Independently Well Done highlights completed and/or noteworthy story-arcs published by indie and small press creators.
Have you ever wondered what our fascination is with flying? Mankind, even in its earliest stages, has been fascinated by the idea of flying, or traveling in the sky in some form. There’s a freedom up there that we perceive. I think there’s a part of us that loves the idea of being away from all the fast paced life, able to soar freely through the clouds. Take for instance a game that is played regularly amongst my friends where we ask, “What superpower would you rather have,” and then proceed to name two. One of those choices is almost always flying, followed shortly thereafter by telepathy and invisibility. Just for the record, I never want telepathy because I barely like hearing my own thoughts, and yes I understand how nerdy that game is, but it’s awesome. Anyway, the idea of flying, even without superpowers, is one of the most provocative concepts in storytelling. Now, when you take to the skies in your story, and add in amazing airships, sky pirates, and a somewhat Victorian-esque world, all of which is beautifully drawn, what you’ll get is Skies of Fire by Vincenzo Ferriero and Ray Chou.
Now, you might be asking yourself, “How the heck does this guy find these comics?” Well, my good reader, I stumbled across this particular story during Wondercon of this year. As I seem to always do, I wander aimlessly through Artist Alley throwing money around like I’m a bajillionaire. Why? Because I have a serious addiction to indie comics, and dozens upon dozens of times I’ve discovered amazing books and stories simply buy trying new things out from Artist Alley.
After doing a little research and having talked with the creators, I discovered that this particular series was launched using Kickstarter. Now, I wasn’t apart of that first group that helped bring this beauty of a comic to life, but if you were, I love you. Seriously, everyone who backed this book in order to bring it into the world is a hero. That’s how good this story is, and I love everyone involved.
Skies of Fire is set in a very beautifully crafted Victorian styled world, wherein the land of the Aquilan Empire is traversed by airships/zeppelins. Our story starts off by introducing us to the concept of a world where the entire economy of this world is based on goods being shipped and traded by airship. However, nearly immediately, a rather large city called Port Prince is ravaged by a group of pirates. In the opening conflict we see the military power of the Aquilan Empire as they undertake a fight to save Port Prince. It’s in these very opening pages that the mystery and intrigue of the story are introduced as we’re given an introduction not to our heroes, but the villains.
As the story progresses we learn that this group of bandits and thieves dwell in an area just off the eastern coast of the Aquilan Empire known as The Expanse. It’s a pocket of untraversable sky that, somehow, the criminals of this world manage to hideout in. The attack on Port Prince is the inciting incident that sets this story a flame and within the first few pages everything is moving at warp speed. There’s even an airship chase that is incredible. Yes, you read that correctly, an airship chase…in the sky…and yes, it was amaze-balls.
One of the things that lets me know whether or not I’m going to flip-out over a comic is the urgency I feel as I near the end of the first book. There are plenty of books that I love. Books that I read month after month, but often don’t feel an overwhelming sense of urgency to get to the next book. Sure, I look forward to the next book, but there isn’t this sense of urgency like I must read what’s next, right this very second. With Skies of Fire, I wasn’t half way through the first book before I was grabbing the second and setting it next to me, preparing it to be read. Once into book two, I was then addicted to this story, and a full five seconds didn’t pass after I finished book two before I was yanking book three from the pile because I needed more of this book in my life.
As always, I give the basic premise but leave out spoilers because I want you the readers to enjoy every ounce of these books. However, if you aren’t intrigued by this book based on what I’ve told you thus far, take that as my inability to convey just how amazing this book is. The art is stunning, every page is a work of art, beautifully inked and colored, and the story itself moves wonderfully. Never once was there a lull that made me want to skip ahead to some action. The plot development is intriguing, the world fascinating, the characters endearing, and all of this packed together has created a whimsical story that grabbed me with both hands.
I can’t recommend this book enough. The creators I met at Wondercon were extremely nice and more than willing to chat about their projects and work. Skies of Fire is only three issues deep, it’s available in print and digitally, and as for this writer there is no doubt that I’ll be with this book for as long as it runs. If you’re interested in joining me, you can check out their website and even purchase the books there as well.