With Further Ado #131: A Murder of Crows, An Unkindness of Ravens

I just learned that a bunch of crows isn’t called a flock of crows, but a murder of crows. It can also be called a congress, a muster or cauldron of crows. You’d think I’d know this, as my hometown, Auburn, is kind of overrun by crows. It was a bad problem for a while but is better now, thanks.

I am proud of this little town and the entrepreneurs in it.  Despite being overrun by murders of crows, and the largest employer being a prison, local entrepreneurs make the best of it all. For example one local start-up coffee business calls their business Crow City Roaster. And a local (award-winning) brewpub calls themselves Prison City.  Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself, what’s the point, right?

But back to a murder of crows.  I stumbled across this factoid as I was trying to understand the title of a new comic series from BOOM! Studios: An Unkindness of Ravens. And yes, you guessed it, and unkindness is another of those cool-but-archaic words for a bunch of ravens.

This series is up to its fourth issue, and I’m enjoying it way more than I should.  An Unkindness of Ravens is about a creepy little New England Town and the creepy little secrets it harbors. The protagonist is “the new kid at school”- a  high school girl named Wilma Farrington. And of course, everything and everyone is not what they seem to be.

The most fascinating thing about the series for me isn’t the story, but the way this comic tweaks the business model of a modern-day comics series. Right now, there’s so much innovation going on that it makes the behind the scenes stories as interesting as the comics themselves.

An Unkindness of Ravens lists Dan Panosian as creator, writer and cover artist.  Panosian is a talented, prolific artist who’s been in the business for a long time. He’s worked on all the established characters for the big companies and also creates brilliant independent work, like the recent Slots series, for the other publishers. At conventions, he’s personable and eminently likable. But in the end, it’s his talent that he exhibits that really hold’s one’s interest. Panosian’s artwork grabs you by the throat and whispers, “check this out!”.

It makes sense that Panosian leveraged his popularity to tease pages of the upcoming An Unkindness of Ravens series. Each piece he shared on social media made us all more and more interested in the debut of this series.

Ravens is constructed a little different than most comic series out there today.  Panosian is the writer and creator , but not the main artist. In each issue he contributes a cover and two or three pages of a prologue. These pages get the proceedings underway by establishing the mood and the sense of intrigue. It’s almost like the teaser segments of the Bond movies.  These prologues are fun, in and of themselves, and they serve a bigger purpose to support the entire story.

Marianna Ignazzi is the series “main artist” . She has a light touch – just the opposite of Panosian’s weighty and intricate style. Each one of her pages are lovely and somehow it works well together.

Kudos to this team for establishing this unique rhythm for reading their monthly book. I’m usually not one to wait for the TPB collections, and I certainly would not in this case. I think that would spoil the fun – the cadence of the book and slow reveal, artichoke-style, of the secrets are what makes it special and deliciously creepy.

An Unkindness of Ravens Issue #5 , the final issue, comes out today. But there seems so much more to story to explore here.  Another win for BOOM! Studios, and a tip of the hat to the entrepreneurial innovation, as well as mad art skills, that brings to the party.