6″x4.5″ graphic novel
For mature Readers
Top Shelf Productions – November 2007
I was going to wait until Friday to review this, but after reading it I got all excited and decided I couldn’t wait. I really, really enjoyed the hell out of this little comic. It’s black and white with no dialogue, so the entire story is conveyed solely by the art and the facial expressions of the characters. It focuses on a female barbarian and her Halfling (I’m guessing) companion, battling their way through a dungeon.
I thought the art was great! I could see touches of both Sergio Aragones and Roberta Gregory (Bitchy Bitch) in the style, yet it remained highly original. The main character has a nice rack, but she’s proportional, and even with the simplicity of the black and white art, muscular development was indicated. She looked like she could wield her axe reasonably, and she has a cute round face instead of the heart-shaped or “kitten-ish” faces we’re used to from comics artists. Her armor was a touch too Xena for me, at first, but the leather strip skirt is a historical and valid armor type, so I got the hell over it. Also, at no time did this comic make me roll my eyes (which is good because that hurts right now, please see previous post). Not once did anything the character did make want to punch anyone. And honestly, that has to be some sort of record.
The facial expressions of the heroine and the other characters, however, are where the artist’s skill really shines. I absolutely adore how well the artist conveyed a wide variety of emotions with the faces of the characters. Fear, dismay, anger, shock, happiness, concern, all were conveyed well, which is important with the lack of dialogue. I think my favorite is the yucky face she makes while combatting a zombie ogre-type thing.
The plot moves along really well, there are no wasted panels. Every panel conveys something important to the story. I won’t go too heavily into the plot, except to say it’s a dungeon crawl resulting in a rescue. I wouldn’t want to ruin the ending for you. According to the promo materials I got with my copy, the author/artist has worked up D&D stats for all the characters, and this does not surprise me in the least. It has an excellent RPG feel to it, without feeling like it’s that guy everyone knows who will corner you and go on and on about his 24th Level Warrior-Mage with the +12 Soul-Sucking Sword…
On a Feminist Critique level, the character is empowered, she is determined, not once does her facial expression devolve into “Porn Face” (I’m looking at you, Greg Land), nor does she look solely decorative. She is active, and the agent of change. She is the rescuer, the hero. I’m sure there are people out there who would disagree with my assessment that the book is Feminist-friendly, if not Feminist itself, but that’s the great thing about opinions, everyone gets to have them.
I highly recommend this comic. It’s cute. It’s well done. The art is great, particularly the wide range of facial expressions given the simplicity of the style. It says that it is recommended for mature readers +16, but I don’t think I’d hesitate over-much giving this to an 11 year old. Really. And while I don’t have kids, I’m generally more conservative than my parent-friends about what I think children should have access to when. So, go buy it!!!