20 Oct 14
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Review: The Understanding Monster – Book Two, By Theo Ellsworth

Of the alternative comics I’ve read so far, there are many that have used autobiographical elements to create strong personal stories. But none of those comics have plunged so deeply into the creator’s psyche as Theo Ellsworth’s series The Understanding Monster. Through the surreal travels of Izadore, Pharoah Tellitome, Inspector Gimble, Turtletree, Master Sponko and Minnow, we see Ellsworth grapple with what it means to be an artist, the subtle connection between the artist, her peers, and her critics, and how the subconscious influences perceptions of reality and art.

The Understanding Monster Book Two is a deceptively short 72 pages of full color comics in hardback. I say deceptive because the number of pages would lead you to believe that The Understanding Monster is a quick read. This could not be further from the truth. Each page is filled to the brim with etchings, lightning bolts, and stray word bubbles, all of which are vital to the reader’s understanding of the story.

The word “dense” comes to mind when reading The Understanding Monster Book Two. Ellsworth crams his pages full of detailed lines and hatching, thick inks, and dark colors. This makes the reading experience unlike other comics, which can be consumed quickly as the comic flows from moment to moment. In The Understanding Monster, Ellsworth defies that commonality, requiring readers to pore over each page.

On the face of the story, the main character Izadore is trying to bring his body back together after being split into many different pieces; his body is a mummy Pharoh Tellitome, while his brain is Inspector Gimble, etc. and each person/piece vital to Izadore’s reconstruction, offering him assistance on the journey to wholeness.

But what it seems Ellsworth is trying to get at is his own creative process, asking questions about himself and forcing himself to be hyper aware of his own skill and shortcomings. This is all represented in a surreal Land of Misfit Toys meets Yellow Submarine, where a red mouse full of energy creates an action wagon and speeds along a toy highway. All these little parts and pieces seem to represent things in Ellsworth’s real life– the influence of a loved one on the creative process, the nagging thoughts that make it easy to stray from your path, and the self-loathing and doubt that is constantly present, waiting to swallow you up if you slow down.

Impatient readers will grate at the time it takes to read a single page, and the meticulous patterning and dark inking can be disorienting at times. Requiring an immersive read is the toll Ellsworth extracts from the reader with The Understanding Monster Book Two – but in return, the reader gets a psychedelic view into the suitcase that is Ellsworth’s creative mind. Expect to spend some time unpacking.

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Theo Ellsworth (tumblr: theoellsworth) is an artist and cartoonist who has published previous work with Secret Acres. His comics have appeared in The Best American Comics 2010 and The Best American Comics 2014.

Secret Acres will release The Understanding Monster, Vol. 2 at Comic Arts Brooklyn (comicartsbrooklyn) this year on November 8th. You can find Secret Acres on Twitter and on Facebook.

17 Oct 14
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Review: Fish, by Bianca Bagnarelli

Bianca Bagnarelli’s illustration work captured my attention earlier this year, so I was happy to hear that she was having a book published through Nobrow Press’ 17x23 line, a series of comics that features short stories by young talented cartoonists. The line has a sparseness to it, which requires a certain economy of the author.

The economy of Fish is both in a short 24 pages of story, but also the economy of telling one moment in time. The story features Milo, a 12 year old boy who is still reeling from the death of his parents in a car crash. When their bodies washed to shore, he wasn’t allowed to see them – but when a body washes up on the shore of their local beach, Milo thinks he can solve his inner turmoil.

Bagnarelli plays around with the theme of death throughout Fish. The eye of Milo is constantly dwelling on things that are dead and dying. He passes a decorative cow skull as he is walking to the bridge over the local river, he stares at a vase full of wilted and dying flowers, and he thinks about the frailty of life. He’s bitter and withdrawn. He can’t connect to his visiting family. His eye is drawn to towards the macabre, talking about organs and shrimp intestines.

The bombshell of the book is Milo encountering the corpse of the missing girl. Against the warnings of his cousins, he fights to see the remains, and then is overwhelmed. Before this encounter, death was an abstract. But now he sees how scary it is, sees how dirty it is. “We’re all just full of shit,” he muses. “Does it scare me?”

But Bagnarelli isn’t content to let Milo freefall, and in the last 5 panels, turns the narrative on its head. Offering Milo hope, and by proxy, the reader – we can live with our past provided we live in the present, it seems to say.  The result is something more complex and nuanced, something confusing and yet surprisingly uplifting.

There’s an intensity of storytelling here amplified by beautiful illustration. Bagnarelli uses a sunset palette to mirror Milo’s depressed mood, and the result is a stunning mix of reds, pinks, purples, and yellows that give the story the feeling of imminent ending. But rather than an ending, Fish seems like a beginning. Sundrenched vistas and detailed foliage make reading Fish a joy for the eyes, and it is clear that Bagnarelli is an illustrator with an eye for detail and complexity. And in Fish, Bagnarelli’s complex and beautiful art are matched by a story of death, and more importantly, of life, that refuses to cater to the casual whim. Recommended.

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Bianca Bagnarelli (tumblr: biancabagnarelli) is a illustrator and cartoonist whose work has been printed in the New York Times, kushkomikss, and in 2010, founded Delebile, an independent comics label that publishes short comic stories. Their newest anthology, Work, releases later this month.

Nobrow Press (tumblr: nobrowpress) is an independent press based in London that publishes art books and comics.

10 Oct 14
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Review: Pink, by Kyoko Okazaki

In the summer and fall of 2013, Vertical Inc. published a selection of work by prominent women mangaka whose work defined a generation of further work. One of those artists was Kyoko Okazaki, whose minimalist design work and love of controversial subjects paved the way for mangaka like Asumiko Nakamura and Moyoco Anno. Pink, one of Okazaki’s earlier works, made her name in the industry. It was originally published in 1985. Vertical brought over a really nice 2010 reprint (from what I understand, older manga without digital files are a lot harder/more expensive to publish in English because of the extra up-front cost of creating those digital files from original art).

Yumi is a young office girl whose job can’t keep her happy. The work is boring, but more importantly, it doesn’t pay enough to keep her pet crocodile Croc fed. To make extra cash, she moonlights as a call girl. She gets entangled with a college student and novelist wannabe Haru when she finds out her mother is his sexual patron and financier. After submitting him to the test of being naked and locked in a room alone with a hungry crocodile, the two become entangled in a relationship that is one part tragedy, one part farce.

The characters in Pink are all capitalism junkies. Haru wants to write a great novel because he’s obsessed with being rich and famous. Yumi is flaunts her high fashion purchases and uses her sex work to pay for her extravagant lifestyle, to the point where her sex life is more about transactions than passions. Haru, Yumi’s stepmom, Yumi’s stepsister, and Yumi herself are all in the thrall of the 1980s Bubble economy.

The lavish recklessness of the period bounces off the panels. Okazaki has an eye for minimal design and strong panel composition. In some pages, she will to reduce her cartooning to bareness. But Pink always feels extravagant, with strong lines and an undeniable sexiness. From Yumi’s curves to her child-like tantrums, Okazaki captures motion expertly.

Pink was published at the height of the 80’s Bubble economy, and deals with a lot of themes that will seems familiar to the people who went through the ruins of the 2007-2008 Housing Bubble. The fact that this comic is 30 years old yet still feels like a contemporary tale speaks volumes about how well the comic is constructed. It also shows that the themes explored in Pink are still relevant to readers today.

Loaded with symbolism, Croc the crocodile may not have the most active role in the comic, but he is the fulcrum by which the plot moves throughout Pink. In some ways I think that the crocodile represents Yumi’s autonomy, or perhaps the her relationship with capitalism. Croc is the first way that Yumi lashes out at her stepmother via her lover. Only when Croc disappears does she move into a more serious relationship with Haru, becoming more dependent, and the way she reacts when she finds out what happened to the crocodile when he disappeared is emblematic of the way she deals with all of her problems.

The passions of Pink are what drive it, and to that end the book opens as strongly as it begins. Okazaki is not afraid to show us the rawness of human beings. Pink‘s tragedies and victories are so compelling, so ostentatious, and ultimately, so warped, that you can’t help but be drawn in. Recommended.

———-

Pink is published by vertical-inc and is a small piece of a larger josei print offering. Their latest josei manga is In Clothes Called Fat by Moyoco Anno.

8 Oct 14

Is Crunchyroll’s Simulcast Manga Hurting Book Sales? Probably Not

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One of the great developments of digital manga over the past year has been the creation and expansion of Crunchyroll’s digital manga subscription program. For $5 a month, or as part of a premium membership package for $12 a month, readers can get content digitally as its released in Japan through a legal means. Crunchyroll, one of the main ways fans interact with new properties, has a great reach in the anime and manga community. LIke their anime service, content can be viewed for free, but in this case only the latest chapter is available to read and the rest is behind a paywall. 
Crunchyroll has been moving full speed ahead with its digital manga service, and has been adding more and more content over the past 6 months. As a part of this, some of the digital content licenses it has acquired have been from manga publishers who own print rights. A great example is the forthcoming AJIN from Vertical Inc, a title that’s had a fair bit of buzz - earlier this summer, Crunchyroll acquired streaming rights and began simulpublishing the comic well in advance of the printed book being released.
This has happened a few times, most recently with Crunchyroll’s acquisition of digital rights for the Seven Seas title Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer. This is a bit of murky water, since the digital rights were previously owned by a now defunct digital manga hub, JManga, which technically makes the title a rescue, but the print rights were announced by Seven Seas nearly a year ago.
So it feels like a conflict, doesn’t it? Crunchyroll is getting out in front of regular publishers, showing off their wares before the first book can be sold. But I think that’s a very simplistic way of looking at the situation.
Now, granted, publishers may be less willing to pick up the print license for a manga that Crunchyroll has a digital license. That certainly could cause some strife… generally that doesn’t have an immediate effect on bottom lines, but there’s the potential a publisher might pass on a title that would do well in print.
As industry outsiders, there’s some missing info we don’t have about Crunchyroll’s platform. Crunchyroll might own full digital rights, or it may only own a portion of those rights. This certainly might be the case for Kodansha USA titles, which are available on Crunchyroll and on Kindle. Things are likely different series by series, publisher by publisher. Crunchyroll could be just another platform like Amazon Kindle or Google Play that publishers negotiate rates over or it could own all the digital rights. 
Industry data are mixed, but I think it’s safe to say that scanlations can negatively impact the sales of manga. Industry insiders have expressed frustration over changes in sales after scans go up or become readily available.
Does the same hold true for legal simulpub? For example, you can read the entirety of Insufficient Direction, one of Moyocco Anno’s recent works, on Crunchyroll. Does that access impact the sales of the physical book published by Vertical?  I don’t think it’s that big of a jump to say yes. Why buy Insufficient Direction if I can read it all in one go online?
To some extent, I think some people are not going to consider buying Insufficient Direction from Vertical. But likely the folks who are paying for a Crunchyroll subscription are also buying manga. These are the folks who are already paying to play, so the comparison to scanlation falls flat.
The reasons why a person buys a comic or a book are their own reasons, and there are plenty of ways to get content without paying money. But people still buy books. And despite access to Attack on Titan online both as simulpub and scanlations, it is still one of the bestselling manga in the US. Crunchyroll may change the way we see comics and how we think about manga a bit, but it’s not burning down the publishing house.
3 Oct 14
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Review: Cat Dad, King of the Goblins by Britt Wilson

Koyama Press has recently entered into the world of kid’s comics with two spectacularly different books – the hardcover A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories by John Martz is described as a picture book for younger readers, while the softcover Cat Dad, King of the Goblins by Britt Wilson could certainly be either a fun bed-time storybook or something you set a slightly older reader on for fun or during a long car ride.

Cat Dad, King of the Goblinsis a story of two girls Luey and Miri and their friend, a giant frog named Phil. The trio is doing homework, drawing, and basically minding its own business when a bright white cat jumps on the kitchen table – soon they find out that their mom has accidentally transformed their dad into that cat, and he’s escaped into the magical confines of the linen closet. What follows is a raucous and silly adventure.

First and foremost, Cat Dad, King of the Goblins is a comic of frenetic energy. Britt Wilson’s loose illustration style lends itself well to a script that is dynamic and fluid. As soon as the cat is on the run, the rest of the book is one giant race to the finish, as the girls and Phil track down their cat Dad and bring him home, and while a interceding group of goblins try to keep Dad stuck in the linen closet.

But while the book is racing towards its inevitable conclusion, Wilson’s artwork asks your linger on the page. The colors are absolutely astounding, and the detail of the environments in Cat Dad, King of the Goblins is spectacular for a comic paced this way. Clearly there’s a bit of a push and pull here, but Wilson will let you sit on a panel or two  provided you jump right back in and get running again.

Wilson also has a great sense of situational humor. While there aren’t punchlines as such, there are a lot of fun visual things that Wilson is doing with this comic, from cat antics to using a cootie catcher to figure out which tunnel to walk down. I absolutely adored the banner for The Distraction that I’ve pulled from the comic. It is touches like these that make the comic a lot of fun to read.

Cat Dad, King of the Goblins is a story the kids are going to want to read again and again. With its strong narrative, great characters, beautiful art, and blisteringly fast pacing, its only flaw is that it ends. Recommended.

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Britt Wilson is an illustrator and cartoonist. You can find more of Wilson’s work at tumblr: brittwilson

koyamapress is a publisher of alternative comics. Read more about their Fall 2014 lineup at their website.

1 Oct 14
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Review: Debbie’s Inferno by Anne Emond

Anne Emond’s cartoons are relatively new to me – I found Anne’s work through comiques earlier this month while looking up tumblr blogs to follow. Emond’s comics are wry and introspective, often autobiographic in nature, discussing things that happen on the train and feeling like a slug. From that introspective vein comes Emond’s latest comic with Retrofit Comics, Debbie’s Inferno.

Debbie’s Inferno is 36 pages of black and white comics that features Debbie, a woman who is too busy wallowing in her bed, eating chips, and watching TV to escape from a mysterious flood. Her cat, in an attempt to rouse her from her bed, starts to talk – but ultimately nothing saves the pair from going down the drain into a strange otherworld of Debbie’s design.

In the way that Dante’s Inferno is an allegory about the Christian soul recognizing sin and rejecting it, Debbie’s Inferno is an allegory about recognizing and understanding yourself. Debbie, the reluctant protagonist and everyman of the story, travels through many hells, all of which are self-inflicted. Importantly, Debbie is both the Daedalus and Theseus of this story, constructing her various levels of hell and then traversing them. I like this idea of the labyrinth, the thought of the unicursal path leading towards the center; Debbie must continue onward through many circles until finally she understands that these troubles are her own states of mind.

Importantly, Debbie’s triumph is not a trumpeted victory, but rather just being able to get out of bed. And I think sometimes that’s an important victory, and being the victor in that position is so essential to daily life. 

Emond’s dark line and hatching do good work creating a sense of depth and darkness, and the characters are simply constructed, allowing Emond to create strong facial emotion and nonverbal communication. This is likely the strongest part of Emond’s art; that ability to deliver an emotional punch is consistent and well considered.

Some elements, such as the cat standing in as either the clew or Virgil (take your pick of literary analogies) feels unique, but the overall whole seems like something I’ve read before. The allegory is a little heavy handed, which is to be somewhat expected given the book’s inspiration, but still isn’t as satisfying as I had hoped. Additionally Debbie’s Inferno tends to meander in a nasal-gazing type of way, potentially eschewing conflict for clarity of allegory. Where Emond does succeed is in making Debbie the stand-in for the reader; it’s easy to put myself in the position of Debbie, navigating through the mental missteps that can lead to stagnation and self-pity.

It’s all very well constructed if somewhat simplistic, and I think that’s my major complaint, that this story doesn’t feel nuanced. Debbie’s Inferno feels like a distilled Phantom Tollbooth, but any nostalgia for the puns and allegory of the classic children’s story is swept away by a relative lack of meaningful conflict.

 

———-

Anne Emond is a illustrator and cartoonist, whose work you can find at comiques, twitter, or on Emond’s website.

Debbie’s Inferno was published by retrofitcomics. You can check out their tumblr as previously linked and buy comics at their store.

29 Sep 14

Kickstarter Feature #2: New South, Hymn, Sparkplug

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Hi everyone! Good to be back up and running. I took a break last week to focus on studies for a big certification test. I tested on Wednesday, and I’ll know the results in 2 months. 

Meanwhile, some interesting projects have hit the crowd funding sites, and I figured I would point a few out that have caught my attention.

#1: New South Festival in Austin

Danithan, one of the co-founders of Foxing Quarterly (tumblr: foxingquarterly), is putting together a curated alt-comics and literature show in Austin, Texas that is hopefully going to be June 6-7th 2015. The show is New South and seems to be in the vein of other CAFs  (TCAF, SPX) but perhaps a little more inclusive. They’re looking for 20k, not a small sum. In order to help raise the funds for the show, they’re allowing backers access to post-it art by cartoonists such as Roman Muradov, Ryan Cecil Smith, Jim Rugg, and Alex Schubert. If nothing else, this is a great way to build the community and get some cool art. At the time of this writing, the festival has a bit over 18 days left and needs to fund-raise a majority of its goal.

——

Hymn Collection (tumblr: hymncollection) is a collaboration between two artists from Calgary, Christian Frederiksen and Emily Chu, and they’re looking to reprint Volume 2 of their two person anthology. The book is 166 pages and is double sided, with Emily’s work on one half, and Christian’s on the other and a transition in the middle. I think the idea is really fascinating - it honestly reminds me of the Yen Press two-sided anthologies of manga and OEL that they published in the late 00’s early 10’s.

There’s some pretty stunning artwork featured on their Kickstarter page so I’ll point you in that direction. They’ve got about 3 days left and a little over $1,000 CAD left to raise.

—-

Last but not least, sparkplugbooks is trying to launch it’s Fall 2014 line with the last issue of Elijah Brubaker’s Reich and a collection of William Cardini’s Vortex mini comics. Reich is a long-running series (this issue will be #12) and features the life and times of Wilhelm Reich, a scientist and psychoanalyst who had some run-ins with the government. 

Vortex is a comic that Cardini has been making since 2011, and it looks like there’s going to be a lot of touch up and revamping from the original minis to this new collected book, so if you want to see the final vision of the comic, this is your best bet.

I think supporting small press is important, and Sparkplug still has a ways to go - $2500 in about 4 days. If you’re looking for goopy wizard comics (and to be honest, who isn’t), then maybe this KS campaign is for you.

17 Sep 14
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Review: Dear Amanda by Cathy G. Johnson

One of the great joys of SPX for me this year (despite not getting to be there) was to see great cartoonists be recognized through the Ignatz Awards. Cathy G. Johnson is the winner of this year’s Promising New Talent Ignatz award on a slate of really great cartoonists. Dear Amanda was a debut comic for the show.

Dear Amanda is a 48 page comic on grey paper printed in black risograph. Dear Amanda is a lesbian romance comic that features coworkers Belén and Ginette. Belén is studying Dutch and wants to move to Amsterdam and write. She’s using Ginette as the subject of her writing, but when Ginette discovers she is Belén’s “muse,” things change drastically.

Johnson’s cartooning is very organic with strong blacks and grays. Like some of the other comics I’ve reviewed over the past 3-6 months, Johnson is working in Dear Amanda with graphite, which gives the subject matter an immediacy and a passion. There are some absolutely stunning pages in this book - I’ve picked one of my favorites, but the last pages as well are beautiful to look at.

Through Dear Amanda, Johnson critiques the way that we look at people, use other people; sometimes without meaning harm, and sometimes ignoring the harm we cause. 

Belén’s writing exercises, the Dear Amanda letters, are a particularly interesting feature of the comic. Part of me feels that these are really Belén’s love letters to herself, exulting in the images and sounds of her relationship with Ginette, but not sharing in them. She catalogs and makes commentary. There’s a voyeurism in Belén’s writing that is strange and self-indulgent.

The letters are also a secret from Ginette. Dear Amanda reminded me that secrets are transformative in their very nature. We mold ourselves around these things, sometimes changing ourselves and our goals to protect them, and in doing so we put our needs or the service of that secret ahead of our relationships. 

Relationships are also transformative - and not always in a positive way. Yes, there is the joy of romance and sexuality, but ultimately, Belén is exploiting Ginette to write and be creative. There’s a darkness to Dear Amanda that spills out in the final act that hinges on this exploitation.

Ginette’s reaction to Belén’s writing is visceral one, and it strikes me that the words that Belén has put to page strip Ginette of her agency. That the last action of Dear Amanda is Ginette taking that agency back is encouraging.

Relationships are a place where we learn and grow - and if relationships are to last, we must learn and grow together. Recommended.

———

Cathy G. Johnson is a cartoonist, illustrator, and educator. You can find more of her work at her website. Cathy’s tumblr is at cathyboy and you can find her on twitter at @cathyisgroovy.

12 Sep 14
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Review: Never Forgets by Yumi Sakugawa

Yumi Sakugawa took the internet by storm in 2012 with the crushingly adorable I Think I’m In Friend-Love With You, now a book from Adam’s Media, and I’ve been following her work recently, especially since her minicomic Never Forgets was nominated for an Ignatz. Sakugawa’s keen eye for isolation in a social media driven modern relationships has been a touchstone for her previous work, but it shows up here in a brand new way.

Never Forgets’ main character Ellie has recently undergone dramatic reconstructive plastic surgery. She meets up with a friend/fan Bri who only knows her through her pictures on Instagram. Bri idolizes Ellie for her transformation, fawns over her. Ellie has “carved herself down to her true essence,” but it’s not clear that her friends understand what kind of toll this transformation will exact. Bri’s glazed-over eyes, her uncomprehending stare as Ellie cries on the phone is telling.

Importantly, Ellie has had her surgery unbeknownst to her family, and breaks the news in a casual visit to her parent’s house. There’s this idea of pre/post that flows through the second half of Never Forgets when we find out that Ellie is an elephant. In a world of animals, this isn’t remarkable in itself, but the difference between what she looks like now and what she looked like before the surgery is striking.

Throughout Never Forgets,Sakugawa explores the disconnectedness of social media and how we crave attention. We see Ellie buy a coffee with a cute cat whipped topping which she’s sure to take a picture of but not to drink. Read closely, there’s mostly positive conversation on Ellie’s Instagram feed, but one “devil’s advocate” asks if she’s making the change because of social pressures from years of damaging media. It’s a reminder of the pervasive and destructive social norms that haunt us, that tell us we aren’t worthwhile, that we are never good enough.

And that’s the sticking point. At the end of the comic, Ellie is hurt. Her parents are hurt. The silence is deafening. But Instagram can’t know and doesn’t care. It’s a cold reality. We are broken, breaking, and all too willing to find solace in a crowd that can tell us who we are, but can never actually know. Recommended.

 —-

Yumi Sakugawa is an illustrator and comics creator based in Southern California. She blogs at acrosstheyumiverse. You can purchase her work from her website here.

Never Forgets has been nominated for the spx 2014 Ignatz “Best Minicomic” category. You can see all of the nominees at their website and vote for your favorite comics this weekend at the expo.

10 Sep 14
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Review: SF: Liquid Planet Beta-14 by Ryan Cecil Smith

Rarely do I use the word “joy” to describe a comic. Certainly there is satisfaction in reading a well-constructed comic, and there’s a certain joy in reading good literature, but rarely are comics joyful. The major exception is Ryan Cecil Smith’s SF series. I featured SF #3 in a write up earlier this year, and now Smith has released a new book in the series, SF: Liquid Planet Beta-14, which recently came in the mail.

SF: Liquid Planet Beta-14 is an 8cm x 11cm book with 43 single panel pages risographed in a faux-CMYK. The printing style using a large variety of risograph inks is indicative of Smith’s care and level of craft – it’s clear that Smith has spent a lot of time on the printing of this book, making sure everything worked out exactly right, and the result is stunning. Vibrant colors, really great registration, and an eye for the smallest details, as far down as printing on the packaging the book comes in.  I’m still trying to wrap my mind on how much time this book must have taken to get exactly right.

SF: Liquid Planet Beta-14 is a supplement to this year’s snazzy SF lapel pin, a metal and magenta cloisonné that you can wear to show your allegiance to the Space Fleet Scientific Foundation Special Forces (SFSFSF). This is the second lapel pin that Smith has made, and I love the idea of a physical reminder of the series that isn’t a comic book. It makes Smith’s comics feel more like a cultural institution, something you talk with friends about over a beer.

SF: Liquid Planet Beta-14 features one of SF’s more exotic characters Duke the Duck on a solo mission to Liquid Planet Beta-14 which the Space Fleet thinks has fallen under Pirate Nation influence. Duke attempts to fly his small spaceship to the surface without attracting pirate attention, and ends up in a tricky spot.

This is the world of science fiction at its most exuberant – Smith has a clear love for the genre. But in SF, the general tropes of science fiction are really the set upon which the emotions of shonen battle manga are at play. The ‘give it your best shot!’ ‘Never give up!’ and ‘Fight hard and make friends!’ attitude of series like Dragon Ball are really evident in the ebb and flow of Smith’s work, even if SF looks more like Star Wars than One Piece.

I think I’m reminded of these Japanese comics for multiple reasons, but the major comparator is how fun these comics are. SF shares in the soul of the Dragon Ball, Toriko, and One Piece, comics that care about craft and storytelling, but primarily about whether the reader is having fun.

SF: Liquid Planet Beta-14 is a great addition to the SF universe and a gorgeous comic book. More importantly, this latest release should be a nudge to read the rest of Smith’s SF line – SF#1-3 and various supplements are available at his website, and also likely available this weekend at SPX. If you are looking for fun comics, look no further.

 ——

Ryan Cecil Smith can be found at screentonetv and on Twitter at @ryancecil. You can read an excerpt of SF: Liquid Planet Beta-14 at this link.

SF #3 is published by Koyama Press (koyamapress), and SF comics can be purchased at Smith’s website.