I'm a 35 year old Canadian living in Ontario. I read comics, I love to draw and I collect comic art. I also teach karate, play hockey, and am a dad to 3 girls! My comic book passion lies with Batman and his pals with Nightwing taking a very close #2 favourite position. I began collecting comic art in 2013 and I have several commissions done by Ken Lashley and an amazing Francis Manapul Batman. As well I have sold a few of my own creations!
Here at ComiConverse we love reviewing Indie comics. Our Chris Barnes is here to give everyone the lowdown on a cool new book called Sparks.
When I stumbled upon a tweet where a writer was looking for someone to review his indie comic, Sparks, I was immediately intrigued. Clearly I have the right sort of people on my following list if I’m seeing tweets like that.
I got in touch with writer Glenn Matchett and got a chance to read his new book. It’s a murder mystery/detective story with a female lead. Judging a book by it’s cover, Sparks makes an impact right away; with the lead character featured prominently and some nice perspective work with the police tape popping out toward the viewer.
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Right away the writing drew me into the story. This early story has a voice-over from an interview playing on the TV, while the murderous act is playing out in the panels. The book is set in England if the depictions of the Bobbys and the dialogue lead me to the right point on the map, and a soap opera star has been murdered – strangled to death to be precise. The cops are on the case, but the agent of the murdered actress wants none other but Mel Sparks on the case. It was given away by the cover of course, but it was nice to see that we have a detective book with a female lead. Its not something we get to see very often and it comes as a breath of fresh air.
We quickly find out that Mel has a bit of a rapport with the police and gets onto the crime scene by playing the ‘I used to be a cop’ card and even gets time to question an important suspect in the case. I don’t want to tell you much more really, because if I do it will kind of spoil the story for you, but I can tell you is worth the read; especially if you are a detective story fan.
I think one of my favourite parts of the book is where she runs down her suspects and the artist simply changes the one element in the panels to go along with the narrative flowing over the images.
The art provided by Kell Smith is really good. She draws very expressive faces and really conveys a lot through the body language of the characters. I will say that some panels could use a little bit more of a boarder or some sort of delineation to separate then from other panels and a few of the word balloons are a bit awkward. But the use of perspective and a dynamically placed camera really make up for any flaws. The book is in black and white, but the colour on the front cover is fantastic. If that kind of colouring was throughout the whole book, I doubt I would have the quibbles that I do with the panels.
Sparks is not the typical type of comic that I read. No masks or tights. It really did capture and hold my attention though, as I wanted to know who committed the murder and why.
Overall, it’s a good story with a really nice twist that completely caught me by surprise. It also has good expressive art that conveys the different characters well along with the technical work that goes into solid backgrounds and design.
Sparks is very much worth a read.
You can also see more of Kell’s art on her tumber here.
Chris Barnes is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @Chrispy47