James B Willard has given me the opportunity to take a look at the first issue of his Penny Palabras story — available through Amazon (just click the cover, as usual) — and I must say, it’s very interesting.
Now, I will admit, it’s hard to decide what to say about a single issue of a larger story. I don’t have the whole plot, after all. But each issue does have a job: it has to establish some stage of the larger plot; in this case, it needs to introduce everything.
This does very well.
Let’s start with the fun stuff in graphic media: the art! Patrick K Beavers does a wonderful job. The comic is in greyscale, and this was a great stroke, I think, in maintaining the somewhat … let’s use creepy, creepy’s a good word, tone of the overall story. The lines are crisp — despite the monochromatic scenery, you can distinguish features; this puts this lightyears ahead of some of the offerings I’ve seen from DC or Marvel at times.
The story itself, an introduction to, well, as the blurb says:
Penny Palabras, 17, has experienced the paranormal for years. She knows that things aren’t always what they seem. Now, she’s tormented by a malevolent entity called the Straw Man. As she searches for ways to banish him from her life, she’s haunted by more than ghosts. Her nightmares won’t let her sleep, her friends and family can’t understand, and the Straw Man is getting more powerful every day.
The setting, the characters, the story, all leave you wanting more — leave you needing that second issue. In this it does its job well. I’m not personally a fan of the issue-by-issue story arc format usually called “writing for the trades” and will lean more quickly toward the old-school episodic issues with occassional multi-issue stories, or just a good ol’ graphic novel. But, that’s me, and the comic universe right now is this. So who am I to judge?
If you’re looking for something light-hearted and silly, I’d say stay clear of this. But if you want a good bit of paranormal thriller, with some suspence thrown in … or maybe that’s the other way around … whichever, you should certainly give this a read. Hell, it’s worth the $2.99 sticker price just for the artwork!