8house 4 (October 2015)

8house #4: Yorris part oneYorris is tiring. I wish it wasn’t. I also wish it wasn’t a published comic with an “it’s” error. But it’s both of those things–it’s tiring and it’s got an “it’s” error. And Yorris isn’t unimaginative or exhausting, let me be clear–tiring is far better than exhausting. But it is definitely tiring.

Because even though Fil Barlow’s art is careful, detailed, intricate and sometimes wonderful, the story is the kitchen sink approach to originality. Throw in so many tropes–dream creatures, an unappreciated princess (which seems to be a theme for the Brandon Graham “edited” books at Image), and taking the concept of clans to a truly obnoxious extent (working of the term “clan” into nouns)–and there’s nothing to connect with in Yorris. Barlow and co-writer Helen Maier are trying to hard to be accessible, the story doesn’t do anything else.

The back matter explains–in great detail–how Barlow and Maier used to work in animation, which might explain why the dialogue in the book is so bad. Because they’re used to having someone speak it and bring personality to it. Without a vocal performance, however, the narration is mind-boggling. The comic sets up an unbelievable proposition–this princess’s ability to see the astral plain is ignored because she’s a girl, even though she’s the only one in the clan with the gift. And there’s the implication others know of it. Or she’s just schizophrenia, which would be so much better.

I don’t want to be able to read 8house every month. I don’t want to look forward to it. I want to need to read it. I want it to be necessary. And Yorris just shows… it’s not.


Yorris, Part One; writers, Fil Barlow and Helen Maier; artist, Barlow; publisher, Image Comics.

8house 3 (September 2015)

8house #3Should it go without saying 8house is a little weird? Is there some expectation of weirdness just from the title itself; Brandon Graham’s involvement alone probably should account for some of that weirdness.

This issue starts a new story, Kiem. The protagonist is a soldier on a desolate planet where the soldiers do a mind-transfer into a organic-mechanical (presumably… it is Graham, after all) mech and they battle. Only Kiem has a different mission.

Graham gets co-writer credit; Xurxo G. Penalta also does the art. The art’s real good. Penalta gets lost in panels, which encourages the reader to do the same.

Most of the issue is a big lead-in to the “twist” and it’s not the most original sci-fi as far as the narrative details. Penalta’s rendering of this planet is the draw, along with he and Graham putting solid thought into the characters. But comic ends with Kiem sort of soft-booting itself for the next one; hopefully Penalta and Graham’s story has some connections to the details in the first half of this issue, otherwise why read it.

Except the gorgeous art, of course.


Kiem, Part One; writers, Brandon Graham and Xurxo G. Penalta; artist, Penalta; publisher, Image Comics.

8house 2 (August 2015)

8house #2: ArclightIt’s another good issue of 8house. Graham fans–especially of Prophet–will find the organic technology somewhat familiar, but with Churchland’s art welcome instead of off-putting. Churchland’s art–with her focus on expression, implied movement and landscapes–make the story feel magical. Even when it’s dangerous, possibly gross or scary. It’s gentle.

And Graham doesn’t get particularly gross. He tells a straightforward story. Arclight and the magician lady are in some trouble. Meanwhile, in a floating city ship (made from some kind of animal), Arclight’s former lady doesn’t much like the lord of the city ship. It’s a royal drama. Instead of taking place in the Middle Ages, however, it takes place in some sci-fi world.

But a lot of the issue is just Churchland’s art. The visible hesitation in some of the lines just makes it all the better. Every panel is so thoughtful.

Really impressive comic.


Arclight, Part Two; writer, Brandon Graham; artist, Marian Churchland; letterer, Ariana Maher; publisher, Image Comics.

8house 1 (June 2015)

8house: Arclight #1First part of the story and it’s clear Arclight is going to be something else. There’s something so human about it–when the magician (or witch) sits down to read a book with her recently resurrected goose? It’s a calm moment for the mysterious character. She’s royalty on a strange world (artist Marian Churchland does a gorgeous job of the place, desolate but full of life) and has apparently lost her humanity through some magical tragedy.

Writer Brandon Graham never gives too much away and, given the format (8house is an anthology book, Arclight has a limited number of issues), maybe he never will. With that mix of fantasy and mundane and the visual pacing of the comic, Arclight is a mysterious thing. That mystery is part of the pleasure of reading it.

Given Graham and Churchland’s skills, Arclight will always be an interesting, worthwhile read; but it’s good too.


Arclight, Part One; writer, Brandon Graham; artist, Marian Churchland; letterer, Ariana Maher; publisher, Image Comics.

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