After the dramatic revelations about Captain Stone’s disappearance in issue 4 we delve deeper into the world of his vampiric half sister Charlie Chance, the former model, PETA activist and apprentice cat burglar, in the latest instalments of Liam Sharp’s Captain Stone is Missing from Madefire.
Writer: Liam Sharp, Christine McCormack
Artist: Liam Sharp
Price: Free to download from the Madefire app
Liam Sharp’s Captain Stone is Missing is so much more than just a digital comic, its a work of art. Every episode has a new range of exquisite images and innovate uses for Madefire’s motion books engine that you have to simply sit back and marvel. It’s just such a shame that we have to wait so damn long between instalments!
For issues 5 and 6 Sharp has got out his paint brushes producing lush oil painted landscapes that are blended in with digital trickery to simply take your breath away. You can see every brushstroke and globule of paint in perfect detail on your iPads high resolution screen and by layering these painted pages up with a huge variety of other multimedia styles, from pencil sketches and pen and ink to photo montage and the more familiar airbrush style we are used to, reading Captain Stone is like looking through Sharp’s personal portfolio of art styles, which makes it both delightfully sumptuous and spectacularly self indulgent (but in a good way!).
By mixing so many styles within the book you could argue that it lacks focus, and when it comes to story in these two issues you could be right as there is a lot of exposition for very little action. In episode 5 we are focused on learning more about Cap’s half sister Charlie and her relationship with her father as she discovers more about Cap and his alter ego Flint Clayton, (even tying the story back to events in issue 1.) While in episode 6 we discover more about her transformation into the vampiric meat eating animal avenger, The Pet. It’s all valuable stuff and helps flesh out the characters and their relationships, however the pages are densely populated with text and although this is handled in a huge variety of innovative ways there is an over relevance on dialogue rather than active storytelling at times which can make reading slow.
Because there is so much going on in every page and such variety of work on show Stone can get away with a lot of its extravagances. Sure, there are the odd moments (in particular in issue 6) where Sharp lurches from his stylised painted style to a Cubist style flat drawing for no obvious reason, only to lurch back again on the next screen which seems a bit OTT. And there is a definite over reliance on picture frames in these episodes, but more often than not there is reason for this mix of styles. With Sharp using different styles for flashbacks vs current events, and layering elements on top of themselves for maximum effect, they are so beautifully rendered that you forgive this indulgence, especially when confronted with the incredible pencil sketched panels and painted landscapes on later screens.
Although not as obviously innovative as previous issues, there are still plenty of neat touches in these issues. Speech bubbles where the text scrolls within them, and some beautiful layering of artwork, dropping the background out of focus, gives pages a real depth. While the point of view sections in episode 6 are handled expertly. To say it isn’t AS innovative as other issues though, is more a reflection of how original those early issues have been that this is now ‘run of the mill’. Instead of breaking new ground, episodes 5 and 6 simply reinforce how cutting edge the Madefire titles can be and we have come to accept as standard.
If you can forgive the infrequent scheduling and self indulgent nature of Captain Stone is Missing, then you’re in for a treat. Just remember that Madefire books don’t cost a penny to enjoy, and for that you get the opportunity to read digital comics from the absolute cutting edge.