GANGWAR


preview_gangwar_cover
Variant B&W cover - limited to 30 copies Gangwars - Page 1 Gangwars - Page 2
Gangwars - Page 3 Gangwars - Page 4 Gangwars - Page 5

SOLD OUT
Released: February 2012

Story: Darren Close
Pencils: Paul Abstruse
Inks & tones: Darren Close

Summary: A tale from the GANGWARS period of Killeroo’s life, when he ruled the roads of the outback with his motorcycle gang.

NOTE: Based on the success of this book, THE GANGWARS ANTHOLOGY was organised, featuring guest writers and artists to follow an overarching storyline of Rufus’ time in the outlaw Biker gang, The Outback Warriors. This story will be reprinted in a future volume of the Anthology, in chronological order.

VARIANTS: There were two variant covers to this book, a Black & White variant, and a Sketch Cover series (both limited to only 30 copies). You can view the full collection of sketch cover variants (drawn by some of Australia’s best comic artists) below.

 


CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE SKETCH COVERS

REVIEWS

Gary Chaloner

AustralianComicsJournal.com

Australian comics have always had the great advantage of not having a dominant comic book genre dictate the creative choices of artists and writers doing their thing here. For example, in the US, the superhero genre still stands supreme (as evidenced by the recent Avengers blockbuster movie), while here, it is a mere influence, not a determining factor in what creators do and how they do it. We have mini comics, webcomics, single gag comics and full blown graphic novels about war, crime, funny animals… you name it. Oh, and there’s always The Phantom.

It’s difficult down here to do an “American-style” comic, released regularly and distributed widely. But this is what Darren Close has always attempted to do. He’s a product of his influences and his influences are clearly the comics being released by the big American publishers, primarily Image Comics, who in particular, have moved over the last decade from superhero titles like Spawn, Youngblood and Savage Dragon to also publishing a wide variety of genres and styles like The Walking Dead, Hack/Slash, Super Dinosaur and Fatale.

Darren Close’s Killeroo is the closest thing to an Image Comic that we have down here. I don’t mean this in a bad way. It just seeps through Close’s design sense (which is very strong and professional) and his storytelling approach and style.

Close has been steadily working on Killeroo projects for the past decade or so. It’s a strong and simple character that allows for a wide variety of stories in a wide variety of styles. But the premise is still rock solid: a big fuck off man-kangaroo that can walk and talk, getting into adventures and situations involving fist fights, motor bikes, bloodshed and explosions.
Close writes the stories, and has a history of working with other artists to bring his violent creation to life on the page. Close has also contributed pencil artwork or inking as and where he can over the years. He has stated many times that he simply wants to get better as an artist and as a writer.

Killeroo: Gangwar is the latest comic book by Close, this time aided by story penciller and cover artist Paul Abstruse. Close is inker and grey tone artist, though these contributions are oddly credited on the inside front cover as ‘production’.

You can pretty much tell by the title what the story is about. Killeroo, or Rufus, as he’s called by his friends, is the leader of an outback biker gang back in the 1980s. The story tells of a deadly face-off with a rival gang at a roadhouse — a story that echoes an infamous real-life shootout by two rival biker gangs at Milperra, New South Wales in 1984.

The story is written in a tone that recalls George Miller’s Mad Max movies. A narrative voice paints Rufus as an urban legend and the events that take place as a you-had-to-be-there ‘tall story’. The bloody aftermath being the only evidence that the titular anti-hero might have participated in the events at all. Oh yes, the art shows you what happened, in gory, uber-detail, and the narrative cleverly compliments the art by not repeating what’s being shown, instead offering new information, important details on characters and motivations that otherwise would leave the story feeling like a one dimensional bloodfest.

The story can be read as a ‘jump on point’ for new readers, as it gives just enough information about the main character, while hinting at further adventures that will hopefully flesh out the character’s milieu.

The artwork is ferocious. Abstruse’s style is well-suited to the subject matter. He doesn’t hold back on detail, imbuing each panel with enough leather, chains, blades and tattoo art to melt the eyeballs. Close himself took on the task of inking the pencilled art. (Close is no stranger to inking Abstruse. They worked together on a previous project, The Witch King, for Phosphorescent Comics back in 2002-05.)

There are a few problems with panel layout and anatomy that breaks the flow of the story. Who’s doing what to whom?, is a question raised in a few places, but the overall forward motion of the narrative makes this a minor point as the reader is cleverly kept in the middle of all the chaos.

The book has a sketchbook feature at the back that showcases Abstruse’s development sketches and other Killeroo art. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of the uncoloured cover art, which I much preferred in black and white over the finished colour cover. The cover worked in attracting attention, but it suffered by a muddy green and a general ‘too dark’ feel that did nothing to enhance the detail in the linework.

A few other areas of production that drew my attention: The grey tones of the story were bordering on too dark as well. Any darker and some of the panels and their artistic detail would have been lost. Granted, the story was set at night in a heavy downpour of rain, with an approaching thunderstorm etc. Still, perhaps this heaviness of ‘ink’ can be blamed on the digital printing process.

Also, I found that the card cover stock and weight of the glossy paper within made for an uncomfortable read. At 14 actual story pages, with a total page count of 20 interior pages, I can see why the decision was made to “bulk up” the book, but the book feels stiff and the pages slightly uninviting to flip through.

Overall, Killeroo: Gangwar is a solid, positive and important addition to the adventures of Rufus. Close has started something with this book by giving his character a new depth and direction that perhaps was missing in earlier tales. His growth as an artist and writer will no doubt go hand-in-hand with the further adventures of his rampaging roo. He’s to be applauded for his tenacity and faith in a character that deserves a long and successful publishing life.

Jeff Ritchie

ScaryMinds.com

“It’s said that he’s some kind of Kangaroo-human hybrid, that goes by the name Rufus”

During the 1970s and 80s outback Australia is pretty much doing it’s best to emulate Mad Max, with two rival biker gangs warring over domination of an area local and Federal authorities are turning a blind eye to. The Warriors are led by the mythical Rufus, better known as Killeroo, a sort of mutant 7-foot marsupial with a taste for violence. The rival Redbacks are under the helm of the vicious Stewart “Stewie” Bedford, and are out to wipe out the Warriors.

In what will no doubt go down as “the Battle of the Nullarbor Servo” the Redbacks set a trap for the Warriors and its violence to the extreme. Not many of the combatants are going to make it out of the melee, with fatalities and maximum demolition being the order of the day. Authorities are unable to piece together what exactly happened but the legend of Rufus continues to grow on the back roads and city alleys of Australia. Let’s check out the latest Killeroo saga and see if we can’t help the Authorities with their inquiries, the truth is out there yo!

Darren Close’s Killeroo series is one of those outings that seems to have had a profound effect on the development of modern Australian comics, but which seemingly disappeared into the red dirt of the outback quite some time ago. Hopes were raised that Rufus was going to re-appear, like the fabled road warrior walking down a two lane blacktop, when a Killeroo story appeared in Issued #9 of Decay magazine, (reviewed right about here), but since nothing much was announced through the end of 2011 hopes were left broken like smashed beer bottles on the tarmac of an outback servo. Imagine our general surprised when this comic, Killeroo Gangwar, appeared on the review queue out of nowhere. Fingers crossed we’re talking a reboot, damned if the local scene doesn’t need an anti-hero, as Writer Darren Close gets back to the future.

Yeah enough of this background malarkey let’s talk about the book itself.

Script writer Darren Close takes an interesting approach with Gangwar, rather than have the characters talk out the situation, that would be via speech bubbles for the comic challenged, he goes with a more mythical narrator thing, which kind of made me think that Close was perhaps build the legend of his character again before launching into a series of books, or a graphic novel, or for all I know some insane animated movie. We learn about the origins of Rufus, you get that this is the titular character right? – in so far as how he first appeared in urban legend. So no, for those wondering, we don’t get the complete background check to how Rufus came to be, some things are best left to dinner table speculation in my opinion. Actually I reckon it was all to do with those bloody Poms and their outback nuclear testing, but guess we’re not about to find out anytime soon. Anyways, the book presents as a narrator describing events from the past that have baffled various Government agencies, since we’re right there via the panels we get to learn what actually went down. Close takes an almost “Dreamtime” mythical approach to his subject matter that works like a brought one in terms of rebooting the whole fandango, it’s also a solid piece of writing that had me ripping through the pages like a West Australian quick through a NSW line-up. Probably the only downside of the approach, if we wanted to channel a chick moment, is that there is no room for emotion to enter the framework. Since the comic is all about the violence, that’s a good thing in my sordid underdeveloped opinion. All you need to know is that Darren Close can write a pretty good script, his approach here absolutely perfect for the subject matter, and the possibility of Gangwar being a reboot.

[Editor’s Note: Servo = Service Station, an Australian term for a petrol station. West Australian quick = a cricket term for our foreign readers. This has been a public service announcement].

Paul Abstruse takes art duties for the book and immediately is confronted by two issues. Firstly the script is pretty much all kinetic energy, the panels need to convey movement and action, and secondly the setting is a dark and stormy night, so representing rain is going to be a hurdle. Abstruse has our backs covered here, with excellent action filled panels that will almost have you believing the characters are in motion. The Artist is able to not only hit the kinetic requirements, but also has a knack of nailing the potential moments as we take a slight pause before diving headlong into the mayhem again. There’s almost a cinematic quality going down here that must have taken quite some time to get happening successfully. You are going to have to scope the book to get the rain representation, hard to describe, it works yet retains a naïve school quality that had me edging into Anime comparisons. I guess the only other thing I want to say about the excellent art, Paul Abstruse is a name to remember, is the lighting of what is meant to be a dark and stormy night, Abstruse has an almost horror movie aesthetic going down. The Artist hits the sort of vanishing point and light source origins that will have people who buy comics for the panels alone high fiving each other.

Paul Abstruse also hits the superb cover, a sort of menacing afterglow study in red that is both striking and quite likely to cause heart palpitations in the horror challenged.

Ozone Studios throw on a pretty decent package for those wondering. The covers are full colour, the paper weight is solid, and there are enough extras at the back of the comic to keep the entire Melbourne Nerd army happy with life. At $6 AUD we’re talking pretty freaking good value here friends and neighbours. Two thumbs up to Ozone for the entirely professional and high standard approach being taken with the book.

Besides getting a really cool comic to read and marvel over, I also got to use the term “Anthropomorphic violence”, thanks to Paul Abstruse for the wordage. Killeroo Gangwar is the sort of book that is going to ensure the local comic scene remains vibrant and a force to be reckoned with through the coming couple of years as it shows the locals can match if not outperform the more readily available North American product. Considering we can buy local comics at a fraction of the price of Northern imports we might just be on a winner here. I had a hell of a lot of fun with Killeroo Gangwar and simply loved the mythical approach taken to dialling up some Rufus background, fingers crossed there’s plans afoot for a series of comics in the coming months. We all know that Darren Close just lives to do some inking. Full and frank recommendation, a comic that deserves a wide readership clambering for additional titles in the series, don’t be left out at conventions when discussions turn to the Nullarbor Servo edition.

For local readers in major cities check your comic emporium, or if outside the urban sprawls or overseas hit Killeroo to find purchase options that best fit your requirements.

ScaryMinds Rates this read as 9/10 stars

Darren Close brings back the Clint Eastwood anti-hero of the Aussie comic scene.

Ryan Huff

GeekofOz.com

Every now and then I receive an email out of the blue asking if I would like to review a comic, generally independent comics, and generally titles that are brimming with heart. Not heart in the sense that they are touchy feely but heart in the sense that you can almost feel the blood, sweat and sleepless nights that these creators have put on the page, so is the feeling that I get from Killeroo: Gangwar.

“During the late 1970′s and early 80′s, there were two dominant motorcycle gangs that ruled the roads of the outback”

When I opened Killeroo, I was instantly hit with the feeling that I was reading a graphic novelisation of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. The voice of Harold Baigent was ringing in my ears, his opening monologue perfectly matched with the aesthetic put on the page by Paul Abstruse. The further I read the more I was convinced that this was in fact the love child of Mad Max and Tank Girl. Rufus, THE Killeroo, is a perfect blend of Mad Max Rockatansky and Booga.

Killeroo: Book One was originally released in 2003, a collection of artists and writers collaborated on the piece and eventually went onto work for some of the big guns. Most notable, the cover was supplied by Ben Templesmith, the year after he made his worldwide debut as an artist on Todd McFarlane’s Hellspawn and of course, 30 Days of Night.

Darren Close has approached this book in a novel way, instead of having the characters tell the story he had a nameless, faceless narrator set the scene and establish the mythos. This has proven to be a winning formula in films such as 300 and the aforementioned Road Warrior but a tool often overlooked in comic books. Not only did Darren create and write the story but he also inked, and partially toned, Paul’s art. It’s these small details that show how much love is on the page.

The artwork by Paul Abstruse is fantastic and worthy of the big leagues. In full black, white and grey, Paul manages to create a scene that is dark and moody without being bogged down in the darkness. A constant sense of movement reflects a for of artistic kinaesthesia that Paul brings to the page. Small pieces of Australiana such as the Redback Beer logo being used for the Redback gang. Overall his artwork was really, really great.

My only complaint about the books is that the lead character is a member of a bikie gang. This in itself makes it very difficult to feel any sort of empathy for him. I found that I honestly didn’t care who got killed because, frankly, they were all bad guys. It is a fine line to walk when you create an anti-hero and unfortunately there was just too much anti and not enough hero.

I can’t pass comment on the hard copy of the book because the version that I was sent was a PDF but from all accounts, the print quality is great and rivals any of the big publishers.

Killeroo: Gangwar is available here or through your local comic book store. They may have to do some hunting to get their hands on it but it will certainly be worth it.

Connor Russell

Comikkazee.com

Australian comics have always had the great advantage of not having a dominant comic book genre dictate the creative choices of artists and writers doing their thing here. For example, in the US, the superhero genre still stands supreme (as evidenced by the recent Avengers blockbuster movie), while here, it is a mere influence, not a determining factor in what creators do and how they do it. We have mini comics, webcomics, single gag comics and full blown graphic novels about war, crime, funny animals… you name it. Oh, and there’s always The Phantom.

A little while ago now I reviewed the previous books of the Killeroo series (Book 1-2 and Decay). This is the first Killeroo book in a long time and I must say if you love anthropomorphic Kangaroos killing people, violence, biker gangs and ugly baddies then this is the place to go.

Gangwar is told purely by narration, meaning that there is no spoken dialogue. It tells the story of two warring motorbike gangs, The Redbacks and the Outback Warriors (Killeroo is the leader of this one). It talks of one such fateful night when the Redbacks aim to end the Warriors once and for all and owning the Outback. Thing is, they kill one of Killeroo’s closest friends and he goes berserk and pretty much kills all of the Redbacks, ending the war.
The narration is told like the unfolding events and Killeroo himself is a kind of urban legend. Talking about the whispered rumours and chance encounters with the beast. It kinda felt like I was sitting around a campfire listening to an awesome story, I liked that.

The creator of Killeroo, Darren Close, not only wrote this story but did the inking and lettering and toning of the book. It is in black and white but I think it worked well for it. The flow of the story is really good and it is obvious Close knew what he wanted with this character and with this story, a solid read. What can be a negative point however is that it is a little short, being only fourteen pages of story, I wouldn’t have minded a little more. With the story that there is to read however it all fits in really nicely, so maybe if it was any longer it may have felt dragged out. Damien and Julie Shanahan helped with the toning, looked like a big task.

Now onto the awesomesauce part of the comic (not saying the stuff before wasn’t good). The art of this comic is done by one Paul Abstruse. The art is just pure talent. From things like making Killeroo look like a savage animal, shattered glass and rain covering the characters. His proportions on people is spot on. Bringing the action and violence to life is a very pleasing sight.

It is good to see that Australia’s kick-ass marsupial is back in action and is going to be having a very busy year this year. This comic is a fun and you can show support for the Aussie scene by purchasing it from here.