May 18, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - The Weekly Graphic Novel: Week 46 - Crash and Burn v.1

I picked up the first graphic novel collection of this series at the Calgary Fan Expo this year as I walked around the artists alley and saw a banner proclaiming a "Queer Space Opera."

How does one pass up such a thing?

A brief chat with Ms. Larking convinced me that this was going to be a comic that I would love. The artwork and story are thoroughly intriguing, as is the setting, Earth on the verge of an intergalactic war fuelled by the political intrigues of the Ornos, a theocratic, bird-like alien race. The comic is also nicely multi-medial, in that there's a soundtrack one can purchase that includes themes for many of the major characters and such. I like this idea of telling a story in a number of different modes.

What really sold me, though, was that first reading. It's nice to talk to a creator, and to hear their enthusiasm for a project. That passion can often be the lynch pin in one taking a chance on a comic (or album, or book, or artwork), but it's really that first experience of the comic that puts proof to the pudding. And there's definitely proof here.

First, and foremost, the diversity of representation in this comic is marvelous. The Ornos have a system of gender and sexuality all their own, but even the humans appear to come from a society that has finally (finally) accepted that there is no difference, no hierarchy, to the vast range of gender and sexual orientation in our culture. The characters also hail from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds, a characteristic shared by the Ornos and their different feather colourings. Again, these things are presented in a completely positive and unprejudiced way, allowing us to experience a story about characters whose defining features spring not from who they want to sleep with, or what they look like, but who they actually are. And race and sexuality are only a part of that.

Second, the story is just great! I can't wait for the Panel One festival in June so that I can hopefully pick up the next chapter of the story. I don't want to give too much away, but the basic premise is that a delegation of Humans and Ornos, ostensibly tasked with keeping peace between the two races, crashes on a planet and is forced to work together to survive. There's other intrigues and mysteries abounding, but that's the gist of the first volume. The characters, aside from the diversity I mentioned above, are remarkably well-realized, evincing all kinds of emotions throughout the course of the tale, and acting quite consistently in the chaos of the disaster that befalls them. In this, I mean that when we're introduced to the characters, they're in a relatively stable situation, and we see them perhaps at their most relaxed (well, with the human characters at least). But once the disaster occurs, the behaviours of each of these characters flows naturally from relaxed to responsive, and nothing about it seems out of character. This is an important thing to notice in narratives - it's easy to set up a character and then turn them into an action hero once the story calls for it, regardless of whether or not that jibes with the set-up of the character. This is not something that Crash and Burn suffers from.

Alright. That's enough gushing. Pop over to the site and give it a read, and then maybe grab a copy of the comic if you need to have that material copy in your hands.


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