Calico is a new indie comic-book character quite unlike anything that’s come before—not your conventional superhero but rather, an antihero. His crusade? Taking vengeance on those who abuse and kill animals. Hector Gil, a.k.a. Calico, is a former boxer and mixed martial artist from the streets of the Bronx. A man driven by his passion for animals, he’s willing to go further than most to protect them. Much further.
Writer H.H. German and artist Javier Orabich combine their talents to deliver an action-packed eight-book series that will satisfy lovers of graphic storytelling. But these aren’t your grandfather’s (or your child’s, or even your teenager’s) comic books. “Calico” stories are graphic, violent and uncensored—strictly for mature audiences.
German explains his approach to tackling animal abuse, a topic previously unexamined in comic books: “The audience for these tough-minded stories is millennials—a generation more accustomed to tackling issues head-on, whether it be racial injustice, environmental calamity or animal abuse.”
Unlike previous generations, which often sought to soften the horrors of contemporary tragedies by skirting around difficult topics, Calico’s creators get to the heart of the matter and don’t look away. Their antihero is not satisfied with just capturing bad guys and tying them up for the police to retrieve (à la Batman). He exacts his own form of vigilante justice, which raises moral questions of its own.
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“I called him Calico because he’s white, Black and Native American. White, brown, and Black—those are the three colors of the Calico.”
The publishing company responsible for Calico is Sigma Comics, an independent upstart also created by H.H. German. A longtime comic book fan, German—who believes in the power of the medium to connect with young minds—looks back at the “golden years” of comic book publishing with admiration.
In addition to venturing into uncharted editorial themes and providing voice to underserved communities, Sigma Comics is dedicated to other innovations, such as keeping down costs on individual titles and maintaining independence from the prevailing comic-book industry, which for many has “gone Hollywood.” Sigma is a throwback to the classic art of comic-book storytelling, old-school publishing with an added dose of idealistic entrepreneurship.
This reader appreciates the approach taken by Calico’s creators. It makes for a thrilling storyline on a topic that doesn’t get nearly enough media coverage: animal abuse. With its dark, shadowy visuals (excellent work by Orabich) and topical focus, the “Calico” stories feel current in a way the genre rarely achieves.
It’s not for everyone. If your advocacy runs more in line with those Sarah McLachlan Animal Cruelty campaigns, you may want to avoid these gritty tales. But perhaps you know someone who would relate to a vengeance-seeking comic-book crusader. If so, Calico will (to paraphrase another antihero unafraid of crossing boundaries) make their day!