Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pulp-Powered Comics: The Late, Lamented Hilly Rose

Hilly Rose was part of the last independent comics boom in the mid-1990’s. In turn, it would also be the victim of the market contraction caused by Heroes World and Capital Comics Distribution collapsing. Before that time, nine issues would be produced, and all were filled with space-pulpy goodness.

The comic was both written and drawn by early Eclipse contributor B.C. Boyer (The Masked Man). But unlike the rough, vaguely Will Eisner-inspired art of that series, Hilly Rose takes Frazetta, mixes in some Dave Stevens, and sprinkles in a little bit of contemporary Jeff Smith. And much like the love interest to Stevens’ Rocketeer, Hilly’s looks owe quite a bit to one Bettie Page.

Hilly Rose is a reporter for a small newspaper out on a distant end of the galaxy. Her father edits the same paper. She has the aid of a little Bone-like alien named Blossom, as well as a recruiter for a larger Earth-based news network named Bach. During the first chapter, the group comes under attack by a simple-minded war machine (with more than a passing resemblance to a Rob Liefeld-creation) named Sidney the Evil Incarnate Guy. But Sidney is only the tip of the iceberg for a conspiracy of villainy hiding in the shadows of the world.

I have only ever acquired the first two issues of Hilly Rose, but the art style, the action, and even the parodic bits, all tend towards keeping a space operatic pulp feel. This book believes in telling a compelling story, yes, but never at expense of sheer, unrepentant fun!

Sadly aside from a pinup in Dark Horse’s Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others in ’98, B.C. Boyer left the comics community after his series came to an end in 1997. Where he is now is anyone’s guess. Anyone that has any idea should get in touch with me in the comments section, and I will update it here.

For now, I highly recommend everyone go trace down a copy of Hilly Rose or the Hilly Rose: Space Reporter trade. It comes Recommended.


MTS said...

I LOVED Hilly Rose. There's a soft spot in my heart for it. I'll have to dig but I believe I have all the issues. I even bought some Hilly original art from B.C. at ComiCon way back when.

Nick Ahlhelm said...

Glad to hear someone else has some love for this book. I didn't ever even see an issue to well after it's run was finished, but having picked up issues recently, I can't get over how such a great book was killed by a totally terrible time in the comics industry.