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Friday, June 5, 2015

AntiChris 1. Jojo King(Writer), Manuel Mezquita (Artist), Ken Reynolds (Letters) Insane Comics (2015)

A very enjoyable and entertaining first issue that delivers an engaging cast and a smart story idea that has a lot of room to grow and develop. Chris, a teenage orphan find himself delivered to St Jude's Home for the Wayward, a halfway house for teenagers and finds that it is as strange as it should be. Chris meets the rest of the inmates,the very strange warden and the equally odd cook. An attempt to kidnap one of the teenagers leads to a strange event which is likely to be the springboard for the story.
Jojo King manages all the problems that come with setting up a story with care, very dark wit and considerable craft. There is an excellent balance between introducing the cast and setting up the plot mechanics. Using teenagers as the cast is a tricky approach, they are so encumbered by cliché that setting up recognisable characters who speak for themselves and feel like teenagers is tough. Jojo King makes it look easy, they have the outward snark and bravado that they should have given their circumstances, they are also afraid and lonely, anxious for acceptance and security. The two selves co-exist very naturally in the story and they mean that when the plot mechanics kick in, the reader already cares about what happens. One of the significant pleasures of the book is that the cast speak like humans, not some strained idea of what "young people" talk like nowadays, they have their own voices and are strongly themselves. The fact that one of the cast is a teenage female werevampire and this does not sink the story on the spot is a strong indication of the quality of the writing.
Manuel Mezquita's art is flat, scratchy, very dark and engaging. There is tremendous energy in his lines and the close ups of the cast are full of subtlety, they give the cast a strong physical presence. I really like the way he uses multiple panels to capture different aspects of a moment and the creative use of page layouts to capture the story. At times the panel sequence is not instantly clear and I had to navigate a bit more deliberately than usual, nothing to distract from the pleasure of reading.
Ken Reynolds' letters are quietly effective in the dialogue and wonderful in the sound effects, they are very nice matching size, font and effect to  add a strong extra element to the mix.
Talented creators and a very promising story, AntiChris is a great start.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Jojo King. To get a copy of AntiChris, which would be a good idea as then there would be more issues to read and enjoyit can be bought here:

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