Best Fantasy Comics
I’m looking to showcase examples of the best fantasy comics. I’ll be deconstructing how the creative team have used the comics medium and relating it to my own manifesto for comics.
Here’s my first recommendation.
Porcelain:A Gothic Fairy Tale
Story: Benjamin Read
Illustrator: Chris Wildgoose
Colours: André May
My god this is a good book. And I can’t believe it’s not better known It’s an utterly charming story featuring some of the best storytelling in the sequential art medium.
I came across the book myself at Thought Bubble comic con in Leeds, UK (in 2012 I think it was).
It was my first attendance at a comics convention and I’d just finished the script for The Tide and begun to show round my portfolio and meet other creators.
Anyway the team of creators behind Porcelain (Improper Books) were giving out short, free sample comics of Porcelain). It went in the bag and I took it home and it was great. So when I was back at the convention the following year and the full book the Improper Books team was back with the published full book of Porcelain I immediately bought a copy based on the free sample (All credit to them for doing free samples. So much less awkward than sales pitch after sales pitch at conventions.)
So to the book and why I think it is a great example of the comics art medium and fits my manifesto for the comics medium.
The story as I’ve said is utterly charming. And it’s charming because it connects on an emotional level with me as a reader. I cared.
I cared because actions had meaning and because the creative team had used their characters and the medium for nuanced acting.
I’ll give you and example in a non spoiler way from the first few pages.
Look at the body language of the character “Child” in panel 1. That glare of defiance as she wipes away the hurt tells us so much about her character.
We don’t love her yet. But already things matter in this story.
The other thing the creative team gets right is timing. Timing is possibly one of the most underused and most messed up aspects of comics storytelling. So often there is a view on comics that the need to be reduced and efficient in page count. Whilst I agree stories in any medium should not be bloated we should not focus on fitting stories into a 22 page comic or 5 page short. We should tell stories with the length, rhythms and timing to create meaning that connects emotionally with the reader. No more and no less.
This team are masters of timing.
Look at page 1. Panel one establishing long shot mood, night snow fall, the architecture (beautifully subtle watercolour style colour palette) Panel 2 Closer in. Panel 3 The Gates, Opulence, Wealth and
Right on the beat
Dialogue, word balloon, off panel -
“This is a bad idea”
Prompting a question in the reader’s mind and into a compelling page turn for the reveal.
Then into page 2 where we see the urchin rabble and the beats of the conversation continue as a “rabble”. Back and forth the beat goes ending in violence.
Finally look at this Will Eisner like single panel sequence (meta panel) in which the branches of the tree act like panel borders as she moves through the panel on her climb. Brilliant. Beautifully executed.
And look too at how cleverly the inset panel on the bottom tier is used to imply a “film cut” away to the eyes watching Child.
And that’s just the first few pages. The book is jam-packed with demonstrations of how to use the sequential art comics medium at its best.
I’d thoroughly recommend buying a copy of this book. I believe Improper books got a French publishing deal on the back of their free sample in 2012. I hope that this books readership and distribution continue to grow. It’s great comics. A great graphic novel. Great sequential art.
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