Monday, October 31, 2011

OCTOBER COMICS Starchild by James A. Owen

James Owen’s Starchild series was one of those books that would rise to the top of my “to-read” pile when it was being published regularly back in the early 90s. I love that book and have read it a number of times through the years.

Not a horror book – as most of my other “October comics” offerings have been – it is a book perfectly suited to reading during this time of year when the days get shorter and the air becomes cooler. This was pointed out to me by my friend from the CGS forums, Adam Murdough, and when he shared this insight, I knew instantly he was correct.

The tale of the Higgins family, the bulk of Starchild is set in the timeless village of Fool’s Hollow near a magical forest. Hearkening back to our romanticized versions of ancient English villages, this is a tale wherein mythical characters like Titania live alongside caricatures of some of my favorite fantasists such as Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore. It’s a masterful blending of myriad times and settings that Owen manages to pull off with intelligence while never forgetting to tell an entertaining story.

Owen both writes and draws these tales, and his art meshes wonderfully with the writing. Owen’s delicate lines and slightly rough style are reminiscent of old woodcuts, evoking through his artwork the atmosphere of such a tale. One can almost hear the wind whistling across the glens as the pages turn. Drawn in a different style, or by a different artist, I don’t think Starchild would evoke such wonder as it does.

Within the pages of Starchild, one encounters mystery, high drama, and familial secrets tempered by the whimsy and lyrical comedy of characters such as Old Tom and Martin Humble, and simmering beneath it all is the magic of stories, the kind that ignited our imaginations as children.

If you love fantasy and appreciate the mood found in that hour right before midnight in the early autumn, then this is a book for you. Definitely worth seeking out, Starchild is best read on the porch at dusk, with a steaming mug of cider close by.



Naieva Bookist said...

Great review.

heidi2524 said...

I read this story in The Essential Starchild books which has all the original comics plus lots of extras - sketches, short stories, author commentary, etc.

Chris Beckett said...

@Naieva: Thank you. I appreciate the kind words. This book obviously made an impression on me, since I wrote that review having not read the actual book in a couple of years.

@heidi: I want to check those out someday. I had the original issues before I found the collection for a steal. I passed along those original issues to the gentleman I mention in the piece. He loved them as well. It's always nice to find like-minded people.