What Did I Learn?
This is a review of Blue Spear, a graphic novel written by Andi Ewington and Eddie Deighton with art by Cosmo White. It begins with an illustrated interview with the Blue Spear’s younger brother – it is essentially the origin story of the Blue Spear. It also describes a perplexed tone about the Blue Spear based on the younger brother’s viewpoint. It’s a touch tragic; the Blue Spear doesn’t seem to have any overt family feeling anymore.
The comic proceeds to show the origin story montaged against the Blue Spear’s latest fight against the criminal element. It’s a pretty clever technique which hints at a deeper story that we are not aware of yet.
The story progresses as the first fight scene ends and Xodos (the villain organization) plans to capture the Blue Spear. They set a trap with the younger brother as bait and the next conflict scene begins as the Xodos team attacks.
It is drawn in a style that has strong manga influences yet without being too manga at the same time. It’s in full color and the color tone is typically blue or red with green highlights, which suits the Blue Spear nicely. He (?) is a water based sort of hero, though I’m not sure exactly how water and the spear tie together – that’s another case of deeper story lying in wait. Now, this story is based in Japan and the Blue Spear’s costume usually includes the round, cone shaped Asian hat, which has various names in different places and none of which I can pronounce.
It’s worth mentioning that there are a lot of lighting effects like cel shading, harsh shadows, strong sun beams, sheens, lens flares and glows. The underwater views are pretty spectacular, although they made reading the pdf a little difficult. I suspect the print version will have better contrast and it won’t be an issue. Even so, this is the sort of effect that Abrams exploited in the Star Trek reboot to great effect.
Interestingly, I can’t help but see the panels as shards or panes of glass. Each page has a unique panel contour and none of them are a simple rectangle. Some panels bleed to the edges, yet more overlap, others are shrunk and there’s plenty of white space.
On pages 11 (among others,) there’s this great technique where a colored bar is placed behind some of the panel intersections, allowing each panel to pop while anchoring them together as a unit. Sorry to tease but page 12 has this great shot of the Blue Spear you’ll want to see.
What Did I Learn?
They could have gone for a simple cel shaded look and added some flashy color effects. What they chose to do was make it better. Even if you didn’t like the art, you have to appreciate that they went for a stylized vision. That strikes me as something worth emulating for all of us. We should push ourselves to do just what they did in the Blue Spear, at least some of the time.