I have to acknowledge that I’m starting this review on a guilty note. To explain a bit about how many of these creator-owned comic reviews come about, while some comics are titles I discover myself, other times creators will contact me by e-mail and point me in the direction of their comic in hopes of me reviewing it. I do try my best to review every single comic that is sent my way, but by this stage I’m afraid I have a pretty big, sprawling backlog, and every so often comics fall between the cracks.
Take Sunsara #1, this sci-fi comic written and drawn by Chris Pritchard. Today, when trawling my inbox for a new creator-owned comic to review, I found nested within some other already-read messages an e-mail from Chris, explaining that he was launching a Kickstarter to help get this comic off the ground, and he’d love my help in publicising the book and the campaign. Doing a bit of research, I was sad to discover that the Kickstarter campaign never made its funding, and Chris has shelved Sunsara – whether he’s done so temporarily or permanently, I do not know. After actually reading the first issue I’m even sadder, as it’s very good, and this is a campaign I would likely have ended up supporting or at the very least publicising. So, meagre consolation prize it may be, but I thought I’d share a belated review of Sunsara #1 today.
Reading Sunsara, the first thing that will grab you is the artwork. This is beautifully rendered stuff. With its highly detailed figures with textures flesh and clothes, and meticulously-realised cityscapes and locations, I was put in mind of the work of Scottish artist Alex Ronald, whose work I greatly admire. There’s a real Philip K Dick vibe to the sci-fi aesthetic Pritchard crafts for Sunsara, with the murky future metropolis putting me in mind of Blade Runner in particular. Also of note is the slick manner in which Pritchard frames his action sequences,utilising the technique of depicting each stage of a character’s movement in a single panel to convey a sense of quickness and fluidity. In addition, I’d like to state a note of admiration for the design of our lead character, vengeful assassin Sunsara. Pritchard has resisted the urge to go the cheesecake route, making Sunsara actually look relatively plain rather than the impossible knockout beauties that usually occupy genre comics, and dressing her sensibly in practical attire rather than something Barbarella-style held together by string. Are there missteps? Sure, there’s the odd panel with a strangely-drawn face. But overall, Chris Pritchard really marked himself out as an artist worth keeping an eye out for with his work here.
As far as the writing goes, that’s pretty solid too. The plot itself is pretty standard fare, with Sunsara witnessing the death of her father as a girl and growing up determined to find and get revenge on her father’s killer. But there are enough wrinkles in here to give it some original spark, with some unconventional twists on family dynamics that give the comic a surprising amount of heart. Pritchard shows craft as both an artist and a writer, then, but if there’s any weak-point, it’s in his lettering. Generally, it’s fine. But there were quite a few spots where I spotted basic spelling and grammar errors, or typos. And when comic lettering has things like that in it, it’s a surefire way to immediately take me out of the story. Proofreading is ESSENTIAL, as slip-ups like this can really hurt the credibility of a book that otherwise looks professional in quality. Though I will say he gets some brownie points on the lettering front by making “PEW! PEW! PEW!” the sound effect of the laser guns, even in serious, dramatic scenes.
It’s a shame that this may be an abortive comics project that I’ve discovered too late. But what there is of it is still highly worth checking out. Be sure to visit the official website, http://www.sunsaracomic.com, where you can check out the first (and I believe the second) issue for free, as well as scripts for the remaining issues, and support the book and its creator by picking up all manner of cool merchandise. But whether he chooses to return to Sunsara or not, I for one hope we’ve not seen the last of Chris Pritchard.
Sunsara #1 is available to read for free on the comic’s official website.