Sunday, December 18, 2016

Thirty-One Days of CCS #18: Laura Terry

I remain amazed at how far Laura Terry has come as an artist from her earliest work at CCS. Her wit and storytelling chops were always there, as was her knack for dialogue, but everything else was rough and unpolished. She has gone from that to among the very best in terms of pure craft that CCS has to offer, and she hasn't lost a bit of her edge. Indeed, her two most recent minis are studiously cute on every single page, and she took such pains to subvert that cuteness in as dark a way as possible.

Take Adorable Empire, for example. It's not just the infestation of cute creatures that are absolutely lovable. Her design of the protagonist, dour as she is, is at once cartoony and realistic in terms of body type and the way she moves. The design is so appealing that I would read that character in any kind of story and know that I would be entertained by it. The plot of this short story is that cute creatures are infesting the city and that she can't escape them. She manages to resist them by ignoring them as much as possible, but when a coworker squeals with glee over their adorable qualities, she is soon overwhelmed and presumably consumed by them. Even when one of them eats a small dog, the creature remains huggable. Terry shows the main character trying to find a way to coexist, though after a disastrous trip to a grocery store, they try to make amends by stealing food. There is no resolution to this story; we began in media res and conclude with the main character walking down the street, trying to shake the creatures off of her umbrella. It's tempting to make some kind of metaphorical comparison for these creatures, but I think ultimately Terry had a funny idea and wanted to exploit it as directly and succinctly as possible.

Kitsune And The Land Of The Immortals has a similarly dark tone, as it subverts the idea of a magical being making a young protagonist's life a wonderful adventure and turns into a more traditional mythological structure: that of a bored god screwing around with mortals. Whereas Terry used color to break up what was an otherwise black-and-grey hued story in Adorable Empire, color here is a kind of poisonous serving of cotton candy. Everything is bright and colorful, but the titular goddess Kitsune is bored by the splendor and the reality of immortality as one of where she ran out of stuff to do. The mortal world is drably colored by way of comparison, and young Francie is performing a ceremony with a friend to summon her patron goddess. Kitsune appears behind the person doing the ceremony as a way of messing with Francie, and it wasn't the last time. The reader is reminded that no matter how cute things might appear to be, something horrible will inevitably happen. Kitsune has to attend an interspecies wedding between a spider goddess and a troll goddess, and after the beautiful ceremony, the inevitable of what happens with certain spiders and their mates occurs on the altar. What's hilarious is that another spider goddess finds the whole thing incredibly romantic, even as horror unfolds in front of everyone. The issue ends with Kitsune hearing Francie say that if she had powers, she could crush her enemies with them, so she took this as an invitation to whisk her away to the land of the immortals to find some enemies to crush. I'm curious to see how much darker Terry is willing to get with regard to this story, and if she's even interested in something like a redemption storyline for Kitsune. Regardless, this was a highly amusing first salvo in this promising story. 

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