1 Night On Earth [Small Press]

1 Night On Earth (Ginger Rabbit Studio): It’ll probably sound horrible, but sometimes I joke with people that I’ve been reviewing comics for so long that I can just glance at one and know instantly if I’m going to like it or not. Yes, I can actually judge a book by it’s cover. When I saw this Giovanna Terrone cover, I fell in love a little bit, and then when I realized all of the stories were written by Giulie Speziani, I got really excited because her work I’ve sampled in the past has been so strong. 1 Night On Earth is billed as “5 Cities. 5 Stories. 1 Night.” taking place in Hong Kong, San Salvador, Miami, Los Angeles, and Sydney. All of the pieces are written by Speziani, with different artists accompanying each entry, and then self-published by Speziani under her Ginger Rabbit Studio label. This type of micro-anthology is an ambitious project for her to take on, and I’m happy to report that it totally succeeds.

Speziani and artist Shari Chankhamma lead with what is probably the strongest piece in the book. It’s ostensibly about a man in Hong Kong corresponding with his granddaughter from afar, but like the late Roger Ebert used to say about great movies, it’s not about what it’s about, but about how it’s about what it’s about. The Hong Kong entry evokes mood like nobody’s business. There’s a sense of longing, then sorrow, and it builds to absolute dread. It almost feels like some sort of post-apocalyptic story, without ever saying so, but I just kept waiting for something bad to happen. It was so convincing about how there are all these small scale little human dramas occurring out of plain sight in a huge gleaming city like Hong Kong. Chankhamma is a creator who came to my attention as the colorist on the great new Image Comics series Sheltered, but it’s so fab to discover she’s a terrific artist in her own right, absolutely capable of producing and coloring her own feature length work. I’d love to see more from this duo.

In San Salvador, Speziani teams with artist Anissa Espinosa and colorist Kerri Aitken. I really enjoyed the amber hues that pervade this story, emphasizing the inherent danger lurking just below the surface of all cities. There’s great use of light-sourcing and shadow, and a desperate sense of urgency to the way Speziani writes the dialogue. I know that it’s probably not intended to interconnect the pieces in any way beyond the overriding city theme, but I started to imagine very loose connections. What if the girl in this piece was the granddaughter from the first? They mention Miami, which then becomes the third piece. The fourth piece might be focusing on the killer from the second. The phone from Miami might link it to the LA piece, etc. The sister in the fifth could be related to someone in the fourth, etc.

For the Miami entry, Speziani works with artist Francine Delgado and colorist Janessa  Douglas. There’s an appropriate Latin flair to this story, the art reminding me of early Eduardo Risso lines. With killers and dive bars and tropical days giving way to balmy nights, it’s evidence yet again that Speziani and company can capture the mood, the vibe, the spirit of a city, through smartly rendered art and a character-driven snippet of storytelling. The LA story with Sarah Elkins takes an unexpected turn, but I enjoyed it for the simple fact that the protagonist has to drive. And for anyone who’s lived in LA, that small detail rings true, you know that you have to drive everywhere to get anywhere, unlike some other major metropolitan areas with a more robust transit system. And hey, any story that mentions street tacos and horchata is ok in my book.

The final entry, about Sydney with artist Jennifer Weber and colorist Kimberly Anne Black, is perhaps a little more “cartoony” an aesthetic than its sister pieces. Whatever it might lack in gravitas though, it makes up for in other ways. For example, as someone who’s spent time in Australia and worked very closely with some Aussies, it does capture the good nature of the people who tend to concentrate down the pub and the brilliant social elements of the culture. 1 Night On Earth even comes with a very good soundtrack, a short set list for each city that will satisfy the most hardened music snobs, and at the bargain price of just $3, I highly recommend this full-fledged floppy as a smart sampling of artists and urban haunts. Grade A.


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