Writer: Allan Haines Art: Martyn Lorbiecki Publisher: Self-Published
WHAT IS IT?
A futuristic, sci-fi take on the classic, "Person who's not ready to be a parent is now responsible for a child" story.
It's Lilo & Stitch meets the family-themed-story-narrated-by-the-child style of narrative from Saga.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Dokker is a man who's a little rough around the edges. An orphan who grew up to be a card-playing, heavy-drinking loading dock worker (or the equivalent of one in this industrial future), the last thing he's ready for is being a father.
But, when he finds an adorable (and illegal) little alien, he's forced to make a choice: turn her in to the authorities or keep her safe and try to adopt her.
But anyone who's a parent knows that being one is a lot harder than people think...
Allan Haines opens the story with a good hook: we can tell this will be a redemption story for a charmingly rough character.
Martyn Lorbiecki brings the sci-fi world to life with an industrial flourish
A limited color palette mostly made of blues feels cold and melancholy, broken only by the yellow glow of technology. When Elli is introduced, she's purple, standing out from the environment as her own distinct entity.
We get a good balance of character reveals for Dokker between dialogue and narration. The bits of dialogue also provide exposition for the world, and we discover how it feels about orphans and immigrants.
Borderless panels make environments seem larger, more open, while word balloons have a thick stroke around them. You don't often see a stroke around the balloons but not the panels, and the stroke actually seems thicker than most of the line work, so it ends up helpfully making the balloons stand out against the art. The stroke is hand drawn, matching the organic feel from the watercolor.
Sound effects, like one of my favorites, "Hacked," are white and borderless against the blue background, keeping the aesthetic clean and cool.
Though Haines is still early in his comics career, he uses page turns and splashes well for reveals, and makes Elli immediately likable. Dokker, too, is likable in his own way. Maybe it's just his devil-may-care attitude once he's forced to care about someone, or maybe it's just one tired parent (me) identifying with another, but I find myself rooting for the characters early on.
Lorbiecki seems to have fun with lettering and finds innovative solutions for different expressions throughout the comic, layering phrases over one another, using a childish scrawl for Elli's speech, or technologically inspired error boxes for languages that can't be translated by available devices.
Lorbiecki also subtly, humorously defines Dokker and Rhea's relationship in a small detail on her communicator, shown when Dokker calls her: she has him filed under "Nobhead."
Seeing the postcard at the end helps understand where the story takes place in a lighthearted way. Plus, the beauty of space's inky blues and the detail work of the station is stellar.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
About halfway through the issue, leading/space between lines of dialogue gets increased and can lead to more air in speech balloons than necessary.
We don't find out the main character's name is Dokker until about halfway through the issue. If it's an intentional slow-reveal, I don't know if it pays off.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This first issue does a lot of heavy lifting, setting up Elli's world and the greater story. But underneath all the world-building, there's a depth of emotion and a great conversation around a society still struggling with race, class, immigration and more.
Elli promises to be a heartwarming (or possibly "heartbreaking"?) tale of family and growth that is unafraid of addressing these greater societal concerns. Plus the beautiful, organic-watercolor-meets-a-cold-industrial-future of Martyn Lorbiecki's art alone is worth the sticker price.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Drift by Edward Haynes & Martyn Lorbiecki
Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
The Family Graves by Timothy Bach & Brian Atkins
If you like the art:
Earworm by Rick Quinn, Milton Lawson & Martyn Lorbiecki
Sweet Tooth, Vol. 1 by Jeff Lemire
Instrumental by Dave Chisholm
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Allan Haines – Writer
New Face: This is Allan's first comic collaboration
Love sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian stories
Outlander: Hails from England
Martyn Lorbiecki – Art & Letters
Often works in watercolor and on one-shot or anthology comics
Is a big fan of, and is influenced by, anime, cyberpunk and dystopian sci-fi
Outlander: Lives in the UK, but is half-American
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Elli...Welcome Home will be available July 31st.
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Allan Haines & Martyn Lorbiecki characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Allan Haines & Martyn Lorbiecki or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED