Monday, March 10, 2014

31 Days of Short Reviews #10: Veronica Mautner

Veronica Mautner, teenage daughter of my colleague Chris Mautner, handed out copies of her debut Indefinable: Book One. Unsurprisingly, there's a thank-you at the end to Annie Koyama, whose benevolence and munificence is everywhere in the world of comics. It's a solid and ambitious first effort, as Mautner clearly wants this to be the first part of a longer epic. The story concerns a war-torn world of some kind and a girl named Lark. When she is told that she has magic powers and must go on a quest to save her ruined father, Mautner puts her character through the paces of training and ultimately the beginning of her journey. This chapter ends with her first confrontation with a hooded adversary named The Void, who is responsible for all of the death and destruction across various worlds.

Mautner is a beginner, so her art is understandably rough. It looks like she mostly drew it in magic marker, and she crams her panels together in a manner that looks disjointed. Her figure drawing is lively and expressive, though she hasn't mastered how to draw bodies interacting with each other in space. The story is certainly figure-heavy, and I found myself wishing she drew more in the way of backgrounds and atmosphere, especially in a fantasy setting. In terms of the story itself, Mautner does a nice job in terms of setting up dread and fear and contrasting that with childlike simplicity and innocence--especially with Lark's younger sister, Dawn. The various mentors and magical teachers are sort of tossed into the narrative without too much background, and as a result, they serve mostly as plot constructs instead of fleshed-out characters. One could sense Mautner wanting to get to the good stuff in the story but feeling compelled to explain how Lark developed her abitiies--in other words, Mautner was compelled to provide an origin sequence. I found myself wishing for less of that and more of Lark actually exploring and doing things, as the comic just started to get interesting when it ended. That's especially true of the relationship between Lark and Dawn, where the older Lark is not nearly as clever and experienced as she appears to be in front of her sister. Mautner clearly put a lot of thought into this comic, especially in terms of effects like spot color, which was quite effective. I hope she continues to hammer out this story as long as she continues to enjoy it, because Mautner already has a sense of story structure, gesture, character expressiveness and intriguing plot ideas.

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