With Further Ado #075: Wake Up!

How’d it all go last night? Did you dance and party your brains out at the greatest event of the year? I hope there was a passionate midnight kiss involved.   Or are you one of those folks who leaves “Amateur Night” to others and got cozy on your couch watching episodes of The Twilight Zone?  I’m not judgey – both plans sound  pretty great to me.

Either way, you probably need a little coffee to get going today, and that’s the focus of this week’s column.

Death Wish Coffee Co. is a small business from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., one of my favorite places in the world. Founder Mike Brown has been on a mission to create the world’s strongest coffee and to fuel coffee drinkers not only each morning, but wherever they go. You might think that the coffee market is oversaturated, or dominated by big companies. It might seem like there’s no room for new ideas, but this is innovative company has been rocking it.  When they won Intuit’s “Small Business Big Game” competition in 2015, they were awarded a 30 second spot on the SuperBowl.

Brown and his team make a solid product with pride and strong ethics, and obviously have fun along the way.  In my classes, I teach college students how magical things happen at the intersection of entrepreneurism and creativity. And that’s the case here.

By Odin, ‘tis Glorious!

One of the things Death Wish Coffee did was create a comic book. It’s called Odinforce and now it’s become a series. Deathwish is just about to publish the third issue! 

But this isn’t the drab, run of the mill corporate comic.  They didn’t just put a cape on a coffee bag and hire a comic-booky (whatever that means) ad agency artist to bang something out. 

<Yes, Geico, I’m looking at you!>

Instead, Death Wish Coffee collaborated with Ominous Press to create an enjoyable, action-packed real comic!

There are real creators involved.  Longtime writer Ron Marz is onboard, as is artist Rick Leonardi.  This third issues is a done-in-one story about the crew of a Viking ship. The story opens in the heat of battle against a sea monster.  But the Vikings are washed ashore on a mysterious island. There, they must answer mysterious riddles from a deathlike figure in order to escape.   We’ve seen these types of adventures before, but Marz keeps it fresh and lively with clever dialog. Leonardi clearly is NOT just phoning it in for a corporate comic. The art is both nuanced and full of action. 

And, credit to Death Wish for resisting temptation, there’s not one cup of coffee in this story. No coy winks to the audience as the characters sip coffee or make bad puns.  There’s ads and branding -as it should be – but they keep the story pure.

Got it Covered

Lately I’ve been snagging issues of the old Savage Sword of Conan whenever I find them in a bargain bin. There’s something wonderful about reading a complete story in one sitting – just like with Death Wish Co.’s Odinforce.  And as all the best issues of Savage Sword of Conan had Joe Jusko covers, it makes sense to me that they’ve recruited Joe Jusko to paint the cover of this comic too. But I wasn’t the only one who thought that.

“Painting the Death Wish Coffee cover is a true joy, not just because of the great team I get to work with in Ron Marz and Rick Leonardi, but because the subject matter harkens back to my early Savage Sword of Conan days where I first cut my teach in the industry,” said ace artist Joe Jusko. “You really can go home again!”

For Asgard! For Caffeine!

Odinforce #3 is a great little comic from a great little company.  Both the comic and company are “punching above their weight”. That is impressive and inspiring, especially as we all focus on our New Year’s resolutions.  Grab a cup of coffee and curl up with this comic. And you can snag the first two issues (in digital format) of this series on the Death Wish site here.

P.S. One more thing…

Oh, and speaking of The Twilight Zone, as I did in the opening, did you ever see that movie, Repeat Performance? It’s a Film Noir from 1947 and it’s amazing how it seems like a template, or a prequel, for Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone TV series. The plot is so classicly Serling-esque: it’s about a woman who relives the previous year over again in a desperate attempt to change a grim New Year’s Eve outcome. But beyond that, there’s so many  little TZ touches baked into it, including an omniscient narrator and the quintessential starscape intro and outro. 

We just saw it Sunday (thanks, Eddie Mueller of TCM’s Noir Alley) and highly recommend it.