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Comic Book Review: Void Trip #1

Written by Ryan O’Sullivan
Art by Plaid Klaus
Letters by Aditya Bidikar
Published by Image Comics

Void Trip introduces the reader to Ana and Gabe, a space-based stoner duo – Ana is a bit like a female Jay (of Jay and Silent Bob) but without the foul mouth; Gabe is an older, perhaps wiser man who has a conscious when it comes to stealing fuel for their spaceship (which looks like the sci-fi equivalent of a stoner van), for their journey to Euphoria, although Ana doesn’t want to use the equivalent of space satnav to get there, despite that being the point of their trip (if you’ll pardon the pun).

These two talk, about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, argue about how to steal fuel, discuss the finer points of Froot (the method of getting high in this universe), with Ana on the hippy side of things (‘The universe is real big, man.’) and Gabe is more level-headed. They seem to be old friends who have known each other for a while and have a comfortable friendship that seems based around their enjoyment of getting high on Froot, as they try to get to Euphoria without following any sort of map. Meanwhile, there seems to be some sort of hunter after our two protagonists, for as yet undisclosed purposes.

This book is supposed to be funny, but the humour didn’t translate for me. The only thing that tickled my funny bone was Ana and Gabe talk about three specific Froot: the Mooreberry (gives incredibly intense psychedelic experiences), Gaimango (turn everything into a magical fairytale), and Busiekhini (taste like the best food you’ve ever had), which is a nice little bit of comic book in-jokes. It could be that I’m not on the same wavelength and therefore not the intended audience; I don’t use drugs and I’ve never been into stoner comedies – I love Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse, but it was never to do with Jay and Silent Bob’s stoner antics.

The main draw of this book is that it knows what it is and is secure in its knowledge of itself: a stoner book set in space. It’s not trying to be anything else, I haven’t seen anything else like it on the market, and it ploughs its furrow confidently and clearly. The characters are clearly defined and there is a narrative engine in the form of people hunting Ana and Gabe. What this book doesn’t do is reveal what is described in the blurb about the book on its website: namely that Ana and Gabe are the last two humans in the galaxy. There is one line of dialogue from an alien about how ‘they really do look like monkeys’, but that’s as close to hinting towards what is presumably an important point of the book.

I have never read anything by O’Sullivan or Klaus, so this introduction to their work is mixed. O’Sullivan has created potentially interesting characters and an intriguing situation, and he’s comfortable with dialogue, something that can be a sticking point for some writers. However, the writing doesn’t succeed in describing the concept if I have to discover what the premise is by reading the promotional copy instead of the comic itself. Klaus seems to be an artist with talent and promise; there are some beautiful shots that set up the scene, and he draws characters who look like individuals instead of having an anatomy template that he uses over and over. There are a couple of transitions that were a little confusing, but he’s a good storyteller and adaptable with his art style, as seen when called upon to draw a scene of an alien having a psychedelic experience.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book, but I’m sufficiently intrigued by the concept that I would read the trade collection to see how the story develops. O’Sullivan and Klaus have produced a good comic book, with some flaws, which might work better for others than for me. However, any book with a strong sense of identity and with a strong streak of individuality deserves credit.

Disclosure: this book was provided for review purposes.

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