Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Finding Gossamyr

 Let's not kid ourselves; writing is hard work. A grueling, toilsome, often thankless task that occasionally leaves the writer questioning themselves at every turn. It's nearly a miracle that anything of value is turned out in written form. This makes the task of writing for people of all ages that much more difficult. Think about it, you not only have to invent interesting characters that live and breathe on the page. You not only have to plot and create an intriguing story. Now you have to do those things and make it accessible to young readers as well as older, more mature ones.

It's these obstacles that make books like Bone, Thor: The Mighty Avenger, and Friends with Boys so astonishing. Well, add Finding Gossamyr to the list of stunningly successful all ages reads.

"Gossamyr" revolves around a young boy named Denny and his older caretaker/sister Jenna. Denny is sort of a savant and when he unlocks a math equation that opens a portal to a mystical realm, he and Jenna find themselves in the midst of an epic adventure.

The book is written by David A. Rodriguez who gets huge marks for creating not only a wonderful fantasy
tale but also for populating it with intriguing characters and having them interact in a logical, believable fashion. Particularly, the way Denny and Jenna interact with each other adds an extra layer to the story that you don't often see in children's literature. Jenna has a resentment for Denny that lies just below the surface, but despite this fact she sees him as her brother and she does her best to be patient and care for him. When given the opportunity to have some semblance of a normal life by leaving her brother at a prestigious boarding school you can't fault her for essentially abandoning him.

Meanwhile, Denny is this deeply sympathetic, likable kid with some obvious issues that he has little to no control over. He's a good kid though, and we learn this the instant he recognizes what solving the equation that leads to Gossamyr would mean for the denizens therein. His act is a selfless one and, despite causing his sister grief, we know that his intentions are pure.

So we have a fascinating story set up within the first issue and two highly identifiable and likable leads. The less you know beyond the brief recap and the introduction of the leads going into this the better. Zigging and zagging the story of Gossamyr is, like it's 3rd World brother "Stuff of Legend", impossible to predict.

If it was just an enjoyable story with solid characters "Gossamyr" would still be worth checking out. The pencils and colors of artist Sarah Ellerton set it apart from nearly everything on the stand. The book is beautiful. There's no other word for it. Looking like some cross between a Pixar animated movie and some Mary Blair fever dream, it's one of the most visually dynamic comics in recent memory. Whether this is being drawn digitally or by simple pencil is hard to say. There's definitely some digital manipulation going on but at which part of the process is hard to pinpoint.

The colors add so much to the story and the world of Gossamyr as well. It's not often you see this level of quality in the art on an all-ages, indie comic; particularly one where the penciller is handling the colors as well. It really is stunning. The leads are unique and, unlike many artists, Sarah makes Denny and Jenna look like real kids, not bizarre dwarfs with over-sized heads. She also does a wonderful job of illustrating the various creatures and characters that live in Gossamyr.

Finding Gossamyr is published by 3rd World Studios who, as already mentioned, publish Stuff of Legend. Both books contain intricate plotting, interesting characters and a uniquely beautiful "look". This is a book where the writing is so perfectly complimented by the art that to imagine one without the other can actually cause physical harm. It goes down as one of the best new ongoings and far and away the best ongoing all ages, fantasy book around.

For more all-ages comics discussion check out episodes 54 and 55 of Ancillary Characters' podcast! 

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