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.
17. JACKSON T. WINTERS
Created by Joshua Williamson and Goran Sudzuka
Ghosted has been one of the many great new Image titles to debut this year, and one of the things that makes it so good is how, as both a heist caper and a horror story, it manages to succeed, staying true each genre’s respective conventions. And the key to striking that delicate balance just right is our protagonist, Jackson T. Winters. Horror usually works best by putting its characters in situations they can’t control, and letting us watch them become increasingly helpless against whatever monstrous threat they’re faced with. But with Winters, Joshua Williamson and Goran Sudzuka give us a central figure who, like all the best heist story frontmen, is relentlessly prepared, who knows all the angles, and is one step ahead of not just his antagonists, but of us, his audience. So even as the first arc of Ghosted got increasingly nightmarish, Winters was there to punctuate the chills with some badass thrills.
Not that Jackson is just a one-note cool cat. Williamson has gifted him with a shady past that we’ve been getting in flashes and chunks of dialogue peppered here and there. At the beginning of the story, he’s in prison. Before that, it seems that he was in a job gone VERY bad: a heist of a casino built on an ancient Indian burial ground. Apparently he was the only person left alive, and he was forced to kill his crew. But even after that revelation, we get a sense there’s more of that story left to tell, some cards Winters continues to keep close to his chest.
Of course, with a heist you need a team, and over the course of the first couple of issues Jackson built around himself a team of diverse, interesting players, a couple of whom may yet pop up in this list down the line. But the driving force of it all is Winters himself, and as Ghosted enters its second arc, it appears he is the throughline even as the other characters have been killed off or gone off on their own path. It remains to be seen if he’ll get the team back together.