Pop Comic Review – Wanderlust Blues #1

‘In the year 2,143, the world is cursed by an other-worldly, eldritch energy only known as “The Corruption”. What “The Corruption” is or how it came to be is lost to history. All people know is that society crumbled after the arrival of “The Corruption”. Recently, however, various pockets of civilizations have appeared and technology in those societies is on the rebound.
Outside the protection of these insular cities roam Chimeras- monstrous creatures resulting from the Corruption’s arrival- who prey on anyone who has the gall to live outside protected walls. In the midst of these trying times, a traveling merchant named Raleigh and his adopted daughter Lavinia fight to survive in this harsh, unforgiving environment.’ (from 215 Ink)

Written/Art by: Sid R. Quade

Publisher: 215 Ink

Released: 24 May 2017

from 125 Ink

 

I had a difficult choice this week; I read through several comics trying to decide which one to write up for review. There was Islamic history, a queer take on a Bible story, hard sci-fi, a unique take on zombies, and others all with interesting stories and/or shout-out worthy art. But this one captured me the most, possibly because it’s such a mix of genres (post-apocalyptic, western, and horror apparently). This is produces in an engaging style that works so well, like a good cook taking odd ingredients and making something delicious (which is totally my cooking style, regardless of disagreement on the ‘delicious’ part).

I was interested to discover that the art style for Wanderlust Blues has changed – it was published online until last year when it was taken down for a reboot with a new art style, which is the current comic (not available on the old website linked there, but I don’t know if it will be eventually). The old style looks fine from what I’ve seen (an earlier published three-part Wanderlust Blues: Origins miniseries is available), but I definitely like the new one displayed here more. I know I’ve previously mentioned my fondness for detailed linework, but the bold colours make everything intense. Although by bold colours I don’t mean bright; the pages are tinted liberally with rusty reds and browns, bringing together a common feel of all three stated genres.

The style has definite overtones of classic cartoons (and I mean early age cartoons – look at those eyes!) and very expressive characters which make the whole thing feel over-acted in an entertaining way, and it helps the darker plot elements feel even more threatening to suddenly be happening to characters that were so animated and fun. It is not an easy feat to bring the horror tenseness to something that was established as cartoony, but Quade does it well with good use of colours and blacks; a foe is revealed and colour drains from the victim and attacker as they’re surrounded by shades of red and shadows. It’s more complicated than that but I’m not going to bother describing whole pages for you – suffice to say trust me, it’s done well, and while it’s not gory, heads up for a bit of stabby violence and a torture victim. Quade is an accomplished professional, and it’s obvious from the consistency of the background and detail work. The monster designs are mid-monster-transformation level of flowing weirdness and body horror, and the scenery is nicely understated. How well someone can draw their comic horses can be a surprisingly good thumb measure of their work, because drawing horses in a consistent manner can be hard and stupid and requires a lot of practice (horses only appear in this comic exactly twice, I just thought it’s something you should know).

from 125 Ink

 

I hope I didn’t give away too much of the plot, because it really is interesting, so obviously I can’t tell you. While we don’t see much of the post-apocalyptic part in the scenery, it involves monsters roaming the wilderness and people who are part chimera and part human, and hints of their uneasy place in society. The first page gives a quick run-down of the whole society collapsing and rebuilding bit so it’s not like you have to pick up clues to piece together some basic history of the world. The Western part is not-so-subtly intimated in the dialogue – it’s written with the accents in place so you phonetically read it to yourself with slathers of slang and bad grammar, but by gum it gives it a Western feel, along with some of the clothing design. The horror part is what I can’t tell you much about without giving away the plot, but like I mentioned before the artwork gives it proper weight following the lighter character set up to start the story. The whole thing flows well, and makes a complete story rather than ending on a cliffhanger after just introducing the set-up like most first issues.

This is a good story, and since Quade has apparently been working to get pages done for this reboot of the comic I hope it means there’ll be fresh issues soon. The style was very fun, and in experienced hands it gently moulded itself to the dark and light twists of the story well. I’m not fond of the phonetic dialogue but it undeniably helps make the feel of the comic. I’m definitely going back for more.

Thanks to Comixology.com for supplying this issue of Wanderlust Blues #1 for review.

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