Van Jensen’s Mom On Cryptocracy #1 by Van Jensen & Pete Woods

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Van Jensen&#8217;s Mom On <i>Cryptocracy</I> #1 by Van Jensen & Pete Woods

At Paste, we constantly encourage our journalists to do as much research as possible into the writers and illustrators we cover—to know their passions, motivations, histories and fears. Then we had an epiphany: nobody knows as much about these creators as the people from whom they emerged.

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Jean Jensen—also an artist —has been intimately familiar with the writer of Cryptocracy for more than three decades, seeing as she raised him. Her son, Van, wrote this new creator-owned series after years of scripting The Flash, Green Lantern Corps and Pinocchio Vampire Slayer. In reviewing this title—a thrilling exploration of clandestine organizations, paranoia and conspiracies illustrated by Pete Woods—we couldn’t think of a reviewer with more insight into its origins than Ms. Jensen, ethics be damned. Cryptocracy #1 launches on June 29th courtesy Dark Horse Comics.

Happy Mother’s Day.

When Van was eight, we forced him and his sister into 4-H, which meant rearing a bucket calf. After selling the calf months later at the fair, his one-page essay about the project was quite brief: “I named my calf George and I had a lot of fun training my calf.” I read those few words, looked at him and said, “Well, you’ll never have a career as a writer.” What I hadn’t expected was that Van would have a career using very few words to explain complex story lines writing comic books and graphic novels. (He did have early experience writing fiction, though—I don’t recall that he had that much fun training George.)

What Van did have was a childhood playing in the wilds along Blue Creek with a sister, cousins and friends with many free hours to develop imaginative stories and characters—a willow tree became a pirate ship, and a hollow cottonwood was home to a family of fairies. That creativity shows up early in Cryptocracy, which dives into a world of dark matter, Roswell, Illuminati, priests and prophesies and trained plasma. It’s a conspiratorial, complex story, worth a couple of readings to follow the characters and set-up for the story line.

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Cryptocracy #1 Interior Art by Pete Woods

We see a hint of Van’s beliefs in the protagonist, Grahame, an agent of the secret all-controlling organization, who risks his mission to cure a young boy, having promised the boy’s father to do so. Cryptocracy also features strong female characters and the plot turns the readers’ expectations inside out—the shadowy rulers with all the power are actually the heroes of the story, and they come under attack from a mysterious source.

Beyond my bias for the author, I have to mention the fabulous artwork of Pete Woods. The Grays eating Doritos…style and color changes with various settings, action and holographic images expand the story line. It is worth reading just for the illustrations—though the sparse words certainly don’t hurt.

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Cryptocracy #1 Interior Art by Pete Woods