July 5, 2012

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The October Girl #1



Written and Illustrated by Matthew Dow Smith
Monkeybrain Comics

The reality of adult life is setting in for Autumn, a young adult with a powerful imagination that’s being squeezed out of her, bit by bit, as life and its dull reality hit her as she serves coffee to those with mildly more exciting lives.  Yet things aren’t always as they seem, as Autumn might soon learn that her imagination isn’t quite as much a fantasy as she thought it was in this opening chapter of October Girl.

Though I am in a much better life position (and just about twice as old) as Autumn, I can relate to the things she says in the opening sequence and ongoing narrative that writer/artist Matthew Dow Smith provides to establish Autumn and why we should care about her.  I think it’s going to pay a lot of dividends down the road that Smith took the time to make her likable and someone we can identify with.  In a comic that looks to be strongly driven by one character, if the reader doesn’t care about him/her, then it’s a hard sell.  Autumn is someone we either know or have been, and so when we see that her life is about to be turned upside down, there’s a connection.

As with most first issues, there is quite a bit of setup, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s a lingering question of “be careful what you wish for” being prepared for the reader.  After all, Autumn wanted there to be more than minimum wage and an explosion at the end of the universe, and now she’s about to get it.  I’ll be curious to see if Smith follows up on that idea as we move through the series.

I actually first became aware of Smith’s work from his IDW Dr. Who material, and that same style shines through here as well, with Smith (so far) keeping things grounded in reality even if the story around those ordinary things is about to undergo a massive change.  His style is similar to Mignola in terms of the way he structures his linework, but there is less of a use of black spaces (though they certainly show up here in the alley scene).  Smith has a great feel for panel structure, using his visual choices to keep the narrative interesting while most of it is spoken in dialogue boxes.  It looks like things are about to get a lot stranger, and I look forward to seeing how Smith portrays the world that Autumn is about to find herself in.

The October Girl is going to take some effort on the reader’s part, but it looks like the story will be well worth it.  Now that the character is established and we have a hint of the world, it can move on to the meat of the story.  Given the good things we’ve seen so far, it looks to be worth the wait.