Since we've been provided this amazing place in which to connect with Alterna readers, I just wanted to extend my thanks to all of you who gave Unit 44 a chance.
The sci-fi comic series—written and lettered by me (Hi, I'm Wes), with art and colors by the dashing and talented Ed! Jimenez—was released digitally in 2015... then again as a graphic novel in 2017... then released again in newsprint issues in 2019, and tells the story of inept Area 51 employees who forget to pay the rent on the secret facility's off-site storage unit, leaving the secret contents to be sold at public auction. When an alien invasion threatens planet Earth, agents Gibson and Hatch must recover an item from the locker in order to stop an extraterrestrial threat.
The marching orders that Ed and I set for Unit 44 were simple — create something that would make us laugh. Which we did. In fact, we laughed so much during the creation of the book. From the kind words we'd spy on social media, it seemed that many of those readers who also read the series (or graphic novel) laughed, too. Most of them, at least. Some just rolled their eyes. Some people told us it was the worst comic ever. Some people told me not to quit my day job. (The joke's on them... I hadn't!)
Love or hate Unit 44, it's incredibly difficult for a humor comic to succeed in the market. I mean, seriously, when you go to your comic shop, there isn't exactly a genre section for humor. I will be forever grateful to Peter for inviting us to bring our comic to Alterna. You see, we never actually pitched the book to Peter. He came to us when we were in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign and offered to publish it. What a dude, right?
However, creating humor comics is hard because, 1) Humor is subjective, 2) writing humor in comic format requires an entirely different pacing than a traditional action series, and 3) people aren't exactly champing at the bit to add humor comics to their pull list.
If you did read Unit 44 and it brought you an iota of joy, or if you did tell someone else about it, or if you did review it, or if you did smirk as you read along... thank you. You rock.
Unit 44 will always be special to me as a creator because it connected me with Ed Jimenez, someone who I consider to be a great friend. It also connected me with the Alterna Comics family and led to my working on other amazing titles as a letterer. The comic also connected me with Dan Dotson from the TV show Storage Wars (who also appears in the comic), who I'm pleased to say is a very nice and generous fellow. Most importantly, it connected me with Alterna's amazing readers.
And if you're a reader who's working your way through Alterna's catalog, but hasn't yet checked out Unit 44 ("U" is pretty far down on the alphabet), I can't wait for you to check it out. Our comic is silly. It's irreverent. It's wacky. It's something I'm very proud of. Plus, in all of these years making comics, I've never heard a comic reader say, "You know, I really hate laughing." Click here to see how you can get your hands on the book through Alterna Access, and have a chuckle.
So, what's next?
Over the years, Ed and I have regularly discussed what future adventures may look like for Gibson and Hatch (we even released a short comic featuring the dimwitted duo in issue #7 of It Came Out on a Wednesday) and here in 2021, I believe we may have finally landed on how those adventures can go from our brains to your hands (or screens).
In fact, dear reader, YOU may even play a role in the return of Unit 44.