Writer: Tim Daniel Art: Patricio Delpeche Publisher: Vault Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A disaster/suspense story about what tears us apart and what brings us together.
These might be two obscure references, but it's a lot like if the comic, Barrier, and the podcast, We're Alive, made a new, baby comic.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
El Sueño, Texas, is a border town seemingly split between its Latinx and Caucasian populations.
Avery Lee is a woman of Hispanic descent. She's currently pregnant with Hark's baby.
Hark is white, and heavily influenced by his father, who wants hark to have nothing to do with Avery Lee. There's definitely a Romeo & Juliet vibe of two warring families.
But when a crack opens in the earth in the middle of the town, and people start falling to their deaths and other strange things start happening, the survivors must forget about their differences and band together if they want to get through it unscathed.
At just under 100 pages, the story is approachable, and the narrative is tight.
If you haven't read any of the comics Tim has written or co-written, you're in for a treat. Fissure shows that Tim is one hell of a writer, and his talent doesn't stop at gorgeous comic design.
There's this recurring theme, stated over and over like a mantra: "We gotta take care of our own." It's ethnocentrism dolled-up in an illusion of caring for one another. It feels at home in the mouths of politicians who are only willing to send thoughts and prayers to people in need, but you see that same belief mouthed (mostly by the white men) by normal people in this comic.
Also very powerful is when Avery Lee connects herself to the pregnant white woman – it's not about differences in race or ethnicity, it's about our shared experiences, like motherhood, that matter even more.
Patricio Delpeche is a tour-de-force! Scenes play out cinematically, and it has the cadence of classic SyFy channel horror, though executed at a much higher level.
He (and probably Tim Daniel, too) puts so much thought to the use of white space to heighten a panel's effect, or the juxtaposition of events to subtly compare white jerks with their monsterized townsfolk counterparts.
There are also other scenes that work well from a dramatic sense and from a metaphorical one, like the powerful scene shown below.
Delpeche also gives great thought to panel design. In most scenes, panels are hard-edged, sometimes with figures or elements stretching beyond the borders, larger than life, building on that texture. The shapes of those panels can turn untraditional and asymmetric as action amps up.
Color palettes in every scene feel carefully curated, often limited for effect. The colors themselves are textured and look like pastel tones, which gives an earthy, chalky aesthetic that really works with the book’s themes.
It's a small thing, but there's a scene that's meant to show time passing. Delpeche keeps the timestamp in every panel to keep our attention on that time as it passes, which is much appreciated and keeps building the tension. So often, comics have too much space in between timestamps, you forget how much time has passed and lose the tension.
The hive-mind of the dreamers provokes so much inhuman terror in their otherwordly screams.
Deron Bennett sound effect work is big and bold and well-designed, often taking inspiration from the comic's logo.
Early in the book, a huge BLAM sound effect with bullet casing in front of it brings layers and texture to the art but also ensures you know exactly what happened. It's such a powerful punctuation to the scene that sets the tone for life in El Sueño.
Often the sound effects pull the art into each effect, then sets them against a white background for an effect like the whole scene takes place in that moment. Often, effects are large, so in the rare moment it’s small and delicate, you notice it and it's almost even more significant.
The way the book ends is such a giant middle finger to the walls between us, I love it.
The closing monologue works at face value, sure, but also as a commentary on what will happen if we don’t stop fighting over stupid, pointless things like race or ethnicity.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Some cursing and horror elements make this not the best read for kids.
Because the story itself is under 100 pages, some readers may want more when they're paying full price for the trade paperback. That being said, there's some robust backmatter, including a cover gallery, some character designs, the logo evolution and more.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Fissure is a sci-fi horror comic that's both timeless and incredibly timely in a world where racism and ethnocentrism are so prevalent.
It might be one of Vault's early books, but you should definitely not miss it – it's a fantastic and important read!
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Curse by Moreci, Daniel, Rossmo & Lorimer
Barrier by Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martín
Earworm by Rick Quinn, Milton Lawson, & Martyn Lorbiecki
If you like the art:
Heroine Chic by David Tischman & Audrey Mok
The Unsound by Cullen Bunn & Jack T. Cole
Prey for Us by Matt Garvey & J Francis Totti
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Tim Daniel – Writer
Multitalented: Also does all the design work for Vault Comics
Inspired by others in the business: Sonia Harris, Sean Phillips, and Fonographics
Dream Team: Co-wrote Curse and Burning Fields with Michael Moreci
Patricio Delpeche – Illustrator
Outlander: Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Multitalented: Also practices design and color work
Deron Bennett (AndWorld Design) – Letterer
Founded AndWorld Design, a lettering & design studio
Multitalented: Also wrote the comic, Quixote
Has a cool video where he talks about why he loves lettering
Adrian F. Wassel – Editor
Name Recognition: Is the CCO & Editor-In-Chief of Vault Comics, and plays the role of editor on most, if not all, of Vault's titles
Also runs Vault with his brother and father
Has personally helped other comics creators in their endeavors, even for non-Vault comics work
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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