This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November. I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since. I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year. Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters. Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.
10. DRUM HELLAR
It seems like I’ve talked a lot about the excellent Drumhellar this past week (with the stellar first issue hitting comic shops this past Wednesday), so I’ll try to keep this entry brief. Drum Hellar is a former paleobotanist – now, possibly a paranormal investigator, possibly just a guy who weird things happen to – who uses psychadelics and various other unusual methods to see strange, possibly prophetic visions. And something he sees takes him back to one of his old haunts: a small town in South Dakota, where Drum has to deal with bisexual werewolves, ancient bogmen and a resentful ex. Oh, and his best friend is a talking, ethereal purple cat called Harold who may or may not be imaginary. And yes, this first issue is just as odd as that synopsis would suggest!
He’s presented as a bit of a deadbeat, but one with a strange kind of charm and appeal. I think a big part of what makes him so likeable is how he’s wonderfully brought to life through the art of Riley Rossmo. He has this downtrodden, worn-in vibe to him, and he just has these great deadpan reactions to all the weirdness going on around him, perfectly complimented by the wild, effusive motions of his sidekick Harold in the background. I’ve used the “X-Files meets The Big Lebowski” description for Drumhellar a few times now, and if that is the case Drum is most definitely The Dude. Maybe with a dash of Columbo to him as well, because as dopey and schmucky as he might come across, you get a subtle sense that Drum’s a whole lot smarter than he’s letting on.
Thus far there’s only been one issue of Drumhellar, and so other characters in this month-long showcase have maybe had more time to be more fully developed. But you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone else on this list so immediately likeable as Drum.