Ian McGinty (ADVENTURE TIME) and friends present Welcome to Showside volume one, a beautiful, bold journey of discovery featuring friends Kit, Moon and Belle, alongside a whole bunch of other fantastic characters. Set warp to cute factor 11, because this is one heck of an accomplishment in all-age comic books looking at the nature vs. nurture argument, and prejudice.
Publisher: Z2 Comics
Writer: Ian Mcguinty & various
Our rating: [star rating=”4″]
Welcome to Sideshow is a true work of love which came crashing into the comic book world last year after an animated short was released to general critical acclaim. (You can view it here!) WtS is the story of Kit (whose father is the Shadow King and wants him to take over the family business of destroying the world), Belle (the latest in a long line of Demon hunters), and Moon (sorceress-in-training). Together they’re going to take on anything and everything the Nexus can throw at them!
Watch (read?) as we are thrown into a little backstory from the very first page, a little discourse on why weeping willows don’t grow in the town of Sideshow. The whole thing, what you could call a prologue, is narrated by Kit, our fish-person-demon hero, and this is where we get to grips with his voice and just how gosh darn young he is. Boom! Right out of the gate! What was so fantastic about this little backstory was how jarring the voice was against the artwork – beautifully rendered battle scenes, almost dream-like in their execution – and general themes of forbidden love found and lost, what one might call “grown up” themes, all told by this little kid – serious but not at the same time. And this use of serious-not-serious continues throughout, mostly when the comic book is being incredible meta and acknowledging that this whole thing is, in fact, a comic book. Ian McGinty has broken the fourth wall into a million little pieces and then built it back up again into a truly delightful script that features really strong character voices and amusement for everybody.
What’s also really beautiful is the examination of prejudice – Belle’s father is a world-famous demon hunter who believes that demons (and this would also include Kit!) and humans can never be neighbours. Well, Belle has something to say about that! She acknowledges her father’s opinion, but then has formed her own and sticks to it. She’s going to continue hanging out with Kit and the gang because she’s formed her opinion off the back of her own experiences. Kit isn’t a bad guy, he’s this sweet, caring little demon fish-person who just wants to eat and hang out with his friends.
A major part of the comic book revolves around Kit’s father having plans for his son, a nature versus nurture thread running throughout. However, like most evil fathers with plans for their sons, he’s playing his hand quite close to his chest, isn’t sitting Kit down and saying “Son, I want you to take over the family business.” No, he’s being much more lazy about it and sending minions to do his bidding. However, Kit has his own experiences to draw on when it comes to the crux of the issue and it’s super excellent that Ian McGinty is showing that children can make their own decisions based on what they’ve experienced and that they are actually super intelligent and that sometimes, actually, adults don’t have all the answers and won’t always put the right course of action into play.
Aside from all of these layers written into the script, we are also treated to a true feast for the eyes – bright, beautiful cartoony artwork that breathes life into not only our fabulous characters, but also their environments. Even something as simple as drawing in a purple beach umbrella and a tumble-down wooden picket fence as we come up from the seashore just adds another layer to this fantastic world. You get a real sense of place throughout the comic book,a real grounded feeling that a lot of love has come into this comic’s creation and it shines through every page.
So basically, you have to get Welcome to Showside in your collection somehow. Pretend you’re buying it for a relative and “forget” to gift it them. Or even, buy them a copy and yourself one at the same time. This comic book is a beautiful reminder that children do know what they’re talking about and sometimes adults do get it wrong. We have some truly excellent cartoony artwork, some genuine amusing writing and believable fish-demon-people characters that actually, when it boils down to it, are relatable. File in your collection next to Lumberjanes.