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WV author takes graphic novel to the people

By Staff | Aug 28, 2014

Authors and filmmakers Daniel Boyd, left, and William Bitner chat with fans at the River City Comic Con in Marietta, Ohio on July 27. Boyd’s new graphic novel, “Carbon,” is out now. JASMINE ROGERS

Ashes to ashes. Carbon to carbon.

In his new graphic novel, Carbon, West Virginia native Daniel Boyd mixes his well-known brand of horror with a timely tale of ecological apathy to paint a cautionary story of what happens when man begins to neglect the elements that sustain him.

“If there is a god, god’s mandate is to live in balance with the world. (Carbon) is another story of man not being able to maintain that equilibrium,” explained Boyd.

Carbon is an origin story, in that it takes readers back to the beginning of time man sprung from the elements-carbon among them-and immediately began abusing them.

But in a more subtle way, the story is also an origin story for Boyd, who has been looking for way to share the environmental views that he formed as he was living smack dab in the middle of the billion dollar coal fields of Mingo County-a way that is zero percent preachy and 100 percent entertaining, explained Boyd.

“Over ten years ago, it hit me, the sort of packing was this idea of going back to the basic element of carbon,” he said.

The element is found in human life, and of course, in coal-the holy grail of the story.

Set in the fictional coal mining town of Eden Hollow, W.Va., the woes of Eden’s residents are familiar. Saddled with undrinkable water and their history peppered with unexplained mining accidents, the residents of Eden Hollow soldier on at the only profession made available to them.

Our protagonist, Jacob “Heat” Hatfield, has seemingly found a way out of this fate. But at one perfect pitch away from baseball’s big league, Hatfield shares an unfortunate commonality with the villain, bloated energy tycoon Rod Dickenson. Both are willing to go a step too far to catapult their careers.

Of course, while Hatfield’s misstep merely brings about the end of his baseball dreams, Dickenson’s could bring about the end of the world.

Released Aug. 18 – while consequences a January (coal-related) chemical spill are still lingering in West Virginia water systems – the story is a timely one. And Boyd hopes using the graphic novel as a medium will bring more people into that conversation, said Boyd.

“Real change requires a mass audience. I just hope this will bring more people to this conversation,” he said.

While the tale of corporate profits above personal welfare is unfortunately not new, Carbon is no CNN scroll bar story. An experienced filmmaker – he and pal William Bitner are perhaps best known for the 1988 horror cult classic “Chillers” – Boyd tapped into his passion for the horror genre to create a (possibly) apocalyptic tale complete with ashen titans and flying she-demons.

“First and foremost, it needs to be entertaining,” said Boyd.

The work is not Boyd’s first foray into graphic novels. That transition started with “Death Falcon Zero Vs. The Zombie Slug Lords,” first a movie that Boyd and Bitner then shifted to a graphic novel when they were unsatisfied with the direction the film was taking.

From there, the pair began rekindling their “Chillers” franchise, which now has two critically-acclaimed graphic novels to its name and more in the works.

But it is Carbon that has been quietly nagging Boyd to be made for years.

“It was the movie I was never going to get big enough into the film industry to make,” said Boyd.

That does not mean Carbon will never grace the big screen. Publisher Caliber Comics already has a management company shopping the graphic work for film and television rights.

The graphic novel is available for purchase now at local comic shops, Amazon, and on Boyd’s website, www.danielboyd.com.