Friday, March 11, 2005

1000 Steps to World Domination... and A Free Giveaway!

When I first read Rob Osborne’s remarkable 1000 Steps to World Domination, I wrote a review for Millarworld that began with the words, “I feel great.”

Just moments ago, I finished a re-read of the book, and I gotta say: it worked again.

1000 Steps is the AiT/Planet Lar edition of a mini-comic that won the 2003 Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics. When I picked it up at the release party, I knew it would be good – Comic Pimp James Sime had been extolling its many virtues from the moment he’d read it, to the point that I asked him to stop because I was worried he’d build it up too much – but I was completely unprepared for what an exciting and mature book it turned out to be.

Do I mean mature as in “complex relationships between conflicted, soulful characters”? Do I mean mature as in “violence and nudity galore”? Lord no. I mean this looks like the work of somebody who’s been cartooning for a long time and has really honed his craft. This is professional comics, make no mistake. "Mini-comic" does not translate automatically to "amateurish crap," as I once thought, in my younger, more foolish days. If anything, it may often translate, and 1000 Steos is certainly an example, to an endeavor of real dedication and passion. One thing is made crystal-fucking-clear in these pages: Rob Osborne loves comics.

So, what do I mean by exciting? Explosions everywhere and a relentless, bullet-paced plot? Hell no. This isn’t a full story in the traditional sense, though the character development is deceptively subtle. This is a manifesto. This is a call to arms. This is what everyone should read who can’t figure out if they’re really passionate about comics, or if it’s just a hobby to them.

As far as the actual, literal content goes: 1000 Steps is a series of mostly self-contained pages that build on each other and deliver an overarching message, along the lines of the week-long stories Bill Watterson used to do (like when Calvin lost Hobbes and finally discovered him at Susie’s tea party, for example). There are a number of running stories that intersperse with each other: there’s Rob Osborne himself, discussing his plan to overthrow the earth with comics (using dialogue from real conversations with his wife, Sarah) and locked in a life-and-death struggle with a monkey literally on his back; there’s an alien invader, stuck with anal-probe duty when all he wants to do is overthrow the earth; God shows up and gives Rob advice now and then, including a recommendation that he takes naps after large meals; and there’s a clever spin on the old tortoise and the hare story, with a pissed-off, determined tortoise talking shit to the rabbit. There’s also an extended sequence called “The War Of Art,” which declares that “Conquest is the primary aim of comics,” while an Asian influence takes over the artwork, putting me in mind of some of Scott Morse’s sequences in his best book, Soulwind. Osborne’s actual style is quite different (and much more accessible), but the eclectic influences are there in both men’s art.

Really, while Osborne is beating the drum here for his plan to take over the world through comics, I think this stuff could be inspiring and funny to anyone. The fundamental lesson isn’t a particularly new one (“Bust your ass to succeed at all times and you will be an exceptional person,” basically) but the delivery is clever and compelling, with a unique sense of humor that’ll charm your pants off and an account of the challenges Osborne’s fought along the way that takes itself just seriously enough.

Wonderful stuff. I feel great, again, and I owe it to Rob Osborne.

And now we come to the fulfillment of my promise: the first Zealot’s Lore giveaway! Ever the benevolent world-dominator, Mr. Osborne is teaming with me to give away five copies of his mini-comic “Go Forth & Conquer!" completely free!

Well, there’s one small catch. If you’re clever, though, you can turn that catch into an opportunity.

You have to write a poem. Not a long one, if you don’t want! Write a haiku! The only restriction is that it must be a poem touting the virtues of World Conquest. Type it up, e-mail it to Rob at, and include your mailing address. Rob’s five favorite poems will get a free copy of the “Go Forth And Conquer!” mini-comic, and the best one will get a free copy of 1000 Steps to World Domination! See, you won’t even have to spend any money to see if my review was malarkey. You can find out without spending a dime!

I’ll get the ball rolling, just in case you’re feeling shy:

To conquer the world
Is my favorite thing;
Much better than packages
Wrapped up with string.

…see? My poem totally sucked ass! There’s no need to be shy!

Now get cracking and win your free comics!

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