Never read a book by its cover. But what about comics? Granted, the literary value of good stories is based on the strength of the words, but in the graphic world, the visual imagery is just as important.
Let’s take a look at the soon to be released (tomorrow, July 30th to be exact) Sally of the Wasteland from Titan Comics. Victor Gischler put together the words, Tazio Bettin claims the artwork and Jun Chapple penned the lettering.
On the cover of issue 01 (ARC), we see a buxom brunette pinning down a giant red lobster, poised to drive in a fatal blow with a big knife. This is our introduction to Sally. So what we can assume is, she’s a badass survivalist showing the skills necessary to survive in a world of mutated creatures.
Suggested for mature readers, Sally of the Wasteland begins with a trip down the river. There’s nothing quite like an old fashioned riverboat adventure to bring back the golden memories of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn – and Sally of the Wasteland is nothing like it – except for the river, and a boat and an adventure.
Set in Southern Louisiana “eighty-two years after the fall,” a salvage tech named Kat recovers a functioning signal transmitter from a downed airship. After surviving savagery of the wasteland, she ends up at the Bottom Feeder’s Tavern where she meets Sally. From there, she secures passage on the Mississippi Duchess in search of the source of the device’s power. With the threat of facing river pirates, cannibals and mutated crawgaters, Kat, Sally, and a ragtag team of misfits begin the journey to New Orleans, the place also now known as the Forbidden City.
The graphics are bright, bloody and loyal to the complexity of the story. As a reader, it was sometimes difficult to follow the dialogue with so much attention to detail by Chapple. There is a lot to see in the apocalypse, so if you find yourself stopping to look at the scenery, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
The most glaring element in this first chapter is the bizarre cast of characters who border dangerously close to caricatures. Not surprisingly, Gischler’s edgy choice of pushing the envelope of believability works in a world of gator headed crawdads. It’s a perfect fit.
Though the title character Sally seems more like a supporting cast member at the moment, her brash demeanor has a touch of strangeness bordering on insanity, hinting that there is a lot more to this girl and we need to find out what it is. Kat on the other hand is the mysterious stranger who disrupts this otherwise cohesive group of eccentrics and steals the spotlight for the moment. Can her cool performance continue?
Being the first installment, there is surprisingly little backstory and a lot of mystery. The unknown is the driving force behind this story as readers will anxiously wait for the next issue. But for the less patient reader, the investment in stimulating characters may be the selling point. In either case, a second look is in definitely the future.