Updated: Jan 26, 2021
Writer: Chris Mancini
Illustrator: Fernando Pinto
Publisher: SBI Press
WHAT IS IT?
A fun, fast-moving fantasy mashup that sends three comic shop employees on a quest to save the world of Elvenwood from destruction.
Its the cast of Clerks dropped into the Chronicles of Narnia!
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Years ago, Jason was a young boy magically transported to a fantasy world. There he became the “Child Knight” and saved an elven kingdom from an evil witch.
Now an adult, Jason is back in the real world and is stuck in a mundane life as a comic shop manager. When the world of Elvenwood is in danger again, Jason is called to return. Out of shape, disillusioned, and a pain-in-the-ass to everyone around him, Jason bears little resemblance to the Child Knight he once was.
Can he once again be the hero? Can he get the girl(s)? Can he finally get his act together and save the day once more?
This is a tremendously entertaining series. Better yet, taken together issues #1-8 comprise a complete adventure with an interesting story arc and satisfying conclusion.
The blurb on the front is spot-on. I read the whole thing, all eight issues, in one sitting without even getting up to refill my coffee.
The release schedule for Long Ago & Far Away was unusual. It released weekly, only on ComiXology, for $1.99 per issue. This meant that getting the whole story took only two months and cost less than $25.
There were a few times I wanted to climb into the comic and slap Jason upside the head. He really is infuriating. But Mancini also lets you see that it is fear and a lack of confidence that drives Jason’s bad behavior, allowing me to cut him some slack and still root for him.
I liked the supporting cast a lot. Jason's friends/coworkers Phil and Marla are fun, and the villains of Long Ago & Far Away are the perfect combination of goofy and evil to fit the tone of the book.
Comic books have had a long tradition of merging sword & sorcery tropes with a more cartoony art style (Elfquest, Cerebus, Bone, etc.). Fernando Pinto does a great job of continuing in the tradition of those books. His lines and panels are very fluid. The book reads easily because he does a great job framing and executing his action scenes, and his characters are expressive and well designed.
The coloring fits the art well, which makes sense, as Pinto is also the colorist. He uses bright backgrounds and big blocks of color that accentuate his style, and really makes the pages pop with energy.
Letterer Troy Peteri keeps things very simple, and his restrained balloons and very classic lettering help to ground things. His words and effects read easily and cleanly.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
If you are a paper-only comic reader, your only option is to wait; there are currently no pamphlet or trade printings of this series. Mancini even tweaks comic shop life a bit at one point, cheekily reminding us that his friends at ComiXology are never unexpectedly closed when you show up to get your comic fix.
Issue #1 of this series has a lot of setup. Pretty much the entire issue is setup, in fact. It was entertaining, and did a nice job of introducing everyone, but there were a number of scenes in #1 that seemed to go on a bit long. Later issues move pretty quickly, though, so this is really just a small nitpick.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Long Ago & Far Away is a fun, quick read that keeps you wanting to turn pages.
If you like comics that just entertain you while telling a good story with some humor and heart, give this a try.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Rise of the Dragon Master by Chris Mancini & Fernando Pinto by Jeff Smith (crowdfunding in 2020)
Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons by Patrick Rothfuss and Jim Zub
The Adventure Zone by the McElroys and Carey Pietsch
If you like the art:
Sam's Big Chance by Fernando Pinto
Warped! The Adventures of Sandy and Angus by Fernando Pinto
Table Titans by Scott Kurtz and Steve Hamaker
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Chris Mancini – Writer
Multitalented: In his own words, Mancini is “a Writer, Director, Comedian, Author, Producer, Podcaster, and Parent, which also makes him very tired.”
Award Winner: His film SKINS was archived by the Museum of Television and Radio as an “Important Short Film.”
Serves as co-host of the Comedy Film Nerds podcast, which is nearing its 500th episode
Fernando Pinto – Art and Colors
Multitalented: Also served as the writer for Warped! The Adventures of Sandy and Angus
Outlander: Hails from Chile
Dream Team: Teaming with Mancini again on a Kickstarter in 2020 for a full-length graphic novel entitled Rise of the Kung Fu Dragon Master
Troy Peteri – Letterer
Prolific: Has worked for nearly every major comic book publisher over the course of a career that now is approaching two decades
Served as letterer on over 100 issues of Witchblade and Witchblade-related titles
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
This is a ComiXology Digital First title.
If you would prefer a physical copy, there are evidently plans for a trade paperback sometime soon, but it is not available or officially announced yet. For now, Long Ago & Far Away is available only through ComiXology.
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