When Tom Pinchuk (COM’08) entered BU, he set a goal for himself: he would become a published comic book author before he graduated. Now in his senior year, Pinchuk has published the first two issues of two three-part miniseries — and is working on more.
Pinchuk’s first published series, Ruin, made its debut last summer, and his more recent work, Hybrid Bastards! appeared online in November. Both take some of the conventional comic relationships and add a new twist — a key component for Pinchuk, who likes to make his work stand out.
“I wanted to turn the conventions of that kind of story on their head by starting the plot where others usually end,” Pinchuk says of Ruin. “Instead of having the gallant, sympathetic hero you get in most adventure stories, you have two inhuman, more elemental creatures coming into conflict.”
Ruin, published by Alterna Comics, approaches the good-guy versus bad-guy archetype of comics in a new way. In the 24-page book, the monstrous overlord Carnus has taken over the world — but with nothing and no one left to conquer, he’s bored. A cyborg killing machine, Black Zero, shows up to save the world, but he’s too late. Having lost their purpose, the two protagonists are left to deal with each other.
The concept for Pinchuk’s second series, the flippant and sarcastic tale Hybrid Bastards! came from an unexpected source: a high school Latin class. There, he discovered that Greek and Roman mythology is often cleaned up before it’s taught in public schools, with the more overt instances of bestiality, incest, and adultery removed. “I don’t think anyone can read that stuff without snickering,” he says. “So I figured that was a pretty ripe ground.”
Pinchuk used as a starting point the myth about the Greek god Zeus’ reputation as a philanderer, and he ran with it. In the original tale, Zeus’ wife, Hera, sick of her husband’s behavior, places a spell on him that causes him to lust after every inanimate object he sees. Pinchuk picks up the story 18 years later, when the resulting unlikely offspring — the “hybrid bastards” of the title — are grown up and wandering the world. Zeus tries to kill them, but a few remain free and attempt to win their father’s recognition and approval. The book was published by Archaia Studios Press.
Kate Glasheen, the illustrator of Hybrid Bastards! said the originality of the story appealed to her. “Nothing Tom writes has been done that way — or at all — before,” she says. He’s also a good collaborator. “His concern is making the book as good as it can be, rather than winning a creative argument.”
Mike Gallagher, the artist of Ruin, agrees. “Ruin was something that is fresh and new in our dark world of comics,” he says. “Everything has been done — done to death in most instances. Tom takes these things and turns them on their ears.”
Pinchuk, who has been writing his own comic story lines since he was 13, is a film major at BU and hopes to write screenplays someday. But he still loves the creative freedom that comics offer. “It’s just this great dance between what you can convey with a few words and what you can convey with an image and what you can convey by juxtaposing them together,” he says. “In comics, it’s as big as you can dream.”
Ruin is available as a free PDF download from wowio.com or can be ordered for $3 per issue from the Alterna Store online. Hybrid Bastards! is available for $3.50 per issue in stores and online at Indie Press Revolution.
Rebecca McNamara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.