We’ve a special round-up today as we take a look at 3 books from a new creator – Ricardo Baptsite – whose work we discovered via our epic Thought Bubble preview and we couldn’t pick which book to cover first, so we thought we’d take a look at all three!
We were initially drawn to Ricardo’s work by the really strong design of the covers, which mix a very contemporary art style that reminded us of David Aja, and a bit of John Allison, but with a very old school sensibility evoking a lot of Kirby influences at the same time. Although we know not to judge a book by it’s covers, once you get inside first book Hypnotopia it continues to be a very stylish and slick presentation, with stunning intro pages and a really slick style to the pages. The story follows down-on-his-luck shlub John Gerritt, who lives at home with his cat and gets passed over for promotion at work. However one morning on the bus when he nods off he gets taken off into a surreal dream like world where a David Lynch style boss gives him a mission and he ends up fighting two headed dream monsters. It’s a strange and surreal story and one which doesn’t quite hang together to give a satisfying resolution by the end of this first issue. However the amount of interesting ideas and stunning visuals on show, more than makes up for this and it is a really intriguing and visually spectacular read that we cannot wait to see more of in the future.
The Strange Dark shares the same high quality artwork and inventive story telling as Hypnotopia. The early pages began life as a series of short stories from several years ago, while the second half is from a more recently published webcomic. You can see the leap in progress and confidence with the artwork, but Ricardo uses the strength of the concept and different style of the artwork brilliantly to tell a story based around the idea of multiverses and people travelling between realms. Here, another John appears in one reality and is then taken on a journey into another. The story is difficult to explain and ultimately quite difficult to make sense of. However because it looks amazing you find yourself persevering through the story and attempting to make sense of it. In isolation this is perhaps the weakest, or rather the most challenging of the three books, but when looked as as part of a larger work, you can see Ricardo’s amazingly ambitious sense of story telling and his incredibly rich and imaginative artwork takin centre stage, and as such makes it a book which you can forgive for it’s more obvious flaws.
Return to Olympus meanwhile is a much simpler concept with a much simpler style to the artwork that feels less grandiose than the other two books, but still has an endearing charm to it. The story sees a man on a train get rescued from some muggers by a talking dog, only to discover he is the son of a god like entity and taken on a mysterious journey which includes challenging a one eyed monster and more! It’s a fairly short but sweet story, and while it has some of the ambition and scale of the previous books, it perhaps feels more reigned in and so flows and reads in a much more conventional manner. The black and white artwork lacks the impactful colour schemes of the other books, but the line work is still just as strong and you can see how well Ricardo mixes simple lines with more detailed shading and texture to make his artwork work. The story zips along and ends relatively quickly, but feels like it could expand out in new directions in future issues and of the three comics this is the one which we want to see develop the most.
All in all, these are 3 fantastic comics from a really exciting and interesting new creator. It’s rare that we get to discover multiple titles from a creator in one go and this is a real treat as each book has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, but as a whole they make for a really compelling and exciting trio. As such we can only really recommend you check out all 3, as we cannot easily pick a favourite!