I opened Man From Space #1 expecting to read another one of those poorly conceived, trying to be clever comics that I see so many of in the market of self-published ventures. It just looked cheap at first glance, like the guy behind it made a comic using Microsoft’s Paint because it’s his only hope of expressing himself. Then, to top it off, it’s about some bearded astronaut and his pet fish, which only came off to me as some desperate statement of “hey, isn’t this quirky and wild!?,” when in reality it’s slow and not very creative.
Thankfully, I don’t feel as if my time was completely wasted reading Man From Space because splashed on its pages are some entertaining examples of color and design.
And that shouldn’t come as a surprise because writer/artist Marc Jackson works as a graphic designer by day. It’s pretty intriguing to see how he applies those skills to this example of comic book storytelling.
The artwork exemplifies a very geometric base. All of his characters possess a rectangular core while limbs and such branch out, and a similar approach goes for most of the visual components throughout the book. For some, this artwork could lack the “mature detail” that’s become an industry standard, but to me Jackson’s approach works as a smart method of minimalism. Something that I find very interesting in terms of comic book artwork.
The colors in the comic work the same way. Many of Jackson’s story cues and beats are fed by his peculiar choice of color, which tend to be very up front and powerful rather than play the card of a subtle mix or work with shading.
Visually, I feel the comic book wins out in some sense because, one, it’s not necessarily a visual take I’ve seen before, and two, Jackson uses the tools of digital illustration in a way that I feel says something of value--that even with all of this technology and advancement in the way comics are produced, simplicity still does the job well.
But that’s one half of the product. In terms of a script, I would have enjoyed a little something more.
Man From Space is a very tangential work, and part of me respects its ability to float around, but after ten pages I really needed to feel some sort of purpose or point in the narrative. I never got that. Instead, the comic piles on more and more situations and characters as it runs the rest of its thought route. After reading an interview with Jackson I learned he literally wrote this comic page-to-page after drawing it, so I get why it reads this way, but I’m not taking that as an excuse.
He may have made story a secondary feature, but a comic book, even though visual, involves both parts, and Jackson let the script slide. You can’t just do that; it’s a half-hearted attempt. And even if it may have been intended, I feel the intention did not translate into a solid final product.
Man From Space seems to celebrate that sense of comic book making we did in the 5th grade. It has the goofy premise, the page-to-page writing and the very DIY visual aesthetic. I’d say it’s a lighthearted read that offers up an interesting alternative to comic book art.
TL;DR Man from Space presents digital illustrations that highlight an interesting approach to minimalism, yet its script could have used a little more meat on its bones.
A review PDF of Man From Space #1 was graciously provided to Spandexless by the author.