Monday, November 9, 2015

Thirty Days of CCS #9: Amelia Onorato and D.W./Kevin Uehlein

Ultima Thule, by Amelia Onorato. Onorato has largely made fantasy her genre of choice as a cartoonist, albeit with a very specific point of view and aesthetic. Onorato has merged dark but fantastical concepts largely from a feminist perspective, all while closely hewing to whatever overriding idea is present in the plot. Ultima Thule is something of a departure in some respects, as a Roman engineer named Marcellinus (of African descent, which I thought was an interesting touch) gets exiled from the mother country and gets shipwrecked. He washes up in Ireland, in a remote village that depends on its sheep and rappelling down cliffs in order to steal birds' eggs. He's viewed as a sort of curiosity, unskilled in any of the activities that kept the tribe alive, until he engineers a plumbing system that drew water down from a mountain stream to the village. Onorato neatly ties together a village custom, Marcellinus' increasing affection for the village and his initial rescuer in particular and a tense moment to bring the short story to a neat close. It's an incredibly effective little story, thanks in large part to Onorato's increasingly confident character design and remarkable efficiency. The mark of a maturing artist is that their work has little in the way of filler or overdrawing, and this exercise certainly shows that Anorato is at that point.

KJC #2, by D.W. and Kevin Uehlein. Written by D.W. and drawn by Uehlein, this is a slick, engaging and wordless anthropomorphic story about a bull-headed male sent off on a mission by an alluring female. Its virtues lie chiefly in Uehlein's dazzling use of blacks and fluid panel-to-panel transitions, speeding up and slowing down the action as the narrative called for at the time. Given no information other than what was on the page, we start out believing this to be a hero's journey, as the bull-headed male has to think and fight his way through all sorts of obstacles. What appears to be an undersea adventure in the wild suddenly turns into a city adventure, where the reader starts to get clued in that not everything is at it seems. Then the story takes an almost Tarantino-esque turn for the violent, as the reader understands that this is a delicately-balanced caper that simply needed one last man for the job--and he and his crew wind up taking their just reward in the end. It's a well-paced, clever and simple story whose twists are eminently satisfying.

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