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Slave Labor Collects Hester
By Brian Jacks


"Welcome to Glass City, strangeness capital of the world, a place where urban legends are born and childhood nightmares live. With everything from UFO drive-bys to flesh-eating viruses, Glass City is far from your ordinary American town. The only thing that the citizens of this crazy place can be sure of is that no matter how weird the threats facing them may be, their local hero is weirder...much, much weirder. He is the Wretch."

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Beginning this April, SLG Publishing, through its all-ages imprint Amaze Ink, will be publishing collected editions of Phil Hester's breakthrough comic book series The Wretch. The first series both written and drawn by Hester, The Wretch has been through several different incarnations from a variety of publishers. First appearing in Negative Burn (then known as The Creep), The Wretch then became its own series published by Caliber. Later the series would move to SLG Publishing's Amaze Ink imprint in 1997.

Despite the dark undertone of the series, the publisher says The Wretch is a fun and offbeat look at the world of paranormal occurrences. "Normally, when you read a comic book or watch a TV show which deals in weird and paranormal occurrences, the result is a dark, brooding almost oppressive story, which has become somewhat cliched over the years," noted SLG Publishing president and publisher Dan Vado. "Phil Hester manages to turn those cliches on their head by providing the reader with something that is fun for the whole family while keeping you right on the edge of something creepy and weird."

In Hester's unique, unpredictable stories, the mysterious character the Wretch sets disorder into order and acts with silent, playful wisdom. The series attracted readers' attention and is fondly remembered to this day. "No matter how many projects I do, the one question I can always count on coming up at a convention panel is, "Where's The Wretch?" series creator Phil Hester said. "I'm sure my style and skills have changed over the last few years, but the creativity The Wretch allowed me to discover and develop has become the most rewarding facet of my career."

Since The Wretch was originally published, Phil Hester has gone on to establish himself as a creative force in the comic book industry from his work on titles like Green Arrow and Swamp Thing for DC Comics and The Coffin for Oni Press.

The Wretch drew rave reviews during its first run and managed to attract attention from all over the comic book industry. Brian Bendis (Powers, Daredevil, Jinx) called The Wretch "one of the very finest independent comics of the last decade, and one of my favorites." Writer Christopher Golden (Hellboy: Bones of Giants, The Ferryman) summed up the Hester's brainchild, saying, "The Wretch is one of the cleverest, creepiest and most unique comics ever."

The first collection, entitled Everyday Doomsday ($13.95), contains all of the material from the Amaze Ink run of the series and will be released in March. The second volume, Devil's Lullaby, is comprised of all of the Caliber Press material and will be released in June. The final volume, From Cradle to Grave, which will be more of a traditional comic book in terms of format, will contain 64 pages of various Wretch short stories which have seen print in anthologies from a variety of different publishers.

"We here at SLG are very happy to be collecting all of this great material together," said Vado "The Wretch is wonderful stuff which will appeal to fans of Hester's work as well as our core group of fans."


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