Flights: New Comics From Alexis Frederick-Frost and Penina Gal

Posted by on December 30th, 2009 at 5:13 AM

Rob reviews THE FIRE MESSENGER #2, by Penina Gal; and an untitled mini from Alexis Frederick-Frost.

Of all the alumni from the Center for Cartoon Studies, Alexis Frederick-Frost’s work has always been among the most visually lively.  Usually brush-heavy, his recent untitled mini about the travails of a sailing ship on an ocean voyage used a slightly clearer line.  Entirely wordless and set in a landscaped format on a 9×4 inch page, Frederick-Frost not only draws the reader’s eye from the left of the panel to the right, he uses the flip format of the book to create a real sense of animation as the boat keeps sailing.  One of the more clever conceits of this mini is that the reader never sees a human being–only ships, sea-monsters and crashing thunderstorms.  It’s a remarkably engaging comic given its thin premise, but Frederick-Frost actually crafts a complete narrative with a satisfying ending.

THE FIRE MESSENGER #2, by Penina Gal.  This is part of what promises to be a long fantasy saga that reminds me a bit of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series.  The first issue concerned a boy with a firestarter ability who somehow wound up in a different dimension at the end, one where things are very different.  This issue begins in that dimension with a girl who has learned that she has her own set of powers that are out of control.  After a consultation with a doctor, it’s decided that she will attend a special school for people just like her.  The girl, Clara, quickly figures out that this is less a school than a prison and appeals to a sympathetic adult for help–who reveals the existence of the boy.  The comic is slowly and deliberately paced as we learn of Clara’s story and life, and share her horror at the fate of those with unusual powers.  Like in Pullman’s books, it seems that a special boy and girl will be matched together to fight against a totalitarian authority.  Gal’s spin on this sort of story comes with her storytelling style, which is told more through color than line.

Gal’s use of pastels creates a contrast of cheery colors and horrible events that’s fitting, given that this story is told from the perspective of the child.  She sees the world in these bright colors, but they morph into pain and discomfort.  When she passes out from the pain of the use of her ability, there’s a two page spread of nothing but an orange-and-salmon swirl.  Gal’s line is simplistic, just there to carry basic form and character expressions, but it serves to give enough structure to allow the story to be told through color.  If anything, Gal’s line could be refined even further.  There’s an occasional wobbliness to her line that works against the precision of her page design, especially when she’s depicting motion.  That doesn’t detract from the strength of her character design nor the depth of detail she establishes in creating her world.

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One Response to “Flights: New Comics From Alexis Frederick-Frost and Penina Gal”

  1. […] Review, Sketch for You, Too By Penina The Fire Messenger 2 got reviewed over on The Comics Journal blog! It’s from a few days ago, but I just found it now, and seeing as it’s my birthday for […]