When I first started looking into the world of small press and self-published comics, I initially fell into the trap of feeling that I had to grade them on a ‘curve’, as it were. The simple fact was that some of the initial comics I read, while undeniably creative, were more than a little rough around the edges, and I found myself using the disclaimer “for a small-press comic” rather a lot. As in, “the artwork is great… for a small-press comic”.
Over the last twelve months however, that somewhat patronizing disclaimer has most definitely become a thing of the past, and never has that change been more apparent than with Savant, the latest offering from Planet Jimbot. Yes, it’s a small-press comic, but this is a title that would more than hold its own – excel, even – in any line-up of comic books from any publisher in the world.
Writer Jim Alexander has a proven track record for near-limitless creativity and a beautifully measured writing style that sees not a single word going to waste. With Savant, he has developed a single genius concept – a character who has chosen to chronicle the lives of the dying by absorbing their emotions and memories – and has built a wonderfully well-realised world around it. Lode is a brilliantly complex character, and the situation she finds herself in – an almost sci-fi Apocalypse Now – provides all manner of depth and intrigue as we watch it play out.
The writing notwithstanding, the one thing that most definitely jumps out at you with Savant is its stunning visual style, brought to life by the smooth, detailed and emotive pencils of Will Pickering and the luscious, almost psychedelic colours of Fin Cramb. They work in perfect partnership here, and are given a dizzying range of content to work with by Alexander, from brutal up-close violence to dried-out dusty forests to luscious greenery. Everything is handled with the same level of detail and care, and as Alexander continues to fire out the gobsmacking creative ideas at machine-gun pace (Lode’s use of colour as a defence mechanism, and the beautifully poetic Bryronious creatures, to name by two), the artistic partnership matches him every step of the way, bringing each and every idea to life right before our eyes.
This is a comic that deserves to be read by as wide an audience as possible, and if it were more readily available on comic book shelves, would undoubtedly be a massive worldwide hit. Alexander, Pickering and Cram have put together something truly special here; a stunningly illustrated, brilliantly conceived tale that jumps out of the pages and pretty much forces you to care about it.
I’ve read and reviewed a lot of small press and self-published comics over the last year, but I can honestly say, this may be the very best of them. Hell, this may be one of the best comics full-stop that I’ve read in quite some time. It’s just that good. Boundlessly creative in every sense of the word, this is a title that’s going to need to rely heavily on word of mouth to reach the audience it deserves. So buy it, share it, talk about it, do whatever you can to spread the word. Savant is for real, people.
High praise indeed… for a small-press comic ;)