It’s a bit surprising that until now, nobody’s really tried to make a comic out of the fascinating hobo subculture that sprung up between the Civil War and the Great Depression. Kyle Starks’ Rock Candy Mountain (Image Comics), which launches today, changes all of that, and it’s a delightful mix of American folk fantasy and action story.
The plot is really in the title: Jackson, a mysterious hobo, is searching for the Rock Candy Mountain. Yes, the one from the song, although this is the real hobo song, the one with a tragic edge of grown men hoping for a place of rest, not the cute one you sang in grade school. But, of course, there’s an inexperienced hobo, an organized crime ring, and Satan himself.
In truth, Starks is better suited to his material as a writer than an artist is some respects; his thick-lined comic-strip style can feel a little flat for something dealing with the blarney that lies at the heart of American folklore. But the sheer originality of the idea, and his capability with action scenes, give the book a lot of momentum, and it’ll be fun to see where Starks goes with this aspect of American culture.