November 3, 2014

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O Human Star Kickstarter Shines Bright

Imagine that you're a technological genius. Now imagine you've just woken up to learn that, years later, your mind has been placed in a robot body, based on ideas from yourself and your best friend/lover.

Once you get the hang of that, picture the look on your face when you realize that your friend/lover has placed another copy of your mind inside the robot body of a young woman who still hasn't graduated from school.

If that sounds intriguing to you (and it certainly did to me), then you'll definitely want to check out the webcomic O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti as well as the kickstarter she's currently running to collect the first three chapters into a trade paperback.

Anyone who's been following my reviews here over the years (and even back to the god-awful ones I wrote on my Live Journal) knows that I love relationship comics. When the creator has a solid handle on how to make their characters interact and really pull the emotional strings that make them feel not just three-dimensional, but real, you make me a fan for life. This is tricky enough to pull off when you're looking at normal characters, but when you add science fiction elements into the mix, even good writers can get derailed by all the cool stuff going on around the character. At the other end of the spectrum, some folks will set things in a speculative world and then do nothing with it.

The three main characters: Alastair, Sulla, and Brendan
That's what I like so much about O Human Star. Blue has managed to find the way to balance these two elements and combine them. We get the confusion and tension from Alastair, as he tries to adjust to the fact that he's now in a robot body, but that body still requires the same things that human do. Why is that? It would be hard enough to deal with a new life, but immediately running into his old lover/partner, Brendan, and discovering that Brendan re-created him not as who he was, but as a teenage girl? There's a lot of great conflict in that concept alone, especially once you add in the fact that the teenbot, Sulla, is of a different gender than Alastair. Again, why is that?

It's a great set-up, and Ms. Delliquanti has the storytelling chops to pull it off. She's able to give each of the main characters a distinct personality, and shows the confusion/awkwardness of the situation extremely well, all while trying to build out the world itself. Little things, like smaller, sentient robots, help to ease the tension, but not completely remove it. As you move through the story, Blue draws your further and further in. When I first started reading the webcomic, I blew through the first forty pages all in one sitting, which is unusual for me, even when I like a series.

Delliquanti isn't just good at plotting, dialogue, and world-building, however. Her linework, which is (appropriately) shaded blue through most of the opening pages, is outstanding. She's got a great eye for panel layouts, finding ways to draw the reader to just the right moment, with visuals matching the dialogue. You can tell when someone's uncomfortable, even if they don't state it outright, because of the body language. Facial expressions are frequent and shift, based on the needs of the story.

Recent pages show the care taken to give each character levels of detail, right down to their buttons, as well as providing backgrounds that continue to flesh out the world. This isn't something that's being thrown together as she goes (or if it is, it's damned impressive). Blue knows where she's going with this, and is inviting her readers to go along for the ride.

Obviously, you can read the entirely of the series so far online at her website. But I'm going to encourage you, if you like the series, to help beef up the Kickstarter. As of this writing, Delliquanti has made her goal, but the more funding she receives, the more she can do with her series, and that's a good thing. Plus, those who like to read things as a block can receive either a PDF or a physical copy, without going through the tedium of clicking from page to page.

Backing levels start at $10 for the PDF + wallpapers of the first volume, which covers chapters 1-3 of the ongoing story. If you want a physical copy, that's $25 for a softcover that also comes with a PDF and the wallpapers. Levels increase from there, including a limited hardcover for $60 and sketches, commissions, and other incentives as the dollar amounts increase.

Oh Human Star is a great comic, and I'm happy to see so many people backing it. If you like the premise and have some funding, let's put this one into overdrive and give Blue enough money to work on Volume 2 and beyond!

A final note: Thanks to Leia Weathington of Bold Riley for introducing me to Blue and this series. It's really great, and I can't wait to read more of it as it goes along.