Bird Boy: One Woman's Quest for the Head of Will Eisner / by David Anderson

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Okay, maybe Annie Szabla isn't out to steal the head of a dead man but if she's trying to get an award named after the aforementioned tomb inhabitant then I think she's well on her way there. See, in her spare time between designing video game environments, she's been writing up a weekly webcomic called Bird Boy, and while it's only been about 34 pages since late 2010, it is absolutely worth reading and tracking on your RSS feed.

Bird Boy is all about a little kid named Bali who wants desperately to grow up without the whole maturity thing. Living in a fictional world where his tribe hunts in snowy mountains, he disobeys orders from the hunters he's trying to learn from and goes where he isn't supposed to go, discovering an ancient weapon that nobody is supposed to find. It's only really just started, and even if it seems predictable, it's still a great read.

I really love the writing. Her biggest strength, I think, is in that she's taken the real history of two distinct cultures--from the looks of it, Inuit with some Aztec aesthetics thrown in--created an entirely new universe around it, and it works perfectly. You have exotic animals that are half rock, a lush forest that scares everyone in the middle of a tundra, and a great protagonist. The thing I love most is how she uses the founding legend of Bali's tribe to establish the world they live in, setting the tone and giving us a great first look into the society Bali lives in. I look forward to seeing how this universe expands. Bali's development is great too. We don't know much yet, obviously, but the opening scene gives us a great sense of how naive and headstrong our protagonist is.

The main reason you should be reading this though, is the art. Oh my gentle Jesus is it amazing.

Know what? I'm not even going to describe it or anything, I'm just going to post some images of it down here instead of throughout the article. If these screens don't convince you that her art is fantastic then just get outta my webzone.

 

In conclusion if she wasn't working for 38 Studios I could absolutely see her walking into Vertigo's (which yes, I know is just DC) main lobby, slapping this as her portfolio down on the front secretary's desk without saying a thing, and Grant Morrison would emerge from under the desk and just hand her money and a contract.

TL;DR: Bird Boy has gorgeous art, a fascinating fantasy setting and a little kid who doesn't know how to make an adventure boring. Read it.

Bird Boy is written and illustrated by Annie Szabla. Here's the comic homepage, and here's her store.