Saturday, May 21, 2016

Saturday Revue May 21: Unknown Lands

Need A Little Something To Perk You Up?
Sit Up And Pay Attention For

Whoooo boy. Blood magic. Sex magic. Sigils and soul stealing.  Hang onto your hats and send the kiddies home, it's going to be a wild night...
Unknown Lands, the creation of Rosi K√§mpe, bills itself as dark fantasy. Dark? This one's pitch black! It'll thrill you, it'll chill you, and it'll make you laugh. This, lads and ladies, is what modern fantasy should be; witty, wild, clever and dangerous.
It all begins simply enough: three old friends. Trouble on the horizon. A bargain made. And then it gets a little...well....

The Rating

Oooooh are you in for a treat.

The Raves

The story begins with a premise common in urban fantasy; all the old stories come back out of the closet, and we have to learn to live with them.
But that's when it goes right off the trail and into the deep, dark woods. Just when you were settling down for a niiiice fantasy full of elves and talking trees, you find out that elves are assholes, there's people out to eat other people's hearts and blood is spattering the scenery. The story sets up all of this without a hitch, telling a completely organic story that flows from event to event with the logic of the old folktales we don't read the kiddies anymore.
If you ever read Runaways or Bordertown, Unknown Lands has much of that flavor, but this is all grown up. This story is decidedly 18 and up only, both in word and deed. If you like Saga and Sandman, you're going to want to read Unknown Lands; it has a similar depth, skill and wit to the work.
The plotting and pace is flawless; it wraps its protagonists up in a Grecian tragedy net of cause and effect. At every step their decisions are logical, but where they end up is not a pretty place.
 Characterization in this story is another one of its great features. They may be pawns of Fate and the Champion they now serve, but Vard, Kai and Maryna are no dolls. Vard in particular handles life with a sardonic humor, while Kai...
Kai endears himself in other ways. And Mischief and Inara are some of THE BEST plausibly amoral and inhuman character writing I have ever seen. They really aren't crazy, they really aren't bad guys. They just play out of a whole different rule book than you and I.
The world around them is also wholly organic and plausible in feel. Take for instance the panel below.

You could sit there and buy a drink. It's a world you can connect with. 
And by the way, THE ART. When this comes out in print, I'm buying. It's dark, it's twisted and it's gorgeous. Every page is a treat for the eyes.  Anatomy (and I mean all the anatomy, did I mention this is rated R?) is perfect, coloring effects are gorgeous, line work is expressive and full of character, and the lighting does remind me of Runaways and Saga quite a lot. Read that as beautiful and stylish.

The Razzes

I have only one area for the creator to seriously work on, and that's their word bubbles. They're legible sure, but they're cramped, awkwardly shaped and  detracting from the rest of the work. They look cut directly our of a script and pasted over gorgeous art. I'd love to see that change.

To the creator, I'd suggest this: Try laying out your dialogue out in the shape of a diamond. This immediately fixes the cutout look, and forms your dialogue into something that will easily fit into a word balloon. 

After that, make sure there's at least a few millimeters of white space between each letter and the edge of the balloon to avoid the cramped, claustrophobic reading experience. It'll really give that extra professional gloss to pages that are already darkly delicious.

The Revue

A real eye catcher, brain bender and rollercoaster. A must read.

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