Tiny Pages Made of Ashes is Comics Bulletin’s roundup of small press comics reviews.
Elsewhere on Comics Bulletin:
- Singles Going Steady covers the latest single issues including the beginning of new run of Suicide Squad and the dinosaur-laden Archer and Armstrong.
- This week’s Digital Ash takes on The Private Eye, a one-pager from Sloane Leong and something called Poop Office.
It Will All Hurt #1
(Farel Dalrymple; Study Group)
Study Group — a staggering collection of great comics talent — has put out the first two parts of one of their regular webcomics, Farel Dalrymple’s It Will All Hurt, into a sizable print edition with a gorgeous pink/purple Risograph cover. It’s worth the money for the tactile experience of reading a comic where somebody actively cared what paper it as printed on, not to mention living in a world where there’s more physical evidence of Farel Dalyrmple’s art.
Right in line with his work on Prophet and the Jonathan Lethem-penned Omega the Unknown series, It Will All Hurt is a strange sci-fi/fantasy art comic where the focus seems to be whatever Dalrymple feels like illustrating. As a result, we have a comic where the diverse lineup of characters include a some little kids, an astronaut and a guy with a sword. It’s the freedom of creation at work, where the artist can stop for a moment and change his focus from the story to the narrator himself. For some it’ll be too obscure and weird for them, but for the special folk It Will All Hurt is meant for, it’s exciting to decipher.
Regardless, part of the appeal is Dalrymple’s art, some of his best work yet. All imperfect lines and understated watercolors, he relies on three-tier, six-panel layouts as a default but seems itching to break the formula, which he does frequently and gleefully, often making amazing use of the negative gutter space as parts of his panels bleed out into it or inhabit the white space entirely. It’s always interesting for the reader as the artist keeps himself on his toes.
By the end of this first printed chunk of It Will All Hurt, it’s clear that Farel Dalrymple has more characters and ideas to introduce and expand on as his world grows richer with further artistic exploration. Get in on it early before you out yourself as “uncool.”
– Danny Djeljosevic
[Editor’s note: This entry describing a work by Cody Pickrodt has been removed at the request of the writer as a result of recent allegations against him coming to light. Comics Bulletin stands behind this writer’s decision and stands against abuse in all forms throughout the comics industry.]
In the future, life will be pretty much the same as it is now.
Oh sure, we’ll have spaceships and colonies on Saturn’s moons, genetically engineered workers and amazing space mining. But in the future, we’ll also have labor unions and racial struggles, financial strains and battles between the genders and some emotional and personal and metaphysical frustrations that we simply can’t imagine.
There are a whole lot of frustrations in the life of MNGR João da Silva, a productivity expert sent to Homestead Station on Saturn’s moon Titan to decide whether to kill the colony or refurbish it. As João says, “if I can’t turn things around, increase profits and productivity, I’ll have 50,000 pissed off, unemployed Titans on my hands.” Oh, and if that dilemma isn’t bad enough, those 50,000 Titans are genetically engineered giants — truly titanic men and women that were concocted in a lab to literally do all the heavy lifting on Titan.
João thrown quickly into the middle of an extremely volatile situation, forced to work with the Titan union leader Phoebe Mackintosh, with whom he has a very difficult, often confusing relationship. Is the tension between man and Titan symptomatic of potential romance or anger or something more subtle? As the old saying goes, “a Terran and a Titan will never be seein’ eye-to-eye.“
François Vigneault has created a multifaceted, fully dimensional universe in these opening two chapters of a six-part series. Any science fiction fan can quickly find themselves comfortable in the setting of this tension-filled moon. But the setting on the moon feels unfamiliar because it’s so specific, so unique to Vigneault’s imagination and so full-fledged in its vision.
There are many small touches that make the moon feel real: the interesting vernacular speech that the Titans use feels interesting and makes me wonder what their accents sound like. The settings of the mining colony are presented in small but telling details in the foreground and background — we’re neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed by detail. Instead we get just enough detail in Vigneault’s artwork — wonderfully presented in black, white and orange – to make Titan come alive as we read about it.
That said, there are times when I would have loved to have seen more detail in the backgrounds of these pages. The complexity of the characters’ lives gives the story real context, but we don’t get a really strong sense of how large the moon colony is, or what the world is like that the characters live in. How large is the colony space? We see just enough backgrounds — sometimes with armed guards in the backgrounds — to imply that the colony is tiny. But that really depends a bit on the reader figuring that out for themselves. If Vigneault had included more establishing shots, it would have helped this setting feel more grounded.
The next few chapters of Titan can go any number of different ways. That’s ultimately what makes me want to come back for the next four chapters. Will the tensions get better or worse? Will anything follow the sci-fi clichés or will François Vigneault bring this surprisingly complex story to its own specific, internally logical end? Isn’t one of the joys of reading indie comics knowing that there’s just no way to predict what the cartoonist will do?
– Jason Sacks