-movie flair thrown in there too that is not unlike something you’d find in the old video store. It’s no wonder why this has become a cult hit for comic horror fans, and it’s one that any cult horror fan should not miss out on.

Cult of Dracula is a retelling and reimagining of Bram Stoker’s original tale of Dracula, featuring the original characters in a new contemporary setting. The book is witchy, wyrd, helter-skelter, and more. The comic has two main storylines throughout, one featuring the special agent Malcolm Bram who has arrived at the House of the Rising Sun and the scene of “The Cult of Dracula Mass Suicides,” and the other follows Mina Murray and Jonathan Harker as they lead a documentary team investigating and chronicling the lives of Quincy, Holmwood, and Lucy of the Ordo Dracul and its mysterious leader, Robert Renfield. I’m not personally familiar with Bram Stoker’s classic, so as I read this a lot of the references did go over my head, but there is plenty for fans of the original. That’s not to say it’s inaccessible for those less versed in Dracula like myself. The mysterious cult The Ordo Dracul and their leader Renfield is definitely reminiscent of the Manson Family, and there is a certain amount of dread that builds up to a spectacular and violent climax in the end. Cult of Dracula is a great horror series that pulls no punches and is only the first part of a trilogy. Despite how bat-shit crazy this book can get, by the end of this first arc and the last few bloody pages, I was definitely left wanting more and interested to see where things go next. Currently, the follow-up Rise of Dracula miniseries is ongoing in single issues and looks to continue the bloody tradition of its predecessor.

In the past twenty years, few characters have been as influential in comics and fandom as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She fought vampires, demons, and all sorts of ghouls and did it with style and flair with the help of her friends, the Scooby Gang. But what if Buffy wasn’t a cheery blonde from Sunnydale High? What if she was an ex-heroin addict, who wasn’t slaying creatures that go bump in the night with her friends because she was the chosen one, but she was doing it all alone and because she was trying to atone for all the horrible mistakes of her past? That’s the story of No Heroine by writer Frank Gogol and artist Criss Madd. Right off the bat, readers can tell that while the events may be fictional, the story is anything but just make-believe. It’s a deeply personal story to the writer, as he details in the exit page featured after the miniseries concludes. Drug addiction doesn’t just affect those dealing with it, but also the family and friends of those abusing it, as well as society as a whole. Protagonist Kayla Strong used to be an addict, but she still struggles with her sobriety and still feels like a pariah. She’s out on the streets dishing out supernatural vigilante justice protecting those she can, all in the hopes of coming home and getting back in touch with her estranged mother. While the miniseries is short, with only three issues, there is plenty of character development for Kayla and her family and one issue in particular really drives home Kayla’s motivations. Artist Chris Madd does a great job in delivering the action of the series but also selling convincing emotional beats from the characters. No Heroine is a great and emotional miniseries that definitely delivers on the “real experiences” that Christina Blanch says come from the midwestern storytelling SPP is known for.

Before Good Boy, co-writer Garrett Gunn had been busy already having a few other titles with SPP, and one of those is the equally (if not more) bombastic Warcorns. This series reads a lot like Starship Troopers but with horses, and if that sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is, but it’s a lot of fun too. The Warcorns are a special breed of warrior, as they are the hardest and most insane group of soldiers in the Equestrian Command and are only deployed for the most critical of missions. The comic begins with anthropomorphic horse Sarge joining up and getting assigned to Warcorns Division and going through Bootcamp. Him and the rest of the recruits get injected with a super steroid and get their horns, and later Sarge joins up with the rest of the Alpha Team as their tasked with the mission to intercept and eliminate a band of galactic terrorists. Don’t let the bright pink trade dressing fool you however, this book is very vulgar. Think R. Lee Ermey’s Drill Sergeant from Full Metal Jacket levels of vulgarity. Plenty of f-bombs and other expletives are hurled, and in creative ways also. It’s over-the-top and excessive, but that’s the Warcorns style anyways. Rounding out Alpha Team with Sarge is the special Gunney, Floater, and hotshot Aero as they track down the terrorists DF001 and DF002, and one of them might just be headed to Earth. Warcorns definitely scratches an itch for military action fans who also love a little science fiction and humor thrown in as well. Similarly, to Good Boy, Warcorns is dedicated to the bit; They’re gun-toting, cigar-smoking, cursing military unicorns that blast away anything standing in the way of their objective. Reteaming on the title with Gunn is artist Kit Wallis who also draws Good Boy, and Wallis draws all the absurdity and action in bright, colorful strokes that are fun and cartoony, but also gruesome and violent. Simply put, Warcorns is the antithesis of all that is cute and innocent about My Little Pony.

Claim, if the subtitle A Song of Vice and Ire didn’t give it away, is a comedic fantasy adventure starring two friends, Rob Goblin and Dop. They’re mercenaries who are trying to link up and land on the winning side after the kingdom is left up for grabs and five warring sides battle for the throne. As opposed to the other SPP books mentioned so far, this one is much more family-friendly, with plenty of puns, jokes, and references that may not land with younger audiences, but is constantly not taking themselves too seriously. The two leads are Jay and Silent Bob-Esque, with Rob Goblin being the chatty and troublemaking Jay of the group, with Dop being the silent but resourceful tagalong who often gets Rob Goblin and himself out of the messes they find themselves in. They bounce around the kingdom, trying to decide which side will win and who’ll give them the most riches, but nobody seems to want these two rejects around anyways. It’s a fun light-hearted read that has a lot of humor to it, and an original art style that is drawn by the artist of the card game this comic is based on, Mihajlo Dimitrievski.

What’s upcoming from SPP?

The first volume of Good Boy, all three issues, will be collected in trade and released at the end of March. The perfect way for new readers to get caught up on one of the most unlikely of hits in comics today, for only $11.99. The second volume starts up as well in late May, featuring the same creative team.

The sequel series to Cult of Dracula, Rise of Dracula, is out now and is midway through. It’s continuing the same bloody tradition of the first series, which has also garnered Hollywood’s attention with a Cult of Dracula TV series in the works. 

One of the newest SPP series that I’m most excited about is Corollary from writer Adam Rose and artist Robert Ahmad. “In a galaxy filled with twin moons, twin suns, and twin planets, everything comes in twos. Even the people. And if your twin dies… so do you. This is the way it’s always been. So, when Captain Andromeda’s twin loses her life in a far-off military battle, and Captain Andromeda herself DOES NOT die, needless to say, the universe demands answers. Answers that the Captain is willing to give… to the highest bidder, of course. This is COROLLARY – a four-issue bombastic sci-fi romp.” I’ve gotten the chance to read a preview of issue one, and it looks like a great read. It’s on my pull list.

A prime example of SPP horror, written by new Editor-in-Chief and original founder Joshua Werner, The Winchester Mystery House trade paperback is coming soon too. “Thought to be one of the most haunted places in the world, the Winchester Mystery House is much more than an architectural wonder. It’s a labyrinth full of secrets. Come step inside and hear the house’s whispers… Inspired by true events, this masterfully crafted horror tale written by Joshua Werner and beautifully illustrated by Dustin Irvin and Damien Torres takes you into the non-stop construction of ‘the house that spirits built’ and its brilliant owner, Sarah Winchester.” There aren’t many better places to understand SPP and their brand of horror than from the source* itself with Werner at the helm of this title.

SPP’s unique blend of horror and fantasy storytelling isn’t just for older readers, as they have a line of books for children as well with Source Point Press Kids. With titles like Bug Bites, Family Graves, and Monstrous, parents can let children get in touch with their spookier side.

And for those fans and readers local to Cleveland and Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop, the Good Boy team is on a U.S. national tour across the states stopping by several different comic shops including yours truly, Carol and John’s. The whole team will be there on Monday, March 14th to sign copies of the book and promote the trade collection and anticipated sequel series coming soon. It’s a great way to connect with the creative team behind one of 2021’s biggest indie hits, and you won’t want to miss out.

Where can retailers order SPP books?

Source Point Press comics and trade collections are available to retailers through Diamond as well as Simon and Shuster. Readers can also get Source Point books directly from https://sourcepointpress.com/ with physical and digital copies available too.