Brothers Create Superhero to Defend Eastern Shore

Capital News Service

SNOW HILL – Batman defends Gotham City. Superman keeps Metropolis safe from criminals.

“The Fall,” a new superhero created by brothers Mat and Josh Shockley, patrols the small towns and beaches of a less glamorous place — Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

The two Snow Hill artists — who began drawing comics more than two decades ago — run PLB Comics, an independent, six-year-old enterprise centered on a mystical character who defends a real place that rarely appears in comic stores.

“You hear about superheroes in big cities all the time and we just wanted to put (The Fall) down here,” said Mat Shockley, a 29-year-old high school art teacher. “It’s kind of easier to write about the area you know.”

With the help of several local contributing artists, PLB Comics has published six anthology issues, two of which were solely dedicated to The Fall character.

From the Ocean City Boardwalk to the docks in Salisbury, Eastern Shore locations — where the brothers grew up — serve as a backdrop for the vigilante hero’s exploits.

“Ocean City, she is mine,” The Fall thinks aloud at the beginning of one issue. “Forever feeding me and my relentless hunger for man’s atonement…and tonight, I’m going to get my fill.”

“Crime really happens everywhere, no matter if you live in a big place or a small place,” said Josh Shockley, 32, who also works as an administrator at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. “It’s kind of universal.”

All issues are priced between $2 and $3, depending on prevailing comic prices in the seven stores in Maryland, Delaware and Texas that sell them.

Billy Vogt, who owns Capital Comics in downtown Annapolis, sells PLB Comics on consignment.

“Obviously, it’s not going to sell as much as your average Marvel or DC book — those are like the two biggest companies — but there is definitely a market for that kind of stuff,” he said.

From the beginning, each issue of PLB Comics has sold enough to keep printing new issues, Josh Shockley said.

The digital revolution is bringing change to the comic book market, but PLB Comics said they have no plans to turn all digital.

“We’re always going to print a book,” said James Dufendach, PLB Comics’ editor. “We are never going to go all digital.”

The Shockleys — who both have art degrees from the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore — said that their comics remain, “a labor of passion.”

“You really, really have to enjoy what you are doing and just be incredibly dedicated to it,” Mat Shockley said. “Because sometimes the money is just not there.”