Writer: Bruce Brown and Chip Christell
Artist: Adam Mrozowski
Letterer: E.T. Dollman
When the world is at its end, say as the result of an alien invasion for example, once international military forces have been defeated there is little hope for sustained survival of humankind.
That isn’t the case in Clay County.
In what can only be described as equal parts Independence Day and Cowboys & Aliens, Clay County takes place in the town of the same name and features the struggles of a lone surviving member of the Resistance, Sergeant Coleman, and a rag-tag group of locals with an affinity for alcohol–Bake, Vern, Hot Dog, and Root–as they work together to ward off certain oblivion at the hands of alien invaders. In the three years since the initial alien attack, Clay County’s residents had remained oblivious to the invasion, making their impending doom less than fathomable at first. It’s only after the locals learn the invaders seek something very close to their hearts that they become inspired to act against their antagonists.
The resulting story is an entertaining escapade across the county as the group demonstrates that people hardly need high-tech weap0nry to fight against their alien oppressors, rather simply armed with a sufficient amount of booze, a catapult capable of hurling a pick-up truck and a cache of fully automatic weapons there’s no limit to what can be accomplished. This defiance is perfectly personified by Hot Dog who channels his inner John Cusack circa Say Anything as he stands nude atop a hill with a stereo held high above his head playing. Despite his abduction, his friends resolve to save him by any means, recalling the heart of this book’s story and the comradery demonstrated by the characters themselves.
The defining feature of this story is the interaction between the primary characters and their accompanying dialogue as they struggle to survive. Brown and Christell’s writing is very light-hearted and funny as the “country folk” lackadaisically face the mounting threat while Sergeant Coleman becomes increasingly frustrated with their perceived apathy as he attempts to “pull rank” throughout much of the graphic novel. The care-free attitude is coupled with a measure of suspense as the band of “bumpkins” leap recklessly from a UFO to escape with no clear means to survive the fall, only to reveal in the evident final moments of their lives that their salvation is, unbeknownst to them, in the hands of Root. The looming and very much comedic concept of death is strung throughout the book’s pages, with the high-strung Coleman remaining positive they’re going to die at every turn despite Clay County’s saviors continually pulling through tough situations intentionally or not. The tone of the comic speaks to Williams’ song and functions as a soundtrack for the comic, reminiscent of UFC fighter Matt Hughes as he enters a fight to the same tune. There’s a measure of defiance in the book, displaying a heart and attitude inherent to that mentality of surviving despite all odds.
Mrozowski provides the artwork for the book, offering an additional comedic element to the story which accentuates the tone of the script. There are panels, such as when a tractor is hurling towards the “mother ship” and its control room, where the aliens hilariously watch the vehicle à la the giant shark from Jaws 3 as it slowly crashes through a control room window. Contributions such as this enhance the comedy inherent in the work, while his Say Anything homage in the face of an alien attack is fitting considering the plot. Coupled with fantastic scripting, Mrozowski’s efforts take a life of their own as he casually and seamlessly switches perspectives between characters in his panels, continuing sequences such as Bake’s brainstorm and subsequent plan enaction aboard the alien ship, or several pages later upon whipping out his shotgun upon re-intoxication from his self in plain view holding a gun to a close-up of the gun as it’s fired. The intuitive pencil work contributes greatly to the overall presentation of the comic, leaving it as visually enjoyable as the scripting itself.
Clay County is a hilarious romp through a rural community in the face of an Independence Day styled alien invasion. Much like his other works, Brown’s contribution to this comic book exemplifies a tremendous measure of detail to the scripting of the plot and the interaction between the characters. Mrozowski’s art matches up well with the script, combining to create a very accessible and entertaining read.
Scottie Say: available June 6th at your local comic shop and June 19th through Amazon.