Monday, 23 May 2016

Space Captain

By day mild-mannered Chris Baldie and Michael Park work together for Glasgow design company Papertank, but by night they become the dynamic creative team behind one of the very best self-published comic about at the moment, "Space Captain".

The comic is full colour printed at half US comic book size and running to 40 odd pages.  It's a intelligent, funny and genuinely moving science fiction story about the last human in the Galaxy, stranded on a distant planet and his quest to find his way home.  The first issue, there have been two so far, introduces us to our hero.  A middle-aged paunchy spacer, with one of the greatest moustaches in comics, and the universe he finds himself in.   This is a dirty, lived in future with aliens who are just a little different from humans and surroundings that look familiar and real.  

In other hands the slightly cartoony style of the art could work against the tone of the comic, but Chris handles things superbly.  Its amazing how well he can depict emotions with that moustache and a pair of thick, but very mobile eyebrows.  he seems to have similar tricks for many of the other, less human, characters.        

The storytelling is superb, the first five pages use a few words to set the scene, but everything story-wise is told through a sequence of wordless panels that are easy to follow, dramatic and paced superbly.  The rest of issue one captures the claustrophobia of life on a outpost on a distant planet, while issue two has the look and feel of the western frontier, with wide open spaces and lawless inhabitants.  I'm constantly reminded of scenes from very good films from the 40's and 50's (I saw them on TV - I'm not that old) and that is not meant as any sort of criticism, quite the contrary.

This is not the science fiction of 2000AD.  Its less frantic and rebellious, more thoughtful and cerebral.  There is no lack of action or adventure but that is mixed with more poingent moments that add to the impact when the action occurs.   Space Captain is not a space hero, he's an ordinary bloke in an extraordinary circumstance.  The reader comes to care about him and understand the quest that drives him very quickly.  Chris and Michael have done a superb job with the writing and the art, and in blending to the two together - often the biggest fault of self-published comics.      

If it sounds like I'm gushing, its because I am.   I'm a big fan of European comics, the albums produced by Cinebooks and occasionally Fantagraphics.  I could easily see Space Captain being published in that format and to that audience.   It looks good enough and it reads just as well.  There are no allowances to be made for this this being a self-published comic, nothing about the energy and enthusiasm overcoming slightly sub-standard art or scripting.  Judged against all of the comics I've read in the past couple of years, from both established publishers and small-press outfits, Space Captain is among the things I've enjoyed most and I can't wait for the next issue

Issue one came out in November 2014, issue two almost exactly a year later and the guys are working on issue 3 at the moment.  They have been kind enough to share a few sketches of work in progress that are scattered around this posting.  If you like what you see please take a look at their shop, you'll be hit instantly with the cover to issue one and that fantastic tash.  They even have those great first four pages up for you to see (leaving out the big reveal on page 5) if you do decide to buy, tell them Splank! sent you and let me know what you think.

Space Captain Shop - click here.  

I'm aware that all of my reviews at the moment are tending to be very positive.   I guess that's because  I'm writing about what I like.  i do have a pile of small press comics to get to and I'm sure that things will change.   But in the meantime this is really a very good comic that deserves to be seen far and wide.      

No comments:

Post a Comment