- By the Time I Get to Dallas
- Created & Written by Colin Devonshire, MD
- Pencils by Juanfrancisco Moyano
- Inks by Dario Fas Marin
- Colors by Jacinto Moyano
- Letters by Jaymes Reed
Meet Rudy Deckart, fourth year medical student currently on a rotation with the trauma team at a major hospital in Boston. He’s got life by the horns, jumping at every chance to rack up all of the medical procedures that he can, and finding time to blow off steam with A) his ever-so-tolerant girlfriend Karen, B) Krav Maga training (“Running and lifting weights are boring. Team sports are too teamy.”) or C) excessive drinking and illicit prescription drug use for fun with friends. By the time attendance at the hospital has dropped to noticeable levels and it becomes apparent that the status is far from quo, it’s too late to stop Karen from leaving him… not because she’s sick of Rudy’s childish antics or for another lover, but just… because.
Like the majority of the global population, Karen has fallen to the sudden urge to get to Dallas, Texas. Or more specifically, 33 degrees 03’05.8”N by 96 degrees 40’08.8”W, ground zero for a sudden mass migration that’s called out to practically the entire human race. With very few exceptions, Rudy being one, the human race has been summoned to this spot. From there it’s a whacky, hijinks-filled ride as the hapless Rudy tries to follow Karen, avoid authorities determined to stop the migration (by any means), and pick up a few unlikely allies along the way.
Okay, on the surface this might not really be one of those books that leaps off of the shelf and into your arms. To some, it might sound like a clone of The Walking Dead hoping to ride that fine title’s coattails to success. To others it could come across as some kind of bizarre concept piece commenting on the dangers of herd mentality. Neither line of thought really touches on just how cool By the Time I Get to Dallas really is.
Part of that coolness comes from the characters that Colin Devonshire has seeded throughout the book. Main character Rudy Deckart is kind of an ass, but not to the point that a reader could decide he’s not worth the effort. I for one didn’t mind following Rudy on his little misadventure because, immature hijinks aside, he’s kinda funny. This fourth year med student isn’t out to save the world or discover the “why” behind humanity’s mass migration. The guy just wants to track down his girlfriend after she joins the throngs of travelers (not walkers… that’s a totally different book) on their mysterious pilgrimage. Devonshire lets Rudy’s flaws shine instead of trying to make him out to be the typical unblemished hero. He’s much more an everyman, avoiding a heroic stereotypes at every turn.
Another point in the cool column comes from Colin Devonshire’s background as a physician (did you catch that “MD” next to his name at the top of the article?). A practicing physician has a very different perspective on the whole “worldwide epidemic” concept (huh… topical), and that shows in the finer details of his writing. Sure, Rudy’s almost a doctor but he doesn’t really have that sense of compassion that some of his peers might. I have no doubt that Devonshire has known some co-workers just like that as he pulled from his experiences for this story. Going further into the nuts & bolts of the thing, I’m liking the way Devonshire is easing into the science behind the global crisis he’s concocted. Again, from a reader’s perspective there’s a degree of credibility built into this comic that makes the outlandish a little less crazy.
Okay. Now we’ve got to talk about the art! In level of detail, realism, and just plain “wow”, the team of Juanfrancisco Moyano (pencils), Dario Fas Marin (inks), & Jacinto Moyano (colors) are a trifecta who define the concept of “visual appeal”. It’s going to be tough for me to break down why I think the art in By the Time I Get to Dallas is so phenomenal, because as I go down the notes I have listed it just starts to sound like I’m on someone’s payroll.
Moyano’s pencils bring a ridiculous level of detail to his pages, and that’s built on by layouts and perspectives that present some amazingly cinematic shots. The character designs populate the world of the book with unique individuals, and even in the numerous group shots (aka: “mobs”) there aren’t many repeat faces. This is due, in part, to the awesome Kickstarter perk of having your own face included in the book. It’s a great ploy to get people involved in a crowd-funding campaign, and it’s pulled off beautifully by Moyano’s skillful ability to make it happen. Marin solidifies the penciled lines and gives the work weight (if you believe that inking is just tracing, do yourself a favor and look up some examples of the same penciled piece inked by different people). Finally, Jacinto Moyano’s colors fill in the blanks of the world, and bring it to life with a generally bright palette that lets the reader see everything on the page in all its glory.
The last element that put this book high on my list of awesome indie titles is Jaymes Reed’s lettering. There’s nothing fancy or flashy, nothing that would really make any single piece of dialogue stand out. Instead, Reed lets the script do its own work, and he focusses on keeping it all organized and easy to follow on the page. And believe me when I say that in some parts of the book, particularly issue 1, there are a lot of words to track. Rudy Deckart’s inner monologue lays out much of the premise of the book, establishing the “what” so that we can worry about the “why” and the “how” later on without getting confused or having to re-read. It’s all done without interrupting or pulling the reader’s eye away from the artwork I spent the previous paragraph ranting about.
I’m running a little long here, so I’m gonna sum this one up and call it a day. By the Time I Get to Dallas hits just about every mark I can think of to give it. Colin Devonshire has created an outstanding story, intelligently written with an eye toward entertaining, interesting characters with some really sharp dialogue. As much love as I do have for independent comics, this artistic team of Juanfrancisco Moyano, Dario Fas Marin, & Jacinto Moyano have elevated the game to levels that aren’t often seen on the indie market… or from high profile books out of the big publishers, for that matter.
Books 1 & 2 are out in the wild right now, available in print & digital formats, and book 3 is currently killing its own Kickstarter campaign (but it’s coming to the end as of the writing of this article, so get on it!).
Buy this book. Read this book. Love this book. The writer of this article would like to reassure his tens of readers that he is neither under duress, nor in any way coerced/bribed/wooed, and spoken nothing but his own truth in this review. Also, no animals were harmed.
Final Score: 13/13