The Tower of the Comic Book Freaks is a graphic novel by Ron Kasman that follows five late teenage Toronto men on their journey to the New York Comic Convention in 1971. Kasman’s work is a fictional story of finding your way in the world of comics, though he does reveal that aspects of it are related to his own experiences as a fan of comics. I typically am not drawn toward comics that focus on every day people, but there was something about Kasman’s work that drew me in.
I have loved history for much of my life, I even majored in it in college, and while this work is fictional, the history and connection it makes to growing up as a comic book nerd before the term nerd became mainstream, was a delightful trip into what I am going to say is a work of historical fiction. All of the events in this comic could happen and being able to hear about the history of comics through Kasman’s introduction sections and through the voice of his main character, Harold, I found myself learning more details about a variety of aspects of the comic book industry. The Tower of the Comic Book Freaks primarily follows Harold as he finds himself caught up in the world of comic books. After recently learning he has been accepted into programs for engineering in Toronto, he finds himself wanting to focus on the thing he loves more than all else, comics. While in New York a golden opportunity seems to fall into his lap after he helps Allan Caldwell, a famous comic book creator, in a moment of need. This leads Caldwell to decide that Harold is going to come work for him. This initially like just the break he’s always wanted, but things aren’t always as they appear.
During this time Harold has also met a girl, roughly his age, named June. Her father happens to own Wonder Comics and he wants his daughter to become the leading character in her own series. He taps Caldwell to steer the project, which is what leads Harold to become involved. His feelings for June grow, but Caldwell becomes more and more demanding over the course of the convention. As some relationships grow and others become strained we watch as the five self-proclaimed jerks from Toronto begin planning their futures in connection to the comics they love. I have already mentioned that I enjoyed the historical aspects within this series, I also want to mention that I enjoyed the drawing style as well. Kasman shows a variety of styles, though the comic itself is drawn primarily in white, black and blue, using a style that reminds me of older works. I also enjoyed Kasman’s additions, which he includes at the beginning and end of each of the individual issues. As a collected volume I hope that these will still be included in some capacity. You can check out Ron Kasman’s art on his tumblr and you can read the comic for yourself in January from Caliber Comics.
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