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.
30. FOREVER CARLYLE
Created by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
Here it is, the final entry on our month-long spotlight of the best new comics creations of 2013. And of all the characters on this list, few had a first appearance more memorable than Forever Carlyle, star of writer Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark’s ace new Image series, Lazarus. We begin with her dead, a bullet in her head, her apparent killers circled around her. Then Forever gets up and kills them all. In a dystopian future where the world is run by a handful of obscenely rich families, Forever is the “Lazarus” of the Carlyle family: a genetically-engineered enforcer and protector of the family’s interests. And, as we quickly discover, she’s very hard to kill.
Much of how she’s brought to life is done by Michael Lark, delivering some of the finest artwork of his career. The fight scenes are framed in a way to show how clinical and precise every strike Forever makes is, using combat as an extension of her personality. And even how she’s drawn at rest – imposingly tall, wearing deep black that stands out amidst the muddy orange/brown aesthetic – marks her out from the world around her and gives her presence on the page.
Greg Rucka has also managed to invest her with a compelling personality. Created to blindly follow the orders of her family, we see her showing flickers of doubt and even turmoil over the violent deeds she must carry out, this emerging conscience standing at odds with her sense of duty to her family. When it’s called for, however, she is suitably ruthless!
And that brings to an end my month-long spotlight on the newly-created comic characters of 2013. If any of you have had the endurance to read from beginning to end, thanks for sticking with it!