Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #180 by Drew Barth

Doing Something to the Trend

A few months ago I looked at the first issue of Shobo, George Kambadais, and Jim Campbell’s Buckhead. It was one of those series that left some hooks in me after I finished the first issue—with its blending of small town mysteries, African mythos, and a blend of science and magic, I couldn’t help but want to know more. With the series concluding a couple months ago, it did take some of those hooks back to wrap its story, but it couldn’t help but drag out a few more to explore later.

Buckhead is the story of Toba, a recent immigrant from Nigeria to the titular town in the Pacific Northwest. While it may look sleepy and idyllic, there is a strangeness that permeates the town. People seem to shut down around that abandoned house on the edge of town, adults leave their homes in the middle of the night to congregate the school, and trench coatted androids roam. It’s from these oddities that Toba and his friends enter a game in the basement of their school, the Elseverse, and unravel more of the town’s mysteries—namely, why Toba’s dad is in the game they’re playing. From finding out more about the forces that seem to control the town to putting down ancient Yoruba spirits, Toba finally  finds his place in Buckhead while building a group of friends to help him throughout his journey.

But that doesn’t quite feel like the end. Buckhead is doing something I’m seeing more comics do recently and that’s to leave their conclusions open. This is a fairly tight five-issue series, but there are lingering questions and plot points—namely whoever the Eight Lords of Chaos are—that could be picked up on later. The way this story is told gives it a natural break point, but also an open door for a sequel series that can pick right back up where this one ended or give it space enough for a time-skip. This kind of story planning treats a series less like a monolithic entity and more like a grouping of seasons. We can get a complete arc with this volume of Buckhead, but there’s an over-arching plot out in the distance that we can pick right back into if the creators want to continue. It gives some more time and space to develop that larger plot without having to rush through every aspect of a longer story.

While Buckhead isn’t the first to use this kind of comic storytelling—there’s still no word on if the story will continue into new volumes—but it’s one of the ones I’m becoming more drawn to the longer I think about it. Shobo, Kambadais, and Campbell have created a world and a mythology to populate it that I want to know more about. Like the game in the story, I want to explore and marvel at the work that has gone into it. Buckhead can stand on its own, but it’s still leaving those plot hooks in me that can be explored so much more in the future.

Get excited. Get sequels.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331, 485, & 510) resides in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.