5.21.2013

Natural Satellites [Small Press]

Titan #1 (Family Style/Press Gang): There’s a plethora of great comics at the Study Group Comics site, but you guys know my personal preference for print, so I was very excited to check out this first tangible installment from Francois Vigneault. It did not disappoint. In the far-flung future of 2192 on Saturn's moon of Titan, MNGR Joao da Silva is dispatched to resolve production inefficiencies exacerbated by labor disputes. The union problems seem to be rooted in racial inequality between the Terrans and Titans, the former’s management and security staff of 568 heavily outnumbered by the latter’s genetically engineered workforce of 50,000. Complicating negotiations are some hot-headed Terran officers and equally ill-tempered Titans on the other side of the equation, MNGR da Silva maybe acting too bold for his own good, and a very subdued and odd sexual tension between him and his Titan liaison handler Phoebe Mackintosh. Vigneault constructs the world of Titan and the basic story premise in the tradition of the best kinds of sci-fi. While exploring a logical progression of fascinating speech patterns and technological advances (things like iPhones and iPads simply become the “i” and just the “i,” where your entire body and its functions are internally networked via voice commands), we find that the specific details may be different, but the tensions are essentially the same. There will always be differing worldviews between management and entry level line workers, there will always be power struggles, there will always be economic tension, racial tension, and sexual tension. There’s no false utopia presented in Vigneault’s future world, merely an aspirational sci-fi narrative that allows us to reflect back on our own social issues through the lens of this re-contextualization process. Vigneault’s lines dance between a sort of Herge influenced European classicism, complete with ligne-claire coifs of hair, and the full-bodied beady sweat style of many modern alt cartoonists, running the erratic lineage from Robert Crumb to Charles Burns to  Noah Van Sciver. Vigneault is generous with his world-building backgrounds, and offers a warm tri-color glow of black, white, and an orange hue that gives the impression of what life must be like on a distant moon orbiting a gas giant planet. Compiling the first two installments of a planned six, complete with an unexpected intimate cliffhanger, it also gives me the impression that I can’t wait to see what’s next in this series. Grade A.

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