I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for Stray Bullets ever since I found issue one in a comic shop in San Francisco for 50 cents some twenty years ago. It was a time when 50 cents was a significant investment, as the choice was comics or food! I’d never heard of the series, but after a quick flick through it, the art was enough to convince me take this small risk. I later went back and bought all the issues I could find and have been collecting it ever since.
Acclaim was quick to arrive for the comic and in 1996 David Lapham won an Eisner for best Writer/ Artist for Stray Bullets. In later issues, the release of the comic became slightly intermittent as Lapham was spreading himself a bit thin, working on various Batman series among others. He was becoming a star of the comic world and his self published series was the thing to suffer. The quality of the issues also became somewhat sporadic, with a few filler issues turning up. The decision to re-boot the series under Image comics was taken, changing the name to Stray Bullets Killers. A final issue of the original series at no. 41 was published, along with the a volume collecting all the original issues. The new series is currently on number 4 and continues on a monthly basis which will help the flow.
While it is a reboot, the format remains the same with the issues largely being one-off episodes with a recurring set of characters and a few new additions. The comic is still black and white with very little shading, so the images are purely black or white. This allows Lapham to create a striking visual effect, with some great facial expressions and settings. Many of the stories take place in the past, with the early 80’s featuring heavily.
Some of the best issues deal with children’s perspective and insights into an adult world. This is repeated with a new character who sneaks into a stripper club, hiding in the back of his father’s car. As you would expect, the story escalates from there with disastrous consequences.
Many of characters are familiar, with the Virginia (Amy Racecar), Scottie and others turning up like bad pennies. This comic is at the forefront of the crime genre in comics, and is ripe for a TV adaptation (if you’re reading HBO, make it happen). If you haven’t read this series, it comes highly recommended. Start way back on issue 1 if you can find it.
You can find more information about Stray Bullets Killers series here.