Writers: Dylan Klein and Lane Brettschneider
Art & Lettering: Jordan Chao
WHAT IS IT?
This science-fantasy, first-contact story is about a teenager who is among the captured when extraterrestrials invade Earth.
The familiar but unpredictable story about a teen being cast headlong into the unknown rings of Stranger Things, Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, and hero’s journey classics like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Spider-Man.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The story opens with Jack, a teenage boy with anxiety, poor grades, and a good heart, wielding a sword and running around a bizarre, alien landscape. Then we flash back and see how he got there: on a day like any other, the sun is eclipsed by unearthly warships that deploy fleets of armed soldiers who mostly kill but also capture people, including Jack.
But that’s just the beginning...
Starside is an epic adventure story that delves into themes of friendship, family, loss, and survival. In future issues, we can expect Jack to fight for his life and, presumably, take on the aliens who destroyed life as he knew it.
Chao uses line work to great effect, setting the mood and helping to tell the reader how to feel; for instance, frames crowded with fine details often complement scenes of chaotic action or depictions of uninviting terrain whereas calmer scenes tend to have greater expanses of color.
The moderately abstract style leaves room for the reader to fill in details with their imagination, which allows them some freedom to create a relatable world
Subdued coloring creates an ominous atmosphere and makes the few bright colors, like the red from the alien weapons, explode on the page
Colors are also used to show the reader what matters, e.g., by graying out background crowds, and when a major shift in environments has happened
Chao’s style is angular in general, but especially so for the alien ships and world, signaling that they are inhospitable and “other”
The paneling creates an immersive experience by mirroring what’s happening in the story; for instance, when things are normal, the frames are simple rectangles. However, action scenes have frames that slash across pages or that use irregular but symmetrical frames to show concurrent events
Chao’s lettering, which looks hand-drawn, complements his art, using text bubbles to guide the eye across the page and seamlessly blending sound effects with their attendant images
Characters achieve depth quickly, sometimes only taking a frame or two to come to life, which helps the reader identify with them and care about what happens to them
Overall, the creators use the medium deftly, especially in how it depicts concurrent events and uses visual cues to tell the story. Klein, Brettschneider, and Chao have created such a quality comic that it’s hard to believe they’ve never created a comic together. In fact, this is the very first comic for all of them
Appropriate for teens and older
Has been awarded both Comic of the Week (5/27/19) and Fantasy Comic of the Year (2018) by ComixCentral
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Some of the pages have intentionally jarring structures that can be hard to follow and require some work from the reader. Using a narrator could have alleviated potential confusion. Of course, having a narrator would significantly change the comic's dynamic. Also, everything required to piece the story together is on the page
Mild content warning for death and violence
Physical copies of these issues won't be at your LCS; however, they are available
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This phenomenal, award winning series makes the most of the medium to tell its story and absorb the reader. Klein and Brettschneider’s engrossing tale will leave you thirsty for more.
Get lost in a dangerous world with powerful surprises and a unique aesthetic that will get stuck in your brain like a thorn.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Woods by James Tynion IV, Michael Dialynis, and Josan Gonzalez
Die by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans
Descender by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen
If you like the art:
Fairlady by Brian Schirmer, Claudia Balbone, and Marissa Louise
Broken Bear by Frankee White, Adam Markiewicz, and A.H.G.
Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Dylan Klein — Writer
New Face: This is Klein’s first comic
Multitalented: Klein is a hospital transporter
Lane Brettschneider — Co-Writer
New Face: This is Brettschneider’s first comic
Multitalented: Brettschneider works a desk job
Jordan Chao — Art
New Face: This is Chao’s first comic
Multitalented: Chao works at a restaurant
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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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 Dylan Klein, Lane Brettschneider, & Jordan Chao’s characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Dylan Klein, Lane Brettschneider, & Jordan Chao’s or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED