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Beyond Publishing – A Caribbean Milestone

Founded in 2011 on the sunbathed tropical island of Barbados, Beyond Publishing Caribbean was created by a coalition of passionate Caribbean artists and writers, themselves fans of comics, movies, anime, and books. It was established to be a platform for local and regional talent and creativity, with the agenda of advocating and popularizing their works under one banner. Brimming with a wealth of ideas and artistic acumen, Beyond Publishing comics highlight and incorporate Caribbean history, heritage, and culture in a variety of ways and genres.

From humble beginnings, Beyond Publishing has seen members come and go; and despite ongoing and daunting challenges, they remain resolute in their goal of producing quality comics with a distinct and authentic Caribbean flair. This avid commitment shared by its members over the past decade has resulted in progressive exposure on an international scale. Even with its small library of titles, the full breadth of its illustrative and narrative prowess is on display in every issue. Some of their prominent titles include:

Hardears

Hardears

Created by: Matthew Clarke & Nigel Lynch

Genre: Fantasy / Action-Adventure

Rated: T

Synopsis: Hardears is an Afro-Caribbean fantasy adventure that takes place in an alternative world on Jouvert Island; a magical analog of the island of Barbados and begins when a super-storm of unprecedented strength obliterates the island, leaving it totally defenseless. As the island reels from the devastation, Mr. Harding, the head of the Merchant Guild, charges in and promises to rebuild the economy of the island by creating jobs in his giant corporation. However, it’s soon discovered that Harding is a parasite and is capturing people from the island and using their life essence or vibes to feed his factories.

A scene from Hardears.


Summary: Arguably the most well-known title under their umbrella, Hardears was recently picked up and republished under Abraham Publishing in the United States. A colorful graphic novel steeped in local customs exaggerated under a Wonderland lens of fantasy, Hardears tells an entertaining tale with allusions to hegemony through industrialization. The story follows Bolo, a local hero, who saves his love Zahrah from Hardin and his cronies. But the lovers are then framed as rebels against the state. Together, they must find the strength of their island and ancestors to fight the evil forces that have taken over their homeland. The artwork is often flamboyant and surreal, leaving one breathless and in awe with almost every page.

Life & Death in Paradise.

Life & Death In Paradise

Created by: Matthew Clarke & Nigel Lynch

Genre: Crime

Rated: M

Synopsis: Welcome to Barbados 2015, the ‘new pelican isles’ were completed in 2008 and were home to some of the best golf courses, beachfront villas, and hotel-casinos in the Caribbean. This glitz and glamour, also brought a dark side, creating a deep dark underworld that fueled the luxurious lifestyle of the super-rich with drugs, sex, and other vices. Follow the lives of Keith, Dwayne, Jason, and Denise as they are all caught in the middle of this light and dark world where things are not so black and white.

A scene from Life & Death in Paradise.

Summary: Originally titled “All Shades of Grey”, until a certain notorious novel precipitated a revision of the series’ name, Life & Death In Paradise is a crime drama set in the quasi-real world. Like many popular crime dramas, this series is grounded in realism, both contextually and aesthetically, showcasing the morally murky world most would choose to not acknowledge. The characters come from different echelons of society, showing how they are all interconnected, and with their associated prejudices, qualms, and struggles on display for the reader. Taking advantage of its vibrant Caribbean setting, the series tells a very human story amongst its cast with authenticity to its narrative. Moreover, the commitment to detail in the art really brings to life (or death) a tropical paradise.

Heart Man

Heart Man

Created by: Matthew Clarke

Genre: Horror

Rated: M

Synopsis: The Heart Man is a character born of Barbadian folklore. A forgotten terror that haunted the night in past decades has returned to Bayker’s Ridge. Follow a group of young friends as they deal with the everyday trials of life; friendship, love, crime, drugs, and now mysterious disappearances and killings in Bayker’s Ridge.

A scene from Heart Man.

Summary: If you’re a fan of Freddy Krueger, or Candy Man, then Heart Man is right up your dark and creepy alley. Dripping with an eerie and unsettling atmosphere, Heart Man is a very visceral nightmare; made even more so by its stark, yet gruesomely detailed black & white pages. Fans of classic slashers might find this one appealing. The character’s authentic roots in old-school folklore make it far more frightening than your typical urban legend or new age cyber-horror. Issue #3 should be coming out soon, so you can check back for more on this scary title soon.

Offset

Offset

Created by: Delvin Howell & Tristan Roach

Genre: Action-Adventure / Anime-Fantasy

Rated: T

Synopsis: The Caribbean island of Bimshire became a dangerous place for Kyle Harding after his mother died. Kyle only finds comfort in the sugarcane his mother left behind. But when the shadows come for his life, Kyle begins to wonder if the cane would be enough to protect him and his family. Join Kyle Harding as he enters the underground of Bimshire and the world of the Dark Arcs.

A scene from Offset.

Summary: If you love shonen anime/manga and high-fidelity 2D fighting games, then Offset may speak to you. With homages, tropes, and clichés galore, Offset is unapologetic in its influences and inspiration. While not as over-the-top with ludicrous special attacks or incredibly overpowered adversaries, the well-choreographed fight scenes still invoke the kind of high-octane fervor of a battle between formidable superhuman combatants. Each character so far seems handpicked for a roster of a fighting game, each with a unique personality, stylistic flair, and distinct skill/specialty. Offset really is a guilty pleasure for fans of this genre, accentuated by the standout Afro-Caribbean setting, characters, and themes. It’s one easily recommended and appealing for a younger audience as well.

*NB: The weapon-based martial arts used by Kyle Harding is derived from “(Bajan) Stick-Licking” which is a real-life traditional form of stick fighting bred and born from African slaves on the eastern-most West Indian island of Barbados. It goes without saying that creative liberties were employed in the martial arts portrayal in the book.

Spirit Bear

Spirit Bear

Created by: Tristan Roach

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy / Superhero

Rated: 9+

Synopsis: In an alternate version of Barbados many years in the future where the supernatural and technology coexist as one, a nefarious plot is being hatched by both an ancient and modern treat, which serves to endanger the entire island. It is up to a masked vigilante Pride and a team of heroes to save the island by finding the ancient Kermode seals. The team will have to face numerous villains that stand in their way, led by the power hungry Mr. Harding who is equally determined as the heroes to accomplish his goals.

A scene from Spirit Bear.

Summary: Tristan’s Spirit Bear eclectically blends futuristic sci-fi, folklore fantasy, and superhero elements, all with a distinct Afro-Caribbean aesthetic. Unfortunately, there is only an Issue 0 available, which promises a rich and diverse lore with a story that may extend beyond generations, if not millennia. So if you’re hooked by the premise, you might have to wait sometime before we see the adventures of Pride and his companions come to fruition.

The Diary of the Stray Dogs

Diary of the Stray Dogs

Created by: Nigel Lynch, Tristan Roach

Genre: Cyberpunk, Action, Crime

Rated: M

Synopsis: Douglas St. James, a fearless mercenary is hired to bring a cyber-thief to justice, the mission causes a rift with his family and wakes the ghosts of his tormented past.

A page from The Diary of the Stray Dogs.

Summary: A brand new upcoming series, Diary of the Stray Dogs is somewhat of an anthology book following short achronological stories involving the titular ambivalent mercenaries known as the “Stray Dogs”. The setting is a gritty, neon-soaked cyberpunk dystopia mainly in the Caribbean; but some stories may take our protagonists (potentially) worldwide as they complete missions and get into skirmishes above their heads while struggling with the ramifications of their otherwise violent and amoral profession.

You can find out more about Beyond Publishing Caribbean at the following links:

Website: www.beyondpublishingcaribbean.com

Facebook: @beyondpublishingcaribbean

IG: @beyondpublishingcaribbean

For individual creators, you can find them on Instagram at:

Matthew Clarke          @mixchemist

Tristan Roach             @artofthecub

Nigel Lynch                 @piratemonkeys76

Delvin Howell              @offsetcomic / website – www.offsetseries.com


Hailing from the eastern-most Caribbean island of Barbados, Fabian Wood has long since been fascinated by the power of storytelling to inspire and invoke emotions – whether in film, comics, or videogames. No longer content to be just an avid comic book reader and videogamer, he’s eager to exercise his literary acumen as an aspiring writer and reviewer.

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