ABOVE TOP SECRET COMICS "the comic the government doesn't want you to see".
I first stumbled upon ATSC a while back (2002-ish) looking through black and white backstock at Al's comics in San Francisco (backstock being something that al's has in spades check it out if your in town). He only had issue two which is what my original review focused on but now i have finally gotten my hands on issue one... so let's take a look at the entire run.
below are the cover to ATSC #1Above Top Secret Comics issue one, published by Eyes Only Comics in 1995-1996. Written by and featuring the artwork of Wes Crum. I did a google search to try to find more about the history of the artist and was able to find out a little bit more then i was able to back in 2004. Then all i could find on him was this link, which features some more images from ATSC, but now i've found that since ATSC he's done a lot of covers and more for many an Adult Comic available through last gasp, some even keeping with the alien theme with titles with unfortunate names such as Anal Intruders From Uranus... But i digress. I was immediately drawn to ATSC by the artwork, the format of the book and the subject matter (me being one to have known bouts of obsession with aliens from time to time). Although the same print size as a standard comic it wasn't so much a comic book as a collection of highly rendered pen and ink illustrations.
The first issue ATSC is a whopping 48 pages of the best in alien conspiracy. Issue one focus mostly on documenting in exacting detail the history of landmark alien encounters on earth (starting in 1944), important figures in the field of Xenoarchaeology (not sure if i'm using this terminology correctly), and conspiracy whistle blowers throughout recent human history ...with a few exceptions of pages devoted to important cultural moments such as the release of The Day the Earth Stood Still (the 1951 version), lost in space, and star trek the next generation. Below are some of the weirder images from issue 1.
caption: On the night of october 11, 1973 two very frightened men from Pascagoula, Missisippi presented themselves at the Jackson County Sheriff's department and told and increadible tale. Charley hickson and Calvin Oarker claimed that while they were fishing in a local river they were abducted by three bizarre robot-like creatures, taken aboard a UFO and physically examined. (click on image for larger image)While issue one seemed to focused more on the "truth", issue two ( a 32 pager published by Eyes Only Press in 1996) focus' more on the conjectured happenings as imagined by the artist. It still has it's fine figures of humanity in the fight against our alien abductors but where the first issue had paragraphs below each image explaining the history and back story behind the illustration, the second issue has several words, maybe a name or if we are lucky a short descriptive sentence. Mysterious titles for the illustrations such as "Inside the Tent", "Briefing in the Blue Room" or "Childhoods End".
ATSC #2 at your service
There are some really great illustrations. like one on the "ufo's of the third reich" and two of my personal favorites "the night shift of area s-4" and "the weirdest dream".I think the best thing about Wes Crum's approach to the book's illustrations is that each image is portrayed as being fact or an important facet in the development of humanities relationship and acceptance of alien existence. The art and the context of the text seems to scream these things happened. You can tell how focused and into getting every detail down on paper he is. How carefully planned, researched, and painstakingly built from a combination of photo reference and the mind of the artist each illustration is. The artwork is a tempered mix of skill and planned ugly with just a whiff of outsider. Enough outsider to make it fascinating. Through his ability to create the otherworldly melded with the mundane we get a glimpse into the frightening reality that perhaps the artist lives in.
all artwork appearing in this review copyright wes crum