Beginning tomorrow, Comics Bulletin will be presenting a four-part look back at Oni Press’s excellent series Wasteland. As part of that retrospective, we thought you might enjoy this look back at our Martijn Form’s review of the first issue of Wasteland. This review originally ran Monday, July 17, 2006.
Writer: Antony Johnston
Artist: Christopher Mitten
Publisher: Oni Press
Plot: Set in a world after “the big wet” disaster, the story follows a mysterious man called Scavenger Man who supposedly obtained some strange powers.
Comments: Wasteland #1 provides 48 pages of story for only $2.99. You don’t find that very often with small press books. Most of the time they can’t afford to print more pages for the same money because they lose money. But Oni Press did it, and this shows that they are very confident in this Wasteland project. So if they believe in this story then so do I, because I’m a big fan of Oni Press. They take risks; they don’t stick to one genre of storytelling. They create their own original stories which all live up to the same high standard. Great innovative art and superior story telling, without any copy cat behaviour. Look at books like Local, Strangeways, Little Star to name a few. They are “The Bomb,” and I’m reading most of their titles.
No doubt in my mind that Wasteland will be optioned by Hollywood, because I think it will be a great story. It reminds me of Stephen King’s The Stand.
The book is all black and white and the art by Christopher Mitten is a bit like Brett Weldele and a bit Ben Templesmith. (Templesmith, by the way, is providing all the covers for the series.) But Mitten definitely has his own style. His lines are raw and dynamic and when the scenes ask for it, they are nicely detailed. Other scenes have lesser details especially background wise. Ashley Wood is a bit of the inventor of that style. It makes the panels very open and gets you drawn immediately to the subject. Mitten shows that he is a master in black and white sequential art. The Scavenger Man is mysterious with a long coat and black goggles. By using the right amount of black and dark grey, the artist gives this character a great look. The other characters are all done in light colors as if they have no mystery surrounding them. The contrast between the Scavenger Man and the Sand-Eaters and the normal town folk makes the best use of black and white. Backgrounds that use a more light grey against sharp black silhouettes work fine. Mitten uses foreground scenery effectively. He brings them out of focus or he draws them in a different style than the rest of the panel. This creates field of depth in several panels, which to me makes a page even more fun to look at. The use of different angles to tell a scene creates a nice pace in the story, and keeps it miles away from becoming boring, which makes the experience of this book even better, if the story by itself wasn’t good enough.
No, the story is interesting, and 48 pages fly by in a second. It definitely wants you to read more issues. Reading Wasteland #1 brought back that great feeling back from when I read Image Comics’ The Walking Dead #1; I knew I discovered a new winner. The dialogues are really funny, because the writer has created some new words for the English dictionary, which reminds me of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange with all its wonderful new lingo. So far, all the elements of Wasteland are all in the right places and doesn’t disappoint at all. The experience of this book can be stretched even further by looking at their nice website.
The upcoming issues hopefully will help us understand why this series is called Wasteland and not Thebigwet. I hope Johnston and Mitten are pushed by Oni Press to meet their deadlines, because this reader can’t go a month without Wasteland anymore.