I’ve got to admit that I was pretty thrilled to be contacted to review The Maroon. Not only it was one of the first international collaborations, but it struck me as a pretty nice product at a first glance. The little comic, completely drawn and written by Derek W Lipscomb, came out in June 2017 as the first of a series. It is not the first comic by this guy, and it can be noticed by the professional work.
Let me explain why I think we all should follow the project closely. In order to do so, I might add some details that you’ll find in the book -I hope not enough to make your reading boring!
A Simple But Effective Art Style
“Yes, I have seen better. I have also seen way worse, if so” this is what I would say about The Maroon’s art style. It is not perfect, sometimes irregular. Coloring, shading and lighting might look a bit approximative as well. Some faces are a bit irregular. It is true, we are nowhere near perfection. So what? Even if there’s space for improvement, the art style comes through as nice and clear. No useless nor distracting details, synthetic lines, stunning landscapes.
Complicated drawings are not always the best choice, and such a style gives an indie-but-not-trashy mood to the product. Colors are also a good choice, conveying more realism to the little book. At this point, I should invite everyone to think about how no art form like visual ones are a way to see and re-think the world. In my opinion, to get a certain feel or being able to catch character’s thoughts and sensations just by seeing a drawing, is enough to say that it is effective!
An Intriguing Plot
Tennessee, 1850. Here we meet a chickasaw kid and his father, working in their fields and living day by day. Their life will be forever changed when a mysterious foreigner crosses their path. After a first, fast meeting he saves the little kid from a bear, but is wounded by the animal.
After being brought in by the kid to recover, we get to analyze and question his peculiar status. He is black, but yet wears Native American garments. We know nothing of him but the fact he’s accused of being a renegade and killing a man. Who is he? What is he looking for? The character raises so many questions I hope won’t be answered too soon, but disclosed slowly during the series; so far, so good!
The plot is dynamic, and follows a rule that I believe is never emphasized enough when talking about serial content: do not end at a dead point. After reading The Maroon #1 I was completely blown away by the questions that kept coming to my mind. Why are people after the protagonist? What will it happen next? Why did he do that? Where’s this other person? It all helps to keep and raise attention, getting people willing to pay at least for another number in order to understand more. This aspect is so underestimated that in some cases concerns me. How is someone supposed to keep following something if not encouraged to? Nothing is too short or long if it ends at the right point, and clearly Derek Lipscomb knows that.
The only thing I might complain about in future, but I am waiting to have my say about, might be the lack of originality. Native Americans, clashes, far west, are somewhat close to abused themes, both in cinema and comics. Therefore, much carefulness has to be used while talking about them not to fall into clichés nor bore the readers away.
So… Is it worth it?
Pretty often at The Indie Toaster we find ourselves staring at some cheap looking covers, wondering if they are worth it or not. Needless to say, as much often they are not. Nowhere as in the 9th art, in fact, both drawing skills and writing have to be well-balanced and satisfying to the readers. Homemade looking and gaps or incongruences in a story are to be considered at the same level, and can indeed push people away. However -pardon me the previous digression- none of this aspects was to be found in The Maroon.
The plot is well-built enough to have you wonder about the sequel, and for sure I would be willing to pay to read it. The price is nice too, an Italian espresso (0,99) for the digital copy, four for the paper one (3.99). Another thing to take into consideration is that there’s been just one person working on it, making the excellent result even more surprising. Would I buy it? Hell yes! Would I buy the sequel? For sure! And the one after? That will have to be decided.
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