Currently Reading: Aliens: Defiance, The Autumnlands, The Black Monday Murders, Black Road, Black Science, Briggs Land, Britannia, Deadly Class, Descender, East of West, The Fuse, God Country, The Goddamned, Heathen, Injection, Lazarus, Low, Manifest Destiny, Moon Knight, No Mercy, The Old Guard, Paper Girls, Rebels, Saga, Seven to Eternity, Shipwreck, Southern Bastards, Stumptown, They're Not Like Us
Super Fun Serialized Follies Summary File
SF #2 (Closed Caption Comics): Ryan Cecil Smith’s luminous follow up project to SF Supplementary File (which was on my list of Best Mini-Comics & Small Press Titles of 2012) trails orphaned Hupa Dupa as he’s picked up by the Space Fleet Scientific Foundation Special Forces, amid their conflict with Seductress and the Space Pirates. If I ever got to interview Smith, I’d surely ask him where the fascination with the letters “SF” came from. Hupa and Ace (the leader of SFSFSF) are on a mission to retrieve Admiral Condor from a guy named Armorio on Planet D. Smith slings this b-movie sci-fi jargon pretty rapidly, but it always goes down easy. Smith never forgets to have fun either, taking time out for laughs or running gags, like the way Admiral Condor’s surname is continually butchered by people and spelled differently every time it appears. At first I thought it was a typo, but then got the gag (though there is another typo in “seperate”). SF is a nostalgic mélange of influences, from Philip K. Dick, to LucasFilm, to the Japanese cultural touchstones of Matsumoto Leiji that Smith openly references. When the characters speak, it’s in a kitschy retro style with rhetorical questions they sometimes answer themselves, though it never plays derivative or as clunky exposition, but as loving homage to a time when names told you exactly what a person did or what their motivations were, as is the case with “Armorio” or “Seductress.” Smith’s line is an equally heady blend of styles which I'm tempted to classify as what Paul Pope sometimes refers to simply as “world comics,” in that their cultural point of origin isn't obviously singular. The line weight reminds me of old Tezuka or Tatsumi, but there’s also a more western aesthetic in there too, which reminds me of someone like Giannis Milonogiannis in Old City Blues. I suppose this makes sense, with Smith being an American transplant to Japan. I'm sure there are other comic references he could cite I'm unaware of (another good interview question). I enjoy how the panels are so densely populated, except when they’re not, which is done for intentional effect, like when Ace’s ship blasts away from Planet D (this is the page of original art I’d want to own, if you were going to ask). There’s also a tension in the narrative, always subtly present, between the natural world and the progress represented by these interstellar “Scientist Fighters” (there’s that “SF” again). This issue is basically separated into two chapters, the rescue of Admiral Condor and then the group’s return to the SFSFSF station where Hupa is indoctrinated into the team via a tour by fellow SF member Duke. We meet Hupa’s sultry roommate Lucy and by the end we’re reminded of Ace and SFSFSF’s larger mission objectives, which also emphasizes the comic being done in a glorious serialized tradition (and that panel of Seductress in the cockpit is just terrific, by the way, as I'm now realizing I used a lot of parenthetical asides in this review for some reason). SF is fun and cool and essentially a love letter to the type of comic we don’t get to often see sitting in the US, a reminder of a vibrant larger world. Grade A.