Greetings, readers! I interrupt your regularly scheduled recommendations to adventure in the woods on the other side of the country from my usual haunts! In order to sate your appetite, I’m instead highlighting some comics I picked up at Baltimore ComicCon and SPX, that tickled my fancy.
My first pick is this delightful fantasy adventure. I suppose if I just list off plot points, it goes through a lot of usual tropes – fisher boy living in the woods, parents who are secretly heroes in retirement, and are quickly killed by the enemy, a magic sword, an animal companion, and all that. It’s going to the well that stories like The Dark Crystal, the Belgariad, Star Wars, and anything else Joseph Campbell might talk about goes to.
But this isn’t a bad thing! I mean, I love these stories, if done well, and this is done well. The young boy lead is likeable and not whiny, even when experiencing great personal tragedy. (I guess that his parents die is a spoiler, but it’s so obvious that it’s coming from the start.) The art is, as you can see from the cover, clean and bright and wonderful, and it has a strong storytelling element as well. And the writing is good, too.
Issue #2 introduces Abi, a young local woman who discovers the burning ruins of the Lars Farmstead, and starts tracking Luke… er, close enough. Personally, I really am drawn to strong women, and she’s definitely one of those. Tracking, archery, competent in the woods, not stupid in the face of danger, yeah, that’ll do.
Plus there’s a giant army heading through our peaceful setting, and they really want the protagonist’s sword, so the chase is on! This is a fun, well executed fantasy tale. I’m eager to see a lot more of this title. It’s available on Comixology or in Previews, so wherever comics are sold! (At least in the US. I’m not an expert on international comic distribution.)
I actually read two one-shots I picked up at SPX, Tales of the Family Ashe and Tales of Girls Who Rock, but I’m going to read the collected regular series soon! I also read the Free Comic Book Day story. I’ve heard acclaim for this series, and it’s well warranted.
At its heart, it’s a feminist fairy tale. In a world where princesses are locked into towers and wait patiently for someone to save them, Adrienne Ashe is having none of that. Teaming up with other independently-minded strong female characters, and a dragon, they decide to have their own adventures.
It’s also noteworthy that this is one of the all-too-rare series whose lead is a woman of color. It’s set in a fantasy world, so it doesn’t have all the complications of contemporary stories (and don’t get me wrong, I find those complications interesting and am hungry to see them explored well more often). But especially for young girls who are not white, it’s great to see a heroine that looks like them, that is truly awesome.
And it’s not just hitting my liberal feminist checklist (though it does.) It’s also a well written and well drawn story, and I expect it’ll delight people who don’t care in the slightest what gender or color the main character is. Give Princeless a try!
The first two comics are small press titles, but this one is a true indy, self-published and actually the Masters thesis of Amelia Onorato, who I quite enjoyed meeting at SPX. It’s a lovingly crafted black and white story, which you can read online if you click the image.
This is, as the cover clearly states, a Selkie story. If you’re not familiar with Selkies (or even if you are), they’re an Irish legend of seals that transform into humans. As the myths go, if one can steal their seal-skin when they are transformed, one can force them to stay, hoping to get their skin back and return to the sea.
And that’s basically the story we’re thrown into here. The author does a good job with the accents. Writing out an accent is a tricky thing and can easily go really wrong, but when done well it adds a lyrical tone, and that’s definitely the case here. (And it’s not just an irish lilt – there’s some Scottish characters too who sound decidedly different.)
There’s lots of hidden gems like this in the Indy world! They’re hard to discover sometimes, but I’ve found this one for you, so enjoy!