The deep space backdrop is a great opportunity to reveal an endless range of planets and environments. You need to make a new world, just make it. You want to create a horrifying creature to stalk your nightmares, go right ahead. And if you want a wise-cracking, hot-headed astronaut, with a long-suffering robot companion on a trek for a prized possession, well these lot beat you to it. Deep Space Canine is an interesting piece on first inspection. The detailed canvas photo of our heroine in full space gear presents an organised and potentially formulaic experience. But that is further from the truth as our story, whilst it may seem a little light in terms of narrative, directs its focus on the journey from A to B, making each situation our Captain encounters unique and captivating all the same. This book is the culmination of the Comic Book Slumber Party; several upcoming and incredibly talented artists making each page their own with their intricate styles and techniques. All of which come together to present a unique universe to explore with a strong outgoing character to lead us on this wild ride.
The story is a little simplistic but is easy to follow and straight to the point. Greasy, our anthropomorphic Captain, and her robot companion, Cybernetic Unit Normally for Troubleshooting (I’ll give all you readers a moment to figure that out…) are tasked with finding a treasured belonging of hers, her favourite pair of knickers. This leads her to traverse an alien planet, reminisce on good company, and even to confront some personal demons. The things we do in the name of fashion… and comfort.
The artistic styles presented are the main selling point of the book, with each unique event aboard the ship and into unknown worlds brought to life under another artist’s vision and unique style. Each scene change and even the front cover and cover pages allows a different artist to make it all their own. I’ll provide a quick summary for each one as each are worthy of a title of their own. Kat Chapman‘s portrait is the first piece to greet you, bringing a slick, parody design of the astronaut photos of the real life counterparts. The presentation of a serious nature with alternative identifying features tells you straight from the off that Greasy is no ordinary astronaut and this is no ordinary tale. Once you open the cover, the magic starts to unfold with Lize Medding‘s collages of bright and vivid stars and planets filling in the opening pages and establishes the vibrancy and diverse tone this story has to offer.
Beth Wood is the main story artist of this escapade and is tasked in connecting the dots between each scene and providing a backstory of our hero. Beth’s style is the most kinetic with frantic movement and flow as our main protagonist brings emotional opinion to her robot’s logic. She’s more willing to run into a situation than think it over, clearly strong willed and independent but also a little foolish. Greasy’s first little adventure gives Lucy Haslam an uninhabited planet as the blank canvas to build upon. Her artwork almost comes across as fragmented and distorted, with overlaying shapes and colours giving an image that time itself is distorted as the character overlaps on versions of herself. A drug-fueled trip later, Honey Parast takes charge and has a unique style I would never have imagined being used; wool and felt modelling. The level of detail and expressions presented is so intricate that it’s difficult to distinguish a model on one page to a drawing the next, an incredible level of design and consistency through a hallucination of a personal identity crisis. That, and I loved the little Alien reference not so hidden in there.
Jenn Woodall is the next in line to present her artistic skills as Greasy recalls better times with old friends. This section gives a more retro comic feel with the dulled colours and neat designs, sprinkled in with onomatopoeic words across the pages and strong facial features. A nod to the old with newer techniques fully utilised. And last but by no means least, Becca Tobin has the task of presenting an alternate dimension and a internal battle with Greasy’s darker self. Her art blurs with strong watercolour strokes and vivid colours as her beautiful designs present a distorted world that bends and shapes itself to the will of those that dwell within.
All these events come together to turn what is a simple premise into a unique visual journey across new and undiscovered worlds. Deep Space Canine is a great visual marvel that allowed new and upcoming artists to make their mark in the comic industry, and I believe this a great first impression. So many styles and unique ideas turned a straightforward idea into a story of identity and inner conflict. Simply put, this tale and its amazing artwork is clearly, out of this world (sorry had to say it).
Have you had the chance to read Deep Space Canine? What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!