What happened to the solo comic from a new creator? The independent comics section of the rack used to be full of such comics; Creators such as Dan Clowes, Chester Brown and the Hernandez Brothers started that way. In the last few years, however, these sorts of comics seem to have completely disappeared. Perhaps it only seems that way, since there are so many comics listed in Previews, or perhaps new creators have migrated to graphic novels – Craig Thompson was a virtual unknown until Goodbye, Chunky Rice – or perhaps those comics are still out there, and just ignored by the general public.
In any event, it felt oddly notalgic to read a comic like The Secret Voice, the first solo comic by new creator Zack Soto. And, though it’s always hard to tell from just one issue, Soto looks like a promising new writer/artist.
Soto’s evocative and moody cover leads into a fun and mostly silent adventure featuring his character Dr. Galapagos. Readers learn almost nothing about this action hero as he fights a group of rock trolls. There are hints of a greater mission and previous adventures, but the reader is mainly left with a fun set of almost stream-of-consciousness action scenes and a set of implications of past and futue adventures. The story mainly works because Soto sells it well; he has a wonderful art style that helps pull the reader through the stranger sequences (a spit golem?). Zoto’s art in this story has a touch of Paul Pope and a touch of Scott Morse, but is also uniquely his own.
The backup tales are less successful. “Day 34,” the story of a hallucination by a man lost at sea, has some clever storytelling techniques but at eight pages is a bit long for what Soto wants to say. “Ghost Attack?!” reads like something an angry kid might create in high school, while “Smog Emperor” is just a juvelile revenge fantasy.
But overall this is a nice debut. I hope that Soto keeps Dr. Galapagos mysterious and strange, and that Soto piles up more myseries as he goes on. Zack Soto’s comics have the potential to be very interesting.