Written by Andrew Maxwell
Art by Michele Bandini
Colors by Derek Dow
Lettered by Adam O. Pruett
Logo and Design by Sonia Harris
Creativity is essential in indie comics. With the massive amount of content artists fight against, coupled with the established big two’s stranglehold on the superhero genre, creative new characters and stories are the only way to stand out and be set apart from the masses. Rum Row lives up to the creative nature of indie comics, both in art and idea concept. Set in prohibition era New York, Rum Row is the Untouchables meets a hot air balloon parade. Because of prohibition rum runners and speakeasies have moved to the skies in hot air balloons. Because I just recently reviewed another book from writer Andrew Maxwell I can say that his writing style takes que’s and homage from history and he often times gets the history so correct that the slight upgrades in style and fanciful additions are not only noticeable but it’s impossible to ignore and not give a nod of recognition to. I find myself looking at the writing and the art and saying cliche things like, “I see what you did there,” or “I like where you went with that.” Maxwell can take the slightest of twists and make them into something so epic an entire book can be based around it. None of what Maxwell does is crazy over the top and it all fits as far as concept and style but it is at the very height of what would be possible. Hot air balloons were a thing, not something so fancy as portrayed in Rum Row, but they existed, and the slight variance in style that is still within historical acceptance is what really stands out with Rum Row and other Maxwell writings. For a big fan of historical fiction like myself I couldn’t be more happy with a read than I was with Rum Row.
Another things I find Maxwell does really well is find a group of artists that suit the idea to a T. Bandini’s style as an artist is what I would consider more cartoon looking but I’m afraid that description doesn’t do his art justice. Bandini has a style that is perfect for Rum Row and his character design coupled with the look of the roaring 20’s is not only a great fit for the writing style but it’s very well suited for the feel that the 20’s gives. I would venture to say it personifies the roaring in the roaring 20’s, it’s very stylistic and not over the top at all. Everything from the character design to the hot air balloons are very realistic and true to what I expect to see, even though the thought of hot air balloons lining the sky’s is pretty out there. The color pallet that Dow presents is similar to the color pallet in the other Maxwell book I reviewed and it suits the world just fine. I feel like Dow’s coloring captures the feel of the history and really helps to accentuate the era the book is set in. Normally I like to set aside a paragraph for the letterer but since Rum Row is pretty much just Dialog balloons I will mention that Pruett’s lettering is solid and he does exactly what was asked, he keeps it consistently good throughout the book.
Rum Row is available on Comixology and I highly suggest giving it a look!