With Further Ado #129: “Scout’s Honor” Earns AfterShock A Merit Badge

I was never a Boy Scout. But from the outside looking in, it seemed like a pretty neat club: secret rituals and goals and uniforms and badges.  And they have that “Knights of the Round Table” mindset: to do some good in the world.

Way back when I was a kid, the only Boy Scout rule I ever knew was “As a Boy Scout I promise to do my best and the help the girl scouts get undressed.” And you know what? I don’t think that was a real rule. (I can’t believe the things we used to say back then.)

Fast forward to my professional adult life. When I worked at Nabisco on cookies like OREO and Chips Ahoy!, we really did plan around the inevitable sales dip for when Girl Scout Cookies went on sale. They were a force to be reckoned with.

When I worked at an agency in midtown Manhattan (in the original, beautiful Tiffany’s building, in fact) the National Headquarters of the Girl Scouts was right around the corner. They had a nice open area with benches in front of the main entrance where you could sit and have a sandwich during lunchtime.  I was always surprised that nobody ever tried to sell me a cookie.

I’m thinking about the Scouts because AfterShock Comics has just come out with an innovative new series called Scout’s Honor. The premise is clever. In a dystopian future, the ragtag survivors use the Scout Handbook (they are called Ranger Scouts in this reality) as their “instructional manual” for survival.

In his excellent Word Balloon Podcast, John Siuntres interviewed writer/creator David Pepose.

I learned a lot about both the series and Pepose’s background. He comes across as an all-around likeable guy, full of clever ideas and an industrious work ethic.  I started reading this comic hoping it would be good because I wanted this guy to have a “win”.

Pepose also went to the extra mile in his worldbuilding, and there are even portions of the Ranger Scouts handbook included in the first issue. It’s great fun.

Luca Casalanguida’s artwork has a sketchiness that I often don’t enjoy, but I do here.  His strong figurework and dynamic layouts had me excited to turn each page. He’s got a natural rhythm for the slow parts and the action-packed parts. It’s quite remarkable, in fact, how he’s able to put his foot on the gas, then the brakes, then the gas pedal again all in just the first issue.

Artists Andy Clarke and Jose Villarrubia supply a solid cover to Scout’s Honor #1 that grabs you and makes you want to learn more, without giving away any of the clever twists and turns that await readers in first issue.

It’s a crowded market out there and it’s hard for any new comic series to break through the clutter.  The AfterShock folks came a up with a clever promotion leveraging the merit badges that are part of the story in this comic series.  Here’s how it works: In this future world, the creators have clearly given a lot of thought as to what would be important to survive and how those ideas would manifest themselves in a merit badge.  Comic shop retailers who support this series get a certain amount of merit badges that they can give away to customers.  A very clever idea. And I’m realizing that you don’t even have to go camping to earn these badges.

Scout’s Honor looks to be another engaging series from Aftershock. I’m already looking forward to the second issue.