Space: the final frontier! Well not really, because it’s been done many, many times before; especially in comics. But Spaceman and Bloater by Jason Piperberg was a breath of fresh air (always a good thing when concerning space travel) in all aspects.
We follow the cosmic adventures of an interstellar courier named Spaceman and his dog(?) Bloater as they explore mysterious and weird locales…. as you might expect, adventure, among other things, will ensue!
Spaceman and Bloater doesn’t feel like it’s trying to reinvent the wheel. It doesn’t want to be an homage to old space stories, but rather a love letter; without being beholden to the tropes and expectations one might expect from a cosmic space tale. What we are given is a collection of entertaining romps in weird places, and it feels very earnest.
The eponymous Spaceman and Bloater travel to different worlds for a different purpose in each story; from sports battles to special deliveries, the collection of stories’ value seems to be in pure entertainment, an encapsulation of the thrills of adventure.
In this way, it feels much like older newspaper comics in the vein of Flash Gordon (but with less melodrama).There’s a certain integrity to wearing the well-traveled adventure genre on your sleeve, without trying too hard to be overtly modern in it’s thrills, humor, or plot. It’s just a good-natured fun time!
That being said, I think that more time could have been spent fleshing out Spaceman as a character. If memorability in the minds of readers is the game, then more could be done to remember Spaceman’s name.
Being the first issue, this isn’t a huge problem. But I hope that later issues will make a more compelling case as to why Spaceman should continue to be the focus of our attention; as of yet, nothing in his personality speaks to a strong presence.
The Art of Space Travel
The art is incredibly beautiful, with expert handling of forms, color, detail… just everything. Because this is a collection of a few stories, there are different looks for each of them: one story is simply in color, one is much more detailed, another is in black and white. But they all have the same level of care in them, looking very meticulous in the way that they are drawn.
There is something classic about the art style. It doesn’t feel old, but rather familiar. And although Piperberg’s style might not be sleek and hyper-stylized like a lot of new comics, it still looks fresh. The art feels like a meeting of generations, the best of both worlds, an original take on a classic type of tale.
Everything that’s drawn is drawn well, which is quite impressive when you consider the zany contents of the story. Interstellar spaceships, aliens, monsters, caves and jungles, everything is rendered with the upmost technical mastery. It especially pops in color, but even without it, the art is strong. It’s just so pleasant to look at, and I admire the skill involved.
Solar Panels (and what’s inside them) and the Grand Design
The panels that cover the comic pages are pretty standard, again a reminder of a simpler design sense without the pomp of the modern comic. The camera shots in each panel are interesting, and convey the action of the story. Cool angles, a variety of poses, and great composition make each page a delight to look at, and easy to follow. It all feels effortless, both simple and effective.
The world (or universe) of Spaceman and Bloater is assisted by the creativity of the designs. Spaceman’s ship The Saritorian is inventive and memorable. Spaceman and Bloater as well, have unique designs that follow the trend of looking weird, but familiar.
Ditto to the other aliens in their adventures; the world seems very colorful and strange. I especially like Spaceman’s design, because he reminds me of a classic “Dad” character in his face… neither here nor there, but I appreciate that he’s not designed to look stereotypically “cool.”
My only complaint is that, although I understand that Spaceman and Bloater #1 is a collection of stories drawn at different times, I do wish that there was a consistency among the levels of finish. The most well-rendered parts of the comic are absolutely beautiful, and I wish that I could see entirety of the comic rendered in that way because I find that the art is this comic’s biggest draw.
Do I Need Some Space?
Spaceman and Bloater on the whole doesn’t push many boundaries, but it’s still a fun read. I think that it has the potential to tackle some really creative concepts in the future. It will eventually need to do something to increase the memorability of it’s world and characters so that the comic can compete with others in it’s genre, but it’s off to a good start.
For those who just want a good time: Spaceman and Bloater, interstellar couriers, delivers. If you want to add a copy to your personal collection, you can keep an eye on Jason Piperberg’s Twitter profile or his personal page on Comixology. We don’t have a release date yet, but the comicbook should be available very soon!