Webcomic Spotlight showcases some of today’s best comics that are predominantly, or entirely, published on the internet.
Welcome one and all to another installment of Webcomic Spotlight. This week we’re getting into one of my favorite genres in all of storytelling: science fiction. I’ve read, and continue to do so, a ton of sci-fi comics, novels, and short stories. I’ve backed more than a few sci-fi based Kickstarters. I even stayed up until 3am to watch SpaceX land on a drone ship out in the middle of the ocean. I mention all of this because, due to my sci-fi addiction, it’s not often I come across a piece of high caliber sci-fi comic work I’ve never heard of before. Space Mullet, by Daniel Warren Johnson is such a comic, and my life has been enhanced by having this beauty in my life.
I discovered this internet gem by happenstance. I was simply talking about comics and webcomics with someone online. During this conversation I mentioned a couple sci-fi beauties that I’ve boasted about here on the blog (Symmetry and Tokyo Ghost) and they asked if I knew of Space Mullet. When I answered in the negative, jaws were dropped, eyes were widened and shock ran wild across faces. What can I say, I’m not good at things. Since that moment however, I’ve remedied the problem. The sun now shines just a little brighter, things taste just a little better, and my free time vanished because this comic’s archive wasn’t going to binge itself.
Space Mullet is an episodic comic about a washed up, ex-space marine, named Jonah, who goes through a life changing event. In the first few pages of chapter one we see the impending doom of this moment, which is just looming off page. Yet, it doesn’t come for us immediately. We don’t get all the information of what happens initially, and this lack of information is one of the best storytelling moves I’ve come across in recent years. Johnson brings us to this pinnacle in time when something horrible is about to happen, then immediately shifts forward in time to show us the results of what happened, specifically to Jonah.
Now, if you’re sitting there thinking that a tease like that sounds annoying, I challenge you to test this story out. Why? Because this is more than a tease, it’s tension that we know will be resolved, while also captivating and keeping us interested in the story. We know something horrible happened because once we skip forward in time everything has changed for Jonah. He’s on his own space vessel, with his co-piolot, Alphius, who’s from and alien race known as the Zozobian. The two of them are getting into more than a little trouble. They’re traversing the darker, more rundown areas of space, and even end up fighting some seriously awesome and evil baddies.
In the first chapter this allusion to the events that changed Jonah’s life is fairly prominent theme. I mention this, and draw attention to it so specifically because we, the readers, are given this tension and through it Johnson creates in us an insatiable desire for more. We want to know the who, what, how, and why, and the writing and story development in this comic do such a wonderful job at holding that tension without over playing it. It takes the reader to a place where we feel a relief when things are finally revealed, while simultaneously something bigger is developed around this reveal, and then you’re then drawn straight into this new conflict.
While that’s the initial premise of the comic, what I haven’t mentioned are the aliens with special powers, the raging monster mob like creatures, the roller derby of death that takes place, and the all around space shenanigans that one would expect in an epic tale. What really caught my attention is how Johnson manages to keep things fresh while adapting aspects of the sci-fi genre to his own style. I was never bored, or rolled my eyes at some overused sci-fi trope or cliché. Everything is of such high caliber in this book, and it all just comes together in a wonderful way.
If that weren’t enough, what we have in the form of storytelling and artwork are really on a level that you typically see in print only comics. Every page of this comic is at a professional level, to such a degree that there were multiple moments when I would just stop and scan the artwork on the page because of the detail and intricacy of Johnson’s artwork. His color palette of blues and whites only enhances his phenomenal line work. The camera angles and panel placements are dynamic and wonderfully laid out. Everything in this comic helps and enhances each other aspect of the book. This comic is simply a work of professionalism in every way.
Even more spectacular is that this comic has been running since 2012. It now has over eight chapters, each of which are over thirty pages, many of which are forty to fifty pages in length. There’s never a dull moment, or a wall of text to bog down the flow. The story is paced wonderfully, the characters are developed naturally, and if you’re not hooked by the end of chapter one, well, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe seek help for yourself or something. All I know is that this has quickly become one of my all time favorite comics. Yes, you read that correctly. Not just one of my favorite sci-fi comics, one of my favorite comics.
You can find and read Space Mullet HERE