Kieron Dwyer and Todd Rinker write for Bleeding Cool:
West Portal is a new project from comics fan favorite Kieron Dwyer and writer/letterer Todd Rinker. After several years working outside of comics, Dwyer is preparing to launch a new ongoing monthly series about a man named Dexter Allen, whose adventures in alternate realms based in popular fantasy and fiction seem all too real…because they are.
To get a sense of the concept, imagine that Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes grew up to be a paunchy middle-aged man yet still occasionally found himself transformed into Spaceman Spiff. Imagine that he had no idea when or where it was going to happen, nor any way to control it. Now consider that these sudden episodes weren't just his imagination at work, they were actually happening. Welcome to the bizarre world(s) of Dexter Allen, a modern day Walter Mitty battling to keep his sanity as the boundaries between reality and fiction get blurrier by the day.
Having finished the first issue of West Portal in their spare time, Dwyer and Rinker are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the next several issues. The money is meant to help cushion them during the coming months so that they can finish the first 4 issues of the series completely before soliciting the series to retailers. Both are freelance illustrators (Rinker is a UI/UX graphic designer working for the likes of Nokia, Google on mobile phone apps and the like) with predictably unpredictable work schedules that have made the process of working on the series very slow. In order to not start the series behind the eightball, schedule-wise, they want the first four issues completed before jumping onto "the monthly deadline bronco" as they call it.
While his IDW-published series Night Mary with Rick Remender may be the closest analog to the new series, fans of virtually any of Dwyer's comics from the last 30 years will find something to connect with in West Portal. The nature of the story gives Dwyer license to illustrate the fantasy realms in different art styles, as each particular realm requires. Among the styles on display in just the first issue are a Flash Gordon sci-fi space opera style, a Jack T. Chick biblical tract style, a Hello Kitty cartoon style, and a newspaper comic strip style reminiscent of Garfield. Future issues and arcs of the vast, ever-expanding story will include Chinese folk art, twisted MC Escher-esque dimensions, gritty Western worlds, and much more. As cliched as it may seem, the sky is literally the limit on this series, with a nearly infinite number of fictitious worlds from pop culture to explore.
"If you think of the way the X-Files was structured, that's a pretty good comparison," says Dwyer. "On that show, there was the larger story of Mulder's family and the government conspiracy and cover-up of extraterrestrial stuff. But they had also created a vessel that could contain standalone stories which might just be weird, or creepy, or outright scary. One episode could just be a story about an urban werewolf, or a sinister redneck family. With West Portal, we have a very intricate superstructure we've developed that ties everything together in the long-game sense. But we also have this device wherein we can tell individual stories that work on their own as little stories within the larger story. It also leaves open the possibility of having other artists or even other creative teams do a sequence. Ultimately, once the book is humming along on a monthly schedule, our job will be to make sure it is coming out every month, like clockwork. That's what retailers expect, that's what readers want, that's what a creator owned book in today's marketplace needs to deliver."
With a 30 year history of professional comics ranging from the mainstream titles Batman, Captain America, Superman, and the Avengers, to small publisher titles like Night Mary, Black Heart Billy, Remains, XXXombies, and Last of the Independents, Dwyer has built an impressive and wide ranging body of comics work. West Portal promises to carry the torch of unique, high-quality work readers have come to expect from him.
For a look at art from the new series' first issue and a number of cool rewards being offered to backers, please check out the Kickstarter page.