A fantastical world built from music is under threat by a melody-twisting tyrant. A desperate handful of individuals from varying musical communities are attempting to survive in this once peaceful land. And a young man is seeking vengeance for his mother’s death. Oh, and he has a sword-guitar at his disposal.
There’s three reasons right there why I adore Nich Angell‘s sci-fi/fantasy/adventure comic 7STRING. Since 2014, Nic has kept us entertained with this swash-buckling adventure series. 7STRING has a rich, animated swirl in its tuneful soul, both in execution and concept. Our story follows musical prodigy Zach Briarpatch as he travels across the musical world of Melodia, seeking revenge for the death of his mother at the hands of a villainous tyrant, Lars Troubleclef, who wishes to mutate Melodia into a world of his own desire.
7STRING currently consists of five issues spread between two volumes, along with a one-off crossover special with the equally-spellbinding Afterlife Inc.. by Jon Lock, and further adventures set in the Big Punch multiverse to be found in Big Punch Magazine, the brainchild of Nich and Jon’s collective group Big Punch Studios. Work is currently afoot on 7STRING‘s third volume, meaning what better time than to celebrate this rad indie title by counting down seven reasons you should be reading 7STRING!
7. A Love of Comics
When reading 7STRING for the first time, I felt transported back to the days when I’d celebrate weekends away from school with candy-coloured Saturday morning cartoons and gazing in awe at the kaleidoscope splendour of kids’s comics for sale in the magazine section of the supermarket whenever my mum would drag me shopping.
Now am I suggesting that 7STRING belongs in that array of disposable, mass-produced entertainment designed solely for shifting toys? Not one bit.
Throughout both volumes, Nich injects 7STRING with a youthful sense of enthusiasm that recalls the type of animated shows mentioned above. Without directly referencing any one cartoon, comic or film, 7STRING feels born out of a fondness for the classic travelogue adventure saga.
6. The Insane Artwork
The world of 7STRING consists of some bizarrely inventive locales. Multiple communities inhabit the land, where industrial cities, tranquil temples, and scattered villages are the order of the day. Buildings float in the sky, battles are fought with guitars fashioned as swords and keyboards reworked into laser cannons.
As you might have guessed, pretty much everything about 7STRING‘s world, plot and characters lend themselves very well to some jaw-dropping artwork. Illustrated by Nich himself, 7STRING is a comic where almost every single page is a riot of imaginative colour/panelling combinations that showcase Nich’s skills as a director of comic book storytelling.
Anyone can appreciate decent world-building in fiction, and in today’s cinematic universe-centric culture of fiction, we’re surrounded by it more than ever. What makes 7STRING‘s world building such a breath of fresh air is the level of enthusiasm Nich puts into the world of 7STRING.
Each of the four communities in 7STRING, identified as the Clefs of Meoldia, are rich in individual culture that paint a vast canvas for the comic. The multiple communities also display the galactic scale of 7STRING. Although Zach is 7STRING‘s star character, personalities from all four Clefs soon join the fray, each with a persona that matches their respective Clef.
Whether its the scientifically enhanced Brace Clef, the rural, secretive Altern Clef, the magical Tremor Clef, or the self-descriptive Trouble Clef, you have an abundance of culture to indulge in, even if 7STRING didn’t have its immersive story or characters, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be found in dissecting the Clefs alone.
4. Guitar Sword or Sword Guitar?
Each Clef has mastered certain instruments: The Brace Clef have keyboards, the Altern Clef stringed instruments, the Tremor Clef utilise wind instruments, and the Trouble Clef have percussion. The resulting divvying up between instruments is some pretty sweet-ass battle tech each culture adorns.
Jumping back to the artwork, Nich’s depictions of battles fought between Clefs, whether they’re using keyboard machine guns, guitar swords or tuning fork bombs, have a candy-coated blitzkrieg appeal to them. Even if the story or characters may not appeal to you, I defy you to not be entranced by the mechanics of this world!
3. Diverse Characters
Zach may be the central character in 7STRING, but given the diverse communities that encompass the world of 7STRING, Zach isn’t the only character on a personal quest. Characters from Clefs far and wide are thrown together when Melodia comes under threat. Brace Clef inhabitant Liph is on a journey of vengeance parallel to that of Zach. Elsewhere, the aloof Efex of the Altern Clef has her world turned upside down when a stealth operation goes awry. And finally, the ditzy, child-like Nette, despondent at having no musical powers to help in the war, is slowly learning to craft the insane powers that slumber inside of her.
And that’s just our core foursome! Each of our heroes share a quest in their role in 7STRING, which adds to the rich flavour of 7STRING‘s immersive world. However, having four protagonists and several supporting allies and enemies may result in Zach’s story having to sway back and forth in order to accommodate this large cast. The flip-side of this is that it also makes 7STRING all the more fun to read when you realise how three-dimensional this comic is.
2. Let me Tell you a Tale…
As a fan, the most frustrating thing about 7STRING for me has been the agonising wait between chapters, or tracks, as Nich calls them in the comic. As mentioned earlier, 7STRING currently comprises of five issues spread out over two volumes, with Volume 3 set to be released digitally soon. Being a fan, I devoured those five issues in an instant, and am desperate for more!
The story itself has a very literal ‘hero’s journey’ appeal to it, a very well-tread tactic of story-telling. The visual freshness of the comic squashes any feelings of cliche however. All of the above reasons and more culminate in a finely-tuned story that unfolds with each track.
Lars spreads his villainy across all of Melodia, pitting Clefs against each other, manufacturing a civil war for his own gain. He has a Joker-esque quality of wishing to see madness grow for the sake of madness, but there’s an nervy menace to his threats. What else does he have planned for Melodia? How will our heroes stop him? Will they confront their own demons along the way?
The riotous nature of 7STRING gives the assumption that, in this comic, anything can happen in the next half hour.
1. Sense of Adventure
If the cover of either 7STRING Volume 1 or 2 don’t immediately scream that we’re in for a hell of a ride, then you don’t know your comics. The cosmic landscape of Melodia, the plethora of players, the musical weapons used in the war itself – 7STRING is a comic that masters the art of entertainment. So much is thrown in our direction, but it all looks so wonderful that we can’t help but consume the whole thing.
Even if 7STRING was dull as dishwater with its characters and plot, you can’t help but be somewhat flawed by how vast this comic’s concept is. Ultimately, 7STRING does in five issues what the Marvel Cinematic Universe arguably struggles to achieve in fourteen movies – a vast universe is presented to us, but in that vastness is held together by a cohesion of intimate characters and rippling effects from Clef to Clef.
I’m intrigued to see where Nich goes with Volume 3. I want to see Zach take on Lars. I want to see more fallout from the civil war. I want to see Zach, Efex, Liph and Nette cross paths and clash. Whatever we turn out to be treated to with Volume 3, I’m sure it will be worth the wait. Any excuse to see Zach and his 7STRING in action is a good excuse.
Have you read 7STRING? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!