It’s hard for a new publisher to make a splash in today’s market. Marvel and DC eat up almost 90% of the market, while Image and Dark Horse take up most of the rest. But the easiest way for a publisher to carve out a market is having a strong product. Oort Cloud Comics has just that with Shepperton’s Waltz; a short story comic that is a great read.
Patrick Killik writes a story about one man, named Angus. He’s a drunkard who is the joke of his little town. It’s as generic as a western goes, but there is a twist. The town has been killed by aliens, and everyone is in spirit form. Don’t worry about it going the Cowboys & Aliens and sucking big time. Killik focuses on Angus and his rehabilitation from a fool. It reads like a lost episode of The Twilight Zone. The entire set up is crazy, but the meat of the story is straight forward. The sci-fi aspects aren’t original, but written well. The reader knows next to nothing about the history of this little town and why the aliens are here, but we don’t care. Angus is an interesting character, and that’s all we need to know. Some of the more in-depth character interactions go a little over the reader’s head, as long time associations are made. That’s fine, as it can be assumed rather easy, but it did take a little away from my enjoyment.
Shepperton’s Waltz has the feel of a short story. These are some of the hardest stories to write, as the writer needs to convey a lot of information in a very short amount of time. Killik does it well, if not perfect. It’s good that he focuses more on the western motifs instead of the sci-fi parts, but they have trouble mixing. It seems that the western and sci-fi genres aren’t meant to come together. Or someone needs to think of a new way for them to coexist.
One the big checks in the win column was the size of the story. Shepperton’s Waltz is around 70 pages, with many pages void of dialogue. I was able to read it in a little over two hours. As someone who reads a lot of comics and watches a lot of movies, it’s nice to be able to squeeze a graphic novel in quickly.
Marc Laming’s pencils do a lot of the heavy lifting in this story. With many of the pages void of dialogue, Laming needed to keep the story going, without it seeming like pointless deconstruction. It took me just as long to “read” a page without dialogue as it did one full of dialogue. The small town looks like it came out of a John Wayne western film. The range of emotions that Laming conveys come and go, with Angus’ quite scenes looking the best. The aliens look great, albeit nothing original. The action flows rather well, with only a few panels being hard to figure out. It mostly happens when the queen alien is throwing Angus around. Every man looks somewhat similar, with the spirit folk suffering the most. With all of them being the same color, it’s hard to discern who is who in the background. The second to last page looks great, and one that left a smile on my face after reading.
If you are looking for a comic off the beaten path, and don’t have much time to read, Shepperton’s Waltz is one I highly recommended.
Shepperton’s Waltz gets 4/5.
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