What I learned reading 'Salvagers'. A comic series from Bob Salley.
By Steve Benton

Recently, I did 2 things I haven’t done in years.

1. Pay for a comic book.
2. Read a comic book.

Here’s what happened as I read the 4 issue mini-series Salvagers, written by Bob Salley. I'm not a Facebook friend of Salley’s, but I've seen his name through the creation and promotion of my own title. (American Bison).

Having seen Salvagers pop up a few times in my feed, I finally decided to plunk down some hard-earned dough at comixology.com to read Issue 1.

I was immediately impressed by George Acevedo’s pencils. Not his inks so much, but his pencils.

I was bummed by the airbrushed colors, but in retrospect looking at it as I write this; The colors work well when viewed as an entire page from a distance. In guided view of comixology’s app on a 1920x1080 monitor the colors are fairly weak (but that could be my display settings). I just mention this as an observation. They’re not terrible, but I personally feel they’re the weakest part of the book.

I’ve never been a huge fan of ‘artsy’ lettering. To me, if everything is spelled correctly and the balloons flow in a logical sequence then I’m good. And I was good with this first issue, except for the outlined ‘Alarm’ sounds, AND the misuse of HAUL where HULL was supposed to be. But it may be in a different issue. I’m too lazy right now to go back and find it.

Let’s discuss the story and plot.

Initially I liked the concept and saw it was highly rated, so I plodded through. It didn’t grab me right away but it was well done, and the pacing was good. (Something my own first issue sorely lacked. Focus, or even ‘a point’.) Always have a point to your story! Lesson learned.

Anyway, the Salvager crew had their job at hand, and they went about doing it. Then Issue 1 ended. I liked where the story was going though, so I bought Issue 2.

Now here’s where the epiphany happened. Issue 2 started with a flashback sequence and focused on a character called Brigby. He’s my personal favorite character in the series, and I think many would agree. Looking at Issue 2 the art is really very good for an independent effort. Yes, even the colors! (Maybe it was the guided view that was ‘washing’ them out and allowing me to look too closely at them so my apologies to DeSiKa). Regardless, back to the defining moment for me in this series.

On page 20 we follow Roenick into Brigby’s dwelling.

This solidified my love for this character. After reading about him in issue 1 and not really giving a sh!t, we see his trials and tribulations for 20 pages, until we are invited into his home.

I don’t know who designed his look but It’s absolutely fantastic. I’m not sure how much George Acevedo called the shots or writer, Bob Salley did. But the character is great, especially his fish tank!

What’s in the fish tank was the defining moment for me. I started to give an actual shit, about this character because of what was depicted. No spoilers here. Buy the book.

He already looked really cool especially with his firestick, and he sounded pretty cool delivering Salley’s excellent dialogue. Most importantly however, I finally became a part of his life…and that to me is the point of this essay.

I immediately bought the next 2 issues, which I enjoyed until I got to Deliverance Book ONE, which brings me to another key Creator’s epiphany!

I was pretty annoyed. In fact I was sort of p!ssed. I was upset with Deliverance Book ONE because Salley had taken people’s money from a kickstarter and gave them (me, now that I had become a fan and purchased the books) this other group of WANNABEs.

I understand that there may be something HUGE going on in the scripts that makes me look like an a$$hole for saying it, but I really didn’t care for Deliverance that much. I felt. F@CK. Here he has EXCELLENT color; EXCELLENT pencils and inks; EXCELLENT lettering, and a f@cking mediocre story, with new characters I now have to learn about and care about all over again? F@CK THAT!

Where’s BRIGBY!?

This made me realize that what we’re doing here as creators doesn’t really hinge on the quality of the artwork. It hinges entirely on getting to KNOW the characters you’re portraying. Salley did this superbly in Salvagers, but by the time I got to Deliverance I felt I was baited and switched. Sorry, Bob.

Who were these jack@sses? Now I have to learn even more characters, with stupid names?

Again. Just give me Brigby! Where’s BRIGBY!?

And I know that he is coming, but why was all that money and effort wasted on selling me new characters, when he’s already created a great one. Which makes me realize, that if you create an excellent character or group that readers accept and like; STICK with them!!!

Bob. You had me dude. You had me with Brigby. Ty’r was cool enough for me to hang with, and Roenick and even the purple ‘chick’.

What I learned from Salvagers was this.
1. The art needs to be good. It doesn’t need to be GREAT! (Salvagers art is good. Deliverance is pretty great. I’ll take Salvagers, thank you.)
2. The dialogue should let you get to know the character AND tell a story.
3. Once you establish your characters. Don’t discard them!!!
4. DO NOT RELEASE JUST ONE ISSUE AT A TIME. Wait until you have AT LEAST a defining moment with ONE character. MAYBE you can do it in one issue, but it’s like watching AA Hockey. If you don’t know the athletes you don’t care. Go to a few games and you’re now a fan. Issues are like games. You’ll need a few to grow your fan base. Make them. NOW!
5. Promotion helps. Delivering a quality product is more important.
6. Brigby rules!

My apologies, to any of the creators I’ve offended. You can certainly count me as a fan, regardless. I thought all of your work was good. Some better than others, but without your involvement it wouldn’t have been what it was to me; which was thoroughly ENJOYABLE!
Go buy Salvagers. It’s on comixology (although I’m only seeing the French translation ones).

Thanks for creating it.
-Steve Benton