Hollywood icon Apollo Calloway has woken up in the unlikeliest of places - rural Ayrshire. A leader of the estate or a scapegoat of fate, Apollo prepares for his ultimate performance...
Written by Chris Kelso
Illustrated by Jim Agpalza
Paperback edition: ISBN 9781911143314
36 Pages Graphic Novel
Publication date 18/11/2017
E-Book Edition: ISBN 9781911143321 On Kindle and all other formats.
Praise for Chris Kelso:
“Someday soon people are going to be naming him as one of their own influences. He’s worth checking out.”
- INTERZONE magazine
“His writing is transgressive, erudite, shocking.”– Mary Turzillo, NEBULA winner
“Will Self meets Chuck Palahniuk”
-Former People magazine
Praise for Jim Agpalza:
"Jim Agpalza's art is 100% pure concentrated aggro. Disturbingly terrific." - Seb Doubinsky, author of The Babylonian Trilogy
“Agpalza’s art and Kelso’s writing come together for a definitive weird experience. Genuine underground magic.”
-Garrett Cook, author of A God of Hungry Walls
4* - This is a cool little comic that I was glad to have the opportunity to check out.
First off, the artwork is beautiful. The black and white, pencil work is evocative of a simplistic style of art but the detail is actually quite extensively done. It's the kind of art that grows more impressive as you take the time to actually look it over.
I found the structure of the comic to be innovative and done well. Often with comics there is very little narrative voice to speak of and much of the story is driven by the dialogue and the action. With this, you get what I think is a cool hybrid of novel and comic.
I also liked the story, living in a kind of middle ground between David Lynch and Kafka. I liked the surrral and frightening tones to this universe. I don't know if there are plans for more, but this seems to be a good launching pad for future installments. Still, it also functions effectively as a standalone as well.
5* - "This is a graphic novel from the twilight zone, fleshed out by the chimerical mind of Chris Kelso and brought to life by Jim Agpalza's bold artwork. Kelso's Slave State is brought to mind by the impoverished estate on which this drama takes place. The atmosphere is bleak, and the lack of hope is clearly drawn out by both the artist and the story's characters. The Council keeps its citizens under control through the practice of eugenics, while the narrator - a talking haggis - may be spouting propaganda. Can a hero remain strong under the the influence of those around him? This short graphic novel leaves the reader with much food for thought. I greatly hope that this talented duo continues to work together on this exciting new endeavor." By Janiec on Amazon.com
"A bizzaro twilight zone episode played out on the page.”
Apollo Unbound is a thirty-six page comic penned by the super talented Chris Kelso, featuring fantastic illustrations by Jim Agpalza that brings the tale to life. By the end of reading the comic, both of these gentlemen will be on your watch list…if they aren’t already.
The artwork is top-notch and really shows Jim Agpalza’s dedication to his work in bringing the author’s imagination to life. The story is bizarre, brutal, and yet hits close to home on subjects happening all around us, involving the dangers of being an outsider and getting branded as an undesirable. It’s a very quick read yet also quite satisfying like a bizzaro twilight zone episode played out on the page. It has a touch of dark humor in the form of an omnipresent narrator who gets on Apollo’s nerves and a cast of other miscreants who rabidly attack any and all who break the laws of the council of Ayrshire. It’s dark and odd, like a strange nightmare, but packs a punch that will leave the audience hoping for Kelso and Agplaza to team up for more mayhem. Grab this one for your commute or a wait in the doctor’s office, those are both hell but the story of Apollo Calloway will definitely take your mind for a joyride it will never forget.
Review by Michelle Garza for This Is Horror.
5*: Scottish writer Chris Kelso has always wanted to add a graphic novel to his growing list of publications. With wonderfully evocative illustrations from American artist Jim Agpalza and a surreal yet entertaining story, Apollo Unbound is a dream realised.
Kelso draws inspiration from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound: A Lyrical Drama in Four Acts, something he openly admits to from the outset in the opening three panels, accompanied by Agpalza’s fantastic renditions of a damp and depressing Scottish urban landscape. Living in the west of Scotland, I can attest to the authenticity of these images. Indeed, I would have to say that, unless the artist has visited Scotland, Kelso must have provided photographs. Even so, the way he captures the graffiti-covered building and the detritus of human rubbish amongst the trees is remarkable.
As is his depiction of the filthy lodgings and surrounding area of Kelso’s main character, Oscar-winning actor, Apollo Calloway, who awakens in this strange place, unsure of how he got there. When he realises he isn’t in a “Four Seasons or his Malibu estate” he takes a look out the window and guesses he may be in a third world country! So begins his nightmarish journey through the daily life of a housing estate in Ayrshire, as narrated by an omnipresent and dispassionate male voiceover, always out of shot, but depicted by an image of a haggis.
Kelso delivers rich and full characters which, although to be expected from such an accomplished author, is no mean feat given the short length of the graphic novel.
Kelso ramps up the surrealism in act two as Apollo seems to have come to terms with life on the housing estate. He seems to be suffering from depression and an identity crisis as he wonders if he ever was a famous movie star, or if he dreamt it. He has succumbed to the lifestyle, and even adopted some of the native language. But after a visit from council representatives, Apollo rails against God, spurring him into action. But, when given the opportunity to return to his high-flying lifestyle by turning on a seemingly innocent friend, will Apollo continue his quest against the higher power? Or will he take the easy way out?
Fans of Kelso’s previous work may see this as something of a departure, but we know by now that he is not a writer to be confined and defined by a single genre or style. The bleak storyline and grim setting are perfectly complimented by Agpalza’s wonderfully detailed art, which, despite the subject matter, is beautiful in its own strange way. Some readers unfamiliar with Scottish culture may not fully appreciate a couple of the scenes (Larry suggesting he recognises Apollo from Scottish soap opera Take the High Road was especially funny), but it doesn’t detract from the overall story.
Personally, I am only vaguely aware of the story of Prometheus Unbound, so cannot say to what extent the graphic novel is similar to that story. But as a blend of bleak social commentary and surreal social horror it certainly delivers. Kelso doesn’t hold back in his depiction of a Scottish housing scheme at the edge of society and lacking in human compassion. And some of the images portrayed by Agpalza are more haunting than some so-called horror movies from Hollywood. If you are looking for something a little different to whatever book you just read, but is all the more beautiful for it, check out Apollo Unbound.
The marriage of Kelso’s quality prose and Agpalza’s intricate artwork is a match made in heaven. It’s surreal and it’s haunting. But, above all, it is a unique work of art that is unlike anything else I have read." By Thomas Joice on Grim Reader Reviews.
5* - This was a great little find. It's a comic, 36 pages, which reads nicely on the iPad Pro, as you can enlarge the pages to read comfortably.
There is something in Kelso's writing that makes you think of David Lynch - surreal storyline, but compelling viewing.
You feel dragged into the estate alongside the main character, wanting to know how you got there and why. It keeps you reading.
Agpalza's imagery and style are very fitting for the story. There is an ugliness in the souls of the characters around the protagonists, which Agpalza's linework brings out really well.
After you finish the story, look at the cover again, and notice all the details, if you haven't done that already - it will make sense." By Trixter76 on Amazon.co.uk/.com
5* "This is a graphic novel from the twilight zone, fleshed out by the chimerical mind of Chris Kelso and brought to life by Jim Agpalza's bold artwork. Kelso's Slave State is brought to mind by the impoverished estate on which this drama takes place. The atmosphere is bleak, and the lack of hope is clearly drawn out by both the artist and the story's characters. The Council keeps its citizens under control through the practice of eugenics, while the narrator - a talking haggis - may be spouting propaganda. Can a hero remain strong under the the influence of those around him? This short graphic novel leaves the reader with much food for thought. I greatly hope that this talented duo continues to work together on this exciting new endeavor." Janie C on Goodreads
4* "Apollo Calloway awakes in a dirty room in a run down area of Scotland. Not sure where he is or how he got there, his first encounter outside the decrepit building with others is not a pleasant one. He flees back to his room clearly shaken and confused. As he puts together more of the pieces of his new surroundings, the reality is more surreal and bleak than he imagined. The Council are the authority here, and have unethically sinister ways of dealing with so called “undesirables.” Since Apollo is an outsider with a foreign accent, he just may be labelled as such if discovered.This collaboration is quite a match. The artwork depicts the bare and nearly inhospitable surroundings with beautiful accuracy. While short, there is much more going on in this graphic novel when you get into it. A second read gave me much more than the first. The character of Larry Ferguson stood out to me as a mysterious one that gave an intriguing push and pull in the story’s development. I hope to see more like this from both Chris Kelso and Jim Agpalza." By Rodney on Goodreads