Ben Mitchell’s Ghost Beach

COMIC KID: Ben Mitchell holds a copy of his second comic book, Don't Panic. He will soon release his third, Ghost Beach. Picture: Mitch Lee
COMIC KID: Ben Mitchell holds a copy of his second comic book, Don't Panic. He will soon release his third, Ghost Beach. Picture: Mitch Lee

SET in a beachside city, where the residents love coffee and there is a push to remove the rail line, Ben Mitchell’s latest comic book explores “what you are afraid of”.

The first in his comic book series was Storm Clouds.  It was published in 2013 and is now in its fourth edition. The 60 page comic follows the story of a missing criminal suspect Jared Paige. 

“It’s like a big crime, who-done-it, mystery,” Mitchell said. “The thing people like about it most was it was very obviously set in Newcastle.

“When I wrote that one I had a lot of Twin Peaks on my mind,” Mitchell said. “I like the idea that the most important character is the one you haven’t met yet.” 

In 2014, came the prequel, Don’t Panic. 

The new comic Ghost Beach promises to be a “page turner” and will be launched on December 1. 

“Some police officers from Sydney are tasked with finding a new drug called Sway, which has made its way to this town,” he said. 

“In doing so we meet our protagonist Jared who has had an accident on a train, he is very worried about people finding out.

“Someone knows about it and he is very frightened about that. A lot of the characters are dealing with the things they are most anxious about and afraid of coming to fruition. It’s about how people deal with fear and pressure in different ways.” 

Ghost Beach takes a stylistic jump from the earlier books. It looks “dirtier” and has a “grittiness” to it. It’s also bigger at 108 pages. 

“It looks darker and grungier this time around,” he said.  “A lot of things that have happened to me personally are in this one.

“I learned how to cook, I learned how to run and I learned how to deal with anxiety. I grew up. All that is in there.” 

There are four central characters, Jared, Charlie, Chino and Frankie. 

“No one character is me, that’s a dangerous trap to fall into as a writer. There is a bit of me in all of them,” Mitchell said.  

The comics are hand-printed on a risograph press.

“It’s a speciality printing, which sets it apart from most other comic books,” Mitchell said. 

The method gives it a bold, old school look. 

Mitchell is inspired by some of the big names of comics: Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware and Adrian Tomine and he reckons the series is good for at least two more books. 

“I still have a little bit more of the story I’d like to tell,” he said. 

The books are sold in comic stores around Australia and the US. But you can pick up your own copy at the launch at the Press Book House, 462 Hunter Street, on December 1. Kicks off at 7pm.

 thestormclouds.com