The Secret Science Alliance!

Fri 11/13/2009

One of the items on my daily "to do" list for this month is to READ COMICS. Each time I attend a comics show, I walk away with a huge stack of minicomics and usually a few book-length comics as well. And for whatever reason, I am really anal about reading all the comics I get, in the ORDER that I get them. At this point, I'm still trying to get through my stack of comics from the Stumptown Comics Festival (which was back in APRIL), which means I still have stacks of comics to read from MoCCA, Heroes Con, TCAF and APE. Oh, and I have a stack of comics that people have sent me in the mail. AND an ever-growing stack of comics from my CCS students.

This is all to say that only a REALLY special book, that I'm SUPER excited about would be allowed to "cut" in this line. And The Secret Science Alliance is just such a book!

I first heard about The Secret Science Alliance when Eleanor Davis posted some preview pages of it on her LiveJournal a year or so ago. I was SUPER excited, because not only am I huge fan of Eleanor's comics and illustration work, but she also assembled a comics dream team to help her out with the project! Eleanor's husband Drew Weing would be inking it and Joey Weiser and his wife Michelle Chidester would be coloring it. They didn't disappoint!

The finished book is full of hilarious, quirky characters and every page is overflowing with all kinds of amazing detail, which really sucks you into the world. Eleanor's page layouts are almost as inventive as the inventions created by the characters, and the action-packed plot flows straight through from start to finish without a hitch. Usually Drew employs a cross-hatching inking style with a wide range of textures and tonality which is just stunning to observe. For this book however, Drew kept most of the shapes open to hold the colors, but the sensitivity of his line weights creates a great sense of depth, and he always guides the eye to the most important aspect of each panel or page. And man, the colors are really great too! Even on the jam-packed splash pages, every object is carefully colored to make it separate from the other objects surrounding it. I will definitely be pointing to this book as an example of great comics coloring when I teach coloring workshops in the future!

Basically, it's just a really REALLY awesome comic book. If you have a kid who likes science even a little bit, you should TOTALLY get them this book. Or heck, if YOU like scientific stuff, you should get it. It's one of the best comics I have read in a really long time.

Maybe this goes without saying, but I feel like we are at a really exciting moment in American comics right now. It seems like there was another wave of "Graphic Novel" fever in publishing a few years ago, and publishing houses were snatching up a lot of young, talented cartoonists from my generation. And now it's been 2 or 3 years and we are starting to see some of the original work that was commissioned. I think we are going to start seeing a FLOOD of books just as awesome as The Secret Science Alliance coming out in the next couple of years, and hopefully that's a trend that will continue for a long time. I'm also hoping this book was the first of a series, because I'd love to see some more adventures involving these characters!

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