Way back in 2003, Marvel Comics launched this little publishing initiative called “Epic Comics.” The idea behind it was that Marvel would open its doors to writing and art submissions from the comics community at large–an astonishing opportunity on the level with the Yankees offering a possible roster spot to anybody who could fit in a uniform. It seemed too good to be true, and indeed it was; after much hype, Marvel pulled the plug on the program with only one issue ever published. The pervasive editorial, creative, and bureaucratic fumbling of Epic left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, and with good reason. But that’s a topic for another day. I pitched a couple of ideas to Epic, and made it as far as the second round of consideration–the editors liked the ideas but wanted the execution sharpened–before the whole thing was taken out back and shot.

While Epic was revving up, a bunch of writers congregated at the X-Fan Forums and dissected the many mixed messages that Marvel and its editors were putting out. (In retrospect, I think most of us knew in our hearts that the program was doomed from the start, and the constant zigs and zags by the editors only confirmed that.) But while I was on the forums, I met a couple cats who I could tell were bringing a little something extra to the table–by which I mean their stories weren’t of the “Wolverine fights, like, this kick-ass undead robot super ninja monkey” variety. One of ’em was Jason Rodriguez, who’s since become one of the hottest young editors in comics. His hysterically funny Wonder Years-meets-Ron-Jeremy blog, which I’ve pimped here before, is must-reading.

The other guy who’s shaken off the ashes of Epic is my man Jorge Vega, who’s as talented a writer of funny, resonant adolescent angst as I’ve ever seen. Check out his webcomics “Everyday Cosmic” and “Big Toe” at Everyday Cosmic, a damn slick virtual studio. The situations are high-concept–superheroes and Bigfoot–but the young characters are fully-rounded and blissfully free of that mindless smart-assery that lesser writers cling to. Jorge’s also got a couple “real-world” comics coming out next year–“Zoo” from Arcana Studio, and “The Coat” from–well, nobody yet, but it’s gonna get snapped up in a heartbeat. If there’s any justice in the world, your kids are going to be reading Jorge’s comics, playing video games based on his stories, and standing in line for the “Zoo” movie sometime in 2008.

Put “Everyday Cosmic” on your weekly favorites list–it’ll remind you of your middle-school days in all the best ways. And if you happened to have a superhero for an older brother or frequent encounters with shaggy monsters of the forest, hell, it’ll seem like a family album.


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