Welcome to Scribbled Saturdays (I have a thing for alliteration, don’t judge me), where I will be sharing the fantastic art I discover through my wild and intense browsing sessions (you haven’t heard a computer mouse as tortured as mine, when I stumble on a good tumblr blog). While I’ll stick to illustrations and single works, I intend to feature comics, be they traditionally published or otherwise as comics compromise a good deal of my reading.
Ethan Young came to my attention after the recommendation from Carrie Cuinn, who knows her comics, and after a two-hour, middle-of-the-night click-through skirmish, I can count myself as Young’s fan. The current review reflects my impressions from the fifteen chapters that are up for grabs at Tails website, but the comic will appear in a series of graphic novels. The first one has been published by Hermes Press and you can get your copy now on Amazon (you should).
What’s so special about Tails?
What’s not should be the proper question. For starters, the comic blends elements from the super hero genre and the fantastic to add texture to a story that’s autobiographic in nature, thus deeply personal and intense. Tails follows the life of a university dropout, hopeful illustrator with many deficiencies in his relationships with his family, friends and the girls he dates through his life as he tries to find ways to move forward in his personal, creative and professional life.
Every artist goes through the starved and tortured phase and Ethan doesn’t make an exception. His life is rooted in equal parts humor and tragedy. The humor comes from Young’s knack for writing engaging dialogue and forming kinetic relationship between truly spunky New Yorkers that are ready to get in your face. Coincidentally, it’s where the element of the tragic artist’s life finds its fuel as Ethan often fails in his interactions with other people.
He’s not on good terms with his family. His love life is complicated as hell. His friendships are strained and his professional life often leaves him anxious about his integrity and questioning his success. Naturally, the exhaustion and the distress manifest into hallucinations and elaborate day dreaming sessions, where Ethan’s imagination reigns free and often serves as the tools he needs to give his fears a form and understand them.
The fantastical scenes bleed into his daily life with such ease you are left wondering whether the battles with anthropomorphic super-powered animals are just figments of his imagination. Tails builds a solid bridge between fun super hero antics with lots of heart and a clever slice-of-life comedy with enjoyable characters.
What makes the story a standout is the match between the story and the art in terms of quality. Young makes a bold choice to choose black as the main background cover, which certainly has a great effect on the overall style. The black bleeds into the panels and creates a sense of fluidity as there is a lot of shadow play involved. The fluidity in itself lends kinetic energy to the fights in the comics, which never feel confined into rigid panels.
Young’s line are clean and crisp, while at the same time he loads his panels with small details to make every scene pop. Tails might be black and white, but it successfully uses the monochrome color palette to its full advantage to make a lasting visual impression.
This concludes my thoughts on Tails. If you are interested, you can have more of Tails online and the Facebook page and Twitter. Also, next week I have invited Ethan here to talk about the professional aspects of his career as a freelance illustrator. That should be interesting.