Based in 1930s China and part-funded by the New Zealand government, Tim Gibson’s Moth City has been memorably described by Thrillbent‘s Mark Waid as being ‘f**king great’ and who are we to disagree?!
Publisher: Flying Whities
Writer: Tim Gibson Artist: Tim Gibson
Available via: ComiXology, mothcity.com
Launched as a web comic via his website mothcity.com it is now available from ComiXology as part of the first run of titles uploaded as part of ComiXology Submit , as well as being set to appear on Waid’s Thrillbent site very soon which is a perfect fit for this fantastically unique title. Mixing elements of classic pulp crime thrillers, with a generous dose of intrigue and espionage, Moth City perfectly balances the old world look and feel of print with the smart pacing and design of the new world of digital, so be sure to get these early issues now as this is a real title to watch.
Split into ‘seasons’, this first instalment of season 1 is built around the simple premise of a weapons deal between American tycoon, and Moth City supremo, Governor McCaw and Chinese General Hong for a new biological weapon . It may sounds basic but it is a tightly orchestrated meeting, with a pace that builds and builds slowly before reaching a dynamic crescendo. As well as the general and governor we are introduced to weopons scientists Dr Boyes and the Governor’s restless daughter as well as a cast of Moth City locals and the characters are revealed slowly and surely as their actions are laid out subtly from frame to frame.
Text appears sequentially revealing the plot panel by panel letting you read it as if it is playing out in front of you like a movie rather than a comic and the story flashes sideways to other scenes and events as the deal goes down. The way Gibson uses the digital transitioning really builds the tension to such an extent that the only drawback is having to tap the screen at all because it is completely absorbing.
The clever uses of landscape pages means space is used to its utmost creating expertly crafted scenes with smart and well paced action. This allows Moth City to solve that perennial problem of digital comics, dialogue, as characters’ expressions change as speech bubbles appear in sequence allowing them to react with their eyes and so respond to what is being said not simply having a fixed stare.
By using simple, loose brushtrokes (reminiscent of Sean Philips work on Criminal or Fatale) Gibson gives Moth City a really high class yet still ‘indie’ feel while not loosing any of the quality we are coming to expect from digital titles.The design of the entire package is superb as well, mixing natural media effects with stylish Oriental-style lettering. With an original lettering style which feels over-sized compared to other comics, but it works perfectly here, and a muted Oriential inspired colour scheme that gives the book an antique muted feel, the whole thing evokes lush Oriental paintings rather than the garish world of comic books and makes for a truly unique read.
Moth City is the perfect synthesis of print visuals and digital story telling. Effortlessly simple, yet ingeniously composed, this is what digital comics should be all about – smart storytelling and great visuals that use the new technology to add depth and emotion, not just flashy effects.