Special Edition: Unit 44 #7
The Mothman Cometh!
Are you ready?
The next issue of my sci-fi/comedy comic series, Unit 44, about inept Area 51 agents who investigate the odd and unusual (think of the X-Files as a sitcom) is now available for preorder from publisher Alterna Comics for the WHOPPING price of $1.98.
In fact, there are two ways you can preorder the issue—either through the crowdfunding website IndieGoGo, or via the order form at alternacomics.com.
There’s no wrong way to support and secure your copy of the issue!
Additionally, we’re also taking orders for our first (maybe only) Unit 44 T-shirt!
Featuring artwork from Unit 44 series artist Aleks Jovic, this shirt will tell others around you that you like to laugh, but you also are intellectual, intelligent, and worldly.
Let’s get into this thing! First, let’s take a look at…
Original series artist Ed Jiménez, who drew issues #1-4, provided this silly cover for our monster-of-the-week tale. While interior art duties for Unit 44 have shifted over to Aleksandar Jovic, any time Ed wants to play in this world, I’m happy to have him!
Colors for this striking cover were provided for regular series colorist, Andrew Pate!
WHAT IS THIS ISSUE ABOUT?
I’m so glad you asked!
Incompetent Area 51 agents Gibson and Hatch arrive in Point Pleasant, West Virginia to investigate a sighting of the famed Mothman. But while Agent Hatch is quick to brush off the case as a hoax, a close encounter with the cryptid changes his tune, forcing the pair to solve the mystery once and for all.
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
You’ll notice in the preview pages below that this issue is different.
That’s because issue #7 doesn’t have Ed or Aleks behind the art wheel, but instead, my pal Landon Franklin.
Landon, along with his twin brother (and artist) Brandon Franklin work together under the banner Wayward Cross Studios. Over the years they’ve done a bunch of cool comics and webcomics, most notably a series called Waifu Apocalypse.
I met Landon in 2019 when I was still living in Ohio. Prior to Covid, I was tabling at a small convention in my hometown, and Landon had the table next to mine. As it turns out, he wasn’t even supposed to be there. Landon was a last-minute addition to the show, filling a table for another artist who couldn’t make it. For the record, I’m so, so glad that other artist didn’t make it to the show.
Landon and I got to spend many hours talking, hanging out, sharing our work with one another and having raucous conversation. Not only is Landon super laid back, but he’s an incredibly talented artist. Once doors closed for the day, we walked away from that convention with a goal of working together on something in the future.
And while many times one leaves a convention with promises of collaboration, Landon and I actually did it!
Our first time working together was on a 6-page action/heist/humor comic called Improvisation, which was published in December 2020 by Alterna Comics in the It Came Out on a Wednesday anthology (issue #13, to be precise). While that issue is out of print, I still have some rare copies available in my webstore!
Funny side story — Improvisation was originally written as a fan comic set in the Borderlands video game universe. However, once Landon was on board to draw the tale, I reconfigured it to be it’s own separate thing (though it still wears it influences on its sleeve).
When I initially came up with the idea of bringing Unit 44 back from the dead, I knew Ed would not be available to draw the series due to a busy workload. Because I didn’t have another artist in place, I emailed our publisher Alterna Comics and explained that I wanted to change the format of the book (to one-and-done issues) and I wanted each issue to have a different artist.
Mostly, the “different artist every issue” angle was because I worried I wouldn’t be able to attach someone to the series longterm. Alterna Comics gave me the greenlight to go forward with my idea, and we tossed around a couple of artists that would be right for the book. One of the people I immediately brought to the table was Landon.
Not only was I looking for another opportunity to work with Landon, but I felt that his artistic style—while different from anything we’ve seen in Unit 44 before—would still work. Landon mixes anime and realistic influences together to create something super interesting, and I was excited by the prospect of how Gibson and Hatch would look under his pencil.
Before pitching Alterna on bringing the series back, I already had a list of ideas for potential issues, one of them being this mothman story, which I wanted to approach as a “horror” story. Knowing that Landon does amazing work with shadows and dramatic angles, I wrote the script with him in mind.
As luck would have it, Landon agreed to draw the issue—this was back in April of 2021—and together we made something that I think is super fun. Not only does it maintain Landon’s style of semi-realism, but I challenged him with all sorts of visual gags and funny moments, which he executed flawlessly.
So, what happened with that “different artist every issue” idea?
To be completely transparent, everything changed when I worked on Issue #5 with artist Aleks Jovic. The experience of putting that issue together was one of the highlights of my comic-making career, and when you find people you vibe with, you don’t let them go (at least not without a fight). Aleks and I completed issue #5 in record time and immediately dove into what became issue #6. By the end of those stories, I knew I’d found the best replacement for Ed, and thankfully, our readers have vocally agreed!
I’m super thankful to Landon for stepping in when he did to help my silly comic return, and I’m so excited for you to see the work that Landon (and Andrew) did on this issue.
I hope you’re ready to see it, too, because here comes a…
(Tap or click on the images below to make them bigger!)
OKAY, I’LL GO AWAY NOW
Unit 44 is a special book to me—a place where I can pursue literally any crazy idea that passes through my gray matter. I hope that Aleks and Andrew and I can continue to produce the series, but as always, we need your help to do that!
If you’ve picked up back issues, or supported any of the past Alterna preorder campaigns, thank you, thank you, thank you! You’re an amazing human. If you haven’t yet checked out this crazy comic, then perhaps it’s time to do so!
I’ll be back in just a few days with the next missive!
I’m Wes Locher. I’ve been writing professionally for more than a decade. I write comic books, video games, fiction, and nonfiction. I write whatever seems fun, cool, and inspiring. I also love helping other writers to demystify the process of making a living through words. This is my newsletter.