Old Head is a self-published graphic novel from Kyle Starks and is on Kickstarter right now. Starks is responsible for the writing, inks, and letters, and will hire a colorist if the Kickstarter succeeds.
The story begins with a young Nash Gliven Jr. growing up and learning his two passions. Those passions, fighting and basketball, become the focal points of his life. He tries out for the basketball team and knocks out a bigger player on the court. As more of his life is shown, the reader learns he was given the nickname “The Knife” as a professional basketball player. As the years go by he is shown progressing through his career. He becomes more well known for fighting on the court than for actually playing basketball.
The perspective then jumps ahead to the present. Nash is driving his daughter Willie to his mother’s home in preparation for her funeral. The two discuss his life and the life of his mother who was a secretive but supportive woman. Shortly after arriving, Nash leaves to go up to the strange castle on the hill. He has to meet with an agent to sign over ownership of his mother’s house while Willie stays behind. However, the castle’s occupants aren’t who they seem and soon Nash and Willie are caught in a fight for their lives.
For anyone who is familiar with the work of Starks, it will be unsurprising to hear that the script is hilarious. The characters spout off one-liners and silly catch-phrases with regularity. At times it can feel a little contrived, but it’s so much fun that it never really matters. The story behind all of the humor isn’t quite as effective as the jokes themselves, but it still has a lot of heart. Nash is a believably world-weary character. His confidence and swagger are immediately endearing. Whereas Willie is clever, resourceful, and capable, which helps create a balance between the two.
The art is simple but well suited to its accompanying story. The action is easy to follow and the character designs are diverse and help contribute to the humor. It isn’t anything flashy, but it doesn’t really need to be. The letters are similarly clean, easy to follow, and fitting. As stated earlier, there is currently no colorist involved with Old Head. But should the Kickstarter meet its goal, a colorist will be hired. This addition will fix one of the only major issues that the artwork suffers from. That being said, it’s a little difficult at times to tell what the reader is seeing. Without colors, some of the effects in the panels are difficult to tell apart.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. After reading Starks’ previous work Assassin Nation, this was a fun return to his writing style. Starks writes with a whimsy that is brilliantly contradictory to the violence and grittiness of his settings. His newest story has heart, even if sometimes it falls a little flat. But at the end of it all, I would love to see more from this universe and these characters. If you like comedy, basketball, or vampire-slaying, Old Head is the perfect comic for you.
Old Head’s Kickstarter campaign ends on Saturday, November 2nd, 2019
4.5/5 Punches and whatnots