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Oni Takes A Bite Out Of Crime By Brian Jacks
While crime comics are becoming more and more popular amongst fans and creators, very few have tackled the true crime genre — the blend of fact and fiction where a writer and an artist take real-life evidence and piece it together to make a compelling account of what went down. UNION STATION is the newest entry in said genre. Written by Ande Parks (GREEN ARROW) and illustrated by Eduardo Barreto (THE SHADOW, BATMAN), UNION STATION is also the latest entry in Oni’s growing line of original graphic novels. The action is set to go down this coming October.
Kansas City, 1933. Frank Nash is a petty criminal who has been pinched by the Feds and is being brought back into town by train. When FBI agent Reed Vetterli heads down to Union Station to meet Nash and escort him to Leavenworth, he has no reason to suspect that there will be any action. Neither does Charles Thompson, a rookie reporter who finds himself at the scene with his son. Little do they know that Frank’s buddy, Vern Miller, is going to bust him out. Nash may not be a big time player, but he’s still earned some loyalty. The resulting clash ends in a massacre, with no one knowing who pulled the trigger first—or even who pulled it at all. Rumor has it that Pretty Boy Floyd was on the scene, but no one knows for sure, and J. Edgar Hoover doesn’t particularly care. He just wants Floyd’s butt in an electric chair, and when Vetterli, Miller, and Thompson find themselves in the way of Hoover’s justice, they can’t duck for cover fast enough.
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“I’ve been intrigued by the idea of presenting historic events in comics for some time,” Parks said. “It was only natural for me to turn to my own backyard, in Kansas City. The story has tremendous inherent drama. A lot of conflicting theories, famous players, and some key historical ramifications. I thought there was a way to make a real interesting narrative out of it, blending the true story with a little drama. I have created a few new characters, to provide a way to tie all of the events together, but the core of the book comes straight from public record. I’ve taken pains to insure that the actual figures and events are depicted as accurately as possible, down to researching what time the sun may have risen on a November day in 1933. The events surrounding the massacre are subject to quite a bit of conjecture, so I did have some room to speculate.”
“While in the entertainment business, hyphenates are a common sight (director-producer, actor-director, musician-actor, etc.), in comics, they tend to be limited to a writer-artist, which is more often than not just another way to say cartoonist,” editor in chief Jamie S. Rich said. “Occasionally, though, it’s something a little different. Ande has primarily been known as an ink slinger, but pretty soon, he’s going to be just as popular as a writer. Then he’ll be a writer-inker.”
Joining the new writer is a veteran comics artist, Eduardo Barreto. “I worked with Ed back in my Dark Horse days on some of their licensed books, like ALIENS/PREDATOR and INDIANA JONES,” Rich said. “It was such an amazing experience. He is a master of his craft, and it’s a joy to see how he puts his pages together. We were trying on some different artists when Ed e-mailed and said he had a hole in his schedule and was looking to fill it. Ande and I felt we’d be fools to say no.”
“I’ve always loved Eduardo’s work,” Parks added. “He can do the big superhero stuff, and then just as easily turn around and do a science fiction story. He depicts the era beautifully, and makes the characters vibrant and unique. He understood the classic pulp feel I was envisioning for UNION STATION, and it’s a perfect fit. I’m also thrilled to have found a home for this book at Oni. They have done as much as anyone to stretch the genre possibilities of the medium in recent years, and it’s great to be a small part of that.”
“Though I’ve always enjoyed drawing the larger than life stories,” Barreto explained, “I am just as passionate about doing period pieces, telling tales about real people. It’s not something I get enough of an opportunity to try.”
“At Oni, we’ve tried to maintain our diversity for the last five years,” Rich concluded, “to bring the sort of material to the comic book page that has inspired us throughout entertainment and literature. UNION STATION is the sort of book this industry needs more of, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”
UNION STATION is a 112 page, black-and-white trade paperback. The cover design is by Keith Wood. It will retail for $11.95 and arrive in comic book stores on October 15, 2003. UNION STATION is sized at 6 ¾” X 8 7/8”.