Strolling the Indie Press section at WonderCon this past weekend I discovered Hex 11 by Venice, CA creative team, Lisa K. Weber and Kelly Sue Milano. Having tabled at Indie Press at SDCC 14 and DCC 14, I know how crazy hard it is to engage passers by. I’m extroverted so you can imagine how much of a challenge it is for me to be on either side of the table.
Duude, so glad I stopped.
The Hex Comix team looked me directly in the eye (all eight eyes staring at me) and hooked me with the perfect pitch for Hex 11:
“Hex 11 is a cross between Blade Runner and Harry Potter.”
Mmm. Yes. Take my monies…
Maybe I’ll have to rethink my pitch for Caustic Soda, “a cross between Twin Peaks, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Neuromancer.” Eh…
But it wasn’t just the initial pitch that had me intrigued, or the incredibly confident and articulate fab four comprised of Lisa K Weber (artist), Kelly Sue Milano (blue tooth speaker review writer by day), Lynly Forrest (editor/producer) and Samantha Carrasco (colorist) cliff-noting the entire series for me in perfect harmony.
Okay, not in a pitch perfect vocal harmony but I’m sure they could totally pull that off too.
The covers were gorgeous and reminded me of the Eisner nominated, Nowhere Men by Eric Stephenson (writer) and Nate Bellegarde (penciller/inker). When I got home and began reading, I said God Damn!, just like Mia Wallace.
Strong female characters.
Bechdel test: PASS.
Hex 11 is definitely not a kids’ or YA comic. Adult themes and violence.
In the world of Hex 11, magic is discovered and treated as a new technology. It becomes commoditized and a system of value is placed on the control and distribution of magical elements and properties. Regular ho-hum humans can use magic, brilliantly evoked by the use of an aural implant-like piece of tech characters use to communicate with rather than smart phones. Those little subtle ideas percolate throughout the books, inspiring and frustrating. Inspiring because they are well executed and frustrating because I wish I had thought of it first: true signs of smart writing and great ideas working together.
The narrative follows Elanor, an intelligent young witch living in the near future, in the mega-slum known as The Hex. For the past five years she has been training under the tutelage of a veteran witch name Vera. Elanor is sent on an errand by her mentor and stumbles into a fight between a smuggler named Booth Chaplin and a demon named Osrick (working for the evil Omega Corp) over an esoteric piece of magic tech. When her life and the life of Booth are threatened during the melee, Elanor unknowingly unleashes a powerful binding spell and transports herself and the demon Osrick back to Vera’s apartment. During their interrogation of the demon and his mission, it is revealed that a demon murdered Elanor’s sister, Clara.
Vera sends Elanor to find Booth Chaplin to secure the device.
Meanwhile, Omega Corp sends an assassin named Faye (who is “cray-cray”) to find the demon Osrick, kill any witnesses or collaborators and retrieve the mystery device.
The dialog, while a bit expository at times (at least in issue 1 and 2, and understandably so, as they have a huge world to build) is snappy and smart. There are genetic threads of Whedon’s Buffy in the exchanges. The characters develop over the course of the 3 issues dynamically without being cliché.
Worthy of note is how the creative team of Hex 11 depicts magic and the use of magic. It is quite ingenious. Rather than what we’ve come to expect as visual representations of magic from the Potter film series or even American Horror Story Coven, magic in Hex 11 has a digital energy quality to it. Depicted as an energy flow/blast in neon of a PCB board. They take the Arthur C. Clark maxim “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” and mine it with wonderful effect.
The series is planned for 6 issues (fingers crossed for more). They are currently in production for issue 4. The art direction, character design, color and lettering are extremely well done.
They’ll have a booth at SDCC in the summer and issue 4 will be ready. I picked up 1 through 3 while I was there.
Issues 1 and 2 of Hex 11 are available on ComiXology pick ‘em up!
CHECK it out: