Comic Shots #8 with Chris Neseman: Mint Julep and ‘Loveless’

September 11, 2008

Each week Chris Neseman drops by to pass along a tasty drink recipe and an even tastier comic book recommendation. The cocktail and the comic can both be enjoyed independently, but they have a common theme and when served together they can make for the perfect reading experience.


Welcome to the fourth and final week of Bourbon Month! If you’ve been playing along at home you should have a better appreciation for America’s Official Spirit and some of the fantastic mixed drinks you can make with it. You may also need several aspirin. For the final Bourbon selection I’ve picked a classic and storied drink that is tied to one of America’s most popular sporting events. There’s really no way to write a series of Bourbon suggestions and omit the Mint Julep. Every year since 1938 this has been the official drink of The Kentucky Derby, and Derby Day isn’t complete unless you have one of these sweet and refreshing cocktails. The origin of the Mint Julep is cloudy, but there’s no denying it’s modern popularity. With the exception of the Indy 500 winner drinking milk, there’s no other major spectator event that embraces a drink like The Derby and it’s Juleps. So let’s get going with this week’s drink. I present to you The Mint Julep.

Mint Julep
• 4 fresh mint sprigs
• 2 1/2 oz bourbon whiskey
• 1 tsp powdered sugar (granulated works in a pinch)
• 2 tsp water

There’s a little bit of prep involved with a Mint Julep, but it’s well worth it. If you’ve ever made a Mojito you already know the process. Think of a Mint Julep as a Mojito with Bourbon instead of Rum, because that’s exactly what it is. Grab a tall glass of your choice, doesn’t really matter unless you want to look official with a Derby Glass. I personally use a pint glass, but you can’t go wrong with a collins or highball glass. It should be noted that special silver or pewter Derby Glasses are traditionally used by many on Derby Day, and that’s OK if you don’t mind your Julep tasting like a roll of pennies. Stick with the glass. Place your sugar in the glass, and add your water. If you have to use granulated sugar I suggest using warm water to help dissolve the sugar. Once your sugar is dissolved you can drop in three of the mint leaves. You need to muddle (or lightly bruise) the mint with bar pestle to release the oils in the leaves and mix with the drink. Pour in your Bourbon (I use Jim Beam for my Juleps) and then fill the glass just shy of the top with crushed ice. Place your last mint leaf on top of the ice and you’re all set. The Mint Julep is a perfect drink for lazy afternoons from late spring to early fall. The mint adds a perfect snap to the drink and the extra sweet from the sugar makes these very dangerous. You can forget very quickly that you’re drinking whiskey and end up passed out in the bathroom of your best friends house during the 2005 Kentucky Derby party. Uh, not that I would know.

Once you grab a straw you can sit back and watch the Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports, or read a comic with lots of horses in it:

Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Marcelo Frusin

Loveless is a Western. That statement probably stopped a lot of people from reading any further. That’s too bad, because it’s not only a good Western, it’s a very solid comic book. Genre books already have a niche audience in the comics community, and convincing someone to read a crime, horror or western title is no easy task. Westerns in-particular have a tough time drawing in readers for some reason. Jonah Hex has been a very entertaining title for DC proper, and Loveless is its darker Vertigo cousin. There’s a lot of appeal in both of these books for those of us who enjoy watching a Sergio Leone movie on Sunday afternoons. The simple setting of the high plains where a man could ride out and make his own destiny with his sweat and a shotgun is at the heart of the Western. The history of the American West is fascinating and can often be extremely violent. Loveless embraces this and accomplishes something that your American History class in High School probably wasn’t able to. It captures the tension of a country ripped apart by the Civil War and gives us a deeper understanding of Southern and Western culture in the Reconstruction Era. A text book can give you dates and a general understanding of the events, but the drama of a story placed during the era carries a far heavier weight. Loveless builds this reality by weaving a complex web of characters that all have their own motivations. The returning rebel soldier, the recently freed yet not liberated black man, the business man who sees profit in the post war and the Northern soldiers turned “peace keepers” are all pieces of a larger tapestry. Every character in Loveless seems to exist in the grey areas between good and evil and they are constantly looking for an edge to get ahead. Each interaction between characters is part of a high stakes chess match that has the players headed for an inevitable collision. The central character is Wes Cutter, the rebel soldier who is returning to the town of Blackwater. His motivations are cloudy at best, and after the conclusion of the first arc the reader is left to ponder if revenge, vengeance or rebuilding his lost life are his goals. It may be all of those things.

For me, Loveless is a perfect example of a series that didn’t grab me in single issues, but I really enjoyed as a collection. Brian Azzarello is one of my favorite modern comic book writers, and that’s why I went back to read this when the trade came out. His 100 Bullets series is going to be looked back on as one of the great comic book accomplishments of the 2000s, so I figured I was missing something with Loveless the first time around. Sure enough, I found myself much more engrossed by this story of Reconstruction Era Missouri when I could sit down and read it in a big chunk. Azzarello has a great feel for the large scope story that takes time to develop. With Loveless the characters are placed on the board early, but the act of moving them into position takes a few issues. As with 100 Bullets, there is a tremendous amount of backstory that is only hinted at in the early stages. This is where Azzarello is at his best. The connections between characters creates a multitude of emotionally fueled directions they can go. Each move of of the chess pieces affects the others, and just when you think one person has the advantage, everything changes.

The art of Marcelo Frusin and colors of Patricia Mulvihill are a perfect match for the rustic setting and rugged story. Loveless is a story that requires a certain amount of grit without too much flash. Frusin captures the era well and Mulvihill’s muted color pallet sets the feel of the 1870s frontier. With the interactions between characters so important, the art must be able to convey every expression clearly, and quite often the look in a person’s eyes is all you need. The locations and accuracy of dress and architecture are never in doubt. Loveless just feels right when you open it, and that is testament to a period piece.


To wrap things up, I would encourage anyone who enjoys Jonah Hex or 100 Bullets to check out the first trade of Loveless. The monthly series has come to an end, but the entirety is scheduled to be released in trade. I hope the rest of the series lives up to the very solid beginning presented in the five issue A Kin Of Homecoming story arc. I hope you take the time to mix up a Mint Julep and sit down with Loveless. The combination of a slow easy drink and an artfully crafted story that unfolds over time can make for a great afternoon or evening. Thanks for reading and drinking, and see everyone back next week for another round of Comic Shots!


Chris Neseman is the host of The Around Comics Podcast and a co-host of the 11 O’Clock Comics podcast. You can contact him at and suggest a cocktail or comic of your own, because good drinks and good comics should be shared.

Please obey the law and only drink if you are of age. Drink responsibly and never drink and drive. Buy the comics that make you happy, and when they do, pass them on!



  1. NICE Match up!!!!  Tell ya what, I haven’t had a mint julep in about a year.  Damn you Neseman, it looks like I’m making a mint run tomorrow (and a Loveless run 😉 )!


    the Tiki 

  2. Damn you, ifanboy, making me buy more comics. and wow, look at the detail on that shoe. i’m gonna have to get this now.

  3. Loveless is the best western comic coming out, bar none.

    Jonah Hex is great, Lone Ranger is fun, but Loveless is unparralelled  

  4. As I recall, a Mojito also involves lime, which is why I turn away from it, despite being a fan of rum. I can’t comprehend fruit and mint in the same consumable. By comparison, the Mint Julep sounds a lot more normal.

    Good to know Loveless makes sense in trade. I seem to recall Conor and Josh dropping it for being a bit too arcane back in the early days of the podcast. 

  5. I’ve read the first two volumes of Loveless and thoroughly enjoyed them.  Complex and tense as hell, with fantastic art.

  6. Yep, the dense storytelling of "Loveless" all but requires that you read it in trades. Of course, now that the book has been canceled that point is moot. I read it in issues and after each one I would say to myself WTF is going on? Who are these people? Then, I sat down and read them all together and then they began to make themselves clear (or clearer.) The fact that Vertigo canceled "Loveless" before the run was complete just kills me. As SixGun wrote, "Jonah Hex is great, Lone Ranger is fun, but Loveless is unparalleled." Damn right.   

  7. Love mojitos and love westerns. I’ve been worried about getting into Loveless because of Azzarello’s rep for getting convoluted. I bought his ‘El Diablo’ and it was a pretty good story but Danijel Zezelj’s art takes away any richness from the story. However, I’ll give Loveless a go…and the Jim Beam is going to be open in a few minutes.

  8. Just finished a variation on the mint julep, your version was a bit strong for the wife so I made it longer with ‘Duchy Lemon Refresher’ (lemon and soda water). I guess I was a bit of a pussy considering it’s meant to be a cowboy drink but it was real good…