December 17, 2011

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Umbra

Written by Vikki Chu
Illustrated by Vikki Chu
Self-Published

A young woman explores space and ends up in extraordinary worlds and places in this very well-detailed mini-comic from artist Vikki Chu.

This is exactly the type of book that I might get a convention.  While the cover is not very eye-catching (especially compared to the interiors), I was drawn to Ms. Chu's table by her other drawings.  That caused me to page through this book and ultimately buy it.

I'm glad I did so, because the linework is simply astounding.  I can only imagine the amount of time it takes Chu to create each page.  There are simply so many lines on each page, which I wish were more easily portrayed by the cover.  They are also quite varied, with only the recurring theme of the astronaut's lifeline or the space explorer herself to link them together.  One page might be the ravages of space, shown with hundreds of little marks in patterns while the next features a planetoid filled with plant life and a few animals.  In another sequence, the astronaut might bound away from demonic creatures or work her way through an underground tunnel.  Each page or set of pages is just a bit different, showing off Chu's art skills and the varied world that is being explored.

My own issue with Chu's art is that her human figure is the worst part of the whole thing.  The astronaut is a bit flat at times, lacking the feeling of being fully realized.  I think some of that has to do with Chu's excellence at drawing shapes and lines.  When the time comes for a less unified object such as a person, it's harder to shift gears.  Because it's the only non-unified object, it shows up a bit more than in a story set with other humans around them.

Still, I was amazed by Chu's overall skills and the flatness issue is a minor one.  If you like abstract comics that focus more on art than a complex plot and are a fan of artwork that stresses the importance of lines, Umbra is a comic you'll want to grab.  Just don't judge it by its cover.

You can purchase a copy of Umbra from Chu's Etsy Store.