Reviewer: Paul Sebert
Art: Reed Waller
Script & Plot: Reed Waller & Kate Worley
Debuting in the pages of an anthology magazine named Vootie in 1978, Omaha is one of the longest running, and important indy comics of all time. It’s also one of the most controversial titles in comics history. In 1986 store owner Michael Correa was arrested on on the charge of selling obscene material, causing Omaha’s Publisher Denis Kitchen start what would come to be known as the comic book legal defense fund. At one point in Canada the Toronto police force seized copies of the book absurdly claiming it was bestiality porn. Still despite these instances Omaha would become a very respected within the comics industry due to the quality of it’s art, the humanity of its writing, and the realism of it’s dialog. The New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification praised the book for it’s responsible praised it’s responsible depictions of human sexuality and actually ruled it as all ages acceptable material. Neil Gaiman even wrote an introduction to one of the books collections.
Alas Omaha’s history was not just troubled by controversy but also the demise of Kitchen Sink press, a car accident injuring creators Reed Waller and Kate Worley. Finally publication ceased after a very public falling out its creators. In 2003 the two reunited to begin writing a finale to the series, but alas tragedy struck as Kate Worley was diagnosed with cancer passing away on June 6th, 2004. She will be missed.
Now using her notes, Kate Worley’s husband James Vance has collaborated with artist Reed Waller to write out the final chapter of Omaha’s adventures which is currently serialized Sizzle magazine. The original stories meanwhile are now being reprinted in series of trade collections from Amerotica. The first collection is an assortment of very early (and somewhat rough) Omaha strips written and drawn by Waller with newer flashback prequel stories. There are also several pin-ups from “The Erotic Art of Reed Waller.”
The second volume however shows the beginning of Worley’s influence on the title as the characters become more human, the soap opera plots become more prominent, and the cast of characters expand. We also see Reed Waller maturing as an artist as the linework becomes cleaner, the body language more pronounced and the facial expressions more nuanced.
As volume one came to a close Omaha and her boyfriend Chuck found themselves as pawns in an extortion scheme involving a mysterious figure named Charlie and a business rival with political aspirations named Andrea DeRoc. This began with a scheme set forth by Charlie to have the city council enact new blue laws shutting down all of the city’s strip clubs leaving his own private, illegal, and very expensive secret club the only game in town. After DeRoc secretly drugs the clubs patrons on opening night our heroine and her lover barely manages to escape with their lives. Omaha’s best friend Shelley is not so lucky as in the chaos she is shot by a hired hitman targeting Chuck and apparently killed in the chaos. Charlie is revealed to be Chuck’s clearly insane father, and with Chuck’s ex-girlfriend turned company spy Joanie in tow the young lovers flee to San Fransisco. Soon after they arrive they manage to survive another attempt on their lives. Oh and along the way Omaha and Chuck had lots and lots of naked sex.
Soon after volume 2 opens up Omaha finds herself kidnapped by Charles who claims he has to keep her under lock and key to protect her from DeRoc. Omaha makes a startling discovery about what exactly happened that night at the club. Chuck will be forced to confront his father before everything is solved but he, like Omaha must deal with guilt, separation and temptation. Oh and there’s lots and lots of naked sex.
Now unless you’re one of those repressed misogynistic types for whom the mere sight of a exposed woman’s mammary gland throws you in a fit of range, it’s actually pretty hard to see how a book like Omaha could cause so much trouble. Though graphic, the erotic scenes never feel sleazy. They’re joyously drawn and good natured. Though sometimes in these early tales characters sometimes seem a little too eager to shed their clothes just to spice things up.
Omaha isn’t so much a “furry sex” comic as book about endearing human characters with complex histories, motivations, and emotions whom also just happen to have animalistic traits that really seem to enjoy having sex. It is a work of artistic merit and creativity.
Note: Due its graphic nature, I was not able to include the original cover to this trade. Instead attached is the cover of Omaha #2 from Kitchen Sink press.