On Saturday afternoon at a packed New York Comic Con panel room, First Comics director of publishing Ken Levin announced a new ongoing series entitled Public Relations, a sitcom in comic book form about work, love, magic, failure, and sex with monsters. And failure to have sex with monsters. Written by Matthew Sturges (Jack of Fables, House of Mystery, JSA) and novelist/comics newcomer Dave Justus, the series will feature art by David Hahn (Bite Club, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane), Steve Rolston (Ghost Projekt, Emiko Superstar), and José Marzán, Jr. (Y: The Last Man, House of Mystery, Superman), with covers by Annie Wu (House of Mystery). Angela Rufino is series editor. “We are so knocked out by Public Relations,” Levin revealed, “that we have two separate story arcs in production simultaneously with David Hahn doing the pencils on the first, and Steve Rolston penciling the second. And their art is simply drop dead sensational.”
“To get a sense of what Public Relations is,” said Justus, “imagine Arrested Devlopment meets The Princess Bride at a party, and then slips something into her drink. It’s a workplace comedy where the workplace has parapets.” Sturges added, “Think in terms of It’s Always Sunny in Westeros, and you’re on the right track. Feudal, funny, and filthy are just three of the many ‘F’ words we’re throwing around.”
The series follows Dan Clover, an account executive at a prominent Dallas public relations firm, who visits the little-known European country of Sardonia for the fiftieth birthday party of his estranged father, the king. Hopelessly stuck somewhere between the 14th century and 1987, Sardonia is the only place on earth where magic actually works. One tiny little typo on the party invitations leads to the king swearing bloody vengeance on all of his confused guests, and once the mistake is discovered, the king begs Dan and his co-worker (and, with any luck, love interest) Threnody Dark to stay in Sardonia to try to undo the damage caused by his tirade. To that end, Dan creates 4Leaf, Inc., Sardonia’s first and only public relations firm.
Over the course of the series’ first story arcs, 4Leaf’s missions will include: saving an impoverished kingdom from a child-snatching monster; untangling the mess that is Sardonia’s state-run television station; and planning a funeral/dog show in their own backyard. Dan will find himself torn between the mysterious yet adorable Threnody and the sexually aggressive journalist Cadence. Threnody will find herself torn between Dan and his half-brother Kade, who promises to teach her magic in the rare moments that he’s not sulking and listening to Joy Division. There’s a lecherous knight named Rhett who finds himself torn between defending the realm and perfecting his standup comedy act. And there’s Violet, Kade’s caustic girlfriend, who has a thing for giant monsters. Like, a sex thing. It’s probably not polite to tell you where she’s torn between.
“There aren’t enough superlatives for the artwork that’s been arriving,” said Sturges. “In the first arc, David Hahn illustrates a fantasy kingdom that feels utterly grounded and then fills it with characters so charming that it almost breaks your heart when they start making all the poop jokes.” In the pages of the second arc, said Justus, “Steve Rolston gets the chance to show you just how much he can cram in, while still keeping things tight and clean. It’s up there with the best work Steve has ever done, and that’s really saying something.” And every issue is wrapped in a gorgeous cover by Annie Wu, making the book look far classier than it has any right to do.
“Above all else, we think of Public Relations as a sitcom,” Sturges said. “It’s a continuing story with an endgame, not just a series of gags. The longer you spend getting to know Dan and the 4Leaf crew, the more it’ll mean to you when they make poop jokes.” Added Justus, “This is a ‘fantasy’ book for people who might not even give a crap about fantasy. It’s a comic book that’s both comic and bookish. And it’s a love story for all the haters.”
“As befits the First Comics legacy, we’re once again going to give you a comic book experience you just can’t get from anyone else,” said Levin. “We’re going to show you things you’ve never seen, things you never knew you wanted to see, in a comic. Public Relations goes for low comedy and high quality all at once, and I think you guys are really going to like how that turns out.”
Public Relations debuts Spring 2013.
Please feel free to use the images below for press purposes. All images copyright 2012 Dave Justus and Matthew Sturges.
promo image, cover of issue 1, illustrated by Annie Wu
cover for issue #4, by Annie Wu
issue 1, page 3, art by David Hahn, color by Hi-Fi
issue 2, page 7, pencils by David Hahn, inks by José Marzán, Jr., colors by Hi-Fi
issue 6, page 8, pencils by Steve Rolston, inks by José Marzán, Jr.