The cover of “Box Office Poison Color Comics #5” features Ed Velasquez sitting on a chair, in front of an easel, illustrating for Mr. Irving Flavor. Readers will also see Flavor’s character, “Nightstalker,” on the cover chanting his famous phrase, “Justice comes by night!” There’s also a portrait of Flavor on the backside of the easel, and a character that almost looks like Barney, the purple dinosaur. Readers know by now that Ed’s dream is to work in the comic book industry, but what does this cover reveal? What is Ed really working on? How are Ed and Mr. Flavor going to get along? And seriously, what’s up with this Barney-looking character? All is revealed inside from writer and illustrator Alex Robinson, colorist Pat N. Lewis, editor Carlos Guzman, and publisher Ted Adams for IDW Publishing and Top Shelf Productions.
The story begins with Ed sitting at an art table, while listening to the song, “Autumn In New York,” by Billie Holiday. This song is very chill…very relaxing, a song that Mr. Flavor would listen to since he’s been in the comic book industry for years (not sure if artists still listen to jazz while drawing comics, it all depends on the individual). Here readers will see that Ed’s drawing a dopey, dinosaur-like character. The one-page intro ends when Mr. Flavor says good morning to Ed. Then the story shifts to a full, typed-up page, for a story about a bookstore clerk named Grant, and the customers that ask him questions that are somewhat obnoxious. For people who work in retail or have done so in the past, they’ll understand and relate to this story. It’s clear that the story on the typed-up page is in reference to Sherman Davies and his typical day working at the bookstore.
The story shifts over to Dorothy and Sherman, and Dorothy’s reading Sherman’s story. After discussing it over, the conversation shifts around, then Sherman asks Dorothy if she wants to go to the movies with Ed and him. Because it’s for the superhero movie, “Nightstalker IV,” Dorothy shows no interest, so she tells Sherman to make it a “boy’s night out.” Sherman also asks Dorothy if he can go to her place on Saturday night, but her reaction to this is a little awkward, but she agrees to this. It’s a moment where readers will wonder why she reacted this way.
The following part of the story is key to this book, the conversations that Mr. Flavor has with Ed are so impactful. First, readers will see what Mr. Flavor thinks of Ed’s illustration of the dinosaur-like, Barney-esque character. THEN readers will find out what Ed’s assignment is really for. The best part is when Mr. Flavor talks about the comic book industry…past and present. It was an eye-opener, and it makes someone think how much of this conversation is for story purposes, and how much of it is true in the real world. Mr. Flavor’s words are deep, more so later on, when Ed asks Flavor if he could pay him, and afterward when Ed tells Flavor that he’s going to the movies with his friend to watch, “Nightstalker IV.” The look on Flavor’s face once Ed leaves for the night, it can’t be described with words, but readers will feel the emotions.
This issue ends with Ed and Sherman going to the movie, and this is nice to see, because even though they don’t hang out as much as they used to, readers can see how strong their friendship is. They can be true to themselves, they can talk about anything, curse at each other, be honest, form their own opinions on things, and have a great time hanging out once more. A major revelation unfolds once the movie is over, so much that Ed is in a state of shock. Once Ed arrives home later on that night, he has a brief conversation with his mom, and then he heads to bed, with a different outlook on…things. The last page features the page that asks the cast of characters a question, and in this issue the question is, “What’s the strangest place you’ve made whoopee?” Readers can see the hysterical answers from Sherman, Ed, Dorothy, Jane, James, Stephen, and Mr. Flavor. The back pages have the “Box Office Post-Script,” like the previous four issues, and an eight-page free digital ashcan preview for “The Four Color Comic Book History of Comics” series.
I’ve been saying this month after month, this is a series that gets better with each issue. More revelations are explained in this story, surprises, and the little things that people deal with in their everyday lives. Seeing these issues return in print and now digitally…in full color, makes “Box Office Poison” that much better. It’s also nice to revisit this series and these characters, and read these stories all over again. It’s the equivalent to visiting old friends that you’ve missed for so long. The characterization is written that well, and the artwork unquestionably brings these characters to life.
Overall, this is another issue of “Box Office Poison” that I highly recommend. The story progresses smoothly, and the pinnacle scene with Mr. Flavor and Ed, it was full of emotions, industry facts, and surprises. This issue is brilliant, it has every aspect of giving these characters life, and readers will notice these moments by reading the story and seeing the expressions on their faces. I rate this issue 4.8 Geek-Heads out of 5, fans of independent comics should definitely give this series a read. “Box Office Poison Color Comics #5” may be purchased digitally HERE from ComiXology.
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