It may come as no surprise, given the recent release of Ugly, that I have been known to read comic books. Not all of them come with characters dressed in skin-tight suits and capes, and a couple of the non-superheroic ones have crossed my reader recently which I thought it would be interesting to throw in here because they’re fantasy, urban fantasy at that. They are also just starting, issue number one is out now! So you don’t need to catch up on a huge history like you do with, say, DC or Marvel.
Chastity is a book by Andreyko Acosta, published by Dynamite comics. I’d seen the cover before I read a recommendation from a fairly respected comic blogger. Now, I should have read the fine print: the blogger was saying that the people producing the comic were good, but they hadn’t actually seen it… Oh well, it’s not actually that bad, but the cover… The cover is a con. The alternate cover, which comes as the second page in the electronic edition, is an even bigger con. What we get in the first book is some adequate, but not exactly exciting art, and a vast amount of backstory… and then it ends and we have to wait for the next part to find out pretty much anything. It’s a vampire plotline, Chastity is going to end up as a vampire. This we know. The vampire who attacks her is, to be honest, badly stereotyped, but I do know how hard it is to create a throwaway bad guy without resorting to tacky stereotypes.
In short, I can’t recommend Chastity at this stage, but it shows a bit of promise. I may try another book before I say it’s hopeless.
And then there is Death Vigil. This is the work of Stjepan Sejic, and it’s now being released by Top Cow. We’ll set aside the fact that it cost me the same for 48 pages as Chastity did for 24, and just look at the actual product. Stjepan has his own style of art (and if you haven’t clicked on the link under his name yet, make sure you do because his DA site is an absolute treat) and a great sense of humour. Now, his artistic style may not be for some, and I tend to find his characters have a certain look about them which can be seen as a little samey. But you open up Death Vigil and you’re faced with vivid colours and action. Something happens in this book. Actually from an “extreme summary” viewpoint, the plots of both books are not dissimilar: a girl dies and she’s going to be something else. The difference is that we get beautifully drawn action, funny dialogue, and a resolution in one book, with a teaser ending designed to pull you back for the second issue. Death Vigil is a beautifully executed bit of writing in a form I’d give my eye-teeth to be able to replicate, and it’s a nice piece of hidden-magic, modern fantasy. Also, the Grim Reaper is called Bernadette. How can you go wrong with that? I can’t wait for the next part.
I’ve given links above the the publishers’ pages for these books, but I got my copies through ComiXology, and I’m sure they are both available through other online retailers, maybe even in real shops too. Go, read, enjoy.