EXCERPT: "COLD HEAT" 5/6 by Ben Jones & Frank Santoro

Did you hear the news earlier this year? Comic books are dead. But the the first rule of comics, if there are any rules at all, is that no one stays dead in comics. So no one really expected comics to stay dead for long did they?

It’s only been about two months since comics “died” yet here we have a brand new issue of Cold Heat, with staples and everything. So if one era of comics just ended (the one that started with Action Comics #1), then let this be the beginning of a new Golden Age. A lack of widespread distribution to comic shops is discouraging, but it’s not gonna stop creators who are this passionate about the art form.

Cold Heat is one of my favorite comics from the past couple years. Ben Jones’ writing is just as hilarious as his Paper Rad stuff. But this story’s already over 100 pages long, so he and artist Frank Santoro have a lot more room to play. If you’re new to the world of Cold Heat you can read the first four issues online. But I recommend finding the books. The colors and artwork look great on paper and you also get the bonus short prose stories that are only printed in the issues.

The series focuses on Castle, a high school student who is really bummed out because her favorite rock star was just found dead of an apparent suicide. This subject matter seems strangely appropriate to me because I remember exactly where I was when the radio announced that Kurt Cobain was dead. I was at a comic shop in Phoenix, going through some dollar boxes on the floor. I paused for a moment to listen to the report, then went back to the long boxes of cheap Vertigo comics. The surreal satire that follows has a nice stream of consciousness flow that reminds me of other favorites like Ed the Happy Clown or Gilbert Hernandez. There’s a brilliant twist that takes the series to a whole new level in one of the later issues. I shouldn’t have even mentioned it exists.

Here’s the first six pages of issue 5/6. We thought we were gonna have to wait for the whole story to be collected as a trade, but they couldn’t wait either so issues 5 and 6 have been self-published as a limited edition zine.  It’s a beautiful book.  The 100 copy print run is almost gone, but you can still get one from the Picturebox website




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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = https://jaybabcock.substack.com Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.

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