“Dryspell is the first depiction of supervillain-as-protagonist that I’ve seen in recent years that speaks to the aimlessness that many of us have felt…”
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
Writer: Ken Krekeler
Artist: Ken Krekeler
Release Date: Wed, May 28th, 2014
As I lurch toward my 34th birthday this summer, I’ve been doing a lot of what folks my age tend to do: looking back on a life of triumphs and trials and tribulations, taking stock of where I am, and deciding what I want my life to be going forward. I’ve lived a Hell of a life so far, a richer life than I probably deserve: married a wonderful woman, traveled abroad a few times, tackled (to varying degrees of success) dreams I’ve held since I was knee-high and watching Transformers as a young’un. I am well aware that (with any luck) I have plenty of road ahead of me, but, as the minutes pass into hours into days, I tend to spend more and more introspection ruminating on who I was, who I am, and who I want to be with the time I have left. How much of my past self do I embrace, and how much do I leave by the wayside? What will help me grow and be fulfilled moving forward?
And, damn, Ken Krekeler, writer and illustrator of Action Labs’ Dryspell, #1 gets that.
Tom Ferris is a production artist with an advertising firm. Tom skulks down to his basement every night, staring at a blank canvas, hoping for artistic inspiration that never comes. Tom spends his days working in a cubicle, passing the time watching funny Internet videos and staring with consternation at news reports of the exploits of the world’s greatest superhero, Apollo. And Tom tries to fit into a world where he is a retired supervillain.
There’s been an influx of portrayals in fiction in the last decade or so of stories told from the villain’s perspective, from Dreamworks’ animated film Megamind to Mark Waid’s comic book Incorruptible to Austin Grossman’s novel Soon I Will Be Invincible. While I have enjoyed them all for different reasons, Dryspell is the first depiction of supervillain-as-protagonist that I’ve seen in recent years that speaks to the aimlessness that many of us have felt when what path we want our lives to follow. Do we pursue the urges that cackle at us in our private moments, to lead a life that makes sense? Or do we take the road of least resistance, a road where we stop chasing rabbits down fox holes and put our dreams in a box on the mantles of our souls? (So many mixed metaphors there.)
Krekeler understands that ennui and deftly incorporates it into Tom’s every move. Each part of Tom’s life seems to be a concerted effort to forget the past and live a life resembling normalcy, however painful or dragging. This is best shown in Tom’s interaction with his girlfriend Stacy, who subtly digs Tom for his faults throughout the first issue. Tom is not beaten puppy, but his replies to Stacy belie an acceptance of her jabs and a desire to maintain the banal status quo he’s built for himself in his retirement from supervillainy.
The art hammers home this acquiescence of a life that’s been settled for, with everything about Tom’s appearance, from his unshaven face to his rumpled clothing, adding to his atmosphere of complacency. The color pallet serves to add to that air of resignation, with hues of browns and grays permeating scenes of Tom’s new life, with the colors becoming more vibrant when a fellow supervillain recognizes Tom for who he is and attempts to draw Tom back into his former life.
As comic book prices continue to rise and my bank account continues to shrink, I am very particular about what I add to my buy pile. However, I am very willing to give the next issue of Dryspell a go, as it’s the first comic since I fell in love with Preacher that spoke to how I was feeling at a particular season of my life.