Even though the first few pages set up the world of Showside in an epic (with a touch of the mock epic in McGinty’s writing), first twenty minutes of Fellowship of the Ring way, most of Welcome to Showside #1 is the main character Kit, a red headed, mohawk sporting teenage monster, his friends Moon and Belle, and his non-verbal pet Boo hanging out and ending up on an adventure almost randomly. Writer/artist Ian McGinty throws readers headlong into this world, which visually is part Southern beach town and part 1980s adventure or fighting video game. (Think Crystal Castles meets Street Fighter, but with no annoying bear getting in the way.) His artwork is filled with the energy and expressiveness that was the trademark on his sadly-ended run on Bravest Warriors with Kate Leth. McGinty’s characters also pull some insane faces, especially Belle, who has an early character establishing moment when she interrupts Moon and Kit’s conversation about the possibility of another world with beautiful people to notify them that she saw a seagull pooping on a guy’s hat. Rian Sygh’s color palette is flashy and bright, and he uses some cool filters as the adventure starts to ramp up towards the end of the issue. Letterer Fred Stresing also switches to hand lettered-type when emotions run high. (Or Belle makes what she think is a big funny.)
One refreshing thing about Welcome to Showside #1 is that the story is set smack dab in the middle of a high fantasy/Lovecraftian world, but the characters talk and react like fairly normal teenagers and make sarcastic and occasional cheesy jokes. (Kit is guilty of this a couple times, but he’s a nice guy so who can blame him.) McGinty starts the issue as kind of a hangout book with Kit, Moon, Belle, and Boo just shooting the breeze and making chill life plans to visit a food truck like any friends might do on a weekend. Conversational dialogue comes naturally to McGinty, and he writes them like old friends with an easy repartee and a set way of doing things instead of wasting this first issue on origin story stuff.
McGinty even gives the side characters Boo, Kit’s taco obsessed blue blob pet, and Teenomicon, a cross between your every day Pokedex and the Necronomicon from Evil Dead, their own distinct personalities. Boo is the clumsy, yet insightful one (A little like Catbug in Bravest Warriors), and Teenomicon brings some dry wit to what would be boring exposition in a lesser comic. The characters’ fun personalities complements McGinty’s art style and fast paced plot to create a reading experience that is like drinking your favorite, sweet iced beverage on a summer day. (Sygh’s sunny colors for the town scenes help with that.)
S.M. Vidaurri (writer/artist on the upcoming Archaia graphic novel Iscariot) illustrates the first five pages giving the mythical (or not so mythical) backstory of Showside in a brave decision from Ian McGinty to hand over the opening of his first creator owned book to another artist. Vidaurri’s lines are rich and deep, and he uses inset panels to spotlight high tension moments, like Olive and the Yellow King falling in love even though they are mortal enemies. However, McGinty’s narration (as Kit) keeps it connected to the main plot of Welcome to Showside #1 with a couple well-placed jokes to keep things from getting too melodramatic. But this prologue does immediately immerse readers into the history and lore of Showside before having them fall in love with its people aka Kit, Moon, Belle, and Boo. It is nice to journey in a dark, riveting world with people, who actually talk and act like you and your friends instead of grim archetypes, and this is what sets apart Welcome to Showside #1 from other urban fantasy and all ages comics.
Welcome to Showside #1 is a partially light, partially dark introduction to the fantastic world of Showside as writer/artist Ian McGinty shows Kit and his close knit group of friends at play and at action in a bright, playful art style that looks like animation with a touch of retro video games. Throw in a funny backup story with art from Carey Pietsch (Marceline Gone Adrift), and Welcome to Showside #1 is a spoopy trick or treat for your eyes and funny bone with relatable characters and fantastic worldbuilding just in time for Halloween.
Welcome to Showside #1 will be available digitally and at your local book store on Wednesday, October 28, 2015.