Over the next 5 days I’ll be running this guest blog, with the exception of tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll have a special Halloween post (which I have yet to decide if it’s going to be a special short story or a write-up of another anime). Hope you enjoy!
Since they started in 2002 I’ve closely followed Archaia’s publications. Despite that, I haven’t actually read any of them. I’ve just been keeping an eye out for any new Artesia stories. Mark Smylie, who created and writes Artesia, started Archaia to self-publish his comic but since then he has been too busy being a boss to get his own stuff out. Several things converged at the con to convince me to pick up some non-Artesia stuff: Brandon Thomas talked about his book Miranda Mercury at the racebending.com panel, I got to bug Mark Smylie after an Archaia panel about getting more Artesia out, and (perhaps most importantly) a too-good-to-pass-up 5 for 2 sale. I picked up Miranda Mercury, The Killer, Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, Okko: The Cycle Of Earth (second volume .. I already had volume 1, Water), and Critical Millennium: The Dark Frontier. New titles weren’t included in the sale, so all of those are titles that have been out for a bit. Here are my reviews/impressions of those titles.
I want to preface these reviews by saying that I am very picky about what I like. I love SF/F and good fiction in general, but I often despair of finding something unique that speaks to me. See my previous Comic-Con posts for the serial comics I currently read.
And pick up Artesia. Seriously.
This is an easy book to jump right into. The artwork is uncluttered and colorful. The writing tells you all you need to know about the characters and their personalities without going into digressions or unnecessary details.
The book is designed to seem like various issues from the lifetime of a 300-issue run. There are time skips between each story but they all fit together into an arc and you don’t feel like there are parts missing.
This is a book that you don’t want to finish. That is a tribute to the writing. It is clear where the story is going to end and, like the characters, you don’t want it to happen. As I saw the remaining pages diminish, I started reading slower. I’d read part of a story, then put it down. I’d come back a bit later and start the story over because “I may have forgotten something” .. and repeat.
The over-arching dialogue is about doing what is right regardless of the cost to yourself. Along the way it covers racism, what it means to be friends or family, what incredible things someone might be capable of if given the opportunity, and attempting what others think is impossible because you never know until you try. And, if you don’t blink, there is a very brief mention of same-sex marriage.
Covered obliquely is also asking for help from those who care about you. On this point I disagree with the approach the Mercury family seems to use. For me, keeping information from your friends and family shows a lack of trust in them. That is a difference of opinion though and not a flaw in the story itself.
Overall, this is an awesome book.
I have only 2 issues with it:
- I want more. It is presented as part of a 300-issue run. The cover has a 1 on it. I want to see what the rest of it could be. There are references to past deeds of the characters and I really want to hear more about them.
- I didn’t like the feeling the last story left me with. I understand why it was there. It showed important sides of Miranda and her family and there is nowhere else it could go in the book. The rest of the book shows Miranda at her strongest. The last page is Miranda at her weakest. It felt out-of-place and I didn’t really want to see it. That is part of the reason I really want more.
(part 2 to be posted Thursday)